COVID-19 UPDATE (6-2-21)

Please see the attached important announcement from Dale Van Slambrook, our Chair of Church Council, about returning to the Sanctuary for worship services.

COVID-19 Response (6-2-21)

returning to the sanctuary for worship

Return to the Sanctuary?

Mask, No Mask?

Vaccination, No Vaccination?

These are the questions we are facing every day. I must say that St. James UMC has handled the constantly changing, constantly evolving crisis over the last year with incredible skill, creativity, flexibility, and patience. We safely navigated our Sunday services, special events and the Pumpkin Patch without issue.

The South Carolina United Methodist Conference has made suggestions as to protocols for returning to indoor worship and masking. However, they have left these decisions primarily to the individual churches.

We are now entering the phase where most people are ready to get back to “normal.” We all want to return to “normal,” but we must remember to be mindful of the continuing concerns and sensitivities of our fellow members and guests. The plan for St. James UMC at this time is to return to a single indoor service in the Sanctuary on Sunday July 4, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

We will require the use of masks within the sanctuary and church buildings for at least the near future. We know that this has become a sensitive subject to some. However, the church council decided to continue the mask policy to provide comfort and safety for those who may not be fully vaccinated due to personal, age-related, or health-related reasons. We are not making a political statement rather merely asking everyone to make this accommodation to protect those members and guests with the greatest risk. We will continue with limited music, no congregational singing, social distancing, and no greeting time.

The Communications Committee by way of several significant donations has been able to upgrade our video technology and capacity. We will now be capable of providing live stream internet presentations of our worship services. When we return to the Sanctuary, we will be able to join the worship services live and in real time. This capability will significantly increase the quality of the virtual worship experience. The previous method required pre-recording on Saturday and significant editing to allow for viewing availability on Sunday morning. It was cumbersome and time consuming. Those people that do not yet feel comfortable returning to the Sanctuary are invited to continue to worship by way of our improved livestream presentation or in their convenient time other than Sunday morning.

This return to the Sanctuary policy is a work in progress. We are attempting to accommodate everyone – and most importantly, protect the congregation and our guests. As time passes and circumstances change, we will continue to monitor and then adjust the worship services, spacing, music, and masking requirements.

I am also ready to return to Sunday School. I miss my class. We are in the process of reaching out to the Sunday School leaders to determine how each group will return to class. The Charleston District of the United Methodist Church has provided a resource by way of a library of over 3,500 videos through “Amplify Media.” These videos include not only worship aids but Sunday School lessons and Bible study materials for all age groups and classes. We will explore the capability of using these in conjunction with our regular Sunday School class lessons and small group studies. Thankfully, we now have a way to jumpstart our Sunday School classes when we are able to return.

As always, I appreciate the hard work and dedication by all the people who have continued to make worship services available and kept St. James UMC going as a viable resource for Christian leadership in the Goose Creek area and beyond.

Please reach out to me with any suggestions, questions, comments, or observations. If you believe we need to take a different approach, please feel free to share so that we may effectively continue our mission of discipleship.

Dale Van Slambrook

The Chair of Church Council