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Conference launches  ‘restart’ resource to help churches reopen

Conference launches  ‘restart’ resource to help churches reopen

By Dan O’Mara

The South Carolina Conference has created a comprehensive resource to assist churches as they prepare for the resumption of in-person worship and other gatherings, following the lifting of restrictions scheduled for June 14.

“Reset | Restart | Renew” is designed to help churches navigate the return to onsite worship after three months of virtual ministry necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Even when the church doors are once again open and we can safely gather, this does not mean a return to normal,” said Bishop L. Jonathan Holston. “It is critical to recognize the importance of the safe and sanitary practices necessary once we return to church buildings.

The safety concerns and guidelines are the product of prayer, research, data analysis and many conversations with public health officials, church leaders and state leaders.

Holston and the Cabinet strongly encourage pastors and church leaders to rely on this resource in whatever way best fits their ministry context.

“Some churches may opt to return in‐person at a later date beyond June 14, depending on their context,” Holston said. “We support you in making the best decisions for your congregation as you care for one another.”

Resources are organized into three broad categories:

  1. Reset: Guidance to give church leaders appropriate background and to help them put themselves and their congregations into a prayerful frame of mind and soul before they begin their planning process.
  2. Restart: Practical recommendations about what churches should be doing between now and when worship restarts, and continuing after the resumption of in-person gathering.
  3. Renew: Tools to facilitate continuing conversation about a church’s future ministry beyond restarting, as well as resources for addressing long-term emotional and psychological effects church members might be experiencing after three months of separation.

At the request of Holston and the Cabinet, a team of conference leaders compiled the resources from a variety of sources. Team members are the Rev. Jim Arant, interim director of connectional ministries; the Rev. James Friday, director of congregational development; and three congregational specialists – the Rev. Cathy Joens, Chris Lynch and the Rev. Millie Nelson Smith.

A second team, led by the Rev. Tim Rogers, superintendent of the Marion District, is building on the work of the “Reset | Restart | Renew” team. This group, largely pastors of local churches and church leaders, is assembling best practices to share with local churches.

To download the guide, visit www.umcsc.org/restart.

Any questions about “Reset | Restart | Renew” or suggestions for additions or best practices can be submitted to restart@umcsc.org.

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