Recordings of worship services
In lieu of in-person worship services during this period of sheltering in place, we are providing recordings of worship services, which become available to view on Sundays after our 9 a.m. live worship services offered through Zoom.
A new message will be posted weekly. Thank you for joining us!
Church closed until further notice; August 15 update
Following a unanimous online vote by our Administrative Council, church leaders agreed with our Crisis Operations committee to continue to keep the church building closed until further notice.
The church will continue Zoom services and recording them for cable viewing. Pastor Mee will check with other congregations for details of their experiences of allowing small groups to meet with physical distancing precautions to see if that is an option to encourage among members. The crisis committee will continue to meet monthly to determine the safety of re-opening our church and bring recommendations to Administrative Council members for their approval.
Reopening news update from administrative council, June 29, 2020
First United Methodist of Decorah Church Family,
Over the past several weeks the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant changes in how we have been able to worship. It was distressing to close down the church building and ask you to worship from home! The Church leadership and staff have worked diligently to allow all of us to worship from our homes, but our hearts yearn for the time when we can start worshipping together again. In April, our Crisis Operations Team began monitoring information to begin developing a plan and timeline for re-opening our Church. The Crisis Operations Team includes Pastor Mee, Nancy Ruen, Don Stromseth, Jayme Folkedahl, Deb TeKippe and Andy Van Der Maaten.
Why we closed the church: COVID-19 is a new disease with no preventative vaccine or defined treatment. In order to best learn about the disease and health factors resulting from it we have used the Iowa Conference, CDC (Center for Disease Control), IDPH (Iowa Department of Public Health), and Winneshiek County Public Health as resources to help guide and direct our decision-making process. Reports and ensuing Proclamations from the Governor of Iowa have also set guidelines which we are directed to follow.
Factors to consider as we re-open the church: We have learned that COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus that is primarily spread from person to person in respiratory droplets that are spread through coughing, sneezing or talking to someone who is 6 feet or less from you. You can also contract it by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. The only effective methods of preventing the development and spread of this virus involve “social distancing practices.”
Based on what we now know, those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID- 19 are as follows:
- People who are 60 or older
- People of all ages who have underlying medical conditions such as:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised (e.g., cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplant, immune deficiencies, and prolong use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medications).
- People with severe obesity (Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher)
- People with diabetes
- People with chronic kidney disease (undergoing dialysis)
- People with liver disease
This is NOT meant to be an all-inclusive list, but rather was a guide that helped our decision.
We are encouraged by the fact the level of new Covid-19 cases is remaining low in Winneshiek County. However, we have seen increasing cases in states and cities where reopening proceeded without careful consideration of these factors. Our Church leadership and Staff will do everything we can to provide a safe environment when we start gathering together again for worship. However, at this time we do not believe we can provide a safe environment for our congregation. Our Church’s demographics include a high percentage of at-risk members due to the age of our congregation. This has been a primary consideration as we have determined that our Church should remain at Red Light Status: “Stop all non-critical gatherings. Essential workers only. This is the “Stay in Love with God” and stay home phase of our ministry. Right now it is best to err on the side of distancing even as we have received new guidelines from the Iowa Governor’s Office.”
It is our hope that we can move to “Yellow Light Status” on August 16. That decision will depend on a number of factors within our Church and within our community. The status of our church reopening will be reviewed again in early August with the Ad Council. We will of course keep you advised as to the decisions made at that time. Should you have any questions regarding this decision, please do not hesitate to contact me. Stay safe.
These have been challenging times, and the Administrative Council and Staff are so very thankful for your patience, support and encouragement during this time. Unity of Spirit is a beautiful thing and we are so appreciative of how you have handled this whole time of major adjustments! We continue to ask for your patience and support as we work toward a return to church!
Sincerely, Andrew F. Van Der Maaten Chair, Administrative Council
Church reopening guidance from Iowa Conference, United Methodist Church