Every Tuesday and Thursday, we send out weekly announcements about what's happening in and around First United Methodist Church of Madison. Find out about Sunday worship, opportunities for Spiritual Formation, and upcoming events related to FUMC.
On September 9, we released our covid-19 survey results. you can read the full summary here:
We heard you! We are seeking to respond! We are grateful for you!
A big word of heartfelt thanks to all who responded to the survey. This is a difficult time, and it seems that it will extend much longer than any of us could have anticipated. In addition, folks are saturated with “screen time” and are seeking other ways to get together. The responses captured below have moved the leadership to initiate several key initiatives:
1. +25. These will be planned outdoor gatherings in a variety of places and formats. Hymn sings, communion opportunities, spiritual walks, and other gatherings are being planned. The limit will be 25 people, as required by Dane County, and we will abide by safe practices.
2. Small Groups. We are grateful that some folks have offered to host these groups and the details will be posted soon. We appreciate your willingness to join us in reaching people and making connections. There is also a plan for our seniors to gather in Fellowship Hall in groups of 10.
3. Children, youth and young family programming will continue to develop. Youth and young adults have been the model for our +25 concepts.
4. Wider participation in expanded on-line offerings will give great ways to see one another and accompany one another on the journey.
5. Volunteer opportunities. We are seeking safe ways in which folks can return to a greater number of volunteer opportunities.
Watch the eNews in the coming weeks for these opportunities.
Again, thank you to all who participated in our COVID-19 survey! We had 186 respondents. Most of those who responded are members and frequent visitors at First Church, but we were excited to see a small percentage of folks who have found our ministries through volunteering, or through our online presence. Most of those who responded consider themselves to be in a high risk category for COVID-19, and a large majority also responded that they have strictly complied with social distancing and Safer at Home guidelines. We are heartened to know that our community members are taking good care of themselves and each other.
We received over 200 comments about the positive as well as difficult aspects of accessing video worship and devotions from home. The most common positive notes were for the high quality production, the meaningful sermon messages, and the excellent music. We heard from people who enjoy the daily devotions during the week, as a short and convenient way to nurture their faith and keep in touch with the church community. Many people really enjoy the familiar feel and the near-normalcy of viewing a full worship service online, and nearly everyone appreciates the excellent sermons and music. For some people, a full length service is too much of a time commitment, so they either skip the parts they don’t enjoy, or they watch the shorter daily devotions instead of full length worship. Having a church experience available at one’s own convenience was also a high priority for many people, and a few people mentioned not having to get dressed or be on time.
On the difficult side, there were many responses from people who struggled with the technology, or who are frustrated by the fact that we cannot all be together right now. It is a difficult and frustrating time, and all of us miss each other terribly. We miss coffee hour, large musical ensembles, in person discussions, open doors, and meeting new people. We are sorry too, that these things can’t happen safely at this time. First Church staff have been reaching out to individuals who are experiencing technical difficulties. If you are having trouble with any of the technology or you know of someone who needs a pastoral call, please contact Paul Melrose.
In response to questions about when our members and friends will feel safe returning to the church building, we had a wide variety of answers. This disease is so new, and the knowledge of best practices is evolving and changing all the time. We understand that many people are eager to be together. About 10% of respondents are comfortable to go to in-person worship now, while over 66% of people will only feel safe when there is a vaccine or widely available treatment for COVID-19. We feel a deep sense of responsibility to our church family. The staff, Covid Task Force, Church Council and other governance committees along with our denominational partners and other downtown churches are monitoring developments. As we have noted above, there are some events scheduled in order to gather safely. We are taking advantage of the good autumn weather to meet in a variety of configurations and ways or “being church.”
In answer to the question of what we could do better, many people mentioned that they want to see more variety of people and settings. Staying connected through zoom discussion groups, and seeing lay members of the First Church community is a highlight for people. We are always looking for more ways to include members of our church community, including families and children, in our devotions and worship. If you or someone in your household would like to contribute a short devotional video or read the scripture lesson in an upcoming week, email the main office.
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