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COMING BACK TOGETHER

Indoor in-person worship

SUNDAYS at 10:30 am

We’ve all said it: Can’t wait to be back together!


We are longing for the fellowship, the smiles, and eventually the handshakes and hugs.  For now we are holding limited in-person indoor worship services in Asbury Hall at 10:30 am each Sunday.   In addition we are hosting a limited number of small groups at the church.  We also have plans for some evening outdoor worship services at 7:00 pm (watch Facebook and the website for details).   


The 1st UMC Regathering Task Force and 1st UMC staff are working within the guidelines set forth by the Holston Conference to provide a safe and meaningful worship experience. 


If you are planning to come to an indoor in-person worship service please watch the instructional video below. 


Online worship will continue at 10:00 am each Sunday on Facebook, YouTube and 1stchurch.org. 


Here are a few things to remember before coming to a Service or to a small group:

  • Masks are required
  • Please bring your own chair (only applies to outdoor activities)
  • Please practice physical distancing of six feet
  • Please bring a card with your name, number of people in your family attending, phone number and email.  This is required by the Bishop for us to do contact tracing if it becomes necessary.

We can't wait to see you again! 


WHAT ABOUT SMALL GROUP GATHERINGS?

Please click here for details and to reserve a space for your small group. 


Our guidelines are in compliance with the plan set forth by the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. 


THERE ARE FOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES FOR IN-PERSON GATHERINGS:

  • Physical Distancing - Six feet between persons from different households.
  • Face Masks - Please bring a mask with you; if you do not have a mask, we will provide you with a disposable mask.
  • Attendance - We must have a record of your attendance and a method of future contact.
  • Cleaning - All occupied areas must be sanitized and disinfected between gatherings.




PLEASE CONSIDER

  • The clergy and staff are working very hard to provide an immersive online worship experience as well as outreach to children and youth.  If you or someone that you live with are especially vulnerable to the virus, please consider continuing to worship online.  If we can assist you in doing so or connect with you in some other manner, please let us know how we can help. 


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT REGATHERING

What will the plan for regathering look like?

We have implemented a four phase plan for regathering based upon CDC recommendations while taking into account local viral transmission rates and mechanisms. Each subsequent phase will allow larger group sizes and less restrictions on group types and activity levels. 


How will we decide when it’s time to move from phase to phase?

The movement from one phase to the next will be determined by taking into account local viral transmission rates and mechanisms and health authority recommendations. Depending on data, these phases may move forward or backward in the months to come. All plans are subject to approval by the Holston Conference of the UMC.


I’m not comfortable coming to worship once the church regathers. Is this ok?

How will I stay connected?

Yes! The Lord meets you right where you are, and we will too. Worship will still be streamed for those who cannot or choose not to attend worship in person when the time comes.


Are there ways that I can be connected now?

Yes – with online Sunday worship and the Wednesday Word (and lots of past services on the website and YouTube). Some Sunday School classes and groups are zooming; staff is reaching out to all to encourage social media contact; ‘phone trees’ (members calling one another until all are contacted); Facebook devotionals; Upper Rooms online; and children’s Sunday School lessons on YouTube. 


How can I get spiritual support from one of the ministers?

Call the church office at 982-1273. Messages are retrieved and forwarded to ministers. Ministers are contacting  parishioners who have health concerns or who are facing some personal crisis. Although ministers and volunteers  are not able to visit in-person at this time, prayer still happens over the phone and email and texts! Hospital and nursing home personnel are gracious in their response to ministers in getting messages to families who are in ICU

  waiting areas or other parts of the facility. You may also send a message through info@1stchurch.org


I want to return to worship. What’s being done to clean the church facilities?

We are putting together a sanitization crew who will wipe down or spray areas with sanitizing cleaner during and after services. We’re asking all staff and greeters to wear face masks as appropriate. Hand sanitizer will be available. We are also encouraging the congregation to bring and wear face masks to protect our neighbors, but we  will have disposable masks available for those that do not have their own.


Can my Sunday school class and/or Bible study group meet together in person?

There will be a phased-in approach to all group meetings. In order to maintain adequate separation, groups may have the opportunity to meet at alternate days/times and in larger rooms.  Click here for details on scheduling a small group and reserving a room. 


When will things go back to normal?

While we anticipate a new normal, we don’t anticipate a return to the way things were prior to COVID-19. We don’t know when a public handshake or a hug will be ok again. What we do know, is that the God of all creation is still in control. Nothing is a surprise to Him, and we will trust in the Lord as we seek his face together. The message is important, not the method!


How can I give my tithe and offerings during this time?

  • Give online at 1stchurch.org/giving. This is a quick, easy and safe way to give.
  • Give by texting 1stchurch to 73256.
  • Mail a check to First UMC, 804 Montvale Station Road, Maryville, TN 37803.
  • Most banks offer bill pay services with recurring payment options.


How can I be praying for the church in the days to come?

  • Please pray that God would be glorified in all we do. 
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. 
  • Pray for the name of Jesus Christ to be lifted high and for the Good News to spread through our witness together. 
  • Pray for God’s patience and peace, unity and strength. 
  • Pray for endurance of the leadership and for protection of the flock. 
  • Pray for an end to this pandemic.


What happens to Welcome Table?

With the concerns about Coronavirus and the suspension of activities at 1st UMC, Volunteer Coordinator Mary Wilson and Chef Amelia have made changes in how Welcome Table is conducted.


Each Thursday evening our volunteers are preparing "to go" meals for Welcome Table.  To pick up the meals, people just need to enter the driveway on the right side of the church and head to the back where someone will bring the meal to your car.  

(You will not need to get out of your car to receive a meal.) 


A message from Volunteer Coordinator Mary Wilson

Amelia has asked that I let each of you know you are ‘excused’ from your volunteer responsibilities during the time activities at church are suspended.

Amelia has contacted a small group of individuals to assist with the preparation of  “to go” meals on Thursday. Should she decide that additional help is needed, you would be contacted directly by her on an individual basis.

 

On behalf of both Amelia and myself, we appreciate you dedicated willingness to serve. Should the suspension of activities be extended, additional updates will be provided.


Be of good health and in prayer for all of our neighbors during this time.

What happens with Celebrate Recovery?

In working to practice "social distancing" services like Celebrate Recovery will follow the same guidelines as our indoor worship and small groups. 

Currently Celebrate Recovery meets each Wednesday at 6:30 pm in-person with share groups following around 7:00 pm. 

Services will still be aired online at 6:30 pm each Wednesday. 


You can watch those on the CR Facebook page or on the CR Website You can also watch previous services online.  

Please continue to lift up others in the Recovery community through your prayers. 

How do I reach the pastors and/or staff?

Over the next couple of weeks if you need to reach staff members you can still call the main telephone line 865-982-1273 or email pastors and/or staff. 


Here are the extension numbers for pastors and staff:

Jonathan Jonas             111

Chris Lee                        116

Clayton Hensley            100

Denise Johns                 113

Jane Sanders                 101

Mark Blodgett                103

Matt Hall                         106

Nathan Irwin                  202

Sarah Slack                    107

Susan Daves                  110

Terry Wilson                   109