Category Archives: Worship

Virtual Worship Only This Sunday

Because of the continued increase in community spread of COVID-19, and at the request of the County Health Officer, Brian Holmes, we will not have in-person worship this Sunday, September 27, 2020. We probably won’t have it for at least a month. We will provide a virtual worship service through all the regular means at 10:30 a.m.

More information on how to livestream or tune into the service on the radio at: https://abilenefirstumc.org/live/.

Worship Will Be Inside This Sunday

I’ve decided to hold worship inside with masking and social distancing, but without singing this Sunday. I came to this decision after a lot of conversation, thought, and prayer. A number of things factored into my decision among them.

  • The fact that Abilene is experiencing community spread.
  • My strong desire to not lose any of you to COVID-19.
  • I suspect that with the recent increase in local infections, more of you will be inclined to livestream the service from home—and this will work better if we worship inside the church building.
  • The example of the Abilene and Chapman school boards in closing in-person classes.
  • The failure of the Abilene City Council to enact a mask ordinance. One of the arguments against doing so is that we can all be responsible within our own spheres. I “get” this argument, and I’m taking responsibility within my own sphere.
  • The fact that fallen human nature would probably make it hard to achieve 100 percent mask-wearing and social distancing outside.

I look forward to receiving the counsel of the Church Council at their next meeting. In the meantime, feel free to let me know if you disagree with this decision. But, in the words of John Wesley, “smite me gently.”

Regarding Next Sunday’s Outside Service

Regarding next Sunday’s (September 27, 2020) outside service:

As your pastor, it’s my job to care for your souls, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore the safety of your physical bodies. At present, the spiritual benefits of singing are in tension with the possibility of spreading COVID-19. We’ve been looking for a way to strengthen our spirit while protecting our bodies. We think we’ve found a solution: singing outside.

I’m excited by the prospect of singing some hymns next Sunday. I’m looking forward to it because, after consulting medical experts, I believe it can be done safely with little or no risk through a combination of wearing masks, sitting outside, and practicing social distancing (staying at least six feet apart from those outside our household). For it to be safe, we need to do all three of these things. Two out of three won’t cut it. 

Because we need all three, we’ve scheduled next Sunday’s service, which includes hymn singing, outside in the parking lot. (If we have to go inside because of rain, etc., the hymn singing will be canceled.) As for the other two factors—mask-wearing and social-distancing—I plan to carefully evaluate how well we do and then decide whether it’s safe to do it again. We haven’t even done it once, but I already know that I would like to do it again. Please do your part to make that possible.

Worship Outside With Us Next Sunday

We’ve scheduled an outdoor worship service with hymn singing for next Sunday, September 27, at 10:30 in the east parking lot. Please bring a camp chair or a folding chair.

The east parking lot will be blocked off, but there should be plenty of parking available off the street around the church and in the west parking lot.

Many of you have been prudent and extremely cautious during this pandemic. Please don’t feel any pressure to attend. We plan to continue to livestream and broadcast on KABI 1560 AM just as we have been. It does not make you a bad Christian, nor does it indicate spiritual sloth if you continue to worship from home because of health concerns.

A New Stole

I received a new stole in the mail today. It’s multicolored so I can wear it anytime I want to. White for Christmas, Easter and other high holy days, green for Ordinary Time, purple for Lent, blue for Advent, red for Pentecost. I’m so pleased with it that I’m having to remind myself of Joseph’s special robe and how it got him into trouble—and try to avoid the same pitfalls.

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If I don’t look happy, it’s only because I’m really bad at taking selfies and I was getting quite frustrated with my inability to get the picture I wanted.