As we continue to receive communications and information regarding the COVID-19 virus, we are aware of the significant challenges arising on a daily basis. The virus is spreading rapidly, and there are an increasing number of cases reported throughout the state. We know the virus is highly contagious and that mitigation is possible with cautious measures.
It is extremely important that we slow the rate of infection in order to allow our health care services to respond appropriately. If the infection rate increases too quickly, we may not have the health care support required for everyone needing treatment.
With the awareness of so many who depend on our church ministries, we hope you will be mindful of the need to continue to support these ministries and those of your local church. Your prayers, presence (in spirit), gifts (including financial support), service, and witness are still important and needed to sustain and strengthen our ongoing mission.
Please go to our web page www.fumcdublintx.com and click on the more column then click on the tab Donations and make a one time or repeat times donation. You may use the “General Account” for Tithes and the “Special Account” for dedicated offerings. Your information is protected by VANCO and none of your personal information is on the web site or our office. It goes to VANCO’s secure site and then they make an electronic deposit into our account at the bank. Our office hours may at some point be reduced but for the time being the office is open Monday-Thursday 9am until 1pm. If you have any questions as to how to use the electronic giving, please call us and we will help you in any way that we can.
I will continue to record our services on CD’s and if you would like to receive one, just call the office and drop by and pick it up. In some cases, we can mail them.
Please take precautions to keep yourself, loved ones, congregations, and communities safe.
During this health crisis, may we use this time to provide a clear and strong witness for Christ in our community; to truly be the Church.
I give thanks for the creative ways in which so many of you are using online worship experiences. You offer words of hope and comfort to those who gather for worship on their phone, computer, or tablet. This week, I am setting up a Facebook account in the Church’s name and will live-stream our Service. First UMC Dublin Tx. Please let me know if you watched and also your experience in receiving it.
Some of you I have heard are even reading stories to shut-ins and also children, so that the community you serve will still feel connected to the church during this time of social distancing. I am proud of your extra efforts and faithful leadership in such a time as this.
NOTICE: I do ask that you continue to follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and we will suspend public worship, as well as other group gatherings, at least until the end of March. Please follow the CDC guidelines, State guidelines, and the direction of county and city government. These precautions are not only important for your own safety but for the health and welfare of the entire community. Social distancing can and will slow the rate of infection in order to allow our health care services to respond appropriately.
Now is the time for the church to be the Church. The CDC and the Conference continue to offer resources for faithful and appropriate ways to respond. Please pray for all those who are infected with this virus and their families; for those who have lost loved ones; for medical personnel who are offering care to those who are sick; for scientists who are working diligently to create a vaccine; for governmental leaders as they make difficult decisions. Please connect with those who are most vulnerable in your community and help to meet their needs. In a powerful email which I received late last week, Matthew Till reminds us that we also have the opportunity to “use time in social distancing as an extended period of sabbath rest through reading, prayer, abiding in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and connecting with loved ones in your home. Your soul needs it and God will use it for God’s glory.”
Like the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness, we find ourselves in unchartered territory. However, the God who led Moses and his people with a cloud by day and a fire by night, leads us as well. May the Lord, who is our light and salvation give us grace and strength for this and every time of need.
“Our buildings may be closing, and our regular services suspended for a while, but the church is very much open.” Bishop Lowry noted. “In this season of crisis, we must continue to be guided by faith and not driven by fear. Breathe Deep. Jesus is still Lord.”
More on Gov. Abbot’s Executive Order
The order is not a shelter in place order and does not stop people from going to parks, banks or grocery stores and domestic travel remains unrestricted, but travelers are highly recommend to avoid large groups.
Along with the mandate that every person in Texas must avoid social gatherings of 10 or more people, the order requires that the "dine-in" areas of restaurants, bars, clubs and more must close. Restaurants can still provide drive-thru, takeout or delivery services. This also applies to church coffee bars and food outreach programs.
Other places where people would gather, such as gyms and entertainment venues, shall also be closed.
All schools will be closed or, in some cases, remain closed to prevent further spread. Schools have already begun shifting to online means of education.
Non-essential visitors at nursing homes, retirement centers or long-term health facilities will not be allowed during this order.
Government entities and businesses will continue providing essential services.
Offices and workplaces may remain open, but it is highly encouraged that only essential employees report to the place of work. Where feasible, business and organizations should allow and encourage employees to work from home and other remote sites. And employees who do go to work should practice both good hygiene as well as best practices in order to minimize exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.
This order goes into effect at midnight Friday, March 20 and will last until midnight on April 3.
With gratitude for you and your leadership,
Pastor Ken Lunsford