Central’s Future

Greetings in the name of Christ! 

I am so grateful we share the journey ahead together as the people of Central UMC here in Richmond.  Thank you all for your prayers and efforts in this time.  This letter is a travel guide for how we go forward together as we again begin to gather in the coming weeks.

The road ahead has not yet fully revealed itself, yet I have no fear for I know where we have been together.  My family came here a mere 10 months ago and has so appreciated the welcome and work accomplished on our journeyed so far.  Just a few months ago I was eager to walk through our first Holy Week together.  That newness seems decades ago.  The blunt reality of the spread of the coronavirus has changed so much.  There will be more pain ahead.  Still, just as the headlights reveal the next part of the visible road and move with every turn, so also this guide will illuminate the path we hope to follow and shift with every change.

We know the timeless words of Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It is a word of scripture I still pray over Central.  But did you know this verse is part of a larger vision letter to the Jewish people?  It was sent to them in exile, far from their promised land.  It begins by saying they will not return for 70 years, but pivots to hope as God invites them to return to the activities of life to be blessed and be a blessing to others.  This verse encompasses those plans.

The letter goes on to say as the people of God turn in prayer and seek Him, they will find God in new ways.  It is my prayer we at Central continue to be a people who seek Him.  I believe as we are faithful, we will find Him.  We the church are the called-out people of God.  We will again gather, but we know there is a lot we do not know. We may not know, but we have faith.  We can dream about where we will be based on where we have been. So let’s raise our eyes and look to what the light illuminates.

Our Bishop and our Governor continue to update us with guidelines.  We will adjust as they share more.  We acknowledge those who are at a greater health risk will stay home and encourage those who continue to do so.  Please continue to reach out to one another and your amazing church staff for ways we can come alongside you. For all below, additional measures of sanitization and social distancing will be implemented. Hopefully, we can begin walking this road wisely…

  • Starting next week, we will be reopening our childcare to come alongside the businesses which will be reopening.  Additional precautions have been added to protect families and workers. 
  • Starting May 4th, we invite those who are able and willing to begin gathering in homes and at public locations in small groups.  This could be getting together to serve, bible studies, Sunday morning watch parties in homes, dinner church, or just enjoying one another’s company.  Again, please do so mindful of best practices and only assume the risk as you are ready to do so. Zoom options will continue.
  • We will resume in person worship at Pentecost, May 31.  The sanctuary will be limited to 100 people.  Livestreaming will continue as a permanent service to those social distancing, sick, away from home, or just not able/ready to come. Those who come after the other spaces fill will be asked to view it remotely in the fellowship hall (limit 1 family per table – 50 people total. 
  • Sunday school will start again on the 31st and rooms will be limited to 10 people. 
  • All summer camps have been postponed until July.  Check with Central staff for further information.

We are still open 9-1 Monday-Friday for your various needs.  If everything continues as expected, we will send another update to our road ahead the last week of May.  Keep on checking our Facebook page and website for updates.  God is good.  Keep on calling one another and serving where called.  Be the body of Christ wherever you find yourself.  

We are in this together.  Together, we will go far down this road.  We may have to wait for a season longer than we would like, but let’s remember the words of another Hebrew prophet, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Joseph

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