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Important Announcements from PCUMC

Latest Updates Regarding On-Campus Activities

10/1/2020

JOIN US IN-PERSON OR ONLINE!

Reservations are no longer required

We are excited to be meeting in-person again and we invite you to view the details below to learn more about what to expect when you arrive. We are now offering both online and in-person weekend services and we welcome you to worship with us in the environment that you are most comfortable.


COMMON QUESTIONS

Are seating reservations required?

You will no longer need to reserve your seat in advance. Seating will be provided on a first come, first served basis. Physical distancing will be practiced in the pews with assistance by our ushers. In the event that seating is filled, we will have additional overflow seating available in the fellowship hall.


What sanitation measures will be in place? 

Our team will frequently disinfect surfaces throughout the building and we will sanitize the sanctuary between services. Hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the building. Water fountains, cafés, and coffee stations will not be available at this time. All seat-back materials, papers, and pens will be removed.


What about face coverings?

Face coverings will be made available for you as you walk in the door. In order to help facilitate a safe environment to worship, our staff and volunteers will be wearing face coverings as they serve.


What if I am considered “high-risk”?

If you or someone in your family is considered “high-risk” for severe illness, we encourage you to worship with us online.


Will the cafe be open?

The cafe will not be open but you are encouraged to bring a water bottle or spill-proof coffee container from home. 


What if I don't feel comfortable coming in person yet?

We completely understand, and we want you to feel comfortable. We invite you to worship with us online on Facebook and at pinecastleumc.com at 10:30 am.

 

If any of the following applies to you, please worship with us online:

  • In the last 14 days you have tested positive, been experiencing symptoms, or have a known exposure to COVID-19.
  • If you are in a “high-risk” group, or you care for someone who may be at “high-risk” for severe illness.


For more information and updates follow us on social media. We are @pinecastleumc on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


9/29/2020

FLUMC COVID-19 guidance remains following Governor DeSantis’ recent executive order

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Dear Florida United Methodists,


Some of you have asked about Friday’s executive order from Governor Ron DeSantis and whether it has any impact on our FLUMC COVID-19 guidance for in-person activities. Conference leaders have read the executive order. Our current FLUMC COVID-19 guidance has not changed. The focus of the executive order is on restaurant capacity and local government restrictions and fines.


Please read our latest guidance from September 8th in its entirety.


Below are a few summary points from our September 8th guidance.


Some key parts of our ongoing guidance:

  1. At all times persons must maintain at least six feet of distance between family groups.
  2. Masks or cloth face coverings are required when any group gathers (except for children under the age of 2).
  3. Monitor your symptoms. Stay home if you are sick or displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive should adhere to the CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine. 
  4. All inside activities must be in well ventilated spaces that allow for persons to maintain at least six feet of distance between family groups. Outside activities are preferred over inside activities.


Our COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines are connected to the ongoing guidance and recommendations from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Governor Desantis’ order has not changed the guidance and recommendations of either group in terms of in-person, large gatherings.


Decisions about in-person activities will vary according to your church context. We understand there is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach for every church around the conference. Contexts are different as cases rise at different rates (click here for a county and zip code break down). At all times churches should carefully follow the guidance of your city and county officials. Any decision to resume in-person activities should be affirmed by the pastor in consultation with a team of leaders and should be communicated to your District Superintendent.


All of our previous updates and resources are found on our COVID-19 website and in our FAQ section. If you have questions, please reach out to your District Superintendent or contact the Episcopal Office at ashanks@flumc.org.

 

The Peace of the Lord,


Bishop Ken Carter and The Cabinet of The Florida Annual Conference


The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin L King Jr Ave, Lakeland, FL 33815

863-688-5563


9/8/2020

Subject: COVID-19 Updated Guidance from the Florida Conference

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Dear Florida Conference Clergy and Laity:


We continue to pray for you and your communities as we enter the sixth month since we began actively giving guidance to our churches regarding the COVID-19 virus. We pray especially for the over 637,000 persons in Florida who have experienced the COVID-19 virus and the 11,800 persons who have died.

 

We know this has been a very difficult season for you to navigate as clergy and lay leaders. All of us have had to adapt to this ever-changing reality and learn new ways of doing life and ministry together as a church. We have watched as you have persevered. We applaud your resilience and creativity.

 

Our consistent guidance has been grounded in Matthew 22, the healing ministry of Jesus and the Lord’s commandment to love our neighbor. In a global health crisis, we do this by maintaining a social distance, and by honoring many of our older and more vulnerable members.

 

As we continue this journey together, Bishop Carter and the Cabinet, with guidance from other conference leaders and medical professionals, reaffirm that our COVID-19 safety protocols remain in place. Our COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines are connected to the ongoing guidance and recommendations from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

 

Specifically, we want to remind you of some key parts of our ongoing guidance:

  1. At all times persons must maintain at least six feet of distance between family groups.
  2. Masks or cloth face coverings are required when any group gathers (except for children under the age of 2).
  3. Monitor your symptoms. Stay home if you are sick or displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive should adhere to the CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine. 
  4. All inside activities must be in well ventilated spaces that allow for persons to maintain at least six feet of distance between family groups. Outside activities are preferred over inside activities. See the bottom of this email for additional notes from one of the infectious disease experts who has consulted with us. 

 

We ask that you please continue to offer on-line worship and virtual ministry opportunities. It is important that opportunities are readily available for people in your church who are not ready to return to your campus. Persons in vulnerable populations or with underlying health conditions as defined by the CDC should be encouraged to stay home.

 

Decisions about in-person activities will vary according to your church context. We understand there is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach for every church around the conference. Contexts are different as cases rise at different rates (click here for a county and zip code break down). At all times churches should carefully follow the guidance of your city and county officials. Any decision to resume in-person activities should be affirmed by the pastor in consultation with a team of leaders and should be communicated to your District Superintendent. We know many of you have already communicated to your District offices your fall plans to offer a variety of hybrid models that include continued virtual ministry, outside experiences, along with limited in-person activities according to the safety protocols.

 

Our conference team encourages you to review the other guidance and recommendations found in the FAQ section of our COVID-19 website. This includes our guidance and recommendation around singing, schools and other activities. All of our previous updates and resources are found on our COVID-19 website. If you have questions, please reach out to your District Superintendent or contact the Episcopal Office at ashanks@flumc.org.

 

As we enter this fall and winter season, we commit to continuing to offer guidance and resources to you. Most of all we commit to praying with and for you in this time.

 

The Peace of the Lord,

Bishop Ken Carter and The Cabinet of The Florida Annual Conference

 

Additional Notes regarding COVID-19 from one of the infectious disease experts who has consulted with us:

One of the infectious disease experts we have consulted with continues to emphasize that large gatherings in closed indoor spaces are very dangerous, especially if there are persons present who are early in the infection timeline. During this time, anyone has the potential of being a super spreader. Super spreaders can produce more infectious aerosol when speaking and breathing and even more so when singing.

 

One way to mitigate these concerns for those persons planning to attend an in-person event is to more closely monitor their symptoms by performing daily temperature checks at home. If someone’s temperature increases 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit or more above their normal temperature, the person should not attend the gathering. Persons with such temperature change should consider getting a COVID-19 RTPCR test or antigen test if available and as advised by their local health department or personal physician. 

 

Finally, our expert, along with the CDC (Flu FAQ), believes it is very important to get the flu vaccine this year in order to protect yourself and the people around you from the flu and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. A coinfection of COVID-19 and the flu could be devasting. 


The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin L King Jr Ave, Lakeland, FL 33815

863-688-5563

9/4/2020

What You Can Do

Pine Castle UMC family,


Our pastors and entire staff can’t wait to welcome you back on September 13.

But before you walk through the church doors, we want to remind you that reopening and staying open is a team effort.


We’re doing all we can to make sure you’re safe and comfortable and we need your help, too.


What Pine Castle UMC is doing...


• Limiting capacity to allow enough space for social distancing.

• Providing masks and no-touch hand sanitizer stations.

• Sanitizing high-touch surfaces before, during, and after services.

• Staying informed about best practices for a safe environment.


What you can do...


• Pre-register here so we can prepare enough seats for everyone to attend safely.

• Wear a mask and bring hand sanitizer. But we’ll have some on hand for those who don’t.

• Practice social distancing, which unfortunately means avoiding hugs and handshakes for now.

• Choose the safest worship experience for you. If you’re high-risk, we encourage you to attend our online service here.


We really mean it when we say that we’re all in this together. Whether you join us online or in person, we love you and we’ll see you soon.


Your Pine Castle UMC Staff


8/27/2020

Reopening Announcement

We will reopen our Church building for services on Sunday, September 13.

Dear Pine Castle UMC family,


Words can’t express how much we’ve missed gathering together over the past few months. And while it’s been wonderful to watch us come together to support one another and serve our community, we're excited to announce that we can do some of that in-person soon.


That’s right—our church leadership has decided to reopen our building for services on Sunday, September 13.


For months, we’ve prayed about the right time to reopen and asked God for the wisdom to do it safely. We’ll continue to lean on Him and on each other as we remain patient and work together to follow social distancing guidelines upon reopening.


Our service will be at 10:30 as usual, but a few things will be different. All of the details are on our website HERE, but here are the fast facts:


• We will keep a safe distance from one another by seating each family 6 feet apart.

• We will pre-register for services HERE to give us time to prepare to accommodate everyone. No one will be turned away.

• We will wear masks inside the building. No one loves them, but we ask you to please wear them to church.

• We will limit touch by not serving coffee and communion or passing the offering plate.


If you are considered high-risk or just not comfortable returning to church right now, please continue to join us online HERE. The circumstances aren’t ideal but like many of the storms we face in life, they are temporary. We look forward to being reunited soon.


Your Pine Castle UMC Staff

7/17/2020

Not Reopening Yet - What We Are Doing

Dear Pine Castle UMC Family,


It’s a good thing that the Church is not a building. Of course, the Bible tells us how important it is to gather together and we look forward to returning to church again as soon and safely as we can. But even when we haven’t been able to come to church, God has used this time to bring us together as the Church in love and service toward one another and our community.


We’re all looking forward to the day the building doors are open once again, but that time isn’t now. Our church will not reopen yet but here’s what we are doing.

• We are implementing safety measures and investing in facility improvements.

• We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation in our area to guide us in making a wise, safe reopening plan when the time is right.

• We’re keeping in touch with other churches in the area, including those who have reopened their buildings and we've learned a few lessons along the way.

• We continue to operate our online services and food delivery ministry, to make the most of this time by continuing to serve and share Jesus. Click here to sign up to serve.


As we meet with our reopening task force and stay on top of CDC recommendations, the health and safety of our congregation is at the forefront of our minds. This is some of the criteria that guides our decision.

• We need to see fewer coronavirus cases in our area.

• We will determine the best way to use our resources (financial and people).

• We will weigh how the timing of our reopening affects our public witness. (Matthew 5:13-16)


Until our criteria is met, we’ll continue with online services. Please continue to check your email and this page for updates.


Let Ephesians 4:1-6 be our "go-to" scripture for reopening and regathering.


1 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.


Simply stated, it isn't what we do, but how we do it that matters most to God. The reopening date isn't as important as the reopening attitude. To that end, let's...

Be humble, Be gentle, Be patient, and keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.


Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything. We're praying for you and we’ll see you online.


Your Pine Castle UMC Staff

6/28/2020

Latest Updates Regarding Postponement of In-Person Activities

Dear Pine Castle UMC family,

 

When we announced our soft-opening plans for returning to in-person worship, we cautioned that our plans could change if the number of cases of COVID-19 in our community began to increase.

 

Cases are rising exponentially in our state. (Click here for a county and zip code break down). Although many churches in Florida have reopened, there have also been positive cases among clergy families, church staff, volunteers, preschool families, church members, and communities. Our denominational leadership has provided updated guidance recommending that churches should delay plans to return to in-person worship.

 

Faced with these facts, our Leadership Team met to reconsider the date for us to reopen. Their consensus is to not open on July 12th. We will continue to monitor the realities in our community and determine a later start date, possibly sometime in August.

 

At this time, virtual worship is the safest approach. We will continue to stream our worship service each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on Facebook and on our website. A Facebook account is not required to view our worship services via the provided links. 

 

We understand how hard this season has been. We know the pandemic has caused stress and anxiety. We know God is in control, and we can be sure that He is trusting us to be wise and discerning in the decisions we make.

 

You have been in our thoughts and prayers this past week as the number of cases in Florida continued to rise. How can we pray for you? Please let us know via the Prayer Request link on our website.

 

Be blessed,

 

Your Pine Castle UMC Staff

 

6/26/2020

Updated Guidance as COVID-19 Cases Rise in Florida

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Dear Florida Conference Churches and Clergy:


Last Thursday we wrote to encourage and inform you as you make decisions in the midst of this ever-changing reality. We know there is stress and anxiety in having to rethink decisions as the pandemic continues.


Today, we write to inform and encourage you so you have the information you need to make safe decisions. We are learning and adapting alongside of you. Bishop Carter stated on May 28th that our guidance around returning to in-person worship could change as the number of cases began to increase. 


The latest information shows:


  • Cases are rising exponentially in our state. The seven-day average of new cases is up 85% from the previous week (new seven-day average is 4,149) and the last two days have seen over 5,000 new cases each day (Breaking news as we send this says 8,942 more cases were reported today). The CDC and other health experts agree that this increase in cases is not simply connected to increased testing. (To listen to the latest CDC briefing click here). 
  • Even though the increase in positive cases is among younger people, the spread of the virus is real and dangerous for all people, especially those with underlying health conditions. Yesterday, the CDC updated its list of people at risk
  • We encourage you to look at all the data including: the number of new cases, the infection rate, the positive test rate, the hospitalization rates, and the ICU bed capacity. We have learned that it is not wise to base guidance solely on ICU bed space availability. As one of our health consultants said, “Sadly, by the time ICU beds reach capacity the outbreak will be uncontrollable.” 


Based on this information we offer this updated guidance:

  1. This is not a time to relax any of our previously stated health guidelinesprotocols, or FAQ.
  2. Virtual worship is the safest approach, and outdoor worship is encouraged over inside. 
  3. Churches should consider delaying plans to return to in-person worship. We know some of you have already pushed your return to in-person worship date back in response to the rise in cases, and others of you have met in person and are now returning to virtual-only worship.
  4. Wearing masks is essential when any group gathers together. We ask everyone to wear a mask and do not consider masks to be optional.  


We continue to honor the sense that there is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach for every church around the conference. Contexts are different as cases rise at different rates in different counties and zip codes (click here for a county and zip code break down). 


At the same time, your church is not the exception. We have had increased positive cases among clergy families, church staff, volunteers, preschool families, church members, and more. Some of these are connected to individuals who made exceptions to the protocols. Others are connected to the increased spread of the virus around us.


We encourage you to continue your discussions with your local church teams. In your discussion, you and your leaders might refer back to the article Why Reopening a Church is Different. Although it was written a few weeks ago, a key point remains the same: “Our reopening plans are not about what is best for the management of our church, but what is best for the common good and greater community. This is not a time to focus primarily on what we may be sacrificing by not gathering, but how we are serving and loving all our neighbors by not gathering too soon.” 


If you have questions, please reach out to your District Superintendent or contact the Episcopal Office at ashanks@flumc.org

 

The Peace of the Lord,


Bishop Ken Carter and The Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference

 

The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin L King Jr Ave, Lakeland, FL 33815

863-688-5563

6/18/2020

Please note: The Following article was published prior to the revised guidance from the Florida Conference and PCUMC Leadership's decision to postpone in-person worship.

We plan to resume in-person services on Sunday, July 12.

How many people can attend on Sunday morning?

How do I know I’ll get a spot?

We aren’t turning anyone away, but seating in the sanctuary will be limited to 25% of our normal capacity. We have added overflow rooms and other creative seating options to give as many people as possible the opportunity to worship in-person while still following social distancing guidelines.


What happens if I show up and there are no spots left for that service?

We will direct you to an overflow room with more available seating. We are following the reduced capacity guidelines very closely, so it’s possible that some individuals or families may not be able to attend in their preferred location. 


Please use the card below to reserve your spot and help us know in advance how many people are planning to attend. At this time, PC Kids is temporarily closed, so be sure to include your kids, too!

Form Closed

Sorry, this form is no longer accepting submissions.

6/17/2020

An encouragement as COVID-19 continues

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Dear Florida Conference clergy and laity:


On a weekend where some of you may be choosing to resume limited in person gatherings while a majority of you are choosing to wait until later in the summer, we write to encourage you. We see you doing the hard work of knowing how best to return to in person activity. We know this is difficult work and we stand with you. We are here to continue to support and resource you. You are not alone.


Here are a few important reminders as we approach this weekend:

1). Continue to use a team based approach. You need a team to guide your decisions and a trained team of volunteers and staff to keep and enforce the guidelines once you return. 

2). Continue to read the science-based information we have previously shared. Based on all the scientific evidence we have seen, these things appear to be crystal clear:

a). Outside activities are better than inside.

b). Wearing masks protects those around you. We ask everyone to wear a mask no matter the size or location of the gathering. We do not consider masks to be optional for any persons over 2 years old, including office staff when in common work areas. 

c). Social distancing is key. Don’t just focus on keeping distance when people are seated but how you keep people six feet apart in hallways, bathrooms and other spaces.

d). Singing is a very dangerous activity and is discouraged. We have strongly recommended no congregational singing and very limited singing from the stage at this time. According to some of our experts, singers from the stage should be tested regularly – every two weeks at a minimum. Recorded music, liturgical reading and other creative options are best. 

e). People in vulnerable communities including clergy, should be particularly careful and should be encouraged to avoid gatherings.

f). Many people are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and don’t know they are carrying the virus. You cannot assume someone is safe simply because they have no symptoms. 


Even as our team believes these things are clear, we are open to continued learning. If you have read any scientific opinions that put any of these things into question, please share them with Rev. Alex Shanks. Some persons who have stated the science is confusing and scientists don’t agree have not read the latest information or have not consulted a wide range of experts. 


3). Going slow is always a great approach. Patience is a virtue. Start small. Have a trial run. Bishop Carter recently suggested beginning with a time of prayer in your sanctuary. See post here.


4). We know the cases continue to rise in Florida. As we write today, we have experienced an average of 2,192 new daily COVID cases in the past week. The positivity rate percentage average has doubled in the last week to 7.07%. You can track the cases in your area here. In other states, spikes have been directly connected to churches. This is not a time to take any of this guidance lightly. If you and your team are considering relaxing or changing any of the guidelines or recommendations we have clearly stated, we ask you to communicate directly with your District Superintendent your rationale for doing so. If you have specific questions about the guidelines, please reach out to Rev. Alex Shanks.  


If you have a positive COVID case connected to your church, please contact your District Superintendent to receive the protocol related to notification and isolation.


Again we write to encourage you and we are praying for you. 


Blessings,


Florida Conference Cabinet and Relaunch Task team


LINKS TO PREVIOUS GUIDANCE:

Returning to in-person worship optional after June 15thClick Here

FAQ: Click Here

Worship Guidelines: Click Here

Summary and link to webinar with infectious disease doctor: Click Here


The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin L King Jr Ave, Lakeland, FL 33815

863-688-5563

6/7/2020

Please note: The Following article was published prior to the revised guidance from the Florida Conference and PCUMC Leadership's decision to postpone in-person worship.

Soft-Opening Plans: In-Person Worship Services Resume July 12

Learn how services will be different when we reopen

Dear Pine Castle UMC family,


As our state has begun to lift stay-at-home restrictions, your church leaders have faced challenging decisions about gathering again. Over the past several weeks we have monitored guidelines and best practices for gathering in a safe way. After a significant amount of prayer and preparation, we plan to resume in-person services on Sunday, July 12. This guidance could change, if the number of new cases or the infection rates begin to increase.


We are excited to meet face-to-face again — but in-person worship will not look the same as it did when we left it in March, at least not initially. Here's a look at some of the changes you may notice.


What We’re Doing


  • Staff and volunteers will be wearing masks.
  • Additional hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the building.
  • All services will be a touchless experience, and all high-volume areas will be sanitized between services.
  • No water fountains will be operating or usable.
  • No hospitality food or beverages will be offered.
  • No offering plates will be passed. Instead, baskets will be located at the back of the sanctuary as you exit.
  • All materials such as paper and pencils will be removed from the pews. We encourage you to bring your own Bible.


How You Can Help


  • If you don't feel well or have health concerns, please stay home and join us online.
  • We encourage you to wear a mask, and will have one available for you if needed.
  • Please wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often.
  • Maintain a distance of six feet between yourself and others.


Online Services


Not everyone will be comfortable returning to in-person services right away. We encourage every household to make their own decision on whether or not to return immediately. Online Church will continue to be a viable option for our most vulnerable members to engage with Pine Castle UMC.


Please Join Us Online If...


  • You're not feeling well, are running a fever, or have symptoms.
  • You have knowingly been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • You are considered vulnerable or high risk.


We want to pray for you


We understand that we are all longing to be physically reunited as a church body. It will be impossible for us to please everyone when making decisions around gathering again, and we understand how hard this season has been. We're praying for God's guidance and wisdom in all of the choices you face in the weeks ahead.


  • How can we pray for you? Prayer requests may be submitted at any time via the Prayer Request page on our website.
  • If you have a specific need, or to volunteer and help others in a practical way, visit the PC Helps page to let us know.
  • If you have questions, please connect with members of our staff via the email addresses located on the Staff page. 
  • Messages left on the church office answering machine will be checked daily. 


Be blessed,

 

Your Pine Castle UMC Staff

5/29/2020

In-Person Worship Optional after June 15th

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The Florida Conference Re-Launch Task Force along with Bishop Carter and the Cabinet met this week and decided to allow churches to consider resuming in-person worship after June 15th on a limited basis according to the following guidelines. Before proceeding, we ask that you be sure to have read carefully and completely our FLUMC guidelines, the CDC guidelines, the article “Why reopening church is different”, the FAQ document, and the Governor’s Plan for Florida’s Recovery.

 

Please continue to offer on-line worship. It is important that vital worship opportunities are readily available for people in your church who are not ready to return to your campus. Recent surveys suggest that more than 70% of your regular church attendees may choose to stay home at this time. Many of our vital churches have decided to wait and resume in-person worship until July or August and we fully support these plans. 

 

Our strong recommendation is that churches consider lower risk in-person worship opportunities like outside worship (with appropriate social distancing, wearing masks and a consideration for heat exposure) and drive-in worship (with participants staying in their vehicles - see guidelines here.)

 

Here are seven key things to keep in mind:

  1. This guidance could change. If the number of new cases or the infection rates begin to increase, this guidance will be revisited and further guidance will be given, including a new request for no in-person worship during a spike in cases.
  2. The decision will vary according to your church context. Churches should carefully follow the guidance of your city and county officials and investigate the rate of infection in your area. Churches should consider the state of preparedness of your church, the size of your congregation, the number of vulnerable persons in your setting, the availability of cleaning supplies, and more. The decision to resume in-person worship should be made by a team of leaders that includes the pastor.
  3. Persons in vulnerable populations (in the state of Florida this has been defined as persons over the age of 65 or those with underlying medical conditions) are encouraged to stay home. This guidance is consistent with the guidance from the federal and state government and the CDC. 
  4. At all times people must maintain at least six feet between family groups. We believe in most indoor settings this could cap your capacity between 15% to 25% of what your space typically holds. In order to do this safely, you will need to have a registration system in place with spaces set aside for visitors.
  5. Clearly communicate the guidelines in multiple ways to every person who enters your space. It is helpful to see this as a covenant between all participants. Guidelines should be in writing. Have clear signage as people enter spaces. Announce the guidelines at the beginning of each gathering. Have a clear plan in place for visitors and those who may not want to follow the guidelines. Be able to communicate why you are reopening should the media be present, and take pictures showing how you are following the guidelines. 
  6. Remember these simple reminders: Monitor your symptoms – Stay Home if you are sick – Wash your hands – Maintain social distance – Wear masks.
  7. Have enough cleaning supplies to thoroughly clean your facilities before, during, between and after gatherings. Items should be removed from pews, offering plates should not be passed, and communion should be served in a modified way.


Here are three areas of higher risk that require conversation and coordination:

  1. All persons should wear a mask or cloth face covering. Not wearing a mask puts everyone around you at a higher level of risk. We address masks further in our FAQ.
  2. Our conference task team believes congregational singing is a higher risk activity. This is based on a high level of agreement among scientists and singing experts (view CDC research on singing). We address singing further in our FAQ.
  3. Ministry to children and youth in this time is a higher risk activity. Before schools reopen, it may be that many churches encourage families to worship together. Children and youth ministry must follow the CDC guidelines. This will require additional volunteers, volunteers wearing masks, daily checking of temperatures, and more. Social distancing is difficult for younger children to understand. Any church planning to do children or youth ministry should send their specific plan of how they intend to follow the CDC guidelines to their District Superintendent. All children and youth ministry must also follow our Child and Youth Protection Policy.


As a final reminder, outside groups who use church facilities should follow the same guidelines we have published. All outside groups must provide a certificate of insurance, which includes the local church as an Additional Insured, and sign an agreement that states their willingness to abide by these guidelines. Outside choral groups are strictly prohibited at this time.

 

The above and linked guidelines are the minimum requirements for Florida United Methodist Churches. Churches may add to these guidelines but may not subtract from these guidelines. 


The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin L King Jr Ave, Lakeland, FL 33815

863-688-5563

5/22/2020

FAQs Regarding COVID-19

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Dear Clergy and Laity of the Florida Annual Conference:


As we enter into this Memorial Day weekend, we are grateful to each of you for your leadership during this time. We continue to pray for those impacted by COVID-19 and for the regular sacrifices being made by those who are on the front lines. 


We previously released guidelines and continue to ask for no in-person worship through June 15th. We will give another update next week regarding the time period after June 15th.


Some of you have asked helpful questions. The task force, in consultation with the Cabinet, has created a Frequently Asked Questions document. This addresses the current time and helps you prepare for the next phase. 


If you have a question or concern that is not addressed in the document, please notify your District Superintendent or contact Alex Shanks at ashanks@flumc.org


We remain On Mission Together.


The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin L King Jr Ave, Lakeland, FL 33815

863-688-5563

5/13/2020

Conference Guidance On Re-Launch & No Worship Through June 15th

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Dear Clergy and Laity of the Florida Conference:


Our cabinet formed a re-launch task force to begin looking at how we can help resource churches as they prepare to re-launch during COVID-19. We solicited input from you and received thousands of responses. Our initial guidance can be downloadable here. These guidelines will be regularly reviewed and updated. We have consulted government officials and health experts and will continue to review the latest guidance.


In summary:

  • Churches should plan to continue to offer on-line opportunities until a vaccine is readily available, knowing that many people will not feel comfortable returning to worship until that time. 
  • We ask that no in-person worship services take place through June 15th. The actual date for when in-person worship services will resume is still being determined but we know it will be after June 15th
  • We give guidance on some alternative worship models that could be attempted starting May 15th including house worship and drive-in worship. These require strict safety guidelines and should only be attempted in places where volunteers and staff are ready to monitor and enforce the guidelines.
  • We invite you to begin preparing for what in-person worship may look like after June 15th. We know you will need to adjust worship plans to allow for safety and social distancing. Detailed descriptions are provided for a variety of worship logistics. Walking through the logistics with key volunteers and staff will be essential.
  • We suggest you form a re-launch task force of lay and clergy leaders to explore how you will work through these guidelines in a way that honors your context.
  • At all times we encourage proper social distancing, handwashing, the wearing of masks, and for sick persons or persons who have been in contact with the virus to remain at home. We are especially concerned that those most vulnerable to the virus be vigilant in the days ahead. 


Also in this document are guiding principles and scriptural foundations. We offer this guidance from a standpoint of our faith that calls us to love our neighbors and care for the most vulnerable.


Our rationale for a no sooner than June 15th date include:

  • Relaunching in-person worship presents a significant effort on behalf of church leadership. June 15th allows them enough time to prepare worship spaces and gather and train the necessary volunteer base.
  • By June 15th, we will have clearer results from the reopening of the state of Florida to guide us in our decision making.
  • Many in our state and in our church communities are part of the most vulnerable populations. Our clear guidance from the feedback we have received is to err on the side of safety. 


We will continue to monitor the realities in our communities and adjust our guidance as needed.

Should you have specific questions, please reach out to your District Superintendent who can guide you.


May God continue to walk with us in this season. We pray now for those who are sick and all our front line workers who are keeping us safe.


We remain on mission together.


Ken Carter

Resident Bishop, Florida Conference

President, Council of Bishops

The United Methodist Church


Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry during Covid-19

5/11/2020

Latest Updates Regarding Suspension of On-Campus Activities

Dear Pine Castle UMC family,


As your Pine Castle UMC staff, our primary concern is everyone's health and well-being; emotional, physical, and spiritual. Please note that the Bishop and Cabinet are now recommending that we continue to do worship virtually until June 15, to give everyone time to prepare for reopening. We will be studying their guidance (available here) and implementing best and safe practices as we prepare to gather together in-person once again. We’ll keep updating our website with the latest news about how our church is “meeting” and serving during this time. So check back often for the most updated information. 


For now, while we look forward to the day when we can return to church in the “new normal”, we will continue to stream our worship service each Sunday at 10:30 AM on our Facebook page and via the Watch Live page on our website. A Facebook account is not required to view our worship services via the provided links. 


Your Pastors, staff, tech, and worship teams are working hard to offer the best streaming worship experience, with new enhancements each week. If you join us for worship via Facebook - either live or sometime during the week - please be sure to 'comment' to let us know that you are viewing. If you experience visual or sound difficulties at the time of the broadcast, we apologize and invite you to reconnect at a later time. 


In this time of change, remember that social distancing does not equate to isolation. There are many ways for us to be the Body of Christ together even when we cannot gather together:

·      We haven’t stopped praying for you. Prayer requests may be submitted at any time via the Prayer Request page on our website.

·      If you have a specific need, or are looking for an opportunity to volunteer and help others in a practical way, visit the PC Helps page on our website to let us know.

·      If you have questions, please connect with members of our staff via the email addresses located on the Staff page. 

·      Messages left on the church office answering machine will be checked daily. 


Maybe we can’t exchange hugs or handshakes right now, but we can still see smiles and hear laughter. Thanks to technology, our world is more connected than ever before.

·      We can encourage each other through text, email, and video chat.

·      We can keep in touch on social media. Follow us as we share encouragement for you daily on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

·      Share how you are worshiping with us at home by tagging @pinecastleumc so we can see you.


Please continue your support of what God is doing through Pine Castle UMC by:

·      Mailing your tithes and offerings to the church. 

·      Giving electronically through the Giving page on our website and following the instructions provided.  


Our God is good. Our God is with us. Our God never fails. The Apostle Paul says this in Romans 8:


I am sure that nothing in life or in death will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Be blessed in the knowledge that He is always near you,

 

Your Pine Castle UMC Staff

4/30/2020

Suspension of on-campus activities extended.

News from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Starting this Monday, May 4, we will begin Phase 1 of re-opening our economy. He said we'll take it slow and see how the community responds. Please pray for our leaders as they make these decisions.

While more shops in our neighborhoods are opening up this week, our church will remain closed for the time being. Last week, Bishop Ken Carter posted a letter to all of us on the Florida United Methodist website. In it, as a way for us to love our neighbors and not spread the virus, he recommends that we not meet together in person before May 15. You can read more on his blog. He gives some good reasons for us to consider as we shelter in place.

3/30/2020

Suspension of on-campus activities extended through April 30, 2020.

While this is not unexpected news, we understand that we are all longing to be physically reunited as a church body.


Your pastors and staff remain available to answer your questions, offer support, and pray with you, as we seek to love God and our neighbors by protecting public health. We will continue to offer our worship service online and we invite you to visit the home page and explore the various ways you can stay connected to your church family. We may not be together in person but we can certainly be together in spirit. Let us continue to pray for one another and check up on each other. His peace be with you. Stay safe and stay connected.

3/17/2020

Important Announcement from Pastor Scott

3/13/2020

Coronavirus Response and Prevention

Pine Castle UMC takes the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) seriously and is taking a common sense approach to the situation. Out of concern for our congregation, we will suspend the meet and greet time in our service. Instead of using the water fountain, we are offering water bottles during our PC Cafe hospitality time from 10:00am-10:30am. Hand sanitizer is available in com­mon areas.

 

Please consider the general prevention suggestions below and if you feel sick, stay home and watch the Sunday service online here at pinecastleumc.com.