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3-28-21 FUMC Important Updates

How exciting to see so many young kids at our Palm Sunday service on Sunday! When the young families are here there is so much energy and JOY and I really do believe that as we begin to emerge into a new post-quarantine church, God will open exciting new ways to attract young families!  Of course, we’ll have to do our part to BE the kind of church where families want to raise their children to know the love of Christ … so how will we do that? First I’ll give you the EASTER updates, then our COVID PROTOCOL updates but then, please stay with me (or print this message attached) so you can read the entire plan … this email is PACKED with important information!

HOLY WEEK INFORMATION
HOLY THURSDAY, 4/1, 6:30 pm, sanctuary … this Thursday night is a special worship service where we will immerse ourselves in the Last Supper with the disciples.  Can you imagine what each of them must have been feeling on that terrible night Jesus was betrayed and arrested? We will have communion together so if you’re watching at home, please have your bread/crackers and juice or water ready to join us.

SATURDAY, 4-3-2-1 PARADE & PRAYER … the attached flyer provides details on the COUNTDOWN TO EASTER with an 8 am 5K run/walk starting at Winnsboro High School, then a PRAYER PARADE at 9 am at WHS followed by an Easter Egg Hunt at 10:30 am at the high school.  There will also be a prayer time at our newest church in town FREEDOM CHURCH (Highway 11 east).

EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE: 4/4, 6:50 am, Ragsdale Home, 270 CR 4228, Winnsboro … come and have coffee and donuts with us as we begin the dawn of a new day at SUNRISE! Dress comfortably and invite your friends!  In the event of questionable weather, we will post an update on our Facebook page, website page, and Instagram by 5 AM.  We will have the service in the sanctuary in the event of rain so say a prayer for great weather!

REGULAR EASTER SERVICE, 10:50 am in the sanctuary … Adler and Hearne will be here to celebrate EASTER with us as we welcome families and hopefully, new friends who will all be coming to celebrate the RISEN CHRIST!

Also, I know you’re excited to have NEW people join us for Easter so PLEASE if you are able, park in my driveway, in front of my house, or in the parking lot in front of the Baptist Church! And won’t you PLEASE leave the back pews open for our guests? It’s hard to come to a new church the 1st time and not know what to do so please be aware of people you don’t know!

And one more thing, which I HOPE you will see as a very GOOD problem to have IF we have it! If we have so many people in the sanctuary that we need volunteers to move into Wesley Hall and watch LIVE on the big screens, please be willing to give up your seat! If you see me go stand by the choir door, I’ll raise my hand with the apx. number of people we need to make room for. Please just casually get up and go …  we won’t ANNOUNCE this because we don’t want anyone feeling awkward, just stand up and go to Wesley Hall please. THANKS, SO MUCH for truly putting others first!

CORONA VIRUS PROTOCOL CHANGES
As we announced on Sunday, COVID cases have dropped drastically in our 7 counties! In the last 4 weeks, there have been LESS THAN 425 cases per week in all our 7 counties compared to 2,500 cases per week in the January-February report. That, and because so many people have been vaccinated, we will remove the pew restrictions/ribbons next Sunday. Of course, we’ll encourage people to wear masks who still do not feel comfortable and ask that families keep some distance between each other, but we are going to empower people to make good choices for themselves. We’ll keep a close watch on the infection rate and be ready to CHANGE if we need to or, as new information emerges.

We have done everything we possibly can to make getting vaccines accessible for our church members and as of TODAY, everyone in Texas 16 and older is eligible to get the vaccine!  I recognize that some of you don’t plan on getting the vaccine so I’d imagine you’ll want to continue to wear masks and be careful about your social distancing. For everyone who feels safe, we can’t wait to see you back, AND YES, we will be standing again to sing!

What is our plan to MAKE DISCIPLES FOR JESUS CHRIST?
First and foremost, we already have the most IMPORTANT thing we need – we love each other, and we are the most welcoming church in Winnsboro! We’re willing to love NEW members of the church family and we understand that the church does not exist for OUR benefit, it exists for the benefit of those who do not know the love of Christ! Because we are willing to put our desires to the side in order to make our church attractive for NEW people, God is already smiling!

Last fall when the Church Council was brainstorming our 2021 hopes to MAKE DISCIPLES, we recognized that some changes would have to happen … first, we had budgeted a part-time, 10 hour a week position for a CHILDREN’S MINISTRY LEADER but we realized if we were going to be true to our desire to grow our children’s ministry, 10 hours would not be enough! So, instead of replacing a 20 hour a week secretary whose primary time was spent doing financial work, we hired a professional CPA for 1/10th the cost, yes, 1/10th the cost! We then reallocated that salary in 2 ways …

Half of the secretary salary, 10 hours a week, was put toward a new position of SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR, and as you know Sarah Sparks was hired last fall.  To connect with young families, we knew we needed to use social media more effectively and since Sarah started, we have now strengthened our INSTAGRAM account, we’ve started a TWITTER account and, of course, we’re beginning to focus on building younger followers on FACEBOOK.

The other half of the secretary salary was added to the CHILDREN’S MINISTRY LEADER position so now, as we begin to come out of COVID, we will be able to hire a 20 hour a week children’s leader.  Let me share with you our goals for this position, understanding that based on coronavirus changes we have had to be FLEXIBLE in our timetables and most of this may not begin until late summer:

  • Restart children’s church Sunday mornings at 10:50 am (late spring)
  • Start a new mid-week evening adult Sunday School class for young parents and a new mid-week evening program for kids, 1st – 6th grade … we’ll begin having discussions with parents late spring/early summer.
  • Begin having a nursery during midweek programming and Sunday worship for infants through Kindergarten.
  • Start a KIDS’ BEACH CLUB MINISTRY at the school for 3rd thru 5th graders this fall … this is what we’re most excited about and we are working to get permission to do this now!  Bringing a “mini-VBS” to the kids in the school one afternoon a week is SUPER exciting … it will be a great way to serve children who DO have a church home but an even better way to REACH children who do not!

We also discussed the fact that if we want to attract younger families, WE NEED TO TRY A NEW MUSIC STYLE, with a goal of blending some newer music in with the traditional hymns.  As I have always said since I got here in November 2017, while some people would love to sing old traditional hymns every Sunday and others wish we could sing more new songs, when you love your neighbors, you’re willing to make a little sacrifice for each other!  And I believe, in this post-pandemic world, we have an opportunity to try something different if we really DO want to attract younger families.

We have had a budget for a music director for 2 years that we only used for 3 months in 2019, mostly because the choir had dwindled, then COVID hit. Starting this MAY, we’re going to step out of our comfort zone and try something QUITE different!  We’re going to give the choir a 3-month break and hire 1-2 musicians/soloists each week to come and play music and lead singing, combining traditional and new songs. I have asked Lola to be flexible and continue to support our musicians/soloists when we need a pianist, but I also realize she may want to find a new job.  I am trusting that God will work all this out!

We are blessed that we had 4-5 of our choir members return to church in December when we reopened and take turns leading us in music. I am so grateful they will continue through April.  
 
Then, in May through July, we will secure different musicians/singers to lead our worship on Sundays AND allow more time for MORE music in the service.  Our winter teaching service on Mark was designed for a quarantine service where most people were watching online, and many of them sign in and sign out for the message only and skip other parts of the service.  Simply put, a teaching service requires a little longer message, 30 minutes, where regular sermons can be shorter allowing more time for music! So why have I recommended we try something totally new? What kind of music am I talking about?

As I mentioned I would like to see a blend of both traditional songs, with maybe an updated bridge to add some “newness” to the traditional verse, AND some more contemporary songs that we can learn.  But I’d also like to try different styles … some of our local musicians write their own Christian songs, some are a little bit country, gospel, “Top 40”, etc., but they will ALWAYS do a blend of HYMNS from the hymnal and some new songs!

Benefits of having different musicians:

  • We can TRY new styles of music without committing to hiring just ONE worship leader; if we decide that someone is a fit for us and we are a fit for them later, we can cross that bridge IF we decide to hire “regulars.”
  • By having different musicians come and play they often invite their followers to come to hear them – this will give us an opportunity to meet new people and be exposed to opportunities to make disciples.
  • This will give us “something new” to promote heavily in our community and give people a chance to “come and see”! 

DOWNSIDES of trying something new?

  • Change is not always easy!  Some will be unhappy.  But what I know is this … if you ask everyone in our church, this question, “What’s more important, A) singing nothing but old, traditional hymns every Sunday, or … B) singing some old, traditional hymns and having more young families?” the vast majority would choose B! 
  • Not every musician will be “our” style and we won’t invite them back! We, okay I, will make mistakes!  But I am willing to ere on the side of trying than to not do anything at all, and I am willing to take full responsibility for trying something new!

I will be available after Easter to EVERYONE and ANYONE who has any questions or thoughts or concerns!  I realize change is a little scary – believe me, I’m having to put a LOT of trust in God in this process – but please come talk to me … my office doors are wide open! (After Easter!)

I am extremely excited about creating a music ministry that will reach a much broader audience than we have been able to reach in the past – I hope you are too! THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN? We stop doing this and try something different!

I PRAY YOU ARE BLESSED BY THIS HOLIEST OF HOLY WEEKS …

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.    John 3:16-17

Pastor Debbie


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