May 22, 2020
Keep the Faith and Stay Safe
Keep the faith and stay safe.
I hope that you have seen yard signs around town with the Williams logo and the words "Keep the Faith!" These signs remind us that we will get through this pandemic together and with God's help make it safely through. As we rely on our faith, I call on all of us to be safe. We are choosing to be safe not just for ourselves but to help those who are at risk around us. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made to Keep the Faith and Stay Safe!
Facing this pandemic together, please know that you are in the prayers of our church leadership, staff, and clergy. If you have specific prayer concerns or needs you can call the church office (903) 832-8663, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message the Williams Memorial Prayer Page on Facebook. I am convinced that our early choice to suspend in-person worship services was the correct one. A recent CDC case study of a congregation in Arkansas shows the dangers that in-person worship without social distancing and health protocols posed. The case study can be viewed at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6920e2.htm. It is likely that our choice to suspend in-person worship on March 15 saved lives. As we choose how to reopen Williams again, safety for all worshipers is our number one goal.
Several CDC studies and the most recently updated guidelines for our Annual Conference from our Bishop Scott Jones clearly remind us that it is unsafe to gather in groups of more than fifty at this time. For more information from Bishop Jones see: https://www.txcumc.org/reopening. Due to these guidelines, we will be taking the following actions.
1) In person worship remains suspended until at least early July. Gathering in a group greater than fifty is too great a risk, and I am simply unwilling to take this unnecessary risk with the people I love so much -- you.
2) In mid-June, a Reopen Williams Task Force of elected leaders under the leadership of Rev. Greg Morgan will reevaluate the possibility of reopening in July. They will also be communicating with Rev. Dr. Jesse Brannen.
3) The church offices will re-open to the public on Tuesday, May 26. As recommended by the state of Texas, persons in at-risk categories, over 65 and/or immune-compromised, should remain away from the church campus. There will be a single point of entry to the church offices through the Welcome Center. Your temperature must be taken and a symptom free form signed to enter the office space.
4) The Williams School will re-open effective June 1 as planned by the Williams School Board in compliance with all state safety protocols.
5) The inside portion of the campus outside of the Williams School will reopen June 1 to groups smaller than ten. As recommended by the state of Texas, persons in at-risk categories, over 65 and/or immune-compromised, should remain away from the church campus. There will be a single point of entry to the church spaces through the Welcome Center. Your temperature must be taken and a symptom free form signed to enter the education building and other indoor spaces on campus.
To help you keep the faith in this difficult season, the worship teams of musicians and clergy have done an excellent job of transforming into a web and radio broadcast team to make sure that live Sunday morning worship remains accessible to the whole congregation. And, the staff, clergy, and volunteers will continue to create ways for us to gather in smaller groups, online, and in drive-thru events to find safe options for fellowship and community. We continue through this pandemic to be reminded that the church is not a building, but the people. And, what an amazing church you are! One worth keeping safe. With God's help, we will get through this and be together again in safer times.
Keep the faith and stay safe.
Grace and peace,
Friday All Day
Williams Memorial UMC
4000 Moores Lane
Texarkana Texas, 75503