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Pandemic Response – Ocala First United Methodist Church

Given the spread of COVID-19 and the number of active members in our congregation who are at higher risk for serious illness from the virus, we have continued our commitment to worshiping ONLINE-ONLY!

Our priority continues to be the health and safety of our most vulnerable members, a core value at the heart of what it means to be the church. We have moved cautiously but deliberately to establish a timeline and the appropriate guidelines that will allow us to gather in person safely. 

Our plan is to open our facilities for worship on August 2.

Our team will continue to monitor the recent increase in cases in Florida. If that trend continues throughout the summer, we will reevaluate this date. The clear scientific consensus indicates that large, indoor gatherings are a high risk activity. Therefore, all church activities will require the wearing of masks, social distancing, no singing, among other requirements outlined by the CDC, until a vaccine is widely available. 

We have formed a Re-Launch Task Force to help discern and guide how and when to reopen our church campus for worship and other ministries.

You are invite to be in touch with any of our Task Force Members to share you thoughts and concerns: 

Below are links to several important resources for your information:

Updated Guidance as COVID-19 Cases Rise in Florida (06/26)

Imagining our Return to Worship: A Detailed Description

FAQ’s for Reopening Church Buildings

Letter from the Conference: Reopening Church Buildings

Why Reopening a Church Is Different (Commentary)

On June 11, the Florida Conference hosted a webinar with Dr. Fred Southwick, an infectious disease expert who attends a Florida United Methodist Church. Here are some key things he shared:

  • Being outside is much safer than being inside. There is much less transmission of the virus outside especially when people remain appropriately distanced.
  • The virus spreads mostly from droplets and aerosols released from infected people when they talk, cough, sneeze, and sing. For this reason, wearing masks and remaining six feet apart are essential.
  • Singing is the most dangerous activity you could do in church. Aerosols created by singing are not stopped by a mask or face shields. We recommend no congregational singing. Dr. Southwick recommended any soloist who leads singing should be tested every two weeks as well as remain appropriately distanced.
  • Although cleaning high touch areas like doors and restroom counters between services is important, it is not prudent to spend thousands of dollars on a deep clean each week because the virus does not stay active on surfaces beyond three days. 
  • Older adults and those with other medical conditions are more likely to develop complications from being infected. They should remain especially vigilant and avoid gatherings.
  • Children’s ministry in smaller groups with limited capacity, wearing masks and social distancing that does not involve volunteers in the vulnerable population can be done safely. Children who live with vulnerable adults should remain careful not to spread the disease at home.

To watch the entire webinar click HERE (or see embedded video below). To download the PowerPoint slides from Dr. Southwick click HERE

We share all this information to help you understand where our congregation is in the process, and to provide you with the same key resources being used by our Task Force.