VUMC Postpones In-person Worship Service Until Fall

By Jef Rietsma

After an online survey failed to provide a definitive direction, Vicksburg United Methodist Church will postpone an in-person worship service until at least September.

VUMC Strategic Planning Committee member Alex Ensing said though the number of responses – 44 through May 29 – was relatively small, it was evident that online services will remain the most prudent course of action through summer.

The Vicksburg church has about 300 members and averages about 125 Sunday worshipers.

“About half of those who responded were interested in coming back to regular, in-church service between now and August,” Ensing said. “Because the average age of our congregation falls into a category that would be considered at-risk, however, it was determined that resuming worship in person before September was not an appropriate step.”

Ensing said the survey asked about a half dozen questions. They included how many members in the household typically attend church, how many are of an age or have a health condition the Centers for Disease Control would consider at-risk, and based on their risk whether they would consider returning to church for face-to-face service between June 7 and Aug. 30. Of the 44, 19 said they were very likely to attend.

Ensing shared a few additional bits of information from the survey.

“‘I want to but I don’t know,’ was one of the replies. Somebody said they would return with caution, masks and six-feet social distancing, another said they would wait and see, and somebody said ‘maybe someday,’” Ensing said. “One reply stated they would wait to see what health-care scientists recommend and we have a reply that – I think it was a joke – that said ‘only if we change our denomination.’”

In short, Ensing said, the committee saw many of the responses as “maybes.”

“A lot of people, I think, want to return, but it seems like everybody’s kind of cautious and it depends on how we do it … what we come up with,” he said, noting the church currently has just one Sunday service.

Ensing said weekly services are currently being broadcast on Vicksburg UMC’s YouTube channel.

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