COVID-19

WWCC Update 6/15/20

Greetings!

Fay Molina will be starting her summer office hours this week -- and she will be doing some or most of those hours from the church building. The outside doors will remain locked, and we ask that people avoid stopping by the church during those hours unless absolutely necessary.

Summer hours:

  • Tue & Wed - 8am to 3:30pm
  • Thu - 8am to 2:30pm

Every week for the past few months the leadership of the church have met to explore how best to reopen, worship authentically, and keep everyone as safe as possible. Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey about returning to the church building. You can see a summary of the responses here. There were a range of opinions, but they tended to support a cautious approach.

For now, we will continue to worship virtually. And we will aim for a trial in-person worship service in July -- with masks, spread out in the sanctuary, no singing, no physical contact, and lots of hand sanitizer. More details to come on that.

Currently we are engaging people through social media and Zoom on a daily basis. We are offering Bible discussions, hymn sings, activities for children, and weekly worship.

We have also had a few limited in-person gatherings -- a prayer walk by the river, a prayer service outside the church building, a drive up ice cream social for the youth. These were done with proper safety protocols in place, and to date none of the participants have taken ill. Our hope is to build upon these experiences until it is truly safe to return to worship.

Remember, the building is not the church. We are the church, and we are functioning as the church. Though it is painful that we are unable to meet in-person, we are still interacting with another, singing God’s praises, reading our Bibles, and worshipping.

If there is a way we can help you connect with others through one of these online programs, let us know.

In God’s peace,

Rev. Dr. Leslie Foley

Martha Day, Moderator


5/25/20

Hard to believe that summer is unofficially here. Although we are not meeting in the church building, the work of the church continues.

  • Worship has continued online -- on Facebook and YouTube. We are also now doing virtual coffee hour through Zoom online meeting software, which also allows people to call in through a regular phone.
  • Wednesday music nights had been weekly but are now going to every other week.
  • A leadership group -- made up of Council members, staff, and additional committee reps -- have been meeting online every Monday. These have been somewhat informal up to now, as no votes are taken, but we have been touching base, hearing how different groups are faring, and checking in.
  • Other committees -- CE, Deacons, Trustees, CMO, music committee -- have been meeting through email exchanges or on Zoom as well.
  • Our young people -- both LOGOS and Sunday School -- have been gathering on Zoom on Wednesdays to touch base with teachers & advisors.
  • Online bible study has started up on Thursday evenings through Zoom. Anyone is welcome to join! (To get details on joining, check with Sharon Rankin or Roberta Morrill.)

If anyone wants more details about any of these meetings -- or how to join -- please reach out to me or the church office.

In our weekly leadership meetings we are now discussing what the next steps are. It looks like the state will allow in-person worship with certain limitations in June. But it is up to individual congregations to determine what is best for them.

In our Monday meetings we have been reviewing information from the State, the Maine Conference, and the Maine Council of Churches. See the links below.

We want people to be safe. Do we wait until everyone can return? Or do we have in-person worship when most people can return? Or if even a few people can return? Do we consider an outdoor service? Do we have some type of in-person worship and also continue online worship?

If we do meet in-person, how can we do music? It is reported that singing increases the spread of the virus, even with masks on.

And how do we keep the worship space clean? Do we need to remove hymnals & bibles? Can paper worship bulletins replace hymnals -- or do they themselves pose a risk?

If we resume in-person worship and then we find out that someone with COVID-19 has attended worship, how do we notify others who were in worship so that they can self-isolate?

These are just some of the questions that need to be asked about re-opening. We had to end in-person worship in March with very little notice or planning. But now we need to consider lots of factors before we resume. There is no single “right” answer on the timing. The consensus at last week’s meeting is that it is still early in the re-opening process. We don’t know yet what impact the partial re-opening of businesses will have on infection rates.

Please know, though, that we are talking about what comes next. If you have questions or want to share concerns, please reach out to me or to Leslie.

Martha Day, Moderator / martha@westbrookwarren.com

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Resources on re-opening of in-person worship:

3/23/20

All in-person worship and activities (including rentals) remain cancelled, and the church building is closed to the public until circumstances change. Staff members should be the only people in the building -- and even then on a limited basis. Please refrain from going in unless requested by staff to come in.

We have made it through another week. The building is empty -- but we have connected online, by email, and by phone. We are learning new ways of communicating and worshipping. And we are reaching people who aren’t able to come to the actual church building -- some nearby and some at a great distance.

This children’s song has never been more relevant. The church is not a building -- the church is not a steeple -- the church is not a resting place -- the church is a PEOPLE. I am the church -- you are the church -- we are the church together. All who follow Jesus -- all around the world -- yes, we’re the church together!

If you haven’t already, check out virtual worship on Sunday morning. We do it on Facebook, but you can still watch even if you don’t have Facebook. We also post them on our website. You can watch on Sunday morning at 10:30 am or anytime at all!

Alicia Phelps, our Music Director, is also planning virtual hymn sings on Wednesday night at 7pm. Again, you can watch on Facebook or on our website.

To watch on Facebook: www.facebook.com/wwccucc. (If you are prompted to sign in or join, look for a “Not now” link to make that message go away.)

To watch on the website: www.westbrookwarren.com/online-resources. Look in the list for the date you want to watch.

If you would like to make a donation, you can mail a check to the church office (810 Main Street, Westbrook, ME 04092). Or, you can try out online giving. There is more information on that on the website -- go to the Home menu and select “Online Giving.”

If you have prayer concerns, please send them to the church office or through a private message on Facebook.

Watch for updates through one of these methods:

If you need to contact the church, you can call the main number 207-854-9157. If no one answers, please leave a message. You can leave a general message -- or for Fay Molina, the office administrator -- or for Leslie Foley, the pastor. All voice messages are delivered via email, so someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Fay will also be in the office to answer phone calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 10am.

You can also send messages through the Facebook or Instagram pages.


Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church, UCC

810 Main Street, Westbrook, ME 04092

www.westbrookwarren.com

office@westbrookwarren.com

pastor@westbrookwarren.com


PDF version of this update

3/16/20

I hope this evening finds you all well. I missed seeing people in worship on Sunday, but I hope you have been able to see either the livestream attempts on Facebook or the recorded version on the web page (more about that below).

All in-person worship and activities, including rentals, are now cancelled, and the church building is closed to the public, at least through April 4th. It may be longer than that, but we will keep you posted as the situation changes.

Watch for weekly updates on Monday or Tuesday -- through one of these methods:

You can help keep people updated by calling your friends who don’t have email or who aren’t online!

If you need to contact the church, you can call the main number 207-854-9157. If no one answers, please leave a message. You can leave a general message -- or for Fay Molina, the office administrator -- or for Leslie Foley, the pastor. All voice messages are delivered via email, so someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Fay will also be in the office to answer phone calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 10am.

You can also send messages through the Facebook or Instagram pages.

It is difficult to talk about money at a time like this, but if you are so moved to send in your pledges and donations, we would receive them gratefully. You can mail a check to the church office (810 Main Street, Westbrook). Or, you can try out online giving. There is more information on that on the website -- go to the Home menu and select “Online Giving.”

We are looking at ways to worship together virtually -- whether it is another Facebook livestream on Sunday morning -- or a “watch party” of a recorded service -- or a virtual hymn sing on Wednesday night. We do have some past services recorded (including this past Sunday) and available on the website -- go to the Home menu and select “Online Resources.”


Martha Day, Moderator

day.martha@gmail.com


Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church, UCC

810 Main Street, Westbrook, ME 04092

www.westbrookwarren.com

office@westbrookwarren.com

pastor@westbrookwarren.com


PDF version of this update

Greetings! 3/14/20

Things are moving very quickly with COVID-19, the Coronavirus. There are only a few confirmed cases in Maine, but we feel we need to heed the multiple recommendations for “social distancing” to try to limit (or slow) the spread of this virus.

What does that mean for Westbrook-Warren?

Worship: We were going to hold worship tomorrow, March 15. But we have decided to cancel. We will have a recorded version of a modified service available tomorrow on our web page. (We may even attempt a livestream on Facebook at the regular worship time -- pray for us!)

Sunday School & LOGOS: These are cancelled through March.

Public dinners:

  • The bean supper for Saturday is cancelled.
  • The Thursday community meals are cancelled for the remainder of March.

Committee meetings: For now, these will be at the discretion of each committee -- to cancel or to meet as needed (in person or by phone).

Rentals and use by outside groups: At this time we have not cancelled any rental agreements, although some of the groups have notified us that they are cancelling. We will continue to discuss these arrangements with the renters and the Trustees.

Cancellations & updates: If something is cancelled we will announce it via the church email list, our web page, notifications on TV (Channels 8 & 6, I think), and social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). If you know someone in the congregation who isn’t online or on email, please give them a call and share information as you get it.

We are talking about how to stay in touch with each other -- by phone & email, through social media, etc. More to come.

Rev. Dr. Leslie Foley, Martha Day, Roy Leighton, Phil Brown, Gordon Blake, Alicia Phelps


PDF version of this update