The most recent Newsletter should be accessible HERE.
The "FROM THE PASTOR" insert is below:
On March 13th of last year RVUMC’s periodic Newsletter was at the copy shop, about to be printed for distribution at church on Sunday and mailing on Monday. That afternoon Bishop Bickerton sent an email to all the clergy in the NY Conference, “asking that all United Methodist Churches in the New York Annual Conference not hold public services of worship for the next two weeks.” This was in response to the developing spread of COVID-19 globally and more particularly in NY. I called Chris at the copy shop immediately and asked her to “stop the presses” and not print the newsletter, since I had no idea which, if any, of RVUMC’s upcoming events would be affected.
Well! I stand by my decision not to send out that newsletter, because as it turns out all of our events never happened. The two week closure was extended by the Bishop on March 30th until April 12th…then to April 30th…then to May 24th as the Conference figured out COVID protocols for the churches to follow so that we could avoid transmitting the deadly virus. You should have gotten a letter we sent out last August describing our progress. The Fiores, Lowes and Taylors have been the “reopening team” working with me to get—and keep—RVUMC as “COVID-safe” as humanly possible.
We reopened for limited “in person worship” at the end of LAST August, and continued until Christmas Eve, when we stopped in-person church until Palm Sunday, in response to case counts county-wide. (As spring 2021 progressed and more people were vaccinated, cases in Ulster County dropped dramatically: from 1,925 on March 27th, to 550 on April 27th. By July 1st, there were just 14 cases countywide; however, cases have increased again, up over 600 again last week.) At this point, we continue to offer our limited in-person service; we are once again able to sing from the hymnals (while masked), not limited by copyright as we are for the online service.
We have done a few things outdoors: a pre-packed Christmas cookie give-away, a limited outdoor-only plant sale, and summer cookout “Second Sunday Suppers.” We hope to do more of our favorite joyful public events in the year ahead and reopen for the wider community, but navigating how best to care for one another and our community in the midst of an
ever-changing epidemiological landscape feels a lot like going through a county fair house of mirrors…minus the fun. I’ve procrastinated on the newsletter for months, rationalizing that I really ought to know what we will be doing, and when, before sending it out. To be honest, though, we are still in the midst of a strange and volatile time, making things up as we go.
If you’ve been getting our emails and watching our recorded services over the past year and a half, or back in Sunday worship for the past year, you already know this.
Please make sure we have your current contact information; the church address and phone number are the same as always, but I have started using a new email address:
email@example.com. (I still check firstname.lastname@example.org, but for a paid email account—from register.com—it is, to put it delicately, lousy.) If you are in the area, please come by some Sunday at 10—we’re as COVID-safe as humanly possible, and it is a joy to gather “for real” especially after so much time spent apart, and on screens.
If you are not on our email list, read this paragraph!
Each week we pre-record a 20-30 minute worship service which we upload to YouTube and to Facebook. I include the URL (web address) for each week’s pre-recorded service on the written order of worship which I email out usually on Saturday night, and the main “page” of the website (rvumc.org) should always link to the recording on YouTube. To view on Facebook, you do not need to have a Facebook account; if you enter “Rondout Valley United Methodist Church facebook” into a search engine you should be directed to a screen where you can “See more of Rondout Valley United Methodist Church” with the choices to “log in” using phone or email and password, “create account”…and at the very bottom, in much smaller print, “Not now”. If you click “Not now”, you should get to our Facebook page where you can scroll down for news and services, most recent first. You may need to hover your cursor over the bottom of the video image to enable the sound. All in all, it’s easier to watch on YouTube via rvumc.org! Please do watch these services, and “like” them and share them; a lot of time and effort goes into them.
There is bad news and good news, musically. The bad news is, without a license, and an additional streaming license, and someone to handle the reporting, we can use only “public domain” hymns with no active copyright on either the musical arrangement or words, unless that copyright is held by the UMC. I have been surprised by how many favorite hymns in our hymnals are under some copyright restriction! The good news is, we have enough strong musicians in our small church that we’ve been able to record a number of hymns, mostly in the “old favorites” category, many with four parts as well as organ accompaniment, and recently Bob Taylor has added captions with all the words to the recordings.
Actually, “good news/bad news” sums up a lot of the past 18 months. The good news (to paraphrase the great Charles Wesley hymn) is that we are “yet alive, and see each other’s face.” Only one family that I am aware of at RVUMC contracted COVID, before they were able to be vaccinated, and they have recovered. We have been able to have worship in some form every week, thanks to technology; some of that technology will also help us connect with one another under many potential conditions. We were able to serve as an emergency food distribution site for the RV Food Pantry in the early days of the pandemic, and since reopening for worship have been able to receive weekly donations at church. The bad news is that almost everything we have been able to do comes at a price. With every fundraiser for 2020 cancelled and very little possible for 2021, combined with lower giving (people not attending church and a global economic crisis), we’ve spent far more than we’ve received during this period. Even if you can’t come by “in person” on a Sunday to put an offering in one of the bags at the back of the sanctuary—no “passing the plate” lest we pass the virus!—you can give by US Mail to P.O. Box 295, Stone Ridge 12484 OR by way of a secure “DONATE” page on the website, rvumc.org. We appreciate anything you can give, by whatever means. May we ALL live up to John Wesley’s
exhortation (in Sermon #50, “The Use of Money”), to “employ whatever God has entrusted you with, in doing good, all possible good, in every possible kind and degree to the household of faith, to all men!”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.