At this stage of the pandemic, as most of our state is vaccinated and new waves of less deadly virus mutations come and go, we are more or less back to normal. We still encourage masks, but it is not mandatory – so it is more up to the comfort level of each person. If things get worse again, we are prepared to pivot back to higher precaution levels. Having lost our own beloved Rev. Renny to covid earlier this year, we are very aware of the damage this horrible pandemic has caused all around the world and continue to hold in prayer the needs and griefs of everyone affected.
Blessings ~ Pastor Rae
Thursday, September 2, 2021
Dear Hedding Family,
Two steps forward one step back – for health and safety reasons!
The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has been sweeping the country and though Vermont is still doing pretty well, we are still seeing case numbers rise. Our Re-Entry Team is talking again about masks and choir and other such face to face programs. So far, it looks like we can just take a little step back without going into full emergency mode again. We can keep worshiping in person, but we are strongly recommending masking again. We will keep everyone up to date as things progress.
Let us all remember to take each day as a gift and every moment of joy as grace!
Blessings ~ Pastor Rae
Dear Hedding Family,
This is it! This is the big news that we’ve all been waiting for all year (over a year!):
HEDDING UMC IS REOPENING FOR IN-PERSON WORSHIP ON PENTECOST, MAY 23!!!
Wear red to celebrate the birth of the church (pentecost) and the excitement of reopening!
We will have some basic rules that we will all follow so that we can make this work and keep our congregation both happy and healthy! Please get vaccinated if you haven’t already. There are a couple people in our congregation who cannot get vaccinated for health reasons and, to keep them (and ourselves) safe, it is imperative that those of us who can – do!
Here’s the details:
- We ask that people enter from the front door of the church. Those who need the handicapped entrance can use that entrance.
- Everyone will wear masks (we will have extras available).
- Hand sanitizer will be used as you enter the building and as you leave.
- Volunteers will be at the doors to check off names and phone numbers for contact tracing.
- There will be an usher to show people to a seat, pass out bulletins and pass out individual packaged communion elements.
- Seating in the sanctuary will be marked to maintain a 6-foot distance between family groups/”bubble groups”.
- Bathrooms will be sanitized sometime before worship. Users will be asked to wash their hands and maintain a clean facility.
- Communion will be celebrated using elements that are prepackaged for individual use.
- There will be no after worship fellowship.
- Pastor Rae is working with a tech crew to make recording and live streaming of worship possible.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
It is the day before Christmas Eve. In any other year, we would be preparing to gather with family and friends and join with our church family for a Christmas Eve service. But this is clearly not any other year. My little family of four will celebrate in our home only. For the first time ever, I will not be able to be with my parents for any part of the Christmas season. Nor will we be with my partner’s family. There is some grief in all of this, no doubt. However, in order to do no harm – an edict that Methodism’s founder John Wesley used often with his pastors – these are sacrifices that I gladly take on in order to protect those I love and the communities that we all live within.
But I’ll confess, to not have a Christmas Eve Service in person is still dumbfounding to me. It might not really feel like Christmas Eve, even. How can it? I will miss the carols sung with a community of faith all around me. I will miss the chatter of families and the occasional chirp of a little one who can’t quite hold still. I will miss the lighting of one another’s candles in the dark as we sing Silent Night and the joyful ringing of bells as we sing Joy to the World. I will miss it, as I’m sure you will as well.
And yet, (AND YET!) the Christ Child will come into the world even without gathered communities. “It [will come] without packages, boxes, or bags!” as The Grinch said, surprised by his own observation.
The Light will come into the world, is coming into the world, has come into the world even when – especially when – the world seems darkest.
Maybe, just maybe, the quietness of this Christmas will give us all a chance to bear witness to The Light in a way we never have before. Instead of simply mourning what we cannot have (and grieving IS ok, be gentle with yourself), let us also sit in the stillness and listen for the voice of the Christ Child. What is that voice saying to you this year? What might happen now that much of the hustle and bustle is set aside this Christmas? What if we focus more on the story and meaning behind the story instead of all the other things that we would usually focus on right now? Maybe, just maybe, this is an opportunity that we will only get once. (…Lord willing) Let’s explore what that can do to help let The Light shine into the darkest corners of our lives.
Merry Christmas… and see you NEXT Christmas!
Friday, November 13, 2020
Vermont has just made the announcement to double down on our pandemic defense precautions. As a church, we are committed to doing our part. “Multi-household gatherings — indoor or outdoor, in public or private spaces — are prohibited.” As of today, we are canceling any and all in person meetings, including the few Wesley Classes that have just gotten started. We know that this is disappointing, but we believe that it is also necessary. Please do not drop by the church for any reason. Staff is going to stagger the time we spend in the building and work from home as much as possible. Even our worship team is going to have to get creative about filming our Advent and Christmas services. We believe that God is with us, that God is at work through all of this, and that God will get us through. Blessings ~ Pastor Rae
May 1, 2020
Beginning this Sunday, online fellowship time! Join us on Zoom each Sunday of the quarantine at noon:
You are invited to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Weekly Fellowship
Time: 12:00 PM Noon – Every week on Sunday starting this week!
Join Zoom Meeting https://us04web.zoom.us/j/
Meeting ID: 734 4900 7769
If you need some tech help, reach out to Kelly, Jon, or Pastor Rae!
March 25, 2020
Hello Hedding Family and Wider Community,
As things around us progress rapidly, I thought I would give you a brief update about some of our ministries.
- The Food Shelf is continuing on Wednesdays and Thursdays and the new way of giving people food seems to be working: pre-boxed meals by family size and no one but volunteers inside the church. Lots of hand washing and plenty of space between clients even outside. Last week there were many many more families visiting our Food Shelf than usual.
- The Friday night dinner that Jon ran last week (3/20) served 133 meals to hungry people! That is about twice as many meals as a usual Community Supper! Some meals were delivered directly to hotels that are now hosting more homeless people than ever and about 45 people walked up for the window service at 84 Summer Street, the old Enough Ministries site, where area churches are coming together to serve.
- As of Monday (3/23) all of the homeless, including those who had been staying in our Overflow Shelter, are now in hotels so that they can isolate and be cared for more effectively. Good Samaritan Haven will be sending over a team to do a deep clean of the space in our church.
- Renny continues to work at the church but mostly in isolation – taking clients over the intercom or by phone; and coordinating the food ministries.
- Worship continues to be virtual and all church business is being conducted by phone and email.
- I am working from home as I continue to basically stay quarantined as both my girls as well as Kurt were in school up until last week and I don’t want to risk bringing petri-dish-school-germs, particularly COVID-19, to Barre. (no school based confirmed cases thus far, just a precaution.) From home I’m able to help coordinate with other Barre pastors around our food ministries, make calls to parishioners and keep in touch over email and social media, and create the online worship service.
Know that my thoughts and prayers are with each of you! Please feel free to reach out to me with questions, concerns, and especially pastoral care needs! Email – firstname.lastname@example.org Phone/Text – 802-881-3768
March 17, 2020
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
As events continue to unfold, it seems all the more important that we practice social distancing. Today I’m at the church to gather up some resources and hopefully post a video, but mostly I’m going to try to work from home. One of my colleagues noted that pastors are trying to basically church plant virtual ministries right now, and like most of the rest of the world, we’re all flying by the seat of our pants! There is something exhilarating about that, but also a tad overwhelming. So I’m trying to pace myself and help us all remember to breathe and practice good self care.
My goal is to reach out to everyone in the church community over the next few weeks. Feel free to reach out to me if you need pastoral support! My email is email@example.com and my phone is 802-881-3768. Call or text! Please be sure to leave a message if you call and I don’t pick up! If you text, make sure to say who you are so I’m not guessing!
Be well, my beloved community!
March 14, 2020
Please help us by reaching out to others in our community to make sure that they have heard about the cancellations in worship and meetings, etc.
We are working with the crisis=opportunity model of response. What are the opportunities that this crisis affords to us? Time to stay home and rest. Time for family to reconnect and play boardgames/watch movies. New and creative ways to offer worship and discipleship programs. A possible new warming shelter and centralized food distribution site for the homeless and hungry in our community. New ways to collaborate with other church ministries. Stay tuned and we’ll see what we can do together!
With Love and Prayers,
March 13, 2020
Hello Hedding Family,
We are living in unprecedented times, it seems. Our nation is going into a state of emergency today. Our state is working hard to provide guidance to all of our organizations in terms of groups of people gathering. Our local governments are working with health and community organizations to decide on best practices. I have been on the phone and in virtual meetings all morning and plans are being put into place for our ministries. I wish I could talk to each one of you about this in person, but that is not possible – nor would it be a good idea.
As you have all probably heard, we should all be washing our hands a lot and distancing ourselves from one another as much as possible. COVID-19 (which I’m sure we are all sick of hearing about already, but at least we’re not sick with it) is a dangerous threat in our world right now. I do not want to overreact nor underreact to this pandemic. I pray that we will all prayerfully navigate this worldwide phenomenon with both wisdom and faith. Wisdom to protect ourselves and others from contracting and spreading this virus, and faith that in life and in death, we belong to God and God is with us through everything. When anxiety begins to creep into your heart, as it does for all of us from time to time, remember that Jesus calmed even the wind and the waves. Peace. Be still. Take a breath and know that you are a beloved child of God.
Here is how our church community is going to respond to the current crisis:
- We are going to strongly encourage social distancing. Please stay at home as much as possible.
- We are canceling live worship gatherings until the end of March. This means Sunday morning worship. I know that this is hard and sad and maybe even feel extreme, but I don’t even want to think about risking any of your beautiful lives by encouraging you to gather together in large groups during this time. I will be working with church leaders to find ways to bring you worship virtually (facebook live, youtube, emailed devotionals, etc.) let’s get creative and see what the Holy Spirit can do even when we can’t gather together in person! It is possible that we will have to extend the timeframe for this plan.
- We are not going to have in person meetings. Church leadership will talk about our planned meetings and get the word out about postponing or meeting virtually during this time.
- Staff will work from home as much as possible. Renny is in a high risk category as are Kelly’s daughters. Much of what they do can be done from home, although it will certainly keep us from being as hospitable as we would like to be. I will come to Barre as needed and I don’t quite know what that will look like yet. Remember that this is a short-term emergency situation.
- We want to keep vital ministries going. People rely on us for food. Therefore:
- Our Food Shelf will function differently for the next 10-12 weeks (or until health officials tell us otherwise). Instead of people coming into the church, folks will come to the front door and check in. They will receive a prefilled box of food depending upon family size.
- Our Financial Assistance Program will be phone and email based. We don’t want Renny, as stated above, in contact with so many people so he will be working as much as possible from home, only coming in from time to time to check phone messages and file paperwork. Checks can be sent via mail, information can be sent by text, etc.
- The Overflow Shelter will continue as usual and as per the policy of the Good Samaritan Haven. They have just updated their infectious disease policy and I invite you to read more about it in today’s Times Argus.
- The Friday Night Community Dinner is going to undergo the biggest changes. Tonight we are going to encourage people to come in to get food, eat, and depart as rapidly as possible. Beginning next week, area churches are combining efforts to open a community feeding center at the former Enough Ministries location on Summer Street. Breakfast, lunch, and dinners, as they are usually provided by our individual churches, will be served at that location. We are trying to gather resources to make it possible to have volunteers cook and prepare food inside the building while guests stay outside the building. There is a food service window on the outside of the building and we are hoping to find a large mess-hall type tent to have guests eat under. Volunteers will be needed to help put this space into action as soon as possible over the next several days as well as to help prepare and serve the food. We are hoping that this will allow these vital meals to continue without interruption for some of our most vulnerable citizens.
- We are going to put our faith in God and trust in God’s goodness and resources.
- Please stay in touch with one another as Beloved Community. A phone call, an email, facebook, and text messages can help all of us from feeling too isolated. Please especially remember to reach out to community members who live alone. Pray together over the phone, share news, laugh and tell stories. Keep church leaders updated if anyone is ill or needs extra prayer.
- Please pray daily for our leaders – national, state, and local – that they would have wisdom, integrity, and strength for the challenges yet to come.
- Please pray for the most vulnerable – the elderly, the infirm, those with compromised immune system, the homeless, the poor, those who can’t afford to stay home from work even when they are sick – that God and God’s community would provide sustenance, health, and comfort during this time.
- Please pray for the sick – those who already have this disease or other diseases – that they would be made well.
- Please pray for the healthy – that they would have the wisdom to stay home and help keep others safe, that during this time all would find opportunities to reconnect with their loved ones who they are quarantined with or via telephone or internet.
- Consider using this prayer which has gone viral:
- Prayer for a Pandemic
- May we who are merely inconvenienced
- Remember those whose lives are at stake.
- May we who have no risk factors
- Remember those most vulnerable.
- May we who have the luxury of working from home
- Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
- May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
- Remember those who have no options
- May we who have to cancel our trips
- Remember those that have no safe place to go.
- May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
- Remember those who have no margin at all.
- May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
- Remember those who have no home.
- As fear grips our country
- Let us choose love.
- During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
- Let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Blessings on you all. Know that you are all in my prayers. We will weather this storm with wisdom and faith.
Peace. Be still. Stay home. Wash your hands.