Dear LUMC Family and Friends –
As you are certainly aware, the surge of the Delta variant of Covid-19 is most definitely upon us. However, as a result of our August 5, 2021 meeting of the LUMC Coronavirus Committee, we presently have no plans to return to any prior restrictions nor to a more stringent church shut-down. This is, in part, because those who are vaccinated are not exhibiting life threatening cases of Covid-19. Consequently, as of August 10, 2021, we will continue to practice the best options possible for safety and protection – thorough hand washing, the wearing of face coverings (recommended), and social distancing (when/where possible). Additionally, please get vaccinated if you can. As we continue to host our in-person worship celebrations as well as any other LUMC adult group gatherings, while it is optional, you are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering for your protection as well as for the welfare of those around you. As needs warrant, further decisions will be made to protect everyone.
Concerning our LUMC Children’s Ministry, we will continue to practice our current requirement of the wearing of face coverings by all volunteers in all settings/activities involving children who are not eligible for immunization due to their age. This MANDATE includes: Sunday School, LUMC Pre-school, Break-out Kids, as well as any other Children’s Ministries activities on the LUMC campus.
Concerning our LUMC Youth Ministry, while the wearing of face coverings is strongly recommended, they are not required. Many of our Junior High youth are not yet able to be vaccinated due to their age and hence we strongly encourage the wearing of masks when in ministry with this group. This RECOMMENDATION includes: Sunday School, MYF gatherings, as well as any other Youth Ministries activities on the LUMC campus.
Concerning our LUMC Scouting ministry, the aforementioned MANDATE for children under the age of vaccine eligibility will apply; and the aforementioned recommendation for youth will apply.
Concerning the Shepherd’s Center activities, the Shepherd’s Center will resume their gatherings on schedule with their Fall Session (per the Shepherd’s Center brochure, printed 8/17/21). Again, while optional, the wearing of face coverings, the practice of social distancing, and thorough hand washing are strongly recommended.
As we continue to be in ministry together during these challenging times, please use your best judgement regarding these precautionary practices, and stay safe.
PREVIOUS STEPS MADE IN LUMC’S “RETURN TO CHURCH” PROCESS:
After a lengthy and lively discussion at LUMC’s most recent Church Council meeting May 25th, a decision was made to re-enter the LUMC sanctuary. This decision by the Church Council came following a recommendation by LUMC’s Covid-19 Committee. Recent updates by the CDC and the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church have brought us to the long-awaited time when we can relax many of our Covid-19 protocols. From the outset of the Pandemic, LUMC’s Covid-19 protocols have been focused on operating as normally as possible while making Lexington UMC a safe place to worship, to be in ministry, and to serve God and neighbor. We have sought to love our neighbor as ourselves by focusing on not excluding anyone and keeping the most vulnerable safe. As we take this much anticipated Next Step of re-entering our beloved LUMC sanctuary, the 28 Church Council members in attendance at the May 25th meeting voted 27-1 in favor of the following statement regarding LUMC’s Next Steps protocol:
The wearing of face coverings is still recommended to protect members of Lexington United Methodist Church who are not fully vaccinated because of personal, age related, or health related reasons.
As we move forward over our shared fellowship as a family of faith, please be aware of these additional changes to LUMC’s prior Covid-19 practices and protocols:
Three Sunday worship services will be offered each week:
8:30am – Traditional Worship/LUMC Sanctuary
11am – Contemporary Worship/Ministry Center/Wesley Hall
11am – Traditional Worship/LUMC Sanctuary
Seating at all worship services will be at the discretion of those in attendance. However, we ask worship attendees to maintain a three foot interval (a full arm’s length) from those around you if you do not share the same household. We ask that physical contact (hugs, handshakes, etc.) be limited to protect everyone. Due to the distance between the worship activity space and the congregational seating, all worship leaders will remove their masks when performing worship activities such as speaking, singing, etc.
An ionizer was installed on May 7th in the LUMC sanctuary to enhance the flow of fresh air. Additionally, the HVAC system in the sanctuary will be set on FAN mode during all activities within the sanctuary. Bulletins, hymnals, and songbooks will be available at all three of our worship services. Attendance registration pads will be available in the pews. Offering plates will be distributed during the Offertory. Holy Communion will be served at frequent intervals and individual pre-packaged elements will continue to be utilized.
Adult Sunday School classes are currently being offered per the arrangements of each individual class. No Children’s Sunday School classes are being offered at this time. However, Children’s Church is offered during the 11am worship services. Additionally, Nursery care is offered during the 11am worship services. Adults volunteering in the Nursery will continue to wear face coverings as Nursery-aged children cannot yet be vaccinated and they are not yet old enough to wear masks. Each child’s temperature will be checked upon arrival and if any child’s temperature registers above 99.8 degrees, that child will not be allowed to stay in the Nursery.
One Traditional worship service and one Contemporary worship service will be live-streamed weekly.
For further information regarding the latest guidelines Lexington UMC is using to make our protocol decisions, please go to:
www.umcsc.org – Covid-19 Best Practices for UMCSC Churches
www.cdc.gov – Coronavirus
www.scdhec.gov – Covid-19
As evidenced from our past 15 month journey through an ongoing global pandemic, these decisions for Next Steps are challenging, complicated, and conflicting. But as a faith community who has been celebrating the love and the grace and the abundance of Almighty God for over 171 years, our greatest desire is to continue to move forward in obedience to the call of Jesus Christ and the leading of the Holy Spirit. May we all keep each other in prayer as we attempt to work together in love, as the Body of Christ in the world.
Blessings of peace and joy and unity –