Greetings to all of you on this Maundy Thursday. I shared in an email that any of churches planning to have drive-in worship should be prepared to cancel if there was a Stay Home Order issued. That Order has been given and we are living with it now. The extreme high risk involved with persons leaving home is real. As we think about the rationale and expert recommendations that led to this order, I ask church leadership to explore online/ conference calls, ZOOM, or other methods to share in worship this Easter Sunday and other Sundays during this order.
I ask pastors and church leaders again to consider cancelling any plans for outdoor/drive-in worship.
We have also heard about, and received questions about, serving drive-by Communion. Please refer to Bishop Johnathan Holston’s statement when he closed all SC United Methodist Churches through the end of April. The relevant portion of his statement is printed here:
“Sharing in the sacrament of Holy Communion has always been a central act of Christian community. It is the meal that marks the members of the Body of Christ. Questions have been raised about sharing in this holy meal during these days when we cannot meet together physically.
“This Holy Mystery” is the United Methodist document that explains communion. It says, “Holy Communion is the communion of the church – the gathered community of the faithful, both local and universal. While deeply meaningful to the individuals participating, the sacrament is much more than a personal event. The first-person pronouns throughout the ritual are consistently plural – we, us, our. First Corinthians 10:17 explains that ‘because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.’”
Communion is an act that we all take part in together – as part of the gathered Christian body. During communion, we share food – both spiritual and physical. COVID-19 can be passed from one person to another even before either person shows any signs of illness. This makes the intimate contact involved in the sharing of food and blessings inherently risky.
Because of the theological nature of communion as something that the body of believers does together in the sharing of one loaf, and because of the practical dangers currently involved in close physical contact, it is strongly recommended that we should not take part in communion until it is safe for us to all come together again to worship as one body.”
You may read (re-read) Bishop’s entire statement online.
We hurt with you that worship cannot be in person during this special time of our Christian faith and Christian year. We celebrate with you that we are the Easter people and celebrate Easter each Sunday, whether we are face-to-face or in a virtual community. We pray for you and your families a blessed Easter, a safe time together, and that all of us remain well, looking forward to a time of true celebration when this crisis has passed.
May God be with us all as we continue to serve faithfully.
Grace and peace,
Rev Stephen Love