Foley United Methodist Church’s facilities will remain closed, and we will not host in-person worship or other events on our campus through June 30. We will begin the Galilean Service at Gulf State Park beach on June 7, and we will continue hosting online worship at 9:30 and 11:00 on Sunday mornings. The Galilean Service will be contact-less (nothing handed out, no handshaking, etc.) and social distancing will be practiced. Members of different households will be expected to maintain a minimum of six feet between other people. In the event of inclement weather, the Galilean Service will be cancelled for that Sunday and not moved to the pavilion. Status of the service will be posted to the Galilean Service’s and Foley UMC’s Facebook page by 6:45 a.m. each Sunday morning.
In accordance with Governor Kay Ivey’s directive, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Alabama Department of Health, we encourage persons over the age of 65, those who are medically compromised, those who are susceptible to coronavirus, and any person who has displayed any symptoms of illness in the 14 days prior to a Sunday morning to avoid attending the service. If you choose to attend the Galilean Service, please plan to practice the utmost safety and precaution for yourself and others as we gather. In making these initial plans for the church and specifically in waiting to gather on our campus, our Covid Task Force has several guiding principles:
1. We want to err on the side of caution. The biggest negative that we see in waiting longer to gather in the manner we are accustomed to is that we miss each other a bit longer and wish we could be together. However, if we open too soon, the potential consequences are that should someone unknowingly carry the virus into our community, we could become the source of a medical catastrophe and be the reason that businesses in our community must close and we must return to quarantine. We also believe that gathering outdoors is much safer than gathering in our indoor worship spaces.
2. We want to actively love our neighbors, especially the vulnerable and those most susceptible to the virus. While some of us may feel completely comfortable gathering in any scenario, adhering to things like social distancing, waiting to gather, etc. serves those who would be severely impacted by an outbreak of the virus and gives comfort to those who are anxious, nervous, or are more susceptible to the virus. The people of Jesus take the posture of a servant (John 13) and allow others to go before us (Matthew 20:16).
3. We cannot close the Church. The Church is a living organism that is the body of Christ manifest in the world. We may take a break from gathering in the manner we are accustomed, but the Church does not close. All you need to do is talk to many people in our congregation who have been serving from home, calling, Zooming, loving, praying, and honoring the Lord in different manners. We will continue to encourage the church to flourish and proclaim the love of Jesus even if we are not gathering on our campus.
All these decisions are fluid. Our Covid Task Force will continue to meet regularly and monitor the situation. They will be actively working to develop a plan for how and when we will be able to safely gather on campus for worship and other events. The Covid Task Force (Kate Norris, Lori Hagle, Ann Johnson, Darrel Edmonson, Charlotte Plumb, Peggy Ratcliff, and Nolan Donald) has researched and read a wide array of including information from the Centers for Disease Control, the Alabama Department of Health, the governor’s office, and our bishop’s office. The United Methodist Church has offered guidelines for their churches to reopen. Those can be read here. Other helpful articles include research on places the virus has been transmitted the most and a theology for Christians to embrace as we consider reopening. We have also consulted numerous pastors and other churches regarding their plans for reopening in a safe manner.
Foley United Methodist Church’s campus will remain closed this Sunday, May 10, and we will NOT have in-person worship on our campus or host the Galilean Service at the Gulf State Park Pavilion.
We will have online services at 9:30 (contemporary) and 11:00 a.m. (traditional). Those services can be accessed by visiting foleyumc.org/live.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closing of our church facilities and the suspension of all activities, our Church Council has been meeting regularly to monitor the situation. Last Monday, at the direction of our bishop, our Church Council created a COVID-19 Task Force to guide the church in navigating how we will reopen our facilities and begin hosting events in a safe and compliant way.
The COVID-19 Task Force will meet next week, and they will take the governor’s most recent update, recommendations from the Alabama Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and our bishop’s office and craft a plan for reopening that is safe, serves our congregation, and loves our neighbors (especially those who are the most vulnerable and most susceptible to the virus). We will post updates next week regarding future activities and the plan for opening of our facilities.
We will begin to stream our traditional service as well as our contemporary service each Sunday beginning May 3. Join us for the contemporary service at 9:30 from The Well or for the traditional service at 11:00 a.m. from the Sanctuary. Join either service on Facebook Live or at foleyumc.org/live.
We will continue to stream our Sunday morning services on Facebook Live, but it is now also available here on our website at foleyumc.org/live.
Currently, the plan is that we will have online worship services (no services on our campus) every Sunday until the threat of COVID-19 has dissipated and authorities have said it is safe to resume onsite worship. We plan to continue worshiping via Facebook Live each Sunday morning at 9:30.
All church activities are cancelled, and our church facilities will be closed through Sunday, March 29, 2020.
Over the last few days, I have been in constant contact with Pastor John Simonson, the leaders of our Church Council, and a variety of other pastors and local authorities. While it is not a decision that I particularly like or want to make, I believe this is the best action for our church right now for several reasons:
- There is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Baldwin County. We know that it is an extremely contagious virus that spreads rapidly.
- We can mitigate the spread of the disease by not gathering in groups or creating environments where the virus could be spread.
- As a group of people who take seriously Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, this is a way we can actively love our community. It is especially important for us to do what we can to serve the people who are most susceptible to the virus, the weak, and the vulnerable.
- Within our church, we have many people in the over 70 age range that have a higher risk for severe side effects from the virus. To best care for our congregation, it is important to not put them in danger.
We will have online worship on both March 22 and 29 at 9:30 a.m. We will offer the service via Facebook Live (facebook.com/foleyumc). You do not have to have a Facebook account to watch. See below for instructions.*
Check foleyumc.org/covidupdates regularly for updates and developments.
Our church office will be opened this week Monday-Thursday from 9:00-12:00. Please call 943-4393 if you need to speak with someone in the church office.
Cancelling activities and closing our facilities impacts many events and groups. Suspended activities and programming includes, but is not limited to: in-person worship, Sunday school, Bible studies, book groups, UMW and United Methodist Men events and meetings, Lenten lunches, Wednesday night supper, all children’s and youth events, choir and ensemble rehearsals, any age-level programming, all other on-site events and activities (including external groups that use our facilities). In addition to these cancellations, because our Wednesday night children’s (Trackers of Truth) and youth ministries follow the schedule of the public-school system, we know Wednesday night children’s and youth groups will not meet again in person until at least April 15.
We will continually monitor the situation in the community and update as needed. We plan to determine on March 29 the feasibility of events scheduled for early April (including Holy Week) and make an announcement on plans then. While we won’t be gathering in person, there are multiple ways you can connect with the church in the days ahead:
- You can email prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org and our prayer team will pray for you.
- You can continue to practice generosity by giving to Foley UMC at foleyumc.org/give (now would be a good time to automate your giving), by texting foleyumc to 77977 on your mobile phone, or by mailing your offering to the church at 915 N. Pine St., Foley 36535. (Even with us not meeting for worship, we want to be ready to serve our community when the time is appropriate, and there are many expenses that will continue while activities are suspended.)
- Pray for and serve those around you. Check on your neighbors, take supplies to someone who may need them, or call and be a listening ear to an anxious friend.
Finally, we are actively looking for ways that we can serve in our community during this season. God has been leading us to an emerging future, and these days may afford us numerous opportunities to take a step forward into what God desires for the church. I will update you as we learn of needs and find ways that we might serve.
During these days, I also want to encourage you to enjoy this “forced Sabbath” and rest. When we observe Sabbath by stopping, resting, and not producing, we affirm that we have been “called out of a world trying to prove its worth and value by what it does or possesses.” Spend some time enjoying the beauty of your identity that is found in God and not all the busyness that so frequently fills our schedules.
These are unusual days, but as the Resurrection reminds us, “the worst things are not the last things.” God is faithful, and he is calling us to a life of peace. I am eager to see how God will work during these days.
God of Jacob,
when the earth shakes
and the nations are in uproar,
speak, and let the storm be still;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
*To watch the Facebook Live video without a Facebook account, go to facebook.com/foleyumc. Facebook will suggest that you log in or create an account. Click "Not now". You should be able to see the video on our page and click play to watch.
Steps to Prevent Illness – from the CDC
High Risk Candidates for COVID-19 – from the CDC