Church leadership has decided that, with the current state of prevalence and the protocols and procedures that are in place in other areas of life, we no longer need to require social distancing in the sanctuary. As of this Sunday, June 19, we will no longer rope off every second pew on the main level of the sanctuary. To provide space for those who would prefer to continue distancing, the ropes will remain in place in the balcony.
Next Sunday, February 13th, we will resume our pre-Christmas Sunday morning schedule with traditional worship and most of our Sunday school classes at 9:00am, coffee/fellowship time at 10:00am, and contemporary worship and the Berean/Forum class at 10:30am.
- Masks are welcome, but not required at FUMC.
- The ropes in the sanctuary will remain (Invite your friends so we have a need to take them down!)
- Communion will be served by coming down the aisles to receive the elements or prepackaged elements can be picked up on your way into the sanctuary.
- We encourage you to fill out your connect card so we have a record of your attendance and we can know how to pray for you.
NOTE: We recognize the decision to wear a mask or not is an intensely personal one. We request that everyone participating in our services respect one another's decision regarding masks. Please be sensitive to varying levels of comfort as you interact with one another.
Dear First Methodist Family,
I am sure that you are aware that COVID-19 cases have been surging with the arrival of the omicron variant and colder temperatures driving people indoors. Airlines have canceled thousands of flights, schools have gone virtual, and many businesses have reinstated mask requirements. As your pastor, I am committed to continuing to offer both online and in-person worship opportunities as long as we are able.
In order to continue offering in-person gatherings, and in the absence of current CDC & NJDOH guidance for houses of worship (last updated 9/21/21), we have decided to update our COVID protocols to include the following:
- Masks are strongly encouraged at all meetings, classes, and worship gatherings. Out of consideration for others (Philippians 2:4), we are asking you to wear a mask, if you are able, especially when distancing isn't possible.
- The pews will continue to be distanced in the sanctuary and committee chairs and teachers are asked to facilitate distancing in their classes and meetings. Using different rooms than usual or meeting via zoom are options to help with this.
- Communion will be served using prepackaged communion elements picked up as you enter the sanctuary.
- Each household is encouraged to fill out and return their connect card as a way of tracking those in attendance in worship.
We believe that by implementing these measures we are increasing our ability to continue gathering in-person for worship. Because of these protocols we will also suspend serving coffee between the Sunday morning services and will move the 9:00am service and Sunday school classes to 9:15-10:15am to reduce the downtime between services and classes. We do not envision these to be permanent or long-term changes, but shifts that we can make in the short-term to balance our desires to meet in person and to handle Covid wisely.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (856-889-6884).
Grace & Peace,
May 27, 2021
Starting on June 6th, we will be relaxing our COVID protocols based on new guidelines released by the CDC and the State of NJ:
- Pre-registration is no longer required to attend our services in-person
- Seating in the sanctuary will be relaxed to every other pew (instead of every 3rd pew)
- All pews will once again have a pew pad
- Hymnals & Bibles will be available in all pews
- Masks will no longer be required
NOTE: The decision whether to wear a mask or not is an intensely personal one. We request that everyone participating in our services respect one another's personal decision regarding masks. If you see someone wearing a mask, please be sure to keep your distance as you approach that individual. If you choose to wear a mask and remain distanced from others, our welcome team will do their best to accommodate that request.
We will continue to live-stream the service as well, so if you are not yet comfortable in a public setting, we understand and invite you to join us virtually through the website. The building will also be available - on a scheduled basis - for use by various small groups.
March 5, 2021
As COVID numbers are dropping and increasing numbers of people are vaccinated, we as a staff believe it is time to start reopening the building again. Our intention is to return to “Phase 1” guidelines (as in November), beginning with the Sunday morning worship service on March 14 (still at 10:00 am). We look forward to seeing you again in person! We will continue to live-stream the service as well, so if you are not yet comfortable in a public setting, we understand and invite you to join us virtually through the website. The building will also be available - on a scheduled basis - for use by various small groups.
As in November, we want to reconnect for fellowship which we all need, yet to do so in a way that is safe for everyone, manageable by our staff, and done with excellence. Things will still be different from what we’ve known before; however, we confidently believe God always has better things in mind for our future than what we’ve known in our past. So let’s hold onto that hope, and work together to create a meaningful experience for every member of our family, as well as all those God desires to reach through us!
Below, are some of the ways we can cooperate to make all of that happen.
Sunday Worship Service
Those planning to attend worship are strongly urged to register in advance. You can pre-register by clicking the button above. This will take the place of our attendance form and will allow us to do contact tracing should the need arise. It will also help us to manage capacity (the sanctuary cannot exceed 125 persons).
Relevant Procedures for the Worship Service
- The building will only be accessible on Sunday mornings through the 2 sanctuary entrances on Park Ave, including the corner entrance and handicap-accessible ramp.
- Doors will open for check-in at 9:30 am, and the service will begin at 10:00
- Those who enter the church building must wear a mask that covers both mouth and nose during the entire service.
- On entry, all participants will check in at 1 of 2 tables in the narthex, have their temperature taken, and be asked a few essential COVID-related questions. Those showing a fever of 100.4 F or above will not be permitted to enter the worship space.
- After check-in, an usher will guide people to their seat. Everyone will remain seated before and during the service, and no handshaking, hugs, or other physical contact will be permitted.
- The nursery will not be available; all children will remain with their parents during the worship service during Phase I.
- Offerings can be dropped off in a collection box when leaving the sanctuary each week. On communion Sundays, you can pick up a prepackaged, single-serve communion cup at the doorway as you enter the sanctuary
- The narthex restroom at the back of the sanctuary will be available
The sanctuary and 2 sides of the parlor will be available for groups to use at this time. These groups must be scheduled in advance in order to manage capacity and to be sure all used spaces are properly cleaned between each use.
- Small groups of 20 persons or less will be required to use the Parlor
- Small groups greater than 20 persons will be required to use the Sanctuary
Group leaders should contact Pat Gunning to schedule their group (email@example.com or (609-792-4441) and must agree to the procedures below.
Relevant Procedures for Small Groups
- Groups that meet in the sanctuary will enter through the corner or ramp doors on Park Ave, and groups using the parlor will enter through the door on Dayton Ave
- Those who enter the church building must wear a mask that covers both mouth and nose during the entire gathering.
- Group leaders are responsible to keep attendance for every gathering, including names, phone numbers, and email addresses. These lists will be provided to the church office immediately following any event.
- Temperatures will be taken at each gathering.
- Seating in gatherings should be arranged to keep a 6’ distance between members
- All food & drink services provided by the church will be suspended until further notice. People may bring their own food and drink, as long as no food or utensils are shared between those of different households.
- Restrooms will be available. Groups meeting in the parlor will use the restrooms outside of the gym and great room; groups meeting in the sanctuary will use the restroom in the narthex (back of the sanctuary). Masks are to be worn in our restrooms.
Once again, we are so excited about the joint responsibility and privilege that we have as a church family, stepping forward together in this unusual but exciting season. God will continue to guide us and bless us and use us as we move together with our eyes on Him.
In Christ's Name,
The FUMC Staff & Church Council
November 25, 2020
Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our immediate area, FUMC will be closing our building until further notice. This includes Sunday morning in-person services, as well as all small group activity throughout the week. Please know that this isn’t a decision we take lightly, and as always, we will continue to re-evaluate things as the pandemic progresses.
We will still be live streaming our Sunday morning worship services at 10am. Please click on the link above to access the livestream, and click on the "services" tab above to access a digital bulletin or view any previously live streamed service.
We know that this is a disappointment for many of us, but our main priority is the safety of our church family, and we feel that this is the right decision at this time. It’s easy to say that “the church is more than just a building”, and that “we are together even though we are apart”, and even though we FIRMLY BELIEVE those things, we also recognize that those words don’t ease the pain felt by so many as we are forced with another time of isolation. That being said, if you have any needs, we urge you to call or email the church office at 856-858-1186 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be doing our best to check for messages on a regular basis.
Finally, please know that your FUMC staff & church family are praying for you… we are still here for you… and we love you!
In Christ's Name,
The FUMC Staff & Church Council
September 28, 2020
We are excited to announce the following updates on our service format, and information about Phase 1 of our Building Re-Opening Plans...
- Our worship services will now be Live-Streamed from the sanctuary each week, beginning this Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 10 am. This is an opportunity to enhance our service quality for all who tune in, to the glory of God! While our services will no longer be on Zoom, there will be a post-service Zoom fellowship for those who would still like to chat and see each other. The links for both the Live Stream and Zoom Fellowship can be found on the website: www.fumccollingswood.org.
- After a long time of being away, we are anticipating coming back into the building! The Church Council has approved Phase 1 of our Building Re-Opening Plan. All plans are subject to change, but as of now, our current goal is to open the building for a weekly 10am service beginning on November 1, 2020. This service will continue to be Live Streamed, and the recordings will still be available for viewing online. We will be following all state and local guidelines, which will be communicated via mail, email, and our website in the near future.
- As part of our Phase 1 Re-Opening Plan, Life Groups and Youth Group will also be able to come back in the building! Due to CDC guidelines and cleaning/maintenance regulations, ALL groups wishing to use the church building must put in a request to Pat Gunning… no exceptions. They will be given building use & safety protocols that will need to be followed every time the group meets. At the present time, no groups outside of our church family will be considered. If you are interested in reserving a space, please contact Pat at (856) 962-8010.
June 4, 2020
Dear FUMC Family
First of all, we want to say thank you! The prayers, encouragement, and support you’ve given to us as a staff during this difficult time have been such a strength and blessing. We love you and are tremendously thankful for you!
Second, we recognize that this quarantine has been tough. And as time goes on, we’re all longing to see each other again. But along with those feelings come many different - even confusing or conflicting - messages. So it seemed crucial to us that we communicate some clear direction to you in regard to where we are and where we’re going as a congregation.
Moving Forward: When and How Should We Meet?
There is a lot on the line when it comes to this question. The matter of re-gathering together includes the emotional and spiritual well-being of each person in our congregation - and we do believe that being together with the Body is crucial. It also involves the physical well-being of people, and we must especially consider those connected to our ministry who are most vulnerable to this dangerous and not-yet-understood disease. So we as a staff are seeking to make a decision that is both Spirit-led and well-informed. We are praying a lot, individually and together (over Zoom, of course). We are also paying attention to statements from our Governor and other authorities, from our Bishop, and from other faith-communities locally and around the country. Given the uncertainty and ever-changing nature of this pandemic, it is not possible to declare any definite long-term plans or dates; however, we also don’t want to keep you guessing. So for now, we are sharing our decisions for the summer.
In cooperation with the Governor’s proclamation that smaller groups can begin meeting, and because of our need as humans to be with each other, we are allowing smaller groups (including life groups, prayer groups, etc.) to consider reconvening. But first, recognize that not all group members may feel comfortable doing so just yet. We call all leaders to show grace in your invitations, and consider allowing a hybrid gathering with some joining in-person and others joining virtually. And second, all groups must meet safely. The following is our “Top 10 List” of precautions for small groups this summer:
- Keep it to 25 people or less
- Stay outdoors
- Stay 6+ feet apart
- Wear a mask (if you can’t keep 6 feet apart)
- Bring your own chair
- Bring your own food/drink (or none at all)
- Don't use the restroom (We suggest a time limit of approx. 60-90 min)
- Wash hands/use sanitizer before and after
- Anyone with symptoms of any kind for the previous 48 hours (fever, sore throat, respiratory symptoms, etc. - even if you think it's allergy related), should not attend
- Anyone with symptoms of any kind within 7 days after meeting in-person with the group, should contact the group, and Pastor Sam or the staff, immediately
We all want to be together again! But in light of the information we’re receiving, and through much prayer and discussion, we have decided to continue our quarantine from large-group gatherings. So we are planning on having no activities at the building, but keeping all services, meetings, and ministries virtual through the summer (including VBS - the children’s team will evaluate other options for ministry this summer). We will continue monitoring the situation - let us all keep an open mind, and be prepared to adjust restrictions looser or tighter, sooner or longer, as necessary.
Moving Forward: Our Posture
In everything, we’re asking all of us to remember that what is most important - more than any position held, or decision made - is our posture as God’s people. Don’t forget that we are reflections of Christ in this world, and everything we say or do (or post), and the attitudes and tones behind it, creates positive or negative ramifications. In light of that, may we embrace the following posture toward God, each other, and others around us:
Humility. Yes, all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 is frustrating, and our temptation is to believe “I know best.” But NO ONE - including our government, the experts, our staff, and even you - knows the right answer in any of this. May we all recognize that people are trying to make the best possible decision for the most people possible.
Unity. As God’s people, we have a different goal than the world does. We must not seek our own comfort or well-being at another’s expense; rather, we work for and with each other. And unity doesn’t equal uniformity: we will disagree on many things, but we can keep holding on to our common (and most important) vision and mission together.
Grace. Let us throw away our attitudes of condemnation toward others who hold a different position, make choices we don’t understand, or don’t act/speak with their best behavior (you and I don’t always either). Everyone is under a great degree of stress - give each other the benefit of the doubt and “make allowance for each other’s faults” (Col 3:13).
Love. “Above all else, clothe yourselves with love” (Col 3:14). “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another” (Rom 13:8). “[If I] do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2).
In other words, may we seek to live right, not merely be right!
Finally, we want to acknowledge the reality that this season has been (and will continue to be) very painful. This pandemic has created quite a strain on us in multiple ways - physically, relationally, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and/or financially. We see you, and we care! We as a staff are committed to your safety and your well-being, and will continue to do all we can to lead you and meet your needs. More importantly, God cares - He sees you, He is with you, He has not forgotten you! May we all find comfort in God’s invitation and promise to us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov 3:5-6)
Your staff - Pastor Sam, Matt, Leon, Will, Shawn, and Pat