When can we gather for in-person worship indoors again? This is a question I’ve been getting plenty and wondering about myself.
On December 15, 2020 the Church Council took this issue up and has set a course for reopening via the following guidelines which operate with respect for the leadership of Bishop Trimble and are based on the Madison County Covid19 positivity rate and county ratings available at the Indiana Department of Health. Beginning in January, the decision will be made Wednesday afternoon, weekly, regarding how we should gather with the following guidelines:
Madison County Positivity Rate less than 7%- We are open and encourage people to attend with appropriate mitigation efforts such as masking and social distancing.
Madison County Positivity Rate in range of 7-11%: If schools are in session and county holds to less than an Orange designation then we will not prevent persons from attending worship with careful masking and social distancing . There will be no Sunday School. We will discourage attendance, especially among at risk populations, but not prohibit it if positivity rates are above 7%.
Madison County Positivity Rate 11%+: We will close worship opportunities to in person attendance when positivity rates are at 11% or greater, as they were when we closed last (and as they remain on December 16). Worship will be closed to in-person attendance if Madison County is designated as red by the Indiana Dept. of Health Covid19 Rating System.
This framework may be too slow and frustrating for some. For others it may seem to be moving too quickly. What it hopefully represents is an intentional, scientifically based pathway to help lead us back toward gathered community in a way that does not leave decisions arbitrarily up to the pastor or people, but according to guidelines we have set. We are pleased to announce that these guidelines have been satisfactory enough to be endorsed and implemented by our sister church, Trinity UMC of Lapel as well.
At Ford Street Church we believe in gathered community along with Scripture and Sacraments as the way we can be “Knowing Jesus Christ.” We look forward right now to the day when we can “Know Jesus Christ” together again as a physically gathered community, an embodied confession of faith.