A message from Steve Schug, Lay Leader, Chairperson of Church Council

May 14, 2020

Dear First United Methodist Church Family and Friends,

I want to take the opportunity to communicate some good news, and to provide an update on where we are with the re-opening of our church community.

First, due to the diligent work of Norma Gasparovic and others, we have secured a PPP “Loan” in the amount of $65,900. As many of you know, these loans, under current rules, are to be forgiven providing the recipients continue to pay and employ existing staff and meet other guidelines. For us, this means we can pay not only our church staff, who are working limited hours, but our Friendly Flock staff and teachers who have been unable to work at all and thus have no income from this previously reliable source.

Secondly, Ryan Coyle has been responsible for researching and obtaining a grant of $5,000 to be used for technical updates to our music ministry. This will enable us to provide a better live streaming experience and a more robust system once we are all back to normal Sunday morning services.

Thank you Norma and Ryan!

As to the resumption of church services, as a Church Council we have created sub-committees to work on how we re-open as safely as possible. The CDC and State of Indiana, along with the office of the Bishop of the UMC, have all provided guidance, regulation, and “best practices” on how to do this. One of the sub-committees, headed by Rachel Deaton, has researched and worked tirelessly to come up with the logistics of a tentative plan going forward. The rules continue to change, so our planning must be flexible. The guidelines are strict, quite pervasive, and expensive to implement. We ask for your patience as we continue to work through these steps.

We are beginning these phases with the introduction of parking lot services beginning May 24. This will be a “by reservation” service where we can both see and hear the services from the safety of our vehicles. We will be limited to a certain number of cars allowed in our parking lot for these services. Those that are not physically present can follow the service on Facebook. There will be more detail about these services in the very near future.

We believe that due to the nature of tasks that must be completed with regard to sanitizing our facilities, and the number of steps involved over numerous consecutive weeks, that it will not be possible to meet for services inside the church building until July 12. Again, more detail will follow as we learn more, and as guidelines change.

Our first priority is to do no harm. We want everyone to be as safe as possible during the unprecedented time in which we find ourselves. We ask for your prayers and your patience as we work through these steps. We want to take this time to also thank you for your ongoing financial support to help us to continue to make a difference in our Community and beyond. As mentioned before, preparing the church building for reopening will be expensive to implement. It may be possible that we may ask you to give above your current level of giving. (for additional financial help). Most of all we ask for you to pray for wisdom and discernment not only for your Church Council and the lay people that are assisting, but for our local, state, national and religious leaders during these times.

Thank you and God bless you. Please take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Steve Schug
Lay Leader
Chairperson of Church Council