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Easter In Person! (A Note from Rev. Sarah)

Dear Friends,


This time last year, we were watching the world shut down. I will never forget sitting in the Fellowship Hall with the Pastor Tyler, Pastor Wendy, Pastor Angie, and Pastor Mike, eating lunch with Paul Nixon, our ministry coach who had come to Billings for a site visit and to talk about the future of United Methodist ministry in Billings. As we ate, we were all glued to our phones, looking at news, texting with colleagues, consulting public health professionals, as it slowly dawned on us that we were going to have to shut down worship on Sunday.


Back then we assumed we would be back to normal after a few weeks, then by the summer, and over and over again, we hoped. This has been a hard and painful time as we have not been able to meet together for worship as we preferred to worship. But what we learned was that the best way to be the church – to be, as we are called at our baptisms, representatives of Christ’s love in the world – was to stay home, to keep our distance, to keep each other safe. And so we Zoomed, and we Facebooked, and we worshiped on the lawn, and we worshiped in pods. And we discovered that the old song is true – the church is not a building, the church is the people. The church is wherever and whenever and however we gather, love each other, and find God among us.


I am so grateful to all of you for the ways that you have stretched and pivoted and grown through this pandemic. I am beyond grateful for the leadership of our church who have navigated this time with prayer, intention, and grace.


And I am so so so SO happy to announce that we are planning to return to the building for worship on Easter (April 4)! The Mountain Sky Conference has stipulated that we may return to buildings when the positivity rate for our county is below 4%. Currently, we are below that threshold, and provided that the positivity rate for Yellowstone County stays below 4%, we will be in worship together for a great celebration on Easter. (You can look at the positivity rate and other information about our Yellowstone County COVID numbers here.) After Easter, we will continue to meet in person unless the COVID positivity rate creeps back over 4%.


As we return to the building, some important safety measures are still in place:


Masks will be required for all people over the age of 5. Masks must entirely cover the nose and mouth, and must be worn during the entirety of the worship service and whenever folks are in the building. (This includes folks who’ve been vaccinated.)


Individual households will be spaced out during worship. The pews will be marked and an usher will direct you to your seat for worship.


There will be no fellowship time after the service. Folks are asked to visit outside of the church on the lawn with masks on, just like we did this summer for outdoor worship.


The service will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube for those who are unable to attend in person or who do not feel comfortable doing so at this time. We will continue to live-stream Sunday morning services on both Facebook and YouTube.


Returning to the building requires lots of help from volunteers as we will have extra need for greeters and ushers at this time. If you would like to help out on Easter Sunday and/or following, please contact the office (hello@graceumcbillings.org). If you have any questions or need more information, please feel free to contact me (sarah@graceumcbillings.org).


I can’t wait to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection with you – IN PERSON - on April 4!


Grace and Peace,

Sarah

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