Thursday, April 30
Dear First Pasadena Family,
As many of you know, your Church Governing Board has been meeting weekly by video conference since mid-March to stay informed and to make decisions regarding our church and its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This group is charged with fiduciary oversight of our church’s ministries and finances as well as reviewing and updating various policies, procedures and protocols to keep our church and community safe.
Earlier this week, Governor Abbot released the details of his phased plan to begin “reopening Texas” and we wanted to update you on our plans regarding worship.
Although the Open Texas plan includes advice and provisions for places of worship, we will take a conservative approach consistent with published advice from a broader suite of guiding sources including our distinguished Texas Medical Center community and Bishop Scott Jones of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. The guidance from these sources strongly recommend more conservatism for church settings in the initial reopening phases and, therefore, we will not resume in-person worship at our sanctuary at least through the end of May. We will continue to offer worship online on Facebook Live every Sunday morning at 9 am and 11 am and for viewing after the services on Facebook (facebook.com/firstpasadena) and Vimeo (vimeo.com/firstpasadena).
Your Governing Board, Pastors, and staff continue to assess the needs of our church and community and will also continue to consult with medical professionals, our UMC church leaders, and community stakeholders to make the most informed decisions possible. Like many churches, we are actively developing the benchmarks, protocols, and oversights we feel are necessary to allow our facility to be utilized by all our various groups. These will come with full recognition that we have many groups of different structure and these protocols may need to be customized for each group. The over-riding factor is that we can provide an environment with a sound strategy to minimize the risk of spread, especially for our most at-risk groups.
We know that this is difficult, but please remember that this decision rises not out of fear but out of a deep love and concern for each one of you and all the people who make up our community. We have a social, moral and Christian responsibility to care for those around us – especially the vulnerable in our midst, and we strive to align with the practices we believe will best protect the health of our community.
We miss each of you dearly and look forward to that day soon when we can see each other again face to face. In the next few days a team of church volunteers will be contacting each household in the church to check on you and find out if you need anything. Pray for them and please continue to pray for each other, for our leadership and for our church, as well as for our community.
Will Reed, Pastor
Marc DeChellis, Chair, Governing Board
Wednesday, March 25
Hello church family!
We hope that you are taking this time to slow down and take in the gift of time that this situation brings us. Time to connect with others, with ourselves and with God. Reach out to other church members and let’s stay connected.
We will be following the “stay home – work safe” order put in place last night and therefore the building will be closed until Monday, April 6. This includes all meetings and scheduled events. Essential worship staff will be present on Sunday mornings as we share in worship online together at 9:00 am and 11:00 am. We will be taking proper safety precautions in numbers and distance.
It is our hope that we will be together in the Sanctuary again on Easter Sunday. What a time of rejoicing that would be!
Let us know if there is anything we can do for you.
Thursday, March 19
As I write these words, it is Tuesday, March 17, 2020. One month ago, on February 17, 2020 there were just 15 Coronavirus cases in the United States. At 4 p.m. today, there are 6,084 cases in the U.S. with 1,421 new cases and 101 deaths. Across the world there have been over 200,000 cases and almost 8,000 deaths to date.
Who could have imagined one month ago that we would be limiting meetings to no more than 10 persons and have been asked to avoid crowds and stay home? Some of us have not eaten as many meals at home in years. COVID-19 has radically changed the way we do life and do church.
As we struggle through this difficult time, I am reminded of the passage from Romans 5:11 that Pastor Mireya has taught us. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Friends we need the hope that is ours as followers of Jesus Christ and I pray that all of us might be the agents of God’s hope amidst these difficult times.
Your church wants to support you and encourage you. So, please let us know if there is anyway that we can be of assistance to you. Email me directly at WillReed@FirstPasadena.org or call me at 281.487.8787 and let me know how I can be your pastor or if there is someone that you are concerned about.
We are not sending a newsletter this month because things seem to be changing daily. Instead, we will communicate with you regularly through several means including email, Facebook (Facebook.com/FirstPasadena) and our website (FirstPasadena.org). By Thursday at 2 p.m. of each week we will communicate with you regarding our worship and other plans for the week ahead. If you know of someone who does not have access to a computer or other technology tools, please communicate with them on behalf of the church when we communicate with you. We will post any important news online like the letter we read last Sunday regarding our plans with Asbury UMC at FirstPasadena.org/updates.
We don’t know how long we will not worship together in person. In the mean time we will worship online on our regular schedule at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. each Sunday through Facebook live on our Facebook page. Additionally, we will post the bulletin, the GPS, sermon and other portions of the service on our website (www.FirstPasadena.org/watch) each week. Please remember to give regularly by mail or online at FirstPasadena.org/give. When you click on the online giving image it will take you to a secure site where you can send your tithes and offerings. Our bills must still be paid even though we are not together in person.
We hope to be back in the Sanctuary by Easter Sunday, April 12. What a glorious resurrection day it will be if we are. If you would like to purchase an Easter Lily in honor or memory of a loved one, please send a check for $13 to the church office with a note regarding who the lily is in honor or memory of and who the dedication is from. You can also purchase Easter Lilies online https://www.eventbrite.com/o/first-umc-pasadena-18060285194. All orders must be received by Sunday, April 5.
During this time of crisis let’s be the Body of Christ by caring for one another and for our neighbors. Check on those who may need assistance. Call your neighbors. Gather for small watch parties for worship on Sunday morning. Let’s keep the faith and show those around us that God loves the entire world.
Grace and Peace,
Will Reed, Pastor
March 16, 2020
Coronavirus Update #3
Grace and Peace dear Friends,
Developments with the Coronavirus pandemic continue to evolve. Last night the Centers for Disease Control recommended that we not gather in groups of 50 or more. We will honor the recommendation and we will not meet face to face for worship or Sunday School this coming Sunday and beyond. But we will worship online as we did last Sunday for the first time when over 500 of you accessed our online worship via Facebook live.
Additionally, we will not gather in large groups until the recommendation is lifted. So, events like the Easter Egg hunt that was scheduled for April 11 will be postponed and/or canceled.
The guidance of Houston Methodist Hospital is that we also limit our smaller meetings to no more than 15. We will honor that recommendation.
These are interesting times and we have an opportunity to be the church of Jesus Christ in new ways that we had not thought of until just a few days ago.
During this time that is so different than anything we have ever experienced I am comforted by Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:34 when he challenged us to “stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” I know that God will see us through this difficult time.
Let me assure you that your Covid-19 team is working with the staff to make decisions regarding church programs and activities each week so that you and our community will be safe. So, at this time we are moving as much as possible of our church life online and we will do our best to communicate with you no later than 2 p.m. each Thursday regarding worship and the scheduled programs for the week ahead.
During this time of crisis let’s be the Body of Christ by caring for one another and for our neighbors. Check on those who may need assistance. Call your neighbors. Gather for small watch parties for worship on Sunday morning. What better time to show those around us that God loves the entire world?
Will Reed, Pastor
Friday, March 14, 2020
Grace and Peace dear Friends,
As developments with the Coronavirus pandemic continue to evolve rapidly, I wanted to update you on what your leaders are doing to protect you and others.
After consultation with Marc DeChellis, our Governing Board Chair, we created a COVID-19 response team to help advise and make decisions regarding our church’s response to the pandemic. Serving on the team are Angela Powell, Pat Dietz and Donna Wilson. Angela works at Texas Children’s Hospital and Pat and Donna are recently retired nurses. Soon after establishing the team we met for the first time and set some guidelines for our response this coming Sunday as well as our plan going forward.
While we will gather for worship on Sunday, as we have less than 250 persons in each of our worship services, we will be observing several important protocols.
- If you are ill, in a compromised medical condition, or in a vulnerable population group we urge you to stay home and worship with us online. We are planning to stream our worship services at 9:00 and 11:00 on Facebook live through our church’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/firstpasadena . Also, our GPS3 study guide is online at firstpasadena.org/gps and you can view past sermons at firstpasadena.org/watch. We will also upload the latest sermon as soon after Sunday morning as possible. Your weekly offerings can also be made online at firstpasadena.org/give.
- If you do choose to attend worship, please know that bulletins will only be available to worship leaders and by request. All participatory acts of worship will be shown on the screens, so most in attendance will not need bulletins.
- Ushers will be stationed at the entrances to the sanctuary to dispense hand sanitizer to every person as they enter for worship.
- Communion at the 9:00 am service will be served with individual communion cups instead of by intinction as we normally do. All who serve will be using hand sanitizer prior to their service.
- We will encourage “smiles and conversation” at appropriate distances. While some of you may wish to shake hands or hug, we ask that you respect the wish of others regarding physical contact.
- We will provide baskets for the offering instead of passing the offering plates.
- Our custodial staff has already started to regularly sanitize all surfaces that are touched regularly including door knobs, countertops and tables.
- Additionally, you should know that the First Friends board is closely monitoring the situation as well and will communicate any important messages directly to their First Friends constituents.
Regarding future worship services and other events that are scheduled, our COVID-19 response team will meet weekly to review the updated situation with the novel Coronavirus and make decisions whether to have those events. We will communicate with you regularly be email and through Facebook. Please communicate with other church members regarding our decisions, especially if you know that they do not have email or access to a computer.
While this is time of anxiety and stress for many, let us remember the words of the Psalm 27:1. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom (and what) shall I fear?.” Let us pray for leaders across the world as they ponder the difficult decisions they must consider. Pray also for those who have contracted the coronavirus and for their families. Pray also for our First Pasadena Covid-19 team, your pastors and Governing Board as we seek to serve you and keep you safe.