Bishop calls for temporary suspension of in-person UMC services

Bishop calls for temporary suspension of in-person UMC services

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Churches strongly encouraged its pastors, on Tuesday, to once again suspend in-person services.

These additional safety measures are expected to start Sunday, November 22, and last for the foreseeable future or until COVID cases improve.

“We’re all going through, what I would describe as, soul fatigue; we’re tired,” Pastor Andy Payton shared. “It’s different and so it becomes a challenge in that sense, but overall, I think the spirits of our people are good and they want to do what they have to do to get through this.”

According to a letter from the Bishop, this will likely include making alternative holiday plans and is especially true in communities where hospitals are reporting excessive demands because of the pandemic.

Some of its churches never went back to in-person services even after they were allowed to safely return in mid-June.

“When we were all virtual, it’s weird preaching to an empty sanctuary or a cell phone,” Payton recalled. “It’s weird. It just reminds me of how important it is to be with people, and I look forward to being able to be with people one day.”

The church says this is not closure. It will continue to operate but in a more safe style.

“My favorite part was shaking people’s hands and seeing people in a way where you’re not anxious about whether or not you’re spreading the virus and that kind of thing and to be able to be a neighbor and friend to someone in a more normal way that we all long for,” Payton added.

The churches were sent a list of guideline recommendations. The last one read: focus on what you can do, rather than what you cannot.

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