Letter to the Congregation, 13 May 2020

To the members and friends of First UMC, greetings!

I know that you, like me, are eager to get back together for worship and fellowship. As you know, our bishop has recommended that we not hold in-person worship until June 14 at the earliest. Bishop Trimble is in conversation with medical professionals at IU Health, which is a United Methodist-related healthcare system.

Last week, I spoke with two members of our congregation, Dr. Joseph Lee, M.D. and Carol Collier-Smith. Dr. Lee stated that we should hold off our in-person worship until six weeks after the COVID-19 peak in our area. The date which Bishop Trimble provided (June 14) is approximately six weeks from the peak expected in the Indianapolis area. Southwest Indiana, however, is running about two weeks behind Indianapolis. So, we will need to remain apart until about June 28 or July 05.

I know this is disappointing, even disheartening, but it is necessary for the health of our congregation and broader communities in Posey County.

Carol Collier-Smith (Chief Operations Officer of Echo Community Healthcare) stated that, because so many people are NOT taking precautions seriously and are not doing what they ought (such as wearing masks in public, washing hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer frequently, and keeping 6 feet apart) health professionals across the nation expect a resurgence of the virus to occur in the Fall. If people would simply do what they ought for the sake of the community, we likely would not see a resurgence. Carol said it’s also very important for those 65 and older and for those who have chronic health conditions to stay home and be very cautious about getting out.

(As a personal observation, I went to a local store a few days ago and, as I was putting my mask on in the car, three people who were NOT wearing masks walked out of the store).

Please wear a mask when you go out in public. On Monday, May 11, the Posey County Health Department posted this statement on their Facebook page:

“It is even more important that everyone continues to follow the social distancing guidelines when they go out in public as the State of Indiana continues to open up businesses like restaurants and salons/barbers this week. Please don’t act like everything is fine and back to normal. Wear masks at all times when you are out except to eat or when not possible to wear and please continue to try and remain 6 feet apart when possible.”

Right now, I am working on a plan/procedure for when we are able to gather together again. But I want you to know that things will not be as they were. For the good of each other, we will need to take precautions that we’ve never had to worry about in the past.

Until we can get back together, we will continue to worship online with Facebook Live and YouTube. You can find the links to those webpages on our church website www.firstumcmv.com/. Our worship services go live on Facebook at about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. The videos are then posted on YouTube and my WordPress blog (along with my sermon text).

I have encouraged our Sunday school classes and church committees to find ways to connect virtually (Google Meet is free: https://meet.google.com/).

Please be careful out there and know that you are in my prayers.

Best regards,
Rev. Christopher Millay

Deaconess COVID-19 Triage Line:

Anyone can call the 24 Hour COVID Triage Line from Deaconess at 812-450-6555 if you have been exposed to someone who is COVID positive or if you are experiencing COVID -19 symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, fever, chills, sudden loss of smell and taste, and muscle aches.

Posey County Health Department Information Facebook page: CLICK HERE

NOTICE: As of Wednesday, May 13, the testing site for Posey County is changing to Wilson Community Center located at 481 State Hwy 69, New Harmony, IN. They will be open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 p.m., by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, call 1-888-634-1116 or visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting.

Testing is FREE, insurance information will be requested but not required. This testing site is for any resident in Indiana who has symptoms they think may be due to Coronavirus and also those identified as close contacts to people who have tested positive for Covid 19.

Indiana Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard: CLICK HERE


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