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COVID-19 and Zumbro | Update on June 19, 2020

1) Today is known as Juneteenth. On this day in 1865 – the year that Zumbro was formed – the last slaves in America were set free. Confederate soldiers had surrendered in April of 1865 but word didn’t reach the last enslaved Black people until June 19, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, we are painfully reminded that there is much work still to do on race relations in our country. Be sure to check out Pastor Shelley’s lead article in the July newsletter and learn more about the Zumbro Advocacy Team as they work on racial justice and other pressing issues for our world today.

2) We continue with communion on the first and third Sundays – which includes this Sunday, June 21. Whether you are streaming or listening on the radio, we encourage you to get some wine or juice along with bread or a cracker. We will share in Christ’s forgiveness and love from a distance, and yet spiritually together.

3) Some of you have asked about clergy garb and vestments during Sunday worship. We did wear our albs and red stoles on Pentecost Sunday, but otherwise we have dressed more casually. There are at least a couple reasons for this: a) we’re working on the HVAC system so the temperature can get quite warm in the Fireside Room; and b) with all the dust and grime around the building, it’s much simpler to keep our white albs clean if they stay closed up in the sacristy.

4) Churches have been trying a variety of things when it comes to resuming in-person worship. Some are meeting in their worship centers, with or without limited seating. Others are limiting seating, but adding more worship services, and asking people to make reservations. Still others are having drive-in services in their parking lots, with the service broadcast over an FM radio channel. We have considered all these options, but none seemed like a good alternative for Zumbro at present.

Our sanctuary renovation has a few months to go. Our parking often includes construction equipment and dumpsters. Our gym is dusty and would be very hard to disinfect. Plus access to our lowest levels is
hampered by work on our new and existing elevators. That brings us to one final option: outdoor worship. The church council has decided to begin weekly outdoor worship starting Sunday, July 12. We will still stream and broadcast our 8:30 service, but at 10:00am we will move outside for an additional service. In an effort to protect people’s health, look for these elements in worship:

  • Face masks are required. Extras will be made available.
  • Bring lawn chairs, though we will set out a few disinfected chairs.
  • Worship participants are expected to practice physical distancing, except in the case of family units.
  • The worship order can be downloaded onto your phone, with paper bulletins for those who need them.
  • Worship leaders will be appropriately spaced from the congregation.
  • They will wear masks except when speaking or singing.
  • A songleader will lead the music, but the congregation will not be
    singing, only humming.

5) We will celebrate communion at our outdoor worship on the first and third Sundays of the month. To exercise caution, we are asking worshippers to bring communion elements from home, much like they do for streaming or listening on the radio. We will also have available a few pre-packaged communion sets for those who have come without.

6) Because rain can be a factor, we will post a notice about the status of the service on the Zumbro website and Facebook page no later than 8:00am on Sunday. We will also leave a message on the church answering machine.

Figuring out how to be the church today is challenging. We’ve tried some experiments, and we will try some more of them. A primary goal continues to be protecting people’s health and doing things as safely as possible. I so appreciate your patience and suggestions as we move forward during this pandemic on step at a time. Keep the faith. We’re all in this together.

In the strong name of Jesus,