Riverside United Methodist
Friday, September 17, 2021
...through faith, action, compassion
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Worship with us online through Facebook Live, YouTube Live, in our parking lot (88.1FM), or in our sanctuary (up to 150 people), Sundays at 10am.


Sunday Service Update (8/15/2021):


Dear Riverside Friends,


     When the congregation I was serving ceased meeting in-person due to Covid-19 during Lent 2020 there were no Covid Vaccines; plus, I had an otherwise healthy Lutheran pastor friend die of Covid-19 in Abbott Northwestern just after Easter in 2020.  It started me thinking about Covid and my own risk factors--"diabetes" and "hard to intubate."  However, as we moved to online worship I quickly realized I had a lot more to consider than my own health.  As our worship team began receiving thanks upon thanks for providing Sunday worship, we realized we had needed to keep each other well so we could help others meet the very important spiritual need for worship.  We realized we had to limit exposure not just for health.  We had to be cautious in our lives to avoid being quarantined and therefore unable to come together to provide a worship experience for others.  We had a higher purpose than personal health for taking precautions. 


     I am confident the two-dose vaccine I received will protect me well.  That said, I also know during these stressful times that worship is more important than ever--as is pastoral-care.  So, you'll notice I will mask when not preaching. If I contract Covid-19 I would probably fare well as a vaccinated person; but, I would be restricted in my role as pastor and need to quarantine in some form; or I may accidentally spread it to others.  Right now, worship and people-care is too vital to risk that.  Plus, my wife is also an essential-worker in a pharmacy; so we both strive to be more cautious and not cause the other to need to quarantine.  We succeeded during the last surges in not testing positive or having to quarantine; so did the former worship team I worked with.  That allowed us all to keep on serving others and making a positive impact in our various roles.   


     This past Thursday Bishop David Bard turned the MN UM Covid-19 dial back to Yellow based on more than 5% test positivity rate.  Hubbard County is 6.5% positivity this week.  Yellow on the dial essentially asks three things of churches:


1) returning to masks; 2) social distancing in worship; 3) no singing in worship.  


     Riverside's Church Council hasn't had the chance to even discuss this change to yellow yet.  However, Riverside has a large sanctuary for us to spread out in.  I suggest those who are comfortable worshiping indoors use that space to distance during worship.  As we've returned to in-person worship we know how vital sacred space is; we know how important gathering keeping the doors open is.  We can meet the spiritual needs of this congregation and the Park Rapids community better if our doors are open; prudent precautions will allow us to do so at this time albeit with some inconvenience.    


     I expect most of the congregation is vaccinated.  Yet, I also know if there is an outbreak tied to the church, we will be unable to be open for a while.  I believe "Holy space" is too important to risk.  So, I would suggest we mask for a larger purpose--even if we feel safe as vaccinated individuals.  At least for this Sunday until the Church Council can meet this upcoming week.  For the sake of the larger mission of Riverside, I believe we want to be "open" for worship and events.  


     Also, please remember that the Church Council did not create the virus or the controversy around the virus; they are doing their level best to serve the short-term and long-term needs of Riverside.  Moreover, there are people who walk through Riverside's doors that trust we have their best interests and safety in mind.  Now is the time when a little extra kindness and patience goes an extremely long way.    


      While Riverside meets in person we will continue to livestream online and broadcast on radio into our parking lot.  


   Blessings and Strength, Pastor Roger


To see the Bishop's Letter and reasoning click on the link below.

Bishop’s pastoral letter: COVID precautions amid surge in cases (minnesotaumc.org)