First United Methodist Church

Covid-19 Pandemic

Guidelines for In-Person Worship

We will resume in-person worship Sunday, January 24, 2021.  Services will continue to be broadcast on YouTube live, and Facebook live stream during our 11:00am worship service.  Additionally, the recorded Sunday morning worship service will be made available on both the First UMC website and Facebook page.

Because South Carolina is in the midst of the most critical time during the pandemic.  It is extremely important we take care of ourselves and each other.  The Pastor and church leadership will continue to evaluate the Covid-19 climate in our community and modify the guidelines as needed. My hope, prayer, and projected goal is to have things back to normal for worship by mid-February and midweek fellowship meals by Ash Wednesday.  Following are the guidelines that we will observe during Sunday morning worship service and other indoor gatherings for now.

  • On Sunday morning, the two main front entrances to the sanctuary will be open at 10:30am. Please practice social distancing (6 feet) at all times especially when seated in the pews. (Exceptions for married couples and families).
  • There will be no small group gatherings (Sunday school/staff meetings) until we move beyond the critical weeks of the pandemic. 
  • Every other pew is to be unoccupied and closed as to help maintain safe distancing.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be located in the narthex.
  • Please wear a mask or face shield while in the sanctuary, church office, daycare, and family life center.
  • Please be mindful of social distancing when exiting the building. 
  • There will be no choir.
  • There will be no handbell choir unless all “ringers” are masked at all times and spaced 6 feet apart.
  • The music and hymns will be limited to 1 or 2 verses and will be INSTRUMENTAL.
  • Special music will be INSTRUMENTAL.
  • When possible bulletins will be distributed in the pews prior to worship.
  • The offering box is located at the back of the sanctuary. 
  • If you are sick, running a fever, feeling unusual or sluggish, we ask that you please stay home and worship with us virtually.
  • If you have traveled to “hot spot” areas, in contact or around anyone who is symptomatic or has tested positive for Covid-19, please stay home and worship with us virtually.
  • If you test positive for Covid-19, after attending a service or gathering, call the church office immediately. 
  • If you have special needs or prayer requests please call the church office.

A special thank you to all of you who have selflessly demonstrated grace, modeled the love of Jesus by protecting your neighbor by masking, and especially for the wonderful cooperation and constant support and understanding spirit.

Peace, Prayers, and JOY!

Taylor Coates, Pastor

Church Family,
We will resume IN-PERSON worship this Sunday!  Safe practices & Covid-19 Pandemic church guidelines will be in place.  Our church office manager (Wanda Weaver) will send an email later today with a list of the safety guidelines.  Our worship experience will be a “little” (LOT) different this Sunday.  This is the ONLY way I can minimize harm and ensure a safe and covid-19 free environment.  Remember, this is temporary…
The Daycare and Children’s Center is currently closed due to the severity of the Covid-19 within the community.  Please continue to lift Debbie Polston our Daycare Director in your prayers, along with her teachers and staff.  We realize this is an inconvenience to many parents and guardians.  Unfortunately, there have been Covid-19 exposures and ongoing Covid-19 illnesses among staff and families.  The Daycare is TENTATIVELY scheduled to reopen Monday, January 25, 2021.  Please note the reopen date is subject to change.
There is GOOD NEWS!  The tentative plan (provided everyone stays HEALTHY) is to have worship back to normal by mid February. I also hope to resume Wednesday night suppers by Ash Wednesday!   Keep smiling, praying, and checking on each other.  As always, I am as close as a call if any of you need me.  
Peace, Prayers and JOY,

Taylor Coates (843-309-7307)

January 17, 2021

“What good can come out of Nazareth???” (John 1)Well, you will have to come and see! (Verses 43-51) VIRTUALLY, of course, by logging onto the 1st UMC Bennettsville Facebook page or church Website! For those who are UNABLE to worship virtually: in person worship with firm safety guidelines, MANDATORY MASKS, and social distancing are welcome to come for a CASUAL & BRIEF service at 11am.

The Daily Dose

Daily Prayer Concerns:
The Stroud Family
Peggy and Billy Kinney
Annie Coates
Martha Taylor

Daily Scripture Readings:
Psalm 110
Proverbs 22:1-9 (Verse 9)
Luke 6:27-31

The Significance of Spaghetti
A couple months ago, Bobby Hamilton silently came into the Church, stuck his head into the doorway of my office and said, “Hey…what are doing Thursday morning?”.  To which I simply responded, “Well, Mr. Bobby…I am going to be doing whatever you or God need me to do Thursday morning.”  In that moment, God gifted me with a real time experience to which my two brown eyes, for the first time, saw Proverbs 22:9 come to life.  This had EVERYTHING to do with Mr. Bobby (and Phil Thomas) spaghetti.  You see, I experienced the generosity of God manifest through the discipleship of others at the Bennettsville Community Kitchen.

I did not realize how late I was to this particular outpouring of love and discipleship party.  Bobby, May, Phil, Amy, Fran, and Elaine (and others) have been serving on the 1st Thursday of each month for some time.  I am also told Terry and Ricky Sheets along with their crew are also active in this ministry along with other churches, and organizations.  How awesome is that?  As far as I am concerned that is exceedingly awesome in my book. 

I had an epiphany tonight when I executed a simple two minute Google search on my Iphone.  I discovered (according to scchildren.org) 42.8% of our kids between birth and age 17 live below the poverty level in Marlboro County.  Of the roughly 8308 people who live in Bennettsville, 35.8% of these folks are hungry.  I had to take a minute because I was blinded by my tears.  I suppose it is no surprise the couple times I volunteered at the Community Kitchen upwards of 150 plates of Bobby and Phil’s Spaghetti were served that day.  I thank God for the Community Kitchen and the ministry it provides to our community.  I thank God for each of you (along with many others) who sacrifice precious time to be the hands and feet of Jesus by participating in that particular ministry.

 Proverbs 22:1-9 provides a lot of wisdom and insight, especially in terms of generosity.  Let’s focus on verse 9, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.”  Church family, this particular verse is much more about application today than it is about giving away groceries.  Generosity does not stop at spaghetti.  A generous man shares his time, at other times, a listening ear; but most of the time, it is himself, a caring friend.  When we become men and women like this, we may be shocked at how rapidly (and in what magnitude) the “spaghetti” (food) comes back to us when we find ourselves famished.  We quickly discover the generosity of God through the work of His Holy Spirit is reimbursed in full. 

Generosity is not a two lane secondary rural country road, it often becomes a 2 way multiple lane freeway.  We need to give more than lip service to the idea of sharing ourselves with one another.  We need each other!  Now more than ever…Especially when we are hurting or struggling.  One of the ways we can greatly affirm the value of our friendships is to take turns bearing each other’s burdens.  Tonight I thank God for ALL of YOU!  Every. Single. One. of YOU!  But even more so, I thank God for planting me in the First United Methodist church family that in so many unique ways boldly demonstrates the sincere Christ like example of generosity…in the variety of ways you love your neighbor.  There is no greater humbling honor on this side of Heaven than the privilege of serving as your pastor.  Ya’ll make my heart smile.
Peace and Prayers,
Taylor

THE DAILY DOSE

Daily Church Announcements:
Due to the elevated level of risk associated with Covid-19, the Covid-19 trending in our community, and because we have confirmed Covid-19 cases (Children’s Center) within our faith community:
1.  We will CONTINUE with virtual worship for this Sunday, January 10th 2021
2. It is HIGHLY LIKELY we will continue to worship virtually Sunday, January 17, 2021. 
3. The Children’s Center will remain closed through Tuesday, January 19, 2021.
 Please know we are evaluating the Covid-19 level of risk daily.  I am doing everything I possibly can to keep us safe and protected while minimizing potential harm stemming from the Covid-19 Virus.  Just know we will adjust as we need to.   

Daily Scripture Readings:
Psalm 110
Proverbs 3:1-12
James 4:11-17

The Daily Dose from your Pastor:

When THAT CALL Comes in…

You know it is going to be a good day when everything seems to go according to plan. You wake up with fewer aches and ailments than usual, the weather is actually seasonal, AND, remarkably, you are running on time for the tasks before you.  When suddenly, THAT CALL comes in, and it goes something like this:  “Hi, this is DHEC.  I am calling to notify you that you have been in contact with someone who is positive for Covid-19.  Because of this, we ask that you self isolate and quarantine for the next 7 days.  And, at the conclusion of the 7 day quarantine period it is only then, you may visit one of our free testing site’s to determine whether or not you are positive or negative for Covid-19”.  Oh, snap!  (Insert a long pause) Wait a minute!  Seriously?  Is this really happening?  Well, YES…it’s really is. 

And.  Just.  Like.  That.  Your good day…went down the drain in 2.5 seconds.  If you have not already been there, done that, received “THAT CALL” and eventually a negative result.  I can almost guarantee you, your turn’s coming.  And…Just.  Like.  That.  Your GOOD DAY can go down the drain.  Or, does it?  I will neither confirm nor will I deny whether or not I have been privy to “THAT CALL”. But, I will tell you, I have walked around the fields out here so many times it looks like I have been having a relay race with the deer!  I do have GOOD NEWS!

We can draw a ton of wisdom and excellent guidance from the epistles, specifically James.  In the opening chapter just after the author’s simple salutation, James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

So what in the world does that have to do with “THAT CALL”?  Or what is one to do when a day turns sideways with the ringing of the phone?  Here is what you do.  You take it one day at a time.  James 4:13-17, “ Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. ‘As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.  Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  OUCH…

Church family, we have to take life  one day at the time regardless of whether or not THAT CALL comes in.  The Christian life is meant to be lived moment by moment.  It is not some expansive general outline—it is a long journey with a real person.  Details count:  passing thoughts, small sacrifices (and large sacrifices like 7 days of keeping to yourself to protect your fellow neighbor), a few encouraging words, little acts of kindness, brief victories over nagging sins.  If you are going to walk with Jesus, the Holy Spirit will whisper, “Pay attention to the present.  Because, if you keep running ahead, you just might find yourself walking right by yourself. “

I don’t know about all of you…but I am thankful we have Jesus our Savior.  I am also thankful we have each other.  I challenge you to join me in taking it ONE DAY AT THE TIME.  And, in the meantime, keep smiling, stay focused, love your neighbor! Jesus will handle the rest!
Grace, Peace and Prayers,
Taylor  Coates (843-309-7307)