Rev. Nancy Coleman Johnson
Choir Director & Organist
Substitute Pianist & Organist
Ella Sue Coffey
401 North Main Street
Post Office Box 451
Amherst VA 24521
Telephone (434) 946-7624
Bessie Kirkwood, Chair
Board of Trustees:
Maynard Campbell, Co-Chair
Mike Mozingo, Co-Chair
When the “New Normal” Isn’t Normal!
It seems impossible that almost seven months have passed since we have gathered in our Sanctuary for worship. Even when we have been able to be together in smaller groups for committee meetings, things seem so very different these days. It’s hard for some of us to be ourselves while remaining six feet apart without being able to shake hands, hug one another or see each other’s faces. Our voices seem muffled when talking behind masks and we have trouble understanding one another. All of us have had the unpleasant and embarrassing experience of not recognizing the masked face of someone we know. The longer we live in the COVID-19 world, the more we long for a return to normalcy and for things in our daily lives to be easier. But out of concern for our own safety and the safety of others, we continue to follow the guidelines we have been given, not only for ourselves, but as a way of loving and considering our neighbor.
Our church’s Healthy Church Team (Church Council/Finance Team) continues to monitor our present circumstances and to assess the appropriateness of us returning to in-person worship. But even when we are able to do so, at least for a while, things will seem anything but normal. Masks and social distancing will still be required. Congregational singing and choir anthems will not be allowed anytime in the near future. Conversation and greeting one another will have to happen from a distance. We won’t be able to “do worship” in the same “normal” way that we all miss. Still, we all look forward to being able to at least gather in some way, even if it isn’t in the same way to which we are accustomed.
For countless people worldwide, our usual routines have been disrupted, and many people continue to find themselves still working or attending school from home. Experts tell us how important it is during these times, to be deliberate in creating time and space for the various aspects of our lives in order to maintain some sense of order. So just as it is important to have a space and time in your home for work or for school, it is equally, if not more important, to find space and time for worship and spiritual practices. Whether you are watching the online service, listening to the recording on the telephone, or reading the service you received via email or mail, set aside time, space, and
distractions in order to give that time to God. Mark the time by lighting a candle if you wish. Say your own prayer for yourself and any others in your family that are worshipping with you as you open your heart and mind to God’s Holy Spirit as you worship.
This time also challenges us to be more deliberate in our own personal devotional practices. Any place and any time can be a moment of worship for us. When we spend time with our Lord in Scripture reading and prayer, God promises to be with us. When we listen to hymns or Christian music, or read other devotional material, God, through the Holy Spirit, speaks to our hearts. Our times alone with God are also worship, and God promises to always meet us, no matter where we are. So whether in your home, in your car, in the garden, on the lawn mower, or sitting on your porch enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, we can find moments of worship in God’s presence, because God is everywhere.
We know that nothing can truly replace the experience of the gathered community of Christ in worship. Our absence from one another is difficult for us. We miss being together. But as we continue to live in this “in-between time,” we need to continue reminding ourselves as God’s people, that who we are and who God calls us to be has not changed, even in these strange circumstances. Even though we are scattered from one another and are not gathering in our building in the same way, the church is NOT the building. The church is NOT somewhere we “go,” it is who we are…WE are the church, YOU are the church. So, wherever you are, God in Christ is there, and with you always. Grace and Peace, Pastor Nancy
October Communion Offering: This month’s first Sunday Communion offering on October 4 will support our Annual United Methodist World Communion Sunday Offering that provides scholarships for national and international graduate students with financial need, whom God has gifted to learn and serve. Please use your communion envelope to make your gift separately from your regular tithes and offerings for World Communion Sunday.
Women’s Bible Study and Prayer Group will resume their regular second Tuesday meetings on October 13 at 1:00 p.m. in the Social Hall. Participants are required to follow the group guidelines included in the newsletter and posted at the church.
Halloween on the Lawn?
At the time of this writing, we are unsure exactly how our annual community outreach event that we traditionally sponsor on the church lawn on Halloween will happen this year, but we anticipate being able to do some kind of treat distribution for our neighbors. The CDC recommends “no contact goodie bags” that can be distributed to Trick-or-Treaters from a safe distance. We are considering a “drive-by” goodie distribution from our church parking lot from 5-7 p.m., without hot dogs or hot chocolate this year. We always appreciate the generous candy donations that we receive from the church family to assist with this event. Under the circumstances this year, we invite the congregation to make a financial gift in the amount you would normally spend on your candy donation. Please clearly mark your gift for “Halloween.” Thanks for your help. Any funds not needed for this event, or if Trick-or-Treating ends up being cancelled, your gift will be designated for our church’s food pantry. Please make your gift no later than October 18. Any funds not needed for this event, or if Trick-or-Treating ends up being cancelled, your gift will be designated for our church’s food pantry. Please make your gift no later than October 18. Thanks for your help.
Many thanks to everyone that helped us reach out in love and support to the teachers and staff at Amherst Elementary School at the start of this very challenging year. They were so grateful for the love, support and prayers from our church. Thanks to Jeanie Combs for organizing this project, and the Back-to-School goodie bags that she made available to the congregation to support young students.
Museum Exhibit highlights the Contributions of Women in Amherst County
Amherst Glebe Arts Response (AGAR) and the Amherst County Museum and Historical Society are currently presenting an exhibit entitled Women Making a Positive Difference in Amherst County: 1920-2020. Among the women being featured are those that are members, former members, or those that have a connection with EUMC, including: Deacon Kathy Chase, Beth Gamble, Debbie Habel, Rev. Nancy Johnson, Donna Meeks, Mary Francis Olinger, Sharon Turner, and Janice Norvell Wheaton.
The exhibit will run from now until December 16, 2020. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 am – 3 pm by appointment only. Call (434) 946-9068 to schedule an appointment. Face coverings and social distancing are required while in the museum.
All Saints’ Sunday is November 1 when we remember our members, and the friends and loved ones of our congregation, that have died since last All Saints’ Sunday (Nov. 3, 2019). If you have a loved one that you would like to include in this observance, please send an email to the church office, or leave a message on the church answering machine (email@example.com; 434-946-7624). Please share the name of the loved one, their relationship to you, and the date or approximate date of death if known. We appreciate receiving this information no later than Sunday, October 25.
Appreciation for First Responders
Thanks to everyone that supported our First Responders’ Appreciation in September. Through your generosity, the Vitality Team was able to provide wonderful “grab-and-go” goodie boxes for our Fire Department, Rescue Squad, Sheriff’s Department, and Town Police. All of the recipients were most appreciative. Any remaining funds from your contributions will be given as a charitable donation from our church to these organizations. Visit our Facebook page at Emmanuel United Methodist Church-Amherst to see more pictures of this project. Thanks again to everyone that helped by making donations and assisting with the deliveries.
Returning to In-Person Worship Services
The Virginia Conference of the UMC continues to operate in Stage 2 of our phased plan to return to in-person worship. Some churches in the Conference have chosen to start meeting in person once again while observing the strict protocol required by the Conference. Some are doing a combination of drive-in/outdoor in-person worship, while many others, like Emmanuel, have chosen to continue with online/at-home worship for the time being. Our Healthy Church Team (Church Council & Finance Team) continues to evaluate our circumstances and to discern what is best for our church at this time. The Phase 2 protocol that remains in place for all UMCs in the Virginia Conference, whether meeting indoors our outside, includes the following: registration of attendance at least 4 days in advance via the Conference website or church office; completion of the Health Acknowledgement Form either online or at the door; social distancing of at least 6 feet required; masks/face coverings required; no congregational singing; no choir; no hymnals, bulletins or worship aids in the pews; limited restroom use; no Sunday School on Sundays; no food, coffee, refreshments; no congregating for talking/fellowship unless at least 6 feet of social distancing is maintained; no hugging or handshaking. Special guidelines are also in place for communion, parking, and the entering and exiting the building.
At our September meeting, the Healthy Church Team voted not to pursue indoor, in-person worship at this time, and to continue with our online/phone/emailed and mailed worship at home options. However, the committee requested, via email and mail, for the congregation to provide input about whether or not you would attend a service at this time. If you did not receive a survey and would like to give input to the Healthy Church Team on this matter, please leave a message on the church answering machine (434-946-7624) and you will be contacted.
If you would like to learn more about the Virginia Conference protocol that is currently in place for all churches in the Virginia Conference, please visit the conference website at www.vaumc.org/return to view more information, including the Technical Assistance Manual which outlines the current requirements for Stage 2. The Healthy Church Team will meet again on October 13.
IMPORTANT COVID-19 PROCEDURES FOR ALL PERSONS ON
EMMANUEL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH PROPERTY
(INSIDE OR OUTDOORS)
Any group gatherings on church property, formal or informal, indoors or outside, should be scheduled in advance by sending an email to Pastor Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org. If at all possible, we encourage groups to use a virtual format for your meetings or try using a conference call to conduct your business. If you must meet in person on church property, please keep your gathering as brief as possible. According to the CDC, meeting outdoors is your safest option at this time. For your safety and the safety of others, please read and follow these procedures when present on church property for any reason. The group leader is responsible for completing the Health Acknowledgement Register for every gathering. Thank you for your cooperation. Please contact the Pastor if you have questions about these procedures.
No one who is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, or anyone who has had known exposure to COVID-19 in the last 14 days, can be present on church property at this time.
- Face coverings and at least six feet of social distancing are required for everyone at all times while on church property, indoors and outside.
- All persons attending a gathering or meeting on church property must complete the health acknowledgement check-in with the group leader by answering the following questions and providing contact information before entering the gathering. If you answer YES to any of these questions, you may not attend the meeting at this time.
- Have you had 2 or more of the following symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days? Fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, persistent cough, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea/intestinal upset, fatigue, sore throat, headache, muscle pain, recent loss of taste or smell.
- Have you been in contact with anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (identified in #1) in the past 14 days, or been in contact within the last 14 days with someone who tested positive or subsequently tested positive after your contact with them?
- Have you tested positive for COVID-19 and are still within the 14-day quarantine period, even if you are symptom-free?
- Are you awaiting test results following symptom onset or a known exposure to COVID-19?
Please notify your group leader or the pastor if, after attending a gathering on church property, you develop 2 or more symptoms of COVID-19, or subsequently test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of being present at EUMC. If you experience symptoms, please avoid contact with others and seek medical attention.
Your cooperation with these requirements is most appreciated.
*Our Meals on Wheels team is grateful that we continue to fulfill our commitment to this important program by partnering with local vendors to provide the meals for purchase. AS they did in August, Blue Ledge Meals on Wheels picked up the tab for us again in September through a grant that they received to support their work during these challenging days. Thanks to Winton for preparing September’s meal for us. We are thankful for all the extra donations from the congregation, and from our own Meals on Wheels volunteers, that have helped us cover the extra cost of purchasing our meals. It has also been a blessing for us to be able to support some of the struggling food vendors in our community during this difficult time through the purchasing of our meals for Meals on Wheels.
District and Conference Events
EUMC’s Charge Conference is Sunday, October 25, 3:15 p.m. This year’s Charge Conference will be held virtually via Zoom. Instructions for participating in Charge Conference will be emailed out to the congregation. All members of the congregation are invited to attend, and leaders, committee chairs and committee members are especially encouraged to do so.
The Lynchburg District Conference will be held on November 1. Details are forthcoming.
The virtual Virginia Annual Conference that convened on Saturday, September 19 has been invalidated and postponed by the Bishop due to technical difficulties with the voting process. No future date for Annual Conference has been set at this time.
Upper Rooms Available for Pick-Up: The September/October edition of the Upper Room Devotional booklet are available for you to pick up. They have been placed in a tub located on the covered concrete stoop near the outside door of the church (the exterior door closest to the church office). Please help yourself.
Food Pantry Donation Tub has been moved. It is now located around the back of the building under the covered entrance on the corner of the building. The tub is clearly marked to receive your donations for the food pantry. We appreciate all those who have been so generous with donations over the last few months.
Words of Thanks:
*On behalf of James and Peters Family, Augusta expresses heartfelt thanks to the church family for the wonderful birthday parade on James’ birthday. All the cards, goodies, balloons, love and birthday wishes were so special. Thanks so much to everyone!
*Sue Lamm expresses her thanks for all the cards, food, balloons, love and prayers she has received from the church family during her recovery from her recent surgery in August. Your love, thoughts and prayers have been most appreciated.
*Thanks for Your Continued Faithfulness in Giving Thanks to so many of you that are continuing your faithful stewardship through the giving of your tithes and offerings during these challenging days. During these weeks when we are apart, we encourage everyone to mail your gifts to the church. If you use the numbered envelopes that the church provides, the address is printed on the envelope. Otherwise, you may mail your offering to Emmanuel UMC, P.O. Box 451, Amherst, VA 24521. We are so very grateful for your continued faithfulness!
Sunday General Fund _ Other
Aug. 23 $2,685.00 $ 45.00
Aug.30 & Sept. 8 $1,525.00 $ 35.00
Sept. 13 $4,765.00 $395.00
Sept. 20 $1,225.00 $205.00
10/02 Paul Ogden
10/10 Samuel Tucker
10/13 Jonathan Mears
10/13 Renell Meeks
10/14 Mallory Tucker
10/17 Bobby Bondurant
10/20 Betsy Faughn
10/25 Mary Catherine Coates
10/25 Mike Gamble
10/25 Caitlyn Ondrick
10/28 Deborah Shrader