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May 18th Weekly Letter

Dear Friends at Owatonna UMC – today I have 3 important points to make. Thanks for reading below.

1) The pastors who have been serving OUMC will be available on Wed. June 10th from 6-7:30 p.m. for a “drive-by good-bye / thank you” event in the parking lot of the church. Each of the pastors will be at a different door (Door # 1 by the main entrance to the sanctuary, # 2 by the office, and # 3 down by the fellowship hall.)

People will need to stay in their cars - no one can get out and give a hug or a handshake. At all times we’ll maintain social/physical distancing. We’ve had some nice “birthday parade events” that have been held previously and they seemed to work well. Some people can have signs to display or honk their horns or shout out the windows of their cars - remaining in their vehicle. We hope that you can join us for this event! Pastors Linda, Joyce, and I all look forward to seeing you! We each thank you for the privilege of serving this church.

2) The Council of Stewards met on Sunday May 17th to - among other things - approve an initial draft plan to practice an abundance of caution in how OUMC will eventually re-open for worship and for other gatherings in a modified face to face format. At this point there is no specific date in mind to re-open in any fashion. These were some of our thoughts/discussions. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but we’re doing it nonetheless.

We discussed the importance of having doors either left open or opened up by ushers/greeters so that people don’t have to touch door handles - plus having hand sanitizer available when door handles have to be used to go into other rooms - i.e. the offices/bathrooms. Only one person or family unit in a bathroom at once. We spoke about not using the Bibles or hymnals currently in the pew racks - asking people to watch the screen where things will be displayed. The pews and any chairs that get sat in will need to be wiped down each time.

We addressed the importance of everyone wearing masks at all times - except for when worship leaders would be preaching, leading worship, or providing special music. For safety concerns, we focused on the importance of the congregation not singing during worship services - except for those who will be providing special music.

We emphasized social/physical distancing in the pews - making sure that only families sit close in the same pew and that there be six feet of separation in every direction between where people sit. Those sitting in the fellowship hall would also practice such safety seating – only one or 2 people at a table for any gatherings. This kind of distancing would also be kept as people walk into and leave the church building - giving space.

We spoke of the need for people who are 60 and above, as well as those with underlying health conditions, to use an abundance of caution before even considering attending worship until the CDC indicates that it’s safe for them once more. We’re well aware that this contingency comprises a big percentage of our membership!!

We talked about how to celebrate Holy Communion using individual cups with individual wafer packets passed out and to have the offering received by putting your donation in the plates on the way into or out of the church. In terms of food and fellowship, we know that masks need to be worn, so no food or drink can be offered until all of this is cleared up. It’s difficult to not drink coffee and enjoy treats, but we practice safety first.

We centered all of our statements in the context of making sure to protect those who are most vulnerable and to show care and concern - and patience!! - as we try to navigate this pandemic. The Council of Stewards is practicing good stewardship of the health and safety of our congregation even though we know that there is huge frustration about not meeting together for worship and other events at this time. We need to do what’s right for the health and safety of all, even though we really miss our fellowship and despite the fact that not everyone agrees with these measures. Some people think all of this is over-blown, but we’re being cautious.

3) I’ve exchanged a couple of emails with your new pastor, Rev. Lisa Vick, already. She’s excited to become your new minister. I ask that you extend the same good will - along with prayers for - and patience toward her that you’ve done for your previous pastors. Always be in communication with her and the leaders if you have questions and concerns so that lines of communication - along with hearts and minds - are kept open.

I’ve run out of room for this piece - again! God’s blessings be upon you as you proceed by faith!

Pastor Scott

Some thoughts from your incoming pastor, the Rev. Lisa Vick, in terms of Gifts for the Ministry (in her own words) “I love to preach and plan creative worship services. I have a heart for engaging with persons who have no church home as of yet. Since working at Sisters Salon and Day Spa in Owatonna as an esthetician, I have met so many young adults who are searching for a spiritual place to belong. Finally, I am passionate about hospitality - making the Church welcome to all.” In terms of Leadership Style – “Growing up in a rural church outside of Montevideo, Minnesota, I learned that pastors can’t go it alone. They need to collaborate with laity and staff. All hands are needed to ensure that we continue to do God’s will as we move forward into the future.” In terms of Aspirations for Ministry and for Serving the Local Church – “I believe God has a plan for all churches - large, small, rural, urban or suburban - and that is to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. Often we concentrate on what we don’t have and forget to trust that God has a plan and a ministry already lined up for us!” And finally, in terms of Spiritual Disciplines and Study – “Like everyone else, I become worried about my life and what the future holds. I find hope and comfort in the words of Julia of Norwich “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” When I moved into my house in Owatonna, the previous owner had lots of written word art on her walls. I took most of it down with the exception of these words from Proverbs 31:25 that I can see through my kitchen window into the porch: “She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.” Through Bible study and prayer, I strive to “laugh without fear of the future” so I can do God’s work in the world.”

Pastor’s Good-Bye’s!

Pastors Joyce, Linda and Scott will be available for a drive-by thank you parking lot event in the parking lot of OUMC from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wed. June 10th

People will need to stay in their cars and they can honk their horns or shout out the window with greetings of "thank you" and "good bye" to Pastors Joyce, Linda and Scott.

Each pastor will be outside by one of the 3 doors of the church (#1 main doors near the sanctuary, #2 door closest to the office, and #3 door by the fellowship hall entrance of the church) with all the doors being on the parking lot side of the church.

{Reminder the church will be closed on Memorial Day.}

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Owatonna United Methodist Church

815 E University Street

Owatonna, MN 55060

507-451-4734
Worship: 9:00 a.m.
Sunday School at 10:00 a.m.

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