Dear Byron United Methodist Church Family,

In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Byron United Methodist Church will be closed to members and the public until further notice. This includes all programs, events, services, activities, and gatherings of any size. In addition, the CDC is asking that all gatherings of over 50 people be halted or postponed for the next eight weeks. Therefore, we expect that we will have to worship online through the months of March and April. Yes, that includes Palm Sunday and Easter.

The church leadership and staff are doing our best to sift through new information as it comes and prepare for us to be effective in ministry given the new reality our nation and world is facing. We deeply appreciate the patience, support, prayers, and helpful feedback you all have been giving.

Just because we cannot gather for worship, Bible study, outreach and fellowship in person does not mean that we will cease operations. We will continue to be the church. We will stream worship services online. We will connect digitally and seek to love one another, care for one another, and serve our community during this unprecedented time.


Our Afterschool will run today, but Peach County Schools will be closing tomorrow, so both our Preschool and Afterschool will also cease operations beginning tomorrow.

 

Camp Vinson Valley will continue to receive applications; however, we will waive immediate payment of the registration fee. We will process applications in the order they are received. Look for more specific information about Camp in a future update.

 

Good Samaritan will also not be operating at least through March. However, the church staff will seek to meet urgent needs should they arise.

We will use our website, www.byronumc.org, as a place where we will keep important updates for the church family as well as the public.

 

We have also created a Facebook Group called Byron UMC. This is a closed group for the Byron UMC family to share internal communication—prayer concerns, announcements, questions and concerns. This is a "closed group,” which means that people can see who is a member of the group, but not what is shared. For this reason, if you are sharing something positive about the church or its ministries, we encourage you to share that on your own Facebook page so that people in the community will see and hear the good things that are going on. This group is more for internal conversation and collaboration, as well as prayer requests and ways we can meet ministry needs together. During this time when we are practising social distancing and our office is closed, this may be a more effective way to quickly communicate with one another and share updates, prayer concerns, and needs.

 

We will be checking the church voicemail weekly, but probably not daily. The voicemail message will change to let people know how to get in touch with staff while the office is closed. We will be checking email, Facebook messages, and answering our personal phones from home.

While this feels unprecedented, and certainly in my lifetime I have not experienced anything like this, the reality is the “Big C” Church has been through times like this (and much worse) before. While this will be a time of massive disruption, perhaps economic hardship, and we pray not a time of serious loss of life, we know this will also be a time when God will work through you and me in unexpected and powerful ways, if we are open and obedient.

I would like to again ask you to do the following:

1. Be people of faith. Pray. Stay in the Word.

2. Wash your hands regularly.

3. Practice social distancing.

4. If you are sick, stay home.

5. Consider enrolling in online giving to support the ministry of the church. We depend entirely on our weekly offering to pay our bills, and we will not have that option for many weeks. You can also mail an offering to the church at PO Box 6, Byron, GA 31008.

6. Connect with others, and especially be mindful of those who might be particularly lonely or isolated. Now is a time to use the phone and internet for good!

If someone asks why our church chose to respond to this health crisis by closing its doors, here’s a helpful response:

1. Our physical doors may be closed, but our church is not. Share how you are continuing to BE the church!

2. We are loving our neighbours by protecting our neighbours. By practising social distancing, we are protecting those who are most vulnerable.

3. We are not being fearful. We are being responsible; we have a role to play in defeating this virus.

4. This is what love requires of us in this season. We want to love our neighbours and be Alive Together in Witness in the face of a major social need.

If you have questions or concerns, you can reach me at pastor@byronumc.org or 478-227-0491.

 

Grace and Peace,

Tom

March 16th. 2020