Coronavirus Update

May 4, 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As you are aware, Governor Hutchinson issued guidance today for places of worship that are effective immediately. Many of you are wondering what this means for you, when you can gather together again for in-person activities, and what you should do next.

The Arkansas Annual Conference intends to continue to offer guidance to churches guided by our love for God and neighbor. John Wesley’s first General Rule, “Do no harm” compels those of us who are disciples shaped by the Wesleyan perspective to make sure that our personal actions do not harm others, even if we are not intentionally doing so. We need to exhibit abundant caution and, for the foreseeable future, act as if we could infect those with whom we come into contact. This means we will continue to take a cautious and measured approach.

As previously announced, there will be no in-person indoor events in United Methodist Churches through at least May 17.

I will announce the next piece of guidance for churches on Wednesday, May 6, relying upon the Governor’s guidance for worship, directives given to industry groups, and the expertise of The Bishop’s Task Force on the Safe Reopening of Churches.

As your church reopens, you must do so in a safe manner with the appropriate use of social distancing and other safety practices, PPE, and sanitation. If you cannot do this adequately, it is not time to reopen. If at any time there is a reported case of COVID-19 in your church, you will need to immediately close until the proper safety steps have been taken. 

The Arkansas Annual Conference has produced a document entitled “Arkansas Annual Conference Guidance: The Safe Reopening of Churches In Response to COVID-19”. Please check the link regularly as it will be updated. 

This has been a difficult season for you. It also has been a season of growth and learning. I want you to know how impressed I have been by your faithfulness, innovation, and creativity these last weeks. Thank you for all you are doing. I have prayed every day for you and will continue to do so. Remember, we are not striving to go back to our old normal. Rather, we want to embrace Jesus’ new normal.

Grace and peace,

Gary E. Mueller
Bishop

April 7, 2020 

Dear Members and Friends of Searcy 1st, 

The Lord be with you. I want to keep everyone informed and updated on how Searcy 1st is responding to the Coronavirus reality. 

1. Regular church activities and functions are suspended through the end of April. Wednesday meals and programs, youth and children ministries, Bible studies and church committees are all suspended. Sunday worship will be provided at 10:50 a.m. on both FaceBook Live("Like" Searcy First on FaceBook and you will get notified that worship is about to happen on Sunday morning) and 100.7 FM radio.  

2. The church office will be opened from 8:00 – Noon, allowing us to stay current with essentials, and to participate with social distancing recommendations. In the case of emergencies, call the church office at any time and the call will be forwarded to a pastor.  

3. Sunday Schools and committees of the church are invited to use ZOOM (https://zoom.us) as a means of connecting groups in real time to conduct class or to take care of business.  

4. The Monday and Tuesday meals are still being cooked and delivered. And Saturday Lunch Bunch will also continue as a "take out" instead of "dine-in". 

5. We all have neighbors. Be sure to check in on your neighbors. If there are supplies or food needed, there are people at the church who will help run errands and supply needs. It is a good practice in this current reality to make sure you, and each of us, is talking to someone outside our homes every day to confirm with people we know that we are OK or that we have a need. 

6. We are moving through the Coronavirus reality and we will get through this. We want to pray. We want to be responsible. We want to be good neighbors. Searcy 1st wants to be part of why the curve is flattened, not spiked.  

7. Your tithes and offerings have been remarkably faithful, and are encouraged to be continued. You may bring contributions to the office, mail them to 304 N. Main St., or utilize PushPay (which is relatively new to our church, but already a welcome tool). To use PushPay for your contributions, text SEARCYFUMC to 77977 or go to our website: searcyfumc.com and click the Online Giving button at the top right corner. 

8. Sing the Doxology as you wash (often) your hands. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow! There is no panic. There is faith. God is bigger than all of this and will sustain and empower us through this demanding season.  

9. It is Holy Week. Prepare your own communion elements and join us on Facebook Live Thursday, 6:30 for a virtual communion service. Join us Friday @ 6:30 for a Good Friday service that takes us to the heart of God's Love. Then, as you are able, join us for Drive-in Worship on the Hays parking lot on Race St., 10:50 Sunday morning. The service will be on 100.7 FM and also streamed on Facebook Live. When you come to the Drive-In service, please stay in your vehicle and we will all be able to properly exercise physical distancing for the well-being of all. 

Let's follow Jesus, together,  this most holy of weeks. 

Grace, Brother David