In support of my ministry to the United Church of Christ at The Villages, Florida
The mission of UCC at The Villages is to be a welcoming inclusive community of Christian faith for all.
The vision of UCC at The Villages is to be the voice of progressive Christianity in the community where all people are welcomed, valued and nurtured in faith.
The United Church of Christ at The Villages embraces the values of love, faith, grace, service and justice.
October 19, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This week I'd like to highlight two items related to our plans for a return to in-person worship services starting Sunday, November 22nd (the "restart").
First, as previously noted, the restart assumes the average "positivity rate" (our leading indicator) in Sumter County, during two weeks before the restart, is averaging 5.0% or less.*
I'll start the formal tracking of the positivity rate on November 4th and do so through the 18th in anticipation of the first in-person worship service. The reason for an early two-week tracking period is to ensure we have a buffer of at least four days before the restart in the event we need to revert back to an online format. This would be the case in the event the average positivity rate through the Wednesday before in-person worship exceeded the 5.0% threshold.
This is the same model I'll use not just for the 11/22 restart, I'll use it every week to provide recommendations to the GB so they and I can make the right decision at any given week. Our hope and prayer is that we don't see the positivity rates go up but down so we don't have to revert back to strictly online worship. Prayerful fingers crossed.
Although we're grateful the death rates in Florida are low -- there were two deaths reported on October 18th -- it's important to note that the number of positive cases are still a real threat (there were 1766 positive cases in Florida reported on the 18th). Yes, COVID-19 is alive and well and no time to let our guard down. The commitment of your lay leaders and intentional interim pastor will be to continue to move forward with the 11/22 restart (for those who are able and willing to attend) in a careful and safe manner and doing so to the best of our abilities.
Second, we're committed in ensuring to the best of our ability that both the online and in-person worship settings are consistent in quality and spiritually meaningful. Towards that end, we've started planning with the help of a live-streaming consultant (Chris) the way forward in anticipation of the 11/22 restart. This past Friday, Denny, Chris, and I met online (with the GB's blessing) to outline the steps to make that happen. The basic equipment we need will be ordered this week.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'll be meeting again with Denny and Chris to continue assessing any adjustments that may need to be made to the existing equipment and wiring. In addition, four reps of the Diaconate Team and I will also meet to plan on the ushering process in support of our services. We've got a lot to do together for the 11/22 restart -- the GB and I covet your support, as God has blessed you, of any one or combination of time, talent, and treasure.
More the details will be provided at a later date so keep posted to the weekly email e-News and my ministry website.
I wish you a wonderful week!
PS: Come back to my ministry website often. I update it once or twice a week.
Rev. Luis A. Perez, M.Div.
Intentional Interim Pastor
United Church of Christ at The Villages
Church Website: www.villagesucc.org
My GoToMeeting Link: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/912518045. You can also join by phone by calling 872-240-3212 (if asked, the Access Code is 912-518-045).
1. Join my next "PASTOR'S BIBLE STUDY" this coming Wednesday at 7:00 to 7:45 PM. This week's theme will be a little different! We'll have a conversation on this question: In light of or sacred scriptures, WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD WE LOOK FOR IN THOSE WHO WANT TO GOVERN US AND WANT MY VOTE? Click the GoToMeeting link noted below to join me online via your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone via https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/912518045. You can also join by phone by calling 872-240-3212 (if asked, the Access Code is 912-518-045).
WE BEGIN AND END PROMPTLY, SO YOU'LL NEVER MISS YOUR FAVORITE WEDNESDAY NIGHT 8 PM TV SHOW! See you then!
2. THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN for those who have volunteered to serve as WORSHIP READERS! So far, big hugs go to Jan F., Ken R., Sandy L., and Jo P-P., Jeannie S., Rev. Nancy A., Jean C., Billie N., Peter W., Jazzlin P. (my daughter), and Zaida M-P (my spouse) for their gracious support and brilliant execution. WE NEED MORE VOLUNTEERS! It's easy and it's fun -- and the church family loves it. Ready to support? Reach out to me at LUIS@MYINTERIMPASTOR.COM.
3. Talking about prayer -- I'd love to invite you to our online “WEEKLY PRAYER CIRCLE” on Thursdays at 1 PM. It lasts only about 30 minutes. This is where a small group of faithful gather weekly to pray for all new and on-going prayer requests. It's truly a time where we learn to trust God in prayer for one another and for our world. Click the GoToMeeting link noted below to join me online via your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can also join by phone by calling 872-240-3212 (if asked, the Access Code is 912-518-045). See you then!
4. Please remember there are other online SMALL GROUP GATHERINGS that take place during the week in addition to my Pastor’s Bible Study and Prayer Circle. They include: the WISE Support Group (POC: Becky D. & Beverly H.), Saturday Morning Men’s Bible Study (POC: Denny L.), and the Women’s Spirituality Group (meets via monthly email communications, POC: Rev. Kathy P.). If you want to know more, go to our church website and click the "Bible Study" link for the all the online links. If unsure, please reach out to Penny and she'll provide more information (she'll also connect you with Rev. Kathy P. and the Women’s Spirituality Group).
5. I want to thank so much those who keep sending Penny their PHOTOS of daily life and leisure! They're so important to making the Sunday online worship service fresh. It connects all of us to one another. It's like seeing folks gathering together in church! Remember, they’re used to overlay the musical Prelude slide and serve to remind us we’re a family of faith. Again, thank you to all those who have and continue to send them.
6. And now a word from the good folks at Elders Stand for Fair Elections Florida:
Don’t Let Your Vote-by-Mail Ballot Go to Waste! Did you know the top reason that Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots are rejected in Florida is because they arrive after 7 p.m. on Election Day? If you have requested and received your VBM ballot, here’s how to make sure it gets counted:
1. Sit down and fill out your VBM ballot right now.
2. Make sure to follow all instructions, especially signing the envelope. Your ballot is invalid without signature and will be rejected.
3. Mail your ballot today and avoid post office delays.
(You can also drop it in a secure drop box – see drop box locations on your county’s Supervisor of Elections website: https://www.sumterelections.org/) And if you haven’t registered to vote in Florida yet, the deadline to register to vote in the 2020 election is Monday October 5 – go to registertovoteflorida.gov to register today. Your vote is your voice – use your voice in 2020!