Covid-19


What You Should Know About Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

TO:      DeMotte UMC members and friends

FM:      Rev. Ed van Wijk

RE:      CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 UPDATE

DT:      11/18/2020

Dear DeMotte UMC Family and friends,

Grace and Peace, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This past Monday I attended a Zoom webinar hosted by the leadership team of the Indiana United Methodist Church and Executive staff of the IU Health System about the surge in covid-19 infections and deaths in the state of Indiana. As you probably are aware cases and deaths are rapidly increasing. In order to ‘Do No Harm,’ and to help stop the rapid spread of covid-19, decisive action is needed.

Yesterday all United Methodist pastors in Indiana received an email letter from bishop Trimble in which he says:

that all churches should suspend in-person worship and in-person meetings of groups for the foreseeable future until the number of COVID cases improve. This will likely include making alternative plans for the holidays. This is particularly true for churches in counties and communities where hospitals are reporting excessive demands due to the rising number of COVID admissions.

Last night the Church Council met in a special session to have conversation about this recommendation. The Church Council with heavy hearts unanimously decided to suspend all in person worship and meetings at the church building at least through the end of December 2020.

We will continue to live stream worship on Facebook live at 9 a.m. every Sunday at facebook.com/demotteunitedmethodistchurch/

A replay of the live stream will be posted on our website demotteunitedmethodist.org on Sunday afternoons. If you do not have this kind of access, we will find other ways in which to connect with you.

As most of us are used to giving our tithes and offerings to the church during the offering time in worship, and we will not be able to do that now, we encourage you to mail your offering to the church office (DeMotte UMC, 227 N. Halleck Street, DeMotte IN 46310), or to set-up electronic giving with your bank (call the church office for information on how to do that), or you may give online by visiting the ‘give online’ page on the church website demotteunitedmethodist.org/give-online

The church office will remain staffed and other church staff will continue their tasks as needed.

The church staff and a group of volunteers will communicate with you on a regular basis via telephone during this time, so we can continue to BE church together.

Please call the church office (219-987-3671) during office hours (9 am – 1 pm) if you have any questions or concerns. You may also call me directly (219-741-9110).

The drive through Community Thanksgiving Dinner will proceed as planned.

In Matthew 28:20 Jesus tells us this: “remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Blessings,

Pastor Ed.

CORONA VIRUS UPDATE FOR 06/10/2020

Members and friends of DeMotte United Methodist Church,

It is my hope that you are well in body and spirit. It has been a long time since we last worshiped in person together. I have missed seeing you and enjoying fellowship with you and yet we have managed to find other ways to connect–through virtual worship and Zoom meetings, through Facebook and phone calls. You continue to be in my prayers.

Many of you have wondered about our plan for resuming in-person worship services. Communities of faith are making various decisions about this in Indiana, and we will all arrive at different conclusions on what is wise and safe to do for the sake of all. After much discernment, the Church Council and I have decided that our first day of in-person worship will be Sunday, June 21st. Please read the document below to find out how the details of our time together will change, and what you must do to prepare and participate.

Be kind to yourselves, and each other. These continue to be trying times that call us to be our absolute best. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at ed.vanwijk@inumc.org or by calling the church office at 219-987-3671.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Ed.

Summary of Sunday Worship Guidelines

  1. In-person worship services at the DUMC building once again starting June 21st at 9:00 am.
  2. Everyone is welcome, however, persons 65 years of age and older, and persons with compromised health, might want to delay returning to in person worship.
  3. Those having a fever, coughing, or sneezing are asked not to attend worship.
  4. Safe distancing must be practiced in all seating. A six-foot distance must always be maintained between persons of different family units. Pews will be marked as to available seating.
  5. The wearing of a mask is required to attend worship. Masks will be provided for those who do not have one.
  6. All hymnals, Bibles, and papers will be removed from the pews. Digital bulletins will be available for use on personal devices (phones, iPads, etc.)
  7. Congregational singing should be suspended until we move into Phase 5 or later.
  8.  Sealed cups containing bread and juice will be available for pickup at the beginning of a communion service at the entryway.
  9. A place for members to drop their offering into a container will be available.
  10. There will be no Sunday School, Nursery, and Children’s Church until further notice.
  11. Restroom capacities will be posted.
  12. There will be no coffee hour or fellowship times before or after worship.

Strategy for Opening the DeMotte UMC building during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The physical gathering of God’s people feeds our souls and strengthens us for the journey of life in a unique way. It is our desire and intention to return to in-person gatherings as soon as it is safe to do so. The following guidelines are offered as a roadmap for our return to in-person worship and other gatherings. (Please note: these guidelines are subject to change as the situation unfolds at the discretion of our staff and Church Council.)

1. General— We will continue to monitor recommendations from the CDC, the Governor’s Office, and will follow the guidelines for reopening outlined by the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Rationale: Although there is an ongoing debate about the severity of COVID-19 and the best path forward, we support the guidance of our leaders as a good-faith effort to “Do No Harm” and safeguard the public health.

2. Sunday Worship–We will continue to offer Sunday worship online for all that are in high-risk categories, or for those who feel it is not safe to go out in public yet. We will begin to offer in-person worship services at the DUMC building once again starting June 21st. We will return to our regular schedule of weekly worship inside the Sanctuary at 9:00 am with overflow capacity in the Chapel and the Fellowship Hall.

Rationale: Though there is still considerable risk even in this stage of re-opening in our community, this gets us in a rhythm of weekly worship and learning sustainable practices in a “new normal” that may need to be upheld long term during this pandemic time. A June 21st date also gives us extra time to see how the amount of community spread grows or maintains after initial opening of businesses in our community during Phase 1, 2, and 3 of the governor’s Back on Track Indiana plan.

Other aspects of re-opening worship to be aware of at DUMC as you attend:

Persons 65 years of age and older, persons with compromised health, are advised not to attend worship. Persons who have a fever, are coughing, and/or sneezing, or those not feeling well, will not be allowed to attend worship.

Please follow the instructions of church volunteers and staff and signage upon entering the building.

Safe distancing must be practiced in all seating. Our DUMC Sanctuary (with official occupancy of 224) now has an official occupancy under new guidelines of 56, including all staff and volunteers working in the service. The chapel can have about a 6-person occupancy. The fellowship hall can have about a 25-person occupancy. A six-foot distance must always be maintained between persons of different family units.


Following the guidelines for safe distancing, we must greet one another in ways that acknowledge each other without physically touching. We will avoid the tradition of passing the peace as a part of worship. This means that as the pastor greets those in attendance, they should do so while maintaining safe distances and without physically touching the person they are greeting. Greeters should be deployed only when they are able to maintain safe distancing and must always wear masks.


The wearing of a mask is required to attend worship. Some washable cloth masks will be available for adults and children 3 and over. If one does not bring a mask for personal use, one will be provided. If a person refuses to wear a mask, they choose not to attend our worship service.


Because viruses can survive on paper and hard surfaces for hours, all hymnals, Bibles, and papers will be removed from the pews. We will use projection systems during worship, and social media, websites, and other media for announcements and communications. Congregational singing should be suspended until we move into Phase 5 or later depending on then available guidance.


Holy Communion will be practiced in this way—sealed cups containing bread and juice will be available for pickup at the beginning of a communion service at the entryway where members and guests are initially welcomed. Participants in worship are invited to receive communion when the pastor consecrates the communion cups from the chancel area in the participants’ hands, and all will partake from the pew. No altar rail or common cup will be used for the foreseeable future.

Offering plates will not be passed from person to person. We will create a place for members to drop their offering into a container that will allow them to follow physical distancing guidelines. Those collecting and counting the offering must follow guidelines for safe physical distancing and should wear gloves.

All Children and Youth activities, including Sunday School, nursery and Children’s Church, as well as other on-site group gatherings are suspended during the Sunday morning hour.

Restroom capacities that allow safe distancing must be thought through and posted. For example, if the restroom has two stalls, the capacity should be reduced to one person in the restroom at a time. Restrooms must be cleaned after each use.

There will be no coffee hour or fellowship times before or after worship. Eating and drinking socially make physical distancing more difficult. We will be alert to the guidelines to know when it is best to reintroduce these activities.

3. Services and bible studies during the week will continue to be held via Zoom for the foreseeable future.

4. Classes and Groups—If a group wishes to meet in person, they must observe physical distancing and wear a mask when inside the building. Classes and groups as always must be scheduled with the church office so proper sanitation can be maintained in meeting spaces and bathrooms after each gathering. This also includes Administrative meetings of any kind—these meetings of Church Leadership must be held in the larger spaces of our facility if they are not held virtually.

Rationale: Our classrooms and conference room are too small to facilitate classes or meetings and maintain ample physical distancing. We will close those classrooms during Sunday morning hour and for the foreseeable future until distancing recommendations are lifted.

5. Ministry to Young People–When Kankakee Valley public schools resume normal activities, we will resume nursery and in-person children’s programs.

Rationale: It is difficult to maintain distancing and sanitation guidelines with children. While adults and older youth are capable of self-regulation, managing multiple groups at our facility presents a considerable sanitation challenge. Children are also found to be more at risk than first thought, so an overabundance of caution should be taken to protect our smallest disciples.

6. Facility Use and Office Coverage—The church office and facility will be open by appointment only. Employees on site will adhere to proper physical distancing guidelines. Facility use for Rotary, WW, Driving School, Dancy Nancy, and some Scouting Groups will be permitted starting June 22 with physical distancing and sanitation guidelines detailed below. Already scheduled use of the church facility will be honored with physical distancing and sanitation guidelines detailed below.

No new requests for building use will be honored until further notice.

Rationale: Protecting staff, their families and reducing exposure to COVID-19 from those that we come in contact with through daily walk-ins is a high priority.

7. Preschool Opening—According to State guidelines, the preschool will not reopen until the public schools open and will adhere to mandated restrictions and sanitation protocols established by the state.

Rationale: We will follow state guidelines for the opening of the preschool during the next school year.

8. Physical distancing and sanitation guidelines:

Rotary: Will use the Fellowship Hall and the South bathrooms. Facemasks will be required, and physical distancing will need to be observed. Until further notice the kitchen will not be used and only individual prepackaged lunches will be used. Rotary will provide their own hand sanitizer and sanitize the room after use.

Weight Watchers: Will use the “Together Room” and the North bathrooms. Facemasks and physical distancing are required until further notice. They will bring their own hand sanitizer and will sanitize the room after use. They will not use the storeroom.

Between the Lines Driving School: will use the Fellowship Hall and the South bathrooms. Physical distancing and facemasks will be required. Driving school will provide their own hand sanitizer and driving school personnel will sanitize the room after each use.

Dancy Nancy will use either the “Together Room” or the “UMW Room” and the North bathrooms. They will bring their own hand sanitizer and will sanitize the room used after each use.

Boy Scouts and Venturing Crew: Will use either the “Together Room” or the UMW Room and will use the North bathrooms only. Until further notice the use of the Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, any other room of the church or Kitchen is not allowed. The group that meets will inform the office of which room they will use. They will bring their own hand sanitizer and will sanitize the room used after each use.

Cub Scouts: Will not be allowed to use the church building until the Kankakee Valley School System goes back to in-person schooling. Further use and sanitation restrictions if any will be determined closer to that time.

Approved by DUMC Church Council on June 8, 2020. These guidelines will continue to be revisited as new developments warrant.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 05/08/2020 for DeMotte United Methodist Church

Last night (05/07/2020) the DUMC council met to discuss Governor Holcomb’s ‘back on track Indiana’ plan for opening the state and guidance about reopening the church building received from local leadership and the Bishop of the UMC in Indiana.

To protect all of us and especially the most vulnerable among us, the church council has decided that we will continue virtual worship at least through the end of May and will most likely NOT meet in person for worship until after June 14 at the earliest.

All activities at the church building remain on hiatus during the same time, and the church office remains closed for in person business for now.

Also, the decision was made to cancel this year’s VBS, UMW Salad bar, and the youth pancake breakfast.

The church council will reconvene in a virtual meeting on June 1 to reassess this situation and will update you shortly after that.

 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

In Christ,

Pastor Ed.

TO:      DeMotte UMC members and friends

FM:      Rev. Ed van Wijk

RE:      CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 UPDATE

DT:      03/18/2020

Dear DeMotte UMC Family,

Grace and Peace, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Life as we knew it seems to have changed into something, we could not imagine even a few days ago. But this is not a time for fear, this is a time for hope. We do not know what the future holds. However, we know who holds the future! Indeed, our God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In order to stop the rapid spread of the new corona virus our Federal, State, and local governments as well as the leadership of the Indiana United Methodist Church have given us guidelines that we need to comply with.

Last Sunday, March 15, after our worship service, the Church Council met to discuss these guidelines and to decide on our path forward as a church. On Monday the Preschool Committee and the Finance Committee met, and I have consulted with our Worship Committee to decide our next steps, as well.

All activities at the church will be on hiatus until further notice. The church office remains open and staffed during our regular office hours M-F 9-1.

One of the important things we do as a church is BEING church, that involves worship, congregational care, spiritual formation, hospitality and outreach, and missions. As we are no longer able to worship together because of the virus situation, we will change to virtual worship only. This means that starting this coming Sunday March 22 until and including at least April 12 (Easter) our 9 a.m. worship services will be live streamed. You will be able, if you have access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone, to worship with me on Facebook Live at facebook.com/demotteunitedmethodistchurch/

A replay of the live stream will be posted on our website demotteunitedmethodist.org on Sunday afternoons. If you do not have this kind of access, we will find other ways in which to connect with you.

As most of us are used to giving our tithes and offerings to the church during the offering time in worship, and we will not be able to do that now, we encourage you to mail your offering to the church office (DeMotte UMC, 227 N. Halleck Street, DeMotte IN 46310), or to set-up electronic giving with your bank (call the church office for information on how to do that), or you may give online by visiting the ‘give online’ page on the church website demotteunitedmethodist.org/give-online

The church staff and a group of volunteers will communicate with you on a regular basis via telephone during the covid-19 pandemic, so we can continue to BE church together.

Please call the church office (219-987-3671) during office hours if you have any questions or concerns. You may also call me directly (219-741-9110).

“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Ed.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 3/16/20 for DeMotte United Methodist Church

Things are changing rapidly. This afternoon the CDC, the White House, and the office of Bishop Trimble of the Indiana UMC all came out with new directives. The bottom line is that because we want to stop the spread of New Corona virus, we will have to stop meeting in person for worship for at least the next four weeks.

Effective immediately we will change to virtual worship only. Starting this coming Sunday March 22 our 9 a.m. worship services will be live streamed. Specific details will follow in the next couple of days.

Church leadership is working on a plan to continue to care for each other and to BE the church in this time.

All activities at the church will be on hiatus until further notice. The church office remains open and staffed at our regular hours M-F 9-1.

“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

In Christ,

Pastor Ed.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 3/15/20 for DeMotte United Methodist Church

Earlier today the Church Council met to discern our next steps regarding the covid-19 outbreak.

We listened to God’s Word, we prayed and considered the directives from our local government.

The church council unanimously decided the following:

We will, for the time being, continue to meet for worship on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. We will practice physical distancing, no handshakes, no hugs. Refreshments will NOT be offered after worship.

All other church activities and meetings at our building will be discontinued until further notice with the following exceptions: Nancy Susnis’ small exercise classes will continue to meet, and the church office will remain open.

We will convene for essential committee meetings. The Finance Committee will meet tomorrow evening at 6:30 pm. All other committee meetings scheduled for this week are cancelled.

We will keep in touch by telephone, email and social media with our membership, especially those who are homebound, reside in nursing homes, retirement villages and those deciding not to attend worship.

Our worship services will be live-streamed, and the audio will be posted on our Facebook and webpage.

This is still a developing situation and we will adjust our plans as warranted and will communicate accordingly.

Let us not live in a spirit of fear but continue to trust and hope in our God who is in control!

In Christ,

Pastor Ed.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 3/13/20 for DeMotte United Methodist Church

Earlier today, it was announced that the Kankakee Valley School Corporation will be closed for the next few weeks. Last night, Governor Eric Holcomb announced state-wide rules for gatherings of people.

We do plan to gather for worship this coming Sunday, March 15. Our worship has attendance under the 250 people threshold and there have been no cases of covid-19 in Jasper County. As a faith community, especially in a time such as this, it is important to seek God’s presence and to support and encourage each other, worship is the main avenue to do this.

Handshaking and other forms of physical contact are strongly discouraged. Our janitorial staff has been, and will continue, sanitizing and cleaning the things we touch the most. You can help prevent the spread of the virus by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (Say the Lord’s Prayer while you wash… it takes about 20 seconds) and we have hand sanitizer at the entrance to our worship space.

As always, you should use your own judgment regarding your attendance. IF YOU ARE SICK, please stay home.

The Church Council will hold a special meeting immediately following worship on Sunday to decide how to move forward during the duration of the covid-19 pandemic.

Let’s continue to have faith and not fear. God is bigger than covid-19. God is with us in this. We have the responsibility to be wise and we must respond with courage to this threat. We can have faith, be wise, and do not have to fear.

Pastor Ed.