July 5th had our Marshall First UMC open to worship in the sanctuary. The preparation for this was quite stringent and lasted several weeks. I listened in on the discussions via Zoom, which my mom participated in as a church committee member: Sign-up online required for both services, masks worn at all times, temperature checks at the door, limited to 45 people sitting in the sanctuary at one time, families can sit together but all else need to be spaced apart, sanitation procedures before and after each service, no wandering about the church, no singing (that expels spittle and germs), and no fellowship coffee hour, children’s church or Sunday school gatherings.
Just in and out for worship.
Such procedures seemed daunting but church members have all stepped up to the occasion. Volunteers came forward for entrance checks, ushering and cleaning. With no choir, Jo Sanders, our organist, worked hard to prepare schedules for special music singers and instrumentalists for the next few months. (My mother and I are “booked” for the first Sunday of every month until my China return). Live streaming has now been placed in effect for our Facebook page. And in-person committee meetings (with distancing) will soon follow as well as Zoom meetings continuing.
Here at Marshall First UMC, I am so happy to say we are learning to connect in a new, different way, one which brings us relief, joy and I’m sure God’s blessings.
News from my Chinese Church Family
Like us in America, my church in Luzhou used to be mask-free with people socializing in tight circles and having plenty of people-to-people close contact.
But during the virus lockdown, large gatherings were forbidden. Chinese churches moved to online services which most watched on their smart phones through a special worship App. A vast majority of Chinese have smart phones, including the elderly, and all are quite adept at using them. I now hear restrictions will soon be lifted. The Luzhou Protestant Church is currently preparing to worship once again in the 1913 sanctuary. Government guidelines for safety include limiting the number of worshipers present (but not the number of services that can be held), sitting 3-feet apart, wearing masks and what sanitation procedures to follow.
My church choir family, of which I am a part, is anxious to begin rehearsals once again. In our WeChat group (comparable to Facebook), we have been instructed how to keep our voices in shape and which hymns to practice for future anthems . I also post the daily English prayer for those in our group who want to challenge their language abilities. Despite being apart, we can still connect in this special way and it is a true godsend.
Those on my newsletter list, please be looking for my Summer 2020 updates. With 2 loyal volunteers, at my hometown church, we will be stuffing and sealing my 850 envelopes to send out this week. We will have our masks on, we will social distance and we will sanitize before and after our task is finished. If you’d like a newsletter, just send a note and a mailing address. I’ll get it out to you ASAP.
More reports to follow, and if you were wondering, rescue kitty Ping-ping is having a wonderful time in her new home with Ms. Zhen. Weekly photos from her new owner show a happy, healthy and loved feline. As I said before, a match made in heaven!
Until next time, here’s wishing you 平安 (Ping Ahn), Peace, for your week. Stay cool!