The Virginia conference created a team to work on developing a phased plan for the re-opening of churches. Part of this was that each church creates a "Healthy Church Team (HCT)"
March 9, 2021
Dear Cranford Congregation,
In Matthew Chapter 18, verse 20 Jesus tells His disciples: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
March 8, 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of the last time we had face-to-face worship and fellowship.
With the onset of the pandemic last year, it was necessary for Bishop Lewis to institute stringent protocols and restrictions for all United Methodist Churches in the Virginia Conference. This could not have been an easy decision given Jesus’ words about the importance of worshiping together.
Cranford, along with every other conference church, established a Healthy Church Team (HCT) to periodically review and recommend actions necessary to prevent the COVID 19 virus from spreading within the congregation. As you are all too aware, the curtailing of in-person worship services has been a difficult and trying experience.
A few churches, because of their large buildings and substantial fiscal resources, managed to periodically hold reduced occupancy in-person services. Many churches in the Conference, because of their limited resources, have been extremely constrained in being able to hold any sort of service. Cranford has truly been blessed to have members and staff who have ensured you not only have the ability to experience an abbreviated Sunday service in your homes every week, but also a weekly devotion and Sunday School class.
Progress reported in the national news media about vaccine production and availability is very encouraging yet can be misleading. Vaccine supply sufficient for every adult in the U.S. by the end of May does not equate all adults receiving their shots by then. Several more months will pass before that can be achieved and there’s been no word yet about vaccine availability for youth or children.
The Cranford HCT* met virtually March 3, 2021 to consider whether and when to recommend lifting our current prohibition of in-person worship service. Their deliberations focused on:
- Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that continues to stress the need to keep precautions that are currently in place.
- A recent announcement by the Bishop that churches could consider limited in-person services beginning in late June only if certain set precautions were put in place. These precautions necessitate extensive volunteer support, frequent cleaning of the church, and other protocols.
- Cranford’s liability insurance coverage could be cancelled if a determination was made that Church staff and members did not adhere to every requirement for each and every in-person event.
- Whatever type of service Cranford has must be equally available to all congregation members.
All members of Cranford’s HCT are as anxious as you are to return fully to in-person worship services, Sunday School, and fellowship time. Please be assured that we will do so as soon as it is feasible.
Chair, Cranford UMC Administrative Council
* The Cranford HCT is composed of: Jasmine Cofie, Scott Wilson, Jean Robinson, Linda Heller, Steve Heller, Randy Streufert, and Verna Viereck.
Recommendations by Cranford’s HCT to change to in-person services must be sent to our District Superintendent for approval. No one in Cranford can institute a COVID-related change without DS approval.