<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=166616660390991&ev=PageView&noscript=1" />

COMING BACK TOGETHER

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

We are longing for the fellowship, the smiles, and yes, the handshakes and hugs.


WHEN CAN WE BE TOGETHER LIKE THAT AGAIN?

The more we learn, it is becoming apparent it may be for a while before everything returns to the "normal" we are longing for.  The 1st UMC Regathering Task Force and your staff are monitoring the situation regarding COVID-19 in the area.  A plan is in place for us to regather that places an emphasis on health and safety.  


On June 1st, the Holston Conference Covid-19 Task Force released its 29 page plan: Taking Steps Forward Faithfully and Safely - A Plan for Returning to In-Person Worship in the Holston Annual Conference during the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • The Plan outlines specific protocols for churches to begin regathering in a cautious and caring manner. 
  • The 1st Church Regathering Task Force is pleased to announce that our Church Compliance Certification has been approved and we may begin some in-person gatherings within the limits set by the Holston Conference Plan. 
  • Read the Entire Holston Conference Plan here.


WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Small group meetings have been suspended temporarily but when they resume here is how they will work. 

  • Initially, two spaces - Wesley Hall (for groups up to 50) and Room #254 (for groups up to 15) will be available for small group gatherings. 
  • These spaces may be reserved for 10:00 am and 7:00 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and for 10:00 am on Saturdays.


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.



WHEN WILL IN-PERSON WORSHIP RESUME?

  • Our first in-person worship regathering service has been postponed as case numbers continue to rise rapidly in the area.  The Regathering Task Force will be looking at the trends again later in July and work on a new target date for in person worship.  
  • We will provide you more details soon.  You can monitor the latest information on our social media channels and here at 1stchurch.org



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 are suspended.  This means Celebrate Recovery will not meet "in person" for now.  Celebrate Recovery leaders are working to bring you a message online each week during this time. You can watch those on the CR Facebook page or on the CR Website You can also watch previous services online.  

WeConnect Health Management is offering recovery share groups online. Just click here for more information. 

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:

Catherine             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

SPECIAL RESOURCES TO STAY CONNECTED

1st UMC Online Worship


Youth Fellowship and Activities


Children's Sunday School Lessons (and ways to stay connected via Facebook & Email)





Click here to access these Upper Room Resources







Chuck Knows Church is back with a few simple ideas for you to help your neighbors and the community make it through these uncertain times.  Each of the 30 videos from Chuck give you ideas on ways to stay connected and continue to "Be the Church" at a time when we can't be together "in person."


Click here to access the tips and videos. 




Celebrate Recovery Maryville (Online Services and more)


Contacting 1st UMC Pastors and Staff