Updated CDC Guidelines
Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new guidelines that recommended "fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission." As of the writing of this letter, this includes Maricopa County. This recommendation was made in response to the recent outbreak of the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of COVID-19 that is spreading throughout the United States. As your Senior Pastor, I have been meeting with the Executive Committee of the Church Council to determine how our church will faithfully respond to this announcement.
Given this new CDC guidance, your church is asking that all people -both vaccinated and unvaccinated- wear a mask while at large public gatherings, including our worship services. The early research on the Delta variant of the COVID-19 is that it continues to have a serious impact on unvaccinated individuals - including children and others who are considered high-risk. As a church that wants to continue to welcome everyone, I would urge you to consider wearing a mask as we find young people (who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated) in our midst. I would also urge any of you to receive the vaccination, if you have not yet already done so.
We will continue to require both staff and volunteers to wear a mask when serving and interacting with others, including our worship and family ministries staff. It is my fervent prayer that our proactive response will help prevent stricter measures from becoming necessary later in the year. While I am grateful for the opportunity to worship together in person, I would also encourage you to be thoughtful in your choices about interacting in-person with others. We continue to welcome your engagement both in-person and online.
One of the highest ideals set out for those of us within the United Methodist Church is to do no harm. Since last spring, our church community has endeavored to keep people safe, while maintaining the elements of the Christian faith that are so important to us, including worship, fellowship, and mission. We have discovered creative ways to continue being God's Love in Action, and I have no doubt that we will continue to do so.
Your pastors and church leadership appreciate your patience and grace as we continue to navigate this difficult path forward. I am confident that you will continue to offer patience and love to all people. Amidst this time of change and transition, may we each rest in the gracious providence of God.
Grace y Paz,
Rev. Dr. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, on behalf of the PVUMC Executive Committee of the Church Council.
Update for the New Year
As COVID cases have risen in Maricopa County, we will, sadly, be pausing our in-person worship gathering for the time being. However, we will continue with two online services each Sunday, 9 am for our Traditional offering and 11 am for our Modern Ignite offering. We hope you can join us online at live.pvumc.org.
We pray that we will see you all again soon, but until then trust that God will continue to be present in our lives and in our relationships with each other and the world.
November 20 Update
We share some important news from our Executive Committee of the Church Council about our in-person worship. We have a great deal of concern about the rapidly rising COVID cases in our state and county. In response, we have made the following decisions to protect the health and safety of our church community: 1. We will continue to worship outside, especially since we have begun using heaters to help with the colder weather. Being outside feels like a safer environment for us. 2. Beginning Nov. 29 we will combine the 7:30 am service with the 9:00 am service (since we have had lower numbers at the early service). 3. We will allow attendance of up to 75 at both the 9 am and 10:30 services out on the Fellowship Center Patio; 4. We will also begin limited children's activity (again, outside) on Sunday morning.
We certainly recognize how important it is for many to be able to come to worship and share together with others the worship expereince of being a spiritual community. In addition, we will be carefully monitoring the Arizona Department of Health Services COVID Business Dashboard for Maricopa County. When the Health Services measures for businesses in our county fully move into the "Substantial" spread zone for two weeks, we will suspend in-person worship at the church. Here is the link for the information we are watching:
Again, we continue to pray for the virus to be brought under control. We pray and recognize that all of us will play a most critical role in the health and safety of our lives, family and church. Our own careful behavior in wearing masks and avoiding crowds will help to reduce risk and spread and makes it possible for us to continue to meet together for worship and ministry. As of now, we are planning to offer Christmas Eve worship both online and in-person, however we fully recognize that the in-person services may have to be suspended if cases of COVID keep climbing. Let us always remember that God continues to work faithfully in our lives and sustains us with needed strength in these challenging days. We trust in God's enduring care and wisdom to lead us through these days. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Pastor Dave, Lauren Coffman, our Minister of Engagement, Church Council Chair Bethany Taylor, or Lay Leaders John Bowers or Lisa LaMont.
Bethany Taylor, Chair, Church Council and Pastor Dave
Update from Pastor Dave
In-Person Worship Will Resume November 1
October 9 Update
We want to be in touch with you as we are preparing to restart in-person worship at our church. How we have missed being together these past months! We know all of us long to join our hearts together in our worship of God. In order for us to be back on our campus we need your help and faithful commitment to ensure both the safety and the quality experience of all who will come to PVUMC. Over the past months we have carefully prepared plans to ensure the safety and well-being of our congregation. Our plans have been shaped and approved by both church staff and our church’s leadership (our Church Council and its Executive Committee). Our Desert Southwest Conference has provided valuable resources and insight on steps we are to take.
We have encountered some who believe the Coronavirus is a minor health concern. We will tell you that we have been in touch and in prayer with a number of church members who have contracted the virus and have experienced its lengthy and harmful effects. None of us want this disease to spread through our church family. If you have health concerns and choose to wait before returning to our in-person ministries, please know we support you and will continue to make available online worship and ministry to provide for your spiritual care. Your health and safety are most important to us.
Jesus commanded us, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34). It is out of an abundance of caution for your safety and health and in the spirit of Jesus’ words that we share these plans:
We are doing thorough, regular work to ensure our campus is safe, secure and sanitized.
Small groups and classes of up to ten people are able to meet on campus starting on October 12.
We Will Begin Offering In-Person Worship Starting November 1.
Our worship will be outside, on the patio by the Fellowship Center. Because we can only have up to 50 persons on campus at a time, we are asking you to please make a reservation for attending worship (you will find a link on our homepage to registration the Monday before worship). I understand that is outside of our experience of attending church, but we believe it will be the most fair way to allow us to safely meet. We will not be offering Children’s Ministry as we begin, so children are most welcome to attend worship. Our services will be about 45 minutes in length.
We Are Shifting Our Sunday Worship Schedule.
Services will be at 7:30 am, 9 am and 10:30 am (Ignite). If we need to add an additional service or two to accommodate everyone, we will certainly do so. We will continue our online Sunday worship, so you can always watch from home at our usual 9am or 11am (Ignite) times.
What To Expect When You Come To Church
We would ask you to park in the back lot (or use our handicap spaces in the circle) and leave a parking space between each car. We love being a community together and welcoming you as you enter the campus. All of our greeters and Connection Team members will be greeting you with a smile and a wave, while wearing a mask and practicing safe social distancing. During this time, we will ask folks not to touch or hug one another, but do say hello. Our team will help you and your family by guiding you safely to your seats. Families may sit together but we will arrange for safe distance between seats. We are also requiring everyone who comes on to campus to wear a mask. Our worship will feel a bit different and we will not be doing any congregational singing together, but we’ll listen to our musicians sing and share music that will inspire our faith. Again, we will also continue to offer online worship each week for our Traditional and Ignite services.
We Are Asking Each Of You To Read and Sign our Covenant Of Participation. Click here to access the Covenant.
Our covenant expresses our most important concerns and the ways we can regather in the safest manner possible.
John Wesley would admonish the early Methodists to “Do no harm,” which is our most heartfelt desire. We know that these changes are not easy for any of us. Church will not feel entirely the same. However, God will be present and with us in our beautiful outdoor setting as we pray, hear music, read scripture and receive the message. We know this time is temporary and the time will come soon enough to resume our beloved worship activities and ministries fully on campus. If you have any questions, please contact one of the pastors.