The Phased Reopening of our Facility and In-Person Worship

Dear members and friends of Franklin United Methodist Church,

On March 13, in response to the growing concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19, I made the difficult decision to cancel in-person worship.  The following Sunday, a Church Council meeting was called, and the decision was made to follow the mandates coming from the Governor’s Office and the response of the Franklin Public Schools.  If the public schools were closed, the Council decided, we would not hold in-person worship and our facility would be closed (with limited exceptions).

For the last 12 weeks, we have participated in virtual gatherings in place of in-person worship and meetings in our facility.  The leaders and staff of the church have done their best to adapt quickly to new ways of being the church.  Meetings are being held virtually.  Our website has been updated.  We have added an online giving option.  Our Tuesday and Thursday evening services of prayer, praise, and checking-in have provided regular opportunities for us to connect briefly in an informal but structured way during the week.  Our Sunday morning services have provided opportunities for us to share our faith with one another, allowing us to reflect upon our current situation and consider what a “new normal” might look like after the pandemic.  While these services do not replace the in-person relationships we so desperately yearn for (and need), they have enabled us to continue nurturing our relationships with God and one another through this time of physical distancing and quarantine.

In the middle of May, the Governor’s Office released a four-phased approach to re-opening the state of Massachusetts.  On Sunday, May 31, the leadership of the church gathered virtually to develop a plan for reopening the facility and resuming in-person ministry and worship.

Franklin United Methodist Church has a responsibility to you and our community to reopen in a way that is faithful, transparent, and mindful of evolving best practices.  Using the framework of the Governor’s plan for reopening the state and building off recommendations from the New England Annual Conference, public health officials, and gleanings from the experiences of other congregations around the country, the leadership has developed a systematic plan for reopening our facility and resuming in-person worship and ministry.  The summary plan for reopening the Franklin United Methodist Church facility and resuming in-person worship and ministry can be found below.

I hope that this plan will help guide us all into a new normal and help us understand what to expect as we move through the various stages of reopening.  If you have any questions about this plan (or just want to talk), feel free to call, text, email, or set up a time for us to meet virtually.  I look forward to seeing you (virtually) in worship on Sunday and/or at one of our praise, prayer, and checking-in services on Tuesday and Thursday.  Remember, details for how to join our virtual gatherings can be found on the church website (franklinumc.org).  You can also subscribe to the website to stay up-to-date on all that is going on and how to join our virtual gatherings.

Peace.
Pastor Jacob

jacob@franklinumc.org

508-528-1092 (o)
860-861-3141 (c)

Sorry for the Inconvenience

We are sorry for the inconvenience. We are experiencing significant website issues today. Our praise and prayer service will still happen. Please see last Tuesday or Thursday’s post to enter the room. A link for the bulletin will be provided in the chat of our Google Meet session.

A Message From the Pastor

Dear members and friends of Franklin United Methodist Church,

The last couple of weeks have brought rapid change to the way in which we live our every day lives.  The spread of the coronavirus has changed the way we can responsibly interact with one another.  These changes even impact the way we interact and do ministry as the church.  This letter, which is admittedly long, is meant to let you know of the many ways we are trying to be socially connected as a community of faith during this pandemic.

CHURCH OFFICE/STAFF

Church staff will continue to work.  The church office will be open, though hours may vary, for communication purposes.  Custodial staff will continue to work diligently to sanitize and clean the building.  Currently, the main church phone number is forwarding to my cell phone after ringing at the church.  If the office is closed, you will be forwarded directly to me.  Feel free to leave a message and I will get back with you as quickly as possible.

SUNDAY (CORPORATE, IN-PERSON) WORSHIP & IN-PERSON MEETINGS

All in-person worship services are cancelled through Sunday, April 5, 2020.  There is a good chance that in-person worship will be canceled for longer.  If you have questions about the worship schedule call (508-528-1092) or email (office@franklinumc.org) the church office.  We have made the decision, at this point, not to try and stream any live worship services.

All in-person meetings have also been canceled until further notice.  Wednesday morning “Conversations of Faith,” Book Club, Lunch Bunch, singing hymns at the nursing home, choir, etc. will not meet in-person.  If you can find virtual ways to gather, that is perfect, but please do not choose to gather in-person for the time being.  The Resource Committee, Personnel Committee, and Church Council will continue to meet; however, these meetings will all happen virtually.

PRAISE & PRAYER SERVICES

Starting immediately, we will be offering three “Praise and Prayer” services each week: Sunday at 10 am, Tuesday at 7:30 pm, and Thursday at 7:30 pm.  These services are an opportunity for us to offer our thanks to God and lift our prayers together for our world, community and neighborhoods, friends and families, and ourselves.  These services will all happen electronically.  They are fairly short, running about 15-20 minutes.  There is a bulletin posted for this service.  Time allowing, after the services, we will have a few minutes to catch up with one another.

To join the Sunday Praise and Prayer Service, you can call in using a cellphone or landline.  Dial 1-262-885-7027, the PIN is 172 874 072#.  You can also use a computer or mobile device and go to http://meet.google.com/ens-kcoq-bgg.

To join the Tuesday/Thursday Praise and Prayer Service, you can call 1-440-467-1448, the PIN is 220 679 745#.  You can also use a computer or mobile device and go to http://meet.google.com/txp-ndfa-ivu.

If you have issues connecting to these virtual gatherings, please call or email me and we can figure it out together.

These Praise and Prayer Services are open to everyone; so, feel free to invite your friends and family to participate.

The Sunday Praise and Prayer Service will continue until the day when we are able to gather for in-person worship on Sunday morning.  The Tuesday/Thursday service may be something we continue indefinitely; we will just have to see how well it is received and utilized. Remember: all in-person worship services, groups, and meetings are canceled (at least) through Palm Sunday, April 5.

PASTORAL CARE

I will continue to make myself available to you and the community via phone, email, and video conferencing.  I will not be making in-person visits except in absolute emergency situations.  Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need to talk.  Feel free to use my cellphone number (860-861-3141), leave a message, and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.

EVERY MEMBER OUTREACH

In the coming few weeks, we will embark on an ambitious campaign to connect via phone or email with all 365 members of Franklin United Methodist Church every week we are not worshipping in person.  Please make sure that the church office has your most recent contact information, including phone and email addresses.  There will be more details on this program in a separate letter.

GIVING

While we are not meeting in-person, it is important to remember that the church is not closed.  The staff and I continue to work to serve you and the community.  Our facility, while essentially closed to the visitors, is still being maintained.  And, ministry is still happening, though in new ways.

These are tough times, I understand that, which is why I will not be making an “Easter Appeal” this year.  What I do ask is that you do your best to stay current on your pledges and giving to the church.  While giving a little extra is always appreciated, I know how hard it is for everyone at this time.

There are several different ways for you to give, even when we don’t meet in-person and “pass the plate.”  Contributions can be mailed to the church:

Franklin United Methodist Church

PO Box 313

82 W. Central St.

Franklin, MA 02038

You can have your bank or other financial institution send us a check on your behalf.  This is often setup through online banking.  And there is an online giving opportunity setup through our website.

FEEDING KIDS

We have partnered with the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School to provide food to students who would normally receive free/reduced lunches.  The Charter School is providing all of the breakfasts and lunches it would have otherwise given to these students at school to the families for use at home.  This distribution will happen once a week.  The food is sorted in the church and families are asked to stay in their cars to receive the food.  This “grab and go” distribution fills an important need in our community.  At this time, we do not need any volunteers for this program.

The Franklin Food Pantry continues to use our building through this time to store and pack backpacks for the backpack program at the Franklin Public Schools.  I have been in regular contact with Lynn Calling, Director of the Food Pantry, about that program and other ways we can support their work during this time.  As new opportunities develop, I will share them with you.

I know this is a lot of information to process.  Thank you for your patience and understanding as, for a little while we need to do things differently for the sake of the most vulnerable among us.  As I am sure you are getting tired of hearing, these are unprecedented times.  Do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions, or simply need someone to talk to.  I’m available and here for you all.

Peace,

Jacob

Easter Flowers

Signups for Easter Lilies ($17.50) and Tulips ($13) to help decorate the sanctuary will be available this Sunday going forward. Accepting cash or Checks made out to Dawn Harlow
 

HIRING: Director of Music

HIRING: Director of Music
T
he Franklin United Methodist Church (Franklin, MA) is seeking a part-time Director of Music. The Director will work with the pastor to evaluate, plan, and execute meaningful music programs and worship that engages people of all ages. The Director will lead the choir and secure accompaniment for worship from our list of musicians. The church maintains a piano and century old tracker organ in the sanctuary. The Franklin United Methodist Church is three blocks from the Franklin/Dean Commuter rail station. Interested persons can contact Pastor Jacob Juncker (jacob@franklinumc.org) for more information.