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April 2020 District Newsletter

Message from the North East District Office

April has always been my favorite month. I am a little biased since it is also my birthday month; but, April is also a time for new life and a time when we usually start seeing the signs of Spring with the grass growing, flowers beginning to bloom, birds chirping and the weather warming up slightly (friends from Florida, pretend you live up north where they have seasons.) :) 

April is also the month that honors administrative professionals. This year that will look differently for you and your church. Remember to try and celebrate your church administrator in a creative way (cards/video chatting/making a plan for a future in-person celebration) since you might not get to see them in person on April 22. And also because their ministry is looking and feeling much different than it did one month ago. So be sure to check in with them on a regular basis. Trust me, they will look forward to hearing from you as much as I do. 

Today is also the beginning of Jay's leave. As I struggle into this new normal of living in our world, I also have to move into a new season of my ministry. Thoughts of "what does this look like" rumble around in my brain - but I keep moving forward. My own insecurities sometimes float up to the surface - but I keep moving forward. For months, especially since the new year, many of our congregations focused on General Conference and only General Conference. During those times of conversation with folks about the urgency and uncertainty of it all, I reminded them that we don't know what will happen and we need to keep moving forward.

As hard as it is to move forward in an uncertain time, remember that God has a plan for us. He doesn't always unfold His plan on our timeline, which I know can be frustrating; but, He always shows up! So as we all await for God's plan in this new normal, I know in my heart it will be a good one. Well, maybe not a good one, but a GREAT one. And because of my faith in God, I will keep moving forward and I ask you to do the same. 

God is good all the time!

Blessings,

Pam Mullay


Update on Unstuck Online Module

Be sure that your church only has one person create an online account for the Unstuck Module. We have only purchased enough online seats for each church that attended. Clergy, please do not share the link to log in and create an account. Whomever is the one creating the online account for your church needs to share their log-in and password to the rest of the team. We will be checking regularly and deleting any extra accounts so all of our churches have a chance to participate. 

Also, we recommend that you complete this module as a group if at all possible. In many of the online video calls, like Zoom, the presenter can share their screen and you and your team can view everything together. Sorry for any confusion!


Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice Requirement

Employers are required to provide a notice of Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family Leave available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) as soon as possible. The Department of Labor has provided the following information related to the notice:

  • The notice must be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises.  In response to the question related to teleworking employees, an employer may satisfy the requirement by emailing or direct mailing the notice to employees or posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website.
  • Employers are not required to post the notice in multiple languages.
  • The notice does not have to be provided to recently laid-off individuals or new job applicants, but the notice must be communicated to new hires either by email, direct mail, or by posting the notice at the premises or on an employee information internal or external website.
  • Employers must post the notice even if their state provides greater protections, as the employer must comply with both federal and state law.
  • If employees report to a main office and then go off to work in another location, the notice must be displayed in a conspicuous place where employees can see it.  If that is at the main office, then it does not need to be displayed at other worksite locations.  However, if employees report directly to work in separate buildings, the employer must post the notice in each building, even if the buildings are located in the same general vicinity.
  • Notices must be displayed and cannot be part of a binder with other notices.
  • Employers can post the notice in a lunchroom if all employees regularly visit the lunchroom.  In that case, it does not need to be posted in separate break rooms on each floor.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE NOTICE


Technology Resources

We thank all of the churches that applied for the technology micro-grants. We have closed the application since all of the awards have been made already. For those needing technical assistance, you can complete our tech adviser form and have one of our district tech advisers contact you. In addition, there are number of resources on our technology page. Over the next day or so, we will work on putting together a page that highlights some suggested webinars for you and your church to view together.  

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE TECHNOLOGY PAGE


Best Practices

As we move into this new normal, we will be continuing to share with you some best practices of worship since we cannot physically worship together. We will create a page for best practices soon. But until that is complete, here are just a few suggestions:

  • Please know that it doesn't need to be fancy, people just need to hear God's word. If you cannot stream, consider doing a conference call with everyone.
  • Be sure to try and have your home folks engage in your worship experience - ask them to light a candle at the beginning of the service.
  • Remember to include a children's message.
  • Set aside a time during your service for a virtual "passing of the plate." Mention that this is the time for online giving or writing a check to put in the mail. 
  • Be very intentional about communion as well. Let your folks know in advance to be ready. 
  • You don't have to stick to the one hour normalcy that folks are used to. Do more with less during this time of transition that we are currently experiencing. 
  • If you are doing drive-in church, please have a safe area for people to drop off their offering and also ask folks to bring their own communion elements. Send out bulletins via email. We don't want volunteers to be exposed while passing out or collecting items during worship.
  • Keep in touch with each other. At the end of this, we don't want anyone from our church to be able to say "my church never contacted me." This might be a great time to reach out to those that might still be on your membership rolls but are not part of your weekly church attendance. 
  • Create pen pals with young people and the older generation in your church. Keep it old school. Everyone loves to get a card or letter in the mail.
  • Larger churches - reach out to the smaller churches near you to see if they need help. We are all in this together.  
  • EASTER - As Easter approaches in a few weeks, please know that Easter is not about a church building, it is about the people. While we ask you to honor Easter during your online service on April 11, consider setting a goal of an Easter Celebration in person on the first Sunday we are finally back to normal.

Update to Missional Vital Signs Reporting

As with other times of disruption, like our Florida hurricane season, we are giving guidance with reporting Missional Vital Signs for the next 2 – 3 months

  • If you have data not entered for February or before, please email your district office
  • March and April (possibly further) will have a temporary link to report only a few key data points
    • This will be emailed to all active clergy appointed to a local church and the assigned Missional Vital Signs Reporter as entered on your church dashboard. Please check that the email for the MVS reporter to verify it is correct.
    • Only 1 person from a church will be reporting
    • The MVS page will also have directions

So much of church is in person, collecting data in areas where we are not gathering - just doesn’t make sense right now. We want to make reporting easier, not harder.

  1. AWA (Average Worship Attendance): You may have data for the 2 or 3 weeks of March (5 Sundays in March), enter those numbers.  Enter 0 if you did not meet or do not have the numbers. We are assuming that you are not meeting physically the last two weeks of March.
  2. Online Viewing: If you are meeting virtually, enter the numbers as best you can gather. The main thing is to be consistent. Here is a link with helpful directions for collecting data for Online Viewing and Facebook Live. (Click here)
  3. Giving: Use the same as what you have always counted. You may now have online giving, texting to give, or mailed in giving. While safe distancing may make this challenging, please do your best to follow the practices already in place for collecting donations and making deposits.
    1. This number is the total amount given to God’s church for budgeted operating and capital expenses and missional purposes in addition to or part of the budget. This includes all contributions received by pledged and unpledged giving, loose plate offerings, and funds given for capital debt, building or repairs, or special offerings to ministries beyond the church (UMCH, youth mission trip, Africa University, Habitat for Humanity, Storm Recovery or a sister congregation in Cuba or Angola).

      Excluded are interest income, memorial bequeaths, facility use fees, income from child care, adult day care ministries, thrift stores, pumpkin patches and similar fundraisers, as these do not reflect the financial generosity of the congregation.
  1. Reaching Out: Please share with us one or two narratives -
    1. How are you reaching out to your church family?
    2. How is your church reaching out to the community?

District Office Update

Just an FYI that Pam is predominantly working from home and the office phones have been forwarded to her cell phone. If she does miss your call and needs to call you back, her number will show up as PRIVATE. She will be retrieving mail at the office 1-2 times per week. As always, you can reach her via phone at 904-396-3026 and via email - flumc-ne@flumc.org. If you want to do a video call with her just let her know and one can be set up.


Calendar of Events

As of now through the end of April, every in-person meeting has been cancelled. We will post some informative webinars on a district page soon. We will keep you posted on May and June events. Stay home and stay safe.