As things progress we will be updating this page with any communication from our local church and from the church as a whole.
Letter From Pastor Marilyn
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.’ – Psalm 56:3
Greetings Members and Friends of Faith UMC,
To say that we live in an uncertain and a troubling time would probably be to minimize the way that many people feel this morning. The news media hums and buzzes around us. While our communities, health, government and educational institutions continue to announce decisions about potential and actual closures, it can feel like an overwhelming tidal wave of information is assailing our ears and eyes. Many of us are becoming exhausted trying to keep up with the latest news regarding COVID-19.
Some of you may know that Governor Dewine has banned all public gatherings of over 100 people in the same space as well as closing public schools for the next three weeks. As of yet, he has not expressly prohibited religious gatherings. However, it seems appropriate to be cautious with all of God’s children.
Last night, our Administrative Council held an emergency meeting. After much discussion and deliberation and taking into consideration all the latest information available to us regarding the coronavirus, we have discerned it would be better to err on the side of caution than to unintentionally put anyone’s health at risk by continuing to meet and worship during this time. Therefore, we are suspending worship services and other church gathering for the next three weeks. There will be no public worship on March 15, 22, and 29. We are joining other local churches who have resolved the same.
Although this decision is disappointing for us and for many of you, we feel it is the best way that we can help to prevent the unintentional spread of this virus. Social distancing is the most effective means of slowing the spread of the disease. In the words of Dr. Wes Wallace, a leading public health official from North Carolina and a member of the University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, “For social distancing to be effective, it must begin early – so early that it may feel unneeded and silly. If we wait until its need is obvious, it is too late. The faith community has an important role to play in slowing the speed of disease transmission. Large gatherings of people are a petri dish for spreading the infection. For a period of time, I strongly urge our religious communities to suspend traditional services and gatherings and find other ways to practice and sustain our faith. Our witness and example may save many lives, especially the lives of those at risk in our own congregations.” *
These next three weeks are going to be difficult with schools closed and families working to figure out how things are going to be handled. Folks are going to need compassionate listening ears and people willing to find creative ways to help even when we cannot be together. People will get lonely and want to hear a friendly voice. That is where each of us, as the body of Christ, can and should step in and be that compassionate ear and friendly voice. Check in on one another, especially those you know who are at-risk or socially isolated. Share with each other via Facebook. Text each other frequently, email each other and call to check up on those who may not utilize social media and the internet. Continue to pray for one another. In this extraordinary time of uncharted waters, the Council and I ask you to help us continue to keep our community together even as we are apart. As always, I remain available and will be in touch with people as much as possible. Please don’t hesitate to call me (216-288-5123 cell).
We realize that many of you may have concerns. I encourage you to communicate those concerns as they arise with myself or Council members so that we can be proactive in finding solutions. One concern that has been expressed is about church finances. Know that we encourage everyone to continue their giving. Please feel free to mail offerings to the church. We now have a locked mailbox for security. You may also bring your gifts to the church. Our Administrative Assistant, Laura Bayda, will be available during regular office hours. Bonnie Scherger, Finance Secretary, will receive and record your gifts, and make necessary bank deposits.
Know that our church leadership will evaluate the situation as things change and will communicate updates and decisions as quickly as possible. As we pray for one another, please continue to pray for God’s guidance for our leaders, for healing mercies for those infected and the medical personnel and families caring for them, and for strength and patience for all those on the front lines of responding to this health crisis.
One thing remains certain – no matter how many things change around us, we can trust that God in Christ is with us, loving us and caring for us. May all of you continue to feel the love of our faith community and be blessed by the goodness of God’s abundant mercy and grace.
In His Service,
Pastor Marilyn Coney
*Dr. Wes Wallace is adjunct professor of emergency medication at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; medical director of State Medical Assistance Team 2, at the University of North Carolina, and medical officer in NC-1, the federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team in North Carolina. He is a member of University UMC in Chapel Hill.
Director of Communications
East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church
330-800-7190 – cell
FROM THE DISTRICT
Bishop Malone Urges EOC Churches to Cancel Public Worship Services through March 27
Dear East Ohio Conference Pastors, Congregations and Faith Communities,
I continue to hold you in prayer during these difficult times.
Yesterday I asked all pastors and every congregation to do everything necessary to protect and care for the health and the wellbeing of our faith communities and our communities at large in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic crisis.
In the past 24 hours, I have consulted several healthcare sources, including the Centers for Disease Control, the Ohio Department of Health and local healthcare systems all of which agree that to slow the spread of infection everyone must take precautionary measures and respond appropriately.
After prayerful discernment and in consultation with the executive staff of the Conference, I urge all East Ohio churches to cancel public worship services through the next two weeks, effective today through March 27.
I am not suggesting that we close our church buildings because our local churches and faith communities play a vital role in being in ministry with our communities, especially with the most vulnerable. During this time of crisis, it is critical that we find creative and non-traditional ways to practice and sustain our faith and witness through virtual worship, Bible studies, and outreach that does not put people in harm’s way.
It’s extremely important that if small groups or classes were to gather for the wellbeing of participants that extreme care be taken to make sure that people meet in cleansed spaces, that they maintain social distance by sitting with spaces between them, and that extra care be given for those who are older or have health vulnerabilities.
Realizing that different churches have different capacities and resources to respond in creative ways, I strongly encourage pastors and churches to support and resource each other so that together we can continue to share the love of Christ and be in ministry with our church members and with our communities.
Thank you in advance for your faithful response and for your leadership. While these are challenging times, we will get through them together by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is our great physician and healer.
East Ohio Conference Leadership will continue to monitor the latest developments regarding this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and will inform EOC clergy and laity of updates through posts on the Conference website and social media channels and through email.