Our church & COVID-19

Upcoming Zoom Worship and Events

Click here to view the Zoom links and dial-in info

March 16, 2020

We have an amazing opportunity to reach out and be the church in a new and even more powerful way. The staff of Meridian Street met this morning and took the beginning steps in outlining how we will maneuver through the next couple of months. This is the first of several communications you will receive this week - so please keep an eye on both your email box, your U.S. mail, and the Meridian Street website as important details will be sent via all of these means.

It is clear that meetings and even worship will be required to be conducted remotely. Again, details will be coming to you as to how that looks, but for now we are in need of a lot of volunteers to manage two important aspects of our new normal.

The first need is for Congregational Care Ambassadors. We need to stay connected with our church family - those who live alone and who are isolated. As a congregational care ambassador you would be assigned up to 10 people to be in contact with, over the phone, to pray with them and to see if they have any needs (and meet them if possible or advise the church) during this time of social distancing. If you would like to be one of these ambassadors, please click here. We will be in touch with your group.

The second need is more technology based. Meetings and even worship will be conducted remotely using a group meeting application called Zoom. Zoom is very user friendly but there are those in the congregation who could still use some assistance. If you would like to be a Zoom Ambassador to help your fellow congregants, please click here. We will be in touch with names of people who need assistance.

As was previously mentioned, look for much more detailed information regarding Sunday morning worship and various meetings and studies to come via email and U.S. mail, and we will add all information to the church website.

Social distancing doesn't mean emotional distancing. We encourage all of the congregation and community to practice patience, grace and compassion as we navigate these uncharted waters.  

Remember these words: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. John 14:27

March 14, 2020

As I (Pastor Steve) worked on preparing my sermon for this week, one of the scriptures I planned on referencing was Hebrews 10:24-25. "Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near." In light of all that is taking place in our world, those words need to take on a new interpretation.

As news of the COVID-19 continues to spread, as schools and employers have announced changes to their in-person gatherings, as governments are taking action to protect public health, and as concern and anxiety mount in our community and around the world: We are in an unprecedented moment as the Church. Opinions abound on what is the “right” thing to do, and there does not appear to be any easy or clear answers. Here is what we do know:

We are a people of grace. Let’s practice that grace with one another, as we all seek to do the best we can in these unique circumstances. We are not going to get everything right, and that’s OK. Let’s extend that grace beyond our church community to our family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers in the days and weeks ahead. They are not going to get everything right, and that’s OK. May grace guide how we live in this time (and always!).

Church is never canceled or shut down. We may make decisions not to gather in-person, but that doesn’t prevent us from being the Church. Remember that song from childhood? “The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is the people.” No matter what happens in the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to be the Church. We will continue to worship together, even if it takes on new forms that may not involve gathering in-person at our church building. We will continue to be in community — in fact, we should rely on our church community in this time as we care for each other through illness, social isolation, and anxiety! We will continue to be generous and serve, not only through our congregation but in our community as needs emerge. We will continue to grow through studies, classes, prayer, and more. Above all, we will seek to be Christ-like in how we care for each other and, especially, the most vulnerable among us.

What does all of this mean for us?

Tomorrow, we will gather for worship at Meridian Street United Methodist Church.During Pastor Steve's 36 years in ministry there has never been a time that he has canceled Sunday morning worship services. Sundays when the temperature was 20 degrees below zero (not counting the wind chill), when there was 20+ inches of snow, even when the power was out – every time Pastor Steve has always said, "the church will be open for those who want or need to come." Sometimes it was just a handful, but it didn’t matter – our calling is to have the doors to the house of God open.

After much prayer and discernment, we decided to move forward with our usual Sunday gatherings. This time together gives us an opportunity to talk about how we will continue to be the Church in the days ahead, even if the ways we “do Church” change. It also gives us a chance to check in with each other and make sure we are able to care for one another. Know that none of our gatherings come close to or cross the 250-person threshold named by the CDC and others as the metric for cancelling events. 

If you want to come out on Sunday morning, we will be there. Worship will be a little different – but we will be there to praise our God and to pray for an end to this challenging time. Sunday School will be different for our children; we will still have our nursery care and a single class for any children that are present

All of that said, this next part is very important: DO NOT come if you are sick or considered high risk for infection. Even if that doesn’t apply to you, but you feel that coming to church is not in the best interest for you or your family — stay home with our blessing. Let us know that you can’t join us (email addresses at the bottom of this email), pray with us and read scripture from your home, and then look for a video of the worship service on Monday (available through our website and email).

Our concern is always the protection of the most vulnerable and putting the needs of other people in front of our own. We know that people who are immuno-compromised and people with chronic illnesses are more likely to be infected with COVID-19, and the elders among us are more likely for the illness to become serious if infected. Those of us fortunate enough to have our health are responsible for protecting those in our congregation who are more vulnerable. Therefore, even if you are generally healthy and resilient, it is important to stay home if you are not feeling entirely well. Even if you have just a tickle in your throat and an occasional cough; even if you’re pretty sure you didn’t have coronavirus anyway, or you know you’re on the mend from “just a little virus” — please stay home, rest, drink fluids and don’t come to church unless and until you feel 100% well. 

For those who are plan to join us in-person tomorrow, here’s what you should know:

  • Our building maintenance staff have worked hard to clean the church, including regularly and meticulously wiping down doorknobs. Thank you, Frank and Jody!
  • We will practice “social distancing”. That means you are encouraged to spread out in the worship space to allow six feet or more between persons. There will be no shaking hands, hugs, or other physical signs of welcome — we will still welcome each other, just from a little more distance!
  • We will have hand sanitizer available throughout the church. You are also encouraged to take the time to wash hands with soap and water in our bathrooms. It’s OK if there’s a line at the sink. Take the time to do it right.
  • There will be no coffee and donuts. For some of us, that’s particularly challenging. You are invited and encouraged to bring your coffee from home this Sunday!
  • There will be no Sunday after church activities. The MORE with Meridian Class is being postponed, as is the Camp Sunday program.
  • The church will remain open. If you need a place to come and pray, or just someone to talk with, we will be here to minister alongside you.
  • Finally, we will talk about what to expect in the days ahead. Many of our gatherings will be moving to internet and video conferencing platforms. If you have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone and want some assistance learning how to use these tools, bring them on Sunday! We’ve got folks ready to assist you.

Friends, this is our moment. Let us be the faithful Church we are called to be, even and especially in the midst of challenges, uncertainty, and anxiety. If you have a need, please let us know. Even if it is grabbing groceries or other things for you, we are here to help.

How to stay in touch with our pastors and staff:

Email Pastor Steven Conger 

Email Pastor Mary Dicken