For those of you have not heard, Governor Hogan has announced that as of Friday, May 15th at 5 pm, the state of Maryland will be entering Phase 1 of the Roadmap to Recovery and the stay-at-home order will be lifted. As each of us wrestles with what that means to us on an individual level, I would like to provide an update about the plans we have at Mount Oak Fellowship for the near and intermediate futures.
1) First, Governor Hogan has given leeway for each county government to enter into Phase 1 when they think it wise. As of this morning it is my understanding that Prince George’s County will probably not be ready to reopen on May 15th.
2) Whatever county officials do or do not decide, on Sunday May 17th and until further notice, Mount Oak will continue to offer online worship services and remain in your car, “drive-in” worship services (Sunday mornings at 9:30 am). This decision, to not rush to reopen, is not made out of any lack of faith, but rather out of a proper Biblical understanding that in this instance it is our Christian duty to cooperate with “Caesar” in helping to control the spread of the virus.
3) That said, we are at the same time working very diligently to increase our ability to hold meaningful “outdoor” worship services. “Outdoor” worship services are being strongly encouraged by Gov. Hogan, as a healthier alternative to “indoor” worship services. (Note: In contrast to “drive-in” services, “outdoor” worship services would permit participants to leave their cars.)
4) When we do begin to hold “outdoor” services it is our hope that we will be able to offer people the choice of leaving their cars (while maintaining social distancing) or remaining in their cars and participating using their car radios.
5) As we make these changes, a high priority will be made to meeting the needs of families who want to bring their children to worship. Families will doubtlessly have different ideas about what is the best course of action for them and we will make every reasonable effort to accommodate everyone with the resources that we have.
6) Please note, whatever form of in-person worship service we will or will not be offering, going forward into the future it is our full intent to continue to offer our worship services online. In fact, we are attempting to purchase equipment (it is on backorder) that will allow us to better produce the videos that make up our online worship services.
7) Finally, this summer and fall will be a time of making regular incremental adjustments based on the directions we receive from the government, our own abilities to offer services, and the opinions of our church family. Therefore, we encourage everyone to pay attention to communications coming from our church as some of our plans may change every few weeks. If you would like to contact the church or the pastor to share a thought or question you may do so by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or/and email@example.com.
I believe that in responding to this virus, we should remember what Jesus said about paying taxes to Rome. God calls us to render unto Caesar (in this case the governor, county officials and medical community) what is due to Caesar, and unto God what is due to God.
Mount Oak Fellowship of the UMC