Sunday, June 21, 2020
 
Dear Church Family,
 
Last Sunday afternoon I recorded my weekly batch of children’s shows and I realized we have been online with the children for over three months now. We have now been online for worship the same amount of time. While we have been apart from in-person worship, beloved members of our congregation have passed away, and young couples have welcomed new babies. Some families have moved out of town to their next station, while new people have connected with our church online.
 
I remain grateful for your continued care and concern for each other as we have gone through this extraordinary time in the life of our congregation. The past three months has given us the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of church and being the Body of Christ. At the same time, we have all experienced a growing pain as we have been apart and unable to worship together in-person. We are all ready to be back together for worship. At the same time, our work to “do no harm” clearly guides our steps in the coming months as we balance our deep need to worship alongside our calling from Jesus to love our neighbor. I have been so proud of the many ways you have continued to be the Body of Christ during this difficult time apart. Your care shows and is felt by many. I am proud to serve alongside you as we do our best even in this trying season.
 
The Administrative Council and Safety Task Force met Monday to review the changing COVID situation in Bell County and determine next steps for our worship services. As you can imagine, this is challenging work as our church family includes many who are “at risk.” You have heard me talk about our beautiful diversity over the past years. We are a church celebrating unity in Christ while differing theologically as well as politically. This is part of what makes us United Methodists. The practical result of our diversity leads us to many different understandings about the best way to approach our next steps with COVID-19.
 
 
On May 18th, the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Governor released guidance for church/worship attendees. Of the six health protocols for individuals, one was written in bold letters. This protocol states, “Individuals aged 65 and older should stay at home as much as possible.” You can find this guidance at https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/. While we will not restrict access to any of our members, it is important for us to know the risks involved as we take steps towards in-person worship. We encourage those who are “at risk” to continue to worship with us online.
 
Beginning July 5th, we will hold 2 worship services in Frisch Park and 1 online.
 

Each of the two services in the park will be limited to 30 family units. An RSVP page has been created to reserve a spot for each service, emailed out to the congregation on Sunday, June 21st. We w

ill carefully watch interest in these two services and possibly add a third if needed. Should the services reach capacity, please add your name to the waitlist to help us determine how to best serve as many possible. Here are some further details for our services in the park:

  • Frisch Park Services will be early to help beat the Texas summer sun, at 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
  • Families are asked to bring lawn chairs and water.
  • Services will be 45 minutes in length with a blended style of music (we will be able to sing being outdoors).
  • Due to potential contamination, there will be no on-site restroom facility. Plans are in progress to provide limited emergency access to the main building restrooms.
  • Socially distancing will be enforced (no handshakes or hugs, staying six feet apart from non-family members).
  • You are encouraged to wear masks.
  • At 11:00am, we will continue the pre-recorded online service on Facebook and YouTube.

 

This will be our plan for worship until there is a 14 day decrease in daily reported new Coronavirus cases in Bell County. While not anticipated, we will move back to all online services if Bell County should be placed back on a “stay at home” order.
 
The Safety Task Force has created a 3-phase plan as we begin to return to the sanctuary (after that 14 days of case decline). The first phase of worship in the sanctuary will include mitigation strategies which will cause worship to look and feel different than what we have known; spaced seating, no congregational singing, no choir, etc.. An earlier service will be available for those “at risk” and/or 65 and older. A second later service will be available for everyone. The staff, ushers, greeters, and other worship volunteers will receive specific training for sanitation and other mitigation efforts to help us stay as safe as possible.
 
An immense amount of time has been spent working to delicately create these plans, while meeting as many needs as possible. Your leadership, and your pastor, believe this plan will provide safer options allowing us to see each other as well as raise our voices together in worship. I am thankful to our Administrative Council members serving faithfully at a time when so much of this is new to us all. Our Safety Task Force accepted a difficult role in creating these plans and I continue to be impressed with the wisdom and thought they bring to this process: Bob Kure, Mary Ellen Knox, Marlene Fey, Colleen Smith-Fey, Mike Tuggle, Marty Portmann, and myself.
 

Thank you for your continued patience through all of this. My pastor-heart hurts a bit talking about RSVP lists, waitlists, and limiting worship. While needed for our safety, much of this feels antithetical to our work to be a welcoming church for our community. While we wait for the day ahead when we worship without limitations, let us remain deeply aware that we worship a Christ who has been here with us all along.

 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Alan

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
 
Church Family,
 
God is big enough! Christ is King and Lord of all!
 
Our prayers continue for each of you and our community as we wade through these unknown waters. I am thankful for all of the ways you have found to care for each other and stay connected even while we are physically apart.
 
As of now, the church has been asked to suspend live worship and other weekly gatherings at the ministry campus, and we are following that direction. We will listen to our denominational leaders as well as our local leaders to determine the appropriate time to gather again for physical worship in the sanctuary, and notify you at at that time. As you are aware, there are so many unknowns in this situation, and we have all been asked to “social distance” in order to care for each other and our world.
 
I want to encourage you to join us online this coming Sunday for worship. Although we may be physically distant, we can draw together in other ways! Our staff team will work to put together two “semi-live services” that will launch as live online videos at 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM, starting this Sunday, March 22nd. Each service will have music unique to our different worship styles and include a children’s sermon and message. You will be able to access these videos on either YouTube or Facebook. If you have been on our Facebook this week, you might have also seen that we are doing weekly Children’s Time and Bible Study livestreams, and we would love to connect with you in any of these events online.
 
Thank you all for your continued financial support of your church family during this time. As you can imagine, we are all going to feel a financial stress during this down-time. We want to continue to take care of our staff as well as serve the community, as we work to move our community online and prepare to return to normal as soon as possible. Your continued support during this down-time is critical. You may give through one of the following ways as we are away from each other in person:
  • Give online at https://www.fumckilleen.com/giving-online/
  • Mail your offering to the office at 3501 E. Elms Road Killeen, Texas 76542
  • Drop off your offering at the church office on Mondays or Thursdays from 9:00 AM to Noon – make sure to call Marty Portmann (fulltime office volunteer) if you need to drop off your offerring or make other arrangements, as the church will be locked while weekly gatherings are suspended. Her number is 254-449-5501.
 
If you should have any needs or questions, your church is still always here for you. Please email prayers@fumc-killeen.org to reach out to our Congregational Care Team and myself.
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Alan
 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

 

Church Family,

If you are like me, you spent an excessive amount of time this week watching the news and reading post after post on social media.  We all share a concern for our families and community during this time of uncertainty due to the Coronavirus. 

In the past couple of days, the Bell County Public Health District moved into Phase 2 of their county plan to slow the spread of the virus.  The social distancing in Phase 2 asks people to keep a distance of six feet from other people.  At the same time, the Killeen ISD cancelled school for the next week.  I believe our response in loving our neighbor and caring for each other is to join these efforts.

To best care for our members and community, we will cancel Sunday morning worship services and all weekday events, as well as all offices through Saturday, March 21. Any decision for the following Sunday will be made mid-week.  Should we need to again cancel, we will provide a live worship option. 
 

Some quick details…

  • Our Child Development Center is currently closed as they follow the KISD schedule.
  • You may email a prayer request to prayers@fumc-killeen.org
  • You may give online through THIS page on our website.

 

During these next weeks, I would encourage you to look for ways to practice patience and kindness.  We will all react differently to our current situation, as some might think much of this is overblown, while others may stock up on supplies at the grocery store.  At the same time, we are all neighbors and we will get through this together.  I am most thankful for those whose job call them to continue working as many of us stay home – nurses, first responders, grocery store employees, and many others.

– Pastor Alan McGrath
alan.mcgrath@fumc-killeen.org

If you would like to check out some past service videos or sermon recording, you can find them on our “Sermons” page here: