Re-Gathering Information

Updated June 7, 2021

Bishop Bard of the Minnesota United Methodist Church has announced that the churches are now in the Blue Phase of regathering!  This is fantastic news for moving forward with creating opportunities for us to come together as the body of Christ.  Our Re-Gathering Task Force, following the Conference guidelines, has worked out the details that allow us to open the Church up for in-person worship and small group gatherings.
 
This is the news that we all have been anticipating!  Here is what you need to know.
 
Does this mean everything is “back to normal”?  Not quite, but we are definitely moving steadily and carefully in the direction of being fully open for the mission and ministry of the church.
 
When do we get to worship in person in the church?  This Sunday, June 6, we are resuming in-person worship while continuing to offer our virtual services that have been so appreciated.
 
What will worship look like?  And can we sing?  It will look a little different, and that’s ok.  Yes, we will be singing!  Which means we will require masks for everyone and we will also have to be socially distanced between family groups or the bubbles of friends that have been established.
 
But what if I’ve been fully vaccinated? Do I still have to wear a mask?  Yes, being masked and socially distanced allows Wesley to address concerns for those who may have health issues for themselves or those to whom they are close.  Mask wearing demonstrates love of ourselves and neighbors.  If you forget your mask, we will have masks available so that no one will feel excluded.
 
What about Communion?  Will it be offered during worship?  Yes, we will offer Communion during worship on the days when it would normally be offered.  Which includes our first Sunday back.  We will still be using individual cups, and your pastors and those who help serve will be vaccinated, gloved and masked.
 
What about childcare?  We will have nursery volunteers on stand-by if there are families who would like to take advantage of the nursery.  Because we know children cannot yet be vaccinated, adults providing childcare will be masked and care will be taken to disinfect toys that are being shared.
 
What about other groups in the church?  Groups may begin meeting in the church again, coordinated through the office.  Masks are encouraged but not required.  Social distancing is required.  We will have hand sanitizer, wipes and options for adequate air circulation available.
 
Does this all seem a little complicated?  After this past year and many months, we have all learned how to show flexibility and grace in order to accomplish what is important.  Gathering together, discovering who we now are after going through these difficult times, listening for God’s call to lead us into who we are becoming to be in ministry in Winona, that is very important indeed!  So, let us gather together, worship, and experience the movement of God’s Holy Spirit as we are born anew as the people called Methodist!

Based on our Bishop moving our Conference to the Blue phase and the recommendations from our Re-Gathering Task Force, we will begin offering both in-person and livestreamed/virtual worship.  Worship time for our In-Person and livestreamed worship will move to 10:30 am starting the first Sunday in June.  Virtual services will continue to be available at any time through our YouTube channel or the link on our website. 
 
During the summer, we will continue to offer Outdoor Fellowship time following worship, weather permitting.  So, if you would like to stay and have a chance to catch up with your siblings in Christ, bring a lawn chair and we will gather under the shade of the trees in the lawn opposite the city library.

Updated May 10, 2021

The current re-gathering phase is now Yellow. Click for the most up-to-date information.

Updated April 14, 2021

On April 8, 2021, Wesley UMC received word from Interim Bishop David Bard that the decision to move re-gathering phase from orange to yellow has been postponed.

This decision to remain in the orange phase was made due to the worsening case numbers, hospitalizations, and testing positivity rate in the state of Minnesota as a whole.

The bishop’s letter may be viewed here.

The following message was sent to the Wesley community on March 22, 2021:

Many have asked about what Wesley’s plans are for phasing in our in-person worship services.  Last week, Bishop David Bard, our new interim Bishop, sent a letter with guidelines from our Minnesota UMC Conference leadership.  They are calling for the current Orange Phase restrictions to be in place until after Easter.  If there is no new surge of the virus or its variants, the Conference will then issue allowances for easing restrictions and phasing in in-person gatherings.  Therefore, Holy Week and Easter services will be completely online.  However, we encourage households to think about small home gatherings to watch worship with church friends and family with whom you feel safe either because you’ve had the two shots of the vaccine or because you trust their level of compliance with masks and social distancing. 

Upon moving to the Yellow Phase, life services such as weddings and funerals will be allowed in our sanctuary but limited to 50 – 60 attendees.  Regarding worship, we will be able to offer gatherings in the church for online worship watch parties of 10-15 persons in the LOFT or Chapel.  We will continue to encourage watch parties in homes for worship as well.  Eventually, a larger group (50-60 people) could form a worship watch party in the sanctuary and have fellowship time outside.  For this to happen, we will need volunteers to be trained in the cleaning/sanitizing that will need to take place.  If you are willing to help, watch for a sign-up to come out!

There will be a point in the near future when we won’t have attendance limits and will be in the Green Phase.  Looking forward to that time!

Below are the guidelines just approved by our church council regarding moving into a less restrictive phase of our opening.  The green light for implementing the following guidelines will come from Conference leadership after Easter if there is not a new surge of the virus.  Adjustments to these guidelines will be made a timely and appropriate manner to allow for a full return to capacity.  Here is the link to the entire Bishop’s Letter: https://www.minnesotaumc.org/newsdetail/pastoral-letter-new-state-guidance-15154728

Wesley UMC Guidelines for Yellow Phase (25% capacity, 50-60 people)

  • Watch party of online worship in LOFT, Chapel and or Sanctuary
  • Reservations required
  • Masks and Social Distancing
  • No food, no drinks
  • Child care would not be available
  • Individuals/families are encouraged to also begin gathering for online worship watch parties in homes
  • Small weddings/funerals (within 25% capacity limits) allowed with masks and social distancing
  • Continue current policy allowing small groups to gather in church in the LOFT

These guidelines may seem wise to some and overly cautious to others.  On behalf of our church council, I thank you for your patience and understanding.  This has been a lot to navigate through.

Yours in mutual care,

Pastor Robert 

Our office staff is working from home.  To speak to our office coordinator, please call 507-452-6784 during office hours (10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Monday – Thursday).

Additional information on staying connected with Wesley during COVID-19 can be found on our Staying Connected page.