the tower july 2020...the tower july 2020 (while social distancing) decorah first united methodist...
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The Tower July 2020 (While Social Distancing)
Decorah First United Methodist Church 302 W. Broadway, PO box 221, Decorah, Iowa 52101 Email: [email protected] Website: decorahfirstunitedmethodist.org
Pastoral Care: 563-277-1595
Another month from; Nancy Ruen
As we enter another month of social distancing our church leaders continue to be concerned about you and your loved ones. We pray for your continued health and strength to get through this trying time. Please remember our church family cares deeply about you. I’m going to give another try at an abbreviated version of our normal newsletter to help keep you updated.
Current Status during Covid19 Social Distancing Following recommendations from our Iowa Conference Leadership and the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation, our church leaders have decided to extend the closing of our building and continue with on-line worship through August 15th for now, with possible worshiping in the church on the 16th. We appreciate your patience with these difficult times, and we are all praying for your physical safety as well as emotional health. I have attached a letter from Administrative Council chair Andrew Van Der Maaten at the end of this newsletter for you. We encourage you to continue your financial contribution, if not too much of a burden, to the church during this time. Any mail can be sent to the church PO Box 221.
Our thanks to Pastor Mee for her efforts in trying to keep us connected through virtual worship services. We are continually trying to improve our ways to stay connected in Christ’s love!
Zoom Virtual Church Services Continue. We are pleased that our new method of virtual worship together by using Zoom on Sunday mornings has allowed us to see each other and feel more connected. We have had some trials with a few issues, but as we continue through July and early August maybe we will get it perfected! If you haven’t joined in and only watched on YouTube, please be aware that you are missing out on our time of sharing joys and concerns and informal fellowship and virtual coffee hour! It is wonderful to see smiling faces and connect with church family that we have all been missing during this sheltering in place period.
July Birthdays please e-mail church office with any errors or additions à 1st-Mabel Cox à 2nd -Lynne Kephart à 6th-Sharon Rossman à 7th -Kianna Folkedahl à 7th -Ryan Thomas Northrup à 7th -Dylin Colet Thompson à 9th -Elaine Thompson à 11th -Dotie Evjen à 13th -Kim Bosworth à 19th -Syd Stephenson à 21st-Elsa Johnson à 23rd-LeRoy McClintock à 23rd-Steve Ransom à 25th-Jerry Thompson à 26th -Jim Dale à 26th -Deanna McClintock à 30th -Linda Watson
The Backpack Program wants to thank everyone for donations of peanut butter and plastic bags. Your generosity made it possible to help hungry families in our community. The Decorah Food Pantry is asking for donations of paper grocery bags. They are not able to use plastic bags at this time.
We want to keep Pam Ransom in our prayers following her fall which resulted in broken bones and subsequent surgery. We are also keeping Mildred (Millie) Jacobsen in prayer as she recovers from her broken hip and needed quarantine for 14 days following her surgery. Please know that your church family always surrounds you with prayers and love during times of trial and healing. Please let Pastor Mee know of any concerns.
Congratulations to Our 2020 Graduates! We are so proud of your accomplishments! Several church members
gathered on Water Street following commencement to share in your joy!
Samantha Amdahl Amey Shedinger
A Message from Our Parish Nurse Deb Tekippe By now, I’m sure many of us, including myself thought things would be back to “normal”. Sometimes we might even wonder what our new normal will look like. As this pandemic continues, it is as important as ever to continue to communicate our needs to others.
We hear every day that we need to continue to social distance ourselves from others. A better way to look at it is to physically distance ourselves while remaining socially connected to our family and friends. While this means we cannot offer hugs and other physical greetings, it is important that we continue to reach out to each other with phone calls, messages, cards, or even drive by visits. It is vitally important that if we feel isolated, we reach out and ask for help. I recently visited with a family member who said she had been in her house for 76 days and she noticed a difference in her ability to remember things and it was starting to scare her. It made me realize the importance of reaching out to friends and loved ones. There are many studies documenting the physical and mental health issues we can face as a result of this pandemic.
This is especially important to our elderly friends whose major social interactions are at church and other gatherings that aren’t able to meet at this time. I think all of us who have been able to attend church through our Zoom meeting have appreciated the interaction we are able to have – even seeing a cat or two walk across the screen!!
Pastor Mee has done a great job reaching out to our congregation, and that is appreciated by all. She has also offered to help any of us who need help connecting to Zoom. Please take her up on this offer if needed.
As things continue to open up, we need to be especially diligent to protect ourselves and others. Recently, Dr. Andy Goodner, Family Practice Physician at Decorah Clinic released this message.
“You want kids in school? You want businesses to stay open? You want to not know anyone dead from Covid?” WEAR A MASK! “ What happened in New York and what is happening in Texas can and will happen here too if collectively we don’t do the only things to stop it. Distancing, Masks, Handwashing.”
I will end with a statement I recently read from Archbishop Jackels from the Dubuque Diocese -“I consider wearing a mask a religious practice…because it is motivated by a respect for the dignity of our own life and health and for others… inspired by charity of others… and an expression of the common good.”
If there is anything that I can do to help, feel free to contact me at 563-380-0974
Be well, stay safe, let’s continue to take care of each other!
Ringing of Local Church Bells Following recommendation from DAFC (Decorah Area Faith Coalition) we are ringing the church bell every Monday morning at 11:00 for one minute. We urge everyone to use this minute to pray for all who have lost their lives of their loved ones to the Corona Virus and for those whose lives have been turned upside down during this time. Thanks to our great volunteers who helped with this task!
Several of our church members have been busy helping this worthy cause during the pandemic! Thank you to Ranell Bolson, Mary Bril, Ann Chrenen, Barb Dale, Pat Downs, Mary Lou Hackman, Carol Hemesath, Emily Mineart, Phyllis Nesteby, Jerri Osenga, Diane Rarick, Nancy Shadwick, Jane Vande Berg, and Amy Webber.
Statistics as of June 21, 2020:
• 170 volunteers involved as cutters, seamsters, crocheters, fabric donators, face mask bin organizers, etc.
• 11,100 face masks created and distributed!
• $16,3537 collected in total cash donations and grants.
• 5,821 face masks have been picked up by the community from the “community face mask bins” at 503 Pine Crest Dr., Depot Outlet, Oneota Food Coop, and Farmers Market.
• 288 PPE GOWNS delivered: 57 to Eastern Star, 57 to Wellington Place, 66 to Winneshiek Medical Center, 57 to Aase Haugen, 8 to Jesup Nursing Home, 7 to Spring Grove Gundersen Clinic, 12 to NE Iowa Behavioral Health, 7 to Gundersen Clinic Decorah, 10 for Ossian Sr. Hospice, and 6 to MOSAIC.
To learn more, visit the Seamsters Union of Winneshiek County Facebook page. To volunteer, contact Shirley Vermace, (563) 419-2999 or via email at [email protected]
Important links from Iowa Conference on Church re-opening I have attached links for you to open. The first link provides the original plans specified for churches to follow for be able to re-open for worship and the second link is the most recent updates from Bishop Laurie. Each article is several pages long, so I didn’t include the entire printed version. https://www.iaumc.org/123churchreentry
Administrative Council Meeting Minutes, June 18, 2020
Present: Andy Van Der Maaten, Nancy Ruen, Alan Lerstrom, Sherry Schilling, Joan Lubke, Pam Ransom, Jayme Folkedahl, Nick Rissman, Sondy Carver, Michelle Amdahl, Ken Amdahl, Bill Bergstrom, Linda Watson, Kathy Johnson, Sharon Rossman, Pastor Mee, Deb Tekippe
Andy called meeting to order
Approval of previous meeting minutes: Motion by Bill and second by Sondy to approve as presented, motion carried
Approval of Treasurer’s report: Members were sent report in Steve Rarick’s absence, questions can be sent to Steve. Motion by Bill with second by Nancy to approve as presented. Motion carried
Report from Committees
SPPRC – Jayme reported recent Zoom meetings have completed Another Set of Eyes which is due to Conference office July 1.
Social Concerns – Sondy and Michelle reported on the plan to reschedule adult forums when safe to resume meeting
Finance – Nick reported on recent Zoom meetings.
Trustees – Andy and Pastor Mee reported on need to change frequency of audio system in the church. Ken reported on options.
Nominations – Pastor Mee will be calling for meeting
Christian Education – no action due to church closing
Membership – Joan shared nothing to report at this time
Worship – Pastor Mee needs volunteers for reading and music
Crisis Management Response Team – Andy reported consensus from group after reviewing Iowa Conference guidelines and protocols. Recommendation to Ad Council: August 16 will be earliest date to reopen at this point. This will be re-evaluated by Ad Council at their August meeting. Nancy Ruen made motion to accept team’s recommendation for soft open date of August 16th with second by Bill. Motion carried. A letter will be sent to congregation through the Tower and mail regarding reopening.
A problem has been noticed with the Public Access Channel not being able to show the Worship Services as they did prior to Covid shutdown of church. Pastor Mee will check into this.
Pastor’s Report- Pastor Mee asked Council to let her know of any concern congregation has or anyone who is in need of a visit. She is looking for ideas for reaching out to members
Meeting adjourned. Next Ad Council meeting August 11, 2020 at 12:30
Submitted by Deb TeKippe, Secretary
Letter to Church from Administrative Council Chair
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!
Andrew F. Van Der Maaten Chair, Administrative Council