“When are you going to re-open the church?”  The church is NOT closed.
Brothers and Sisters,
As the summer winds down, I find myself reflecting in the cooler evening on the progress we as God’s people have made in the face of some challenges that none of us envisioned last spring.  Though our doors have been locked out of a prudent concern for the safety of our community and in observance of regulations presented by state and local governments and our Bishop, we continue to press on.
This has not been an easy time.  We miss each other and are frustrated with the pace of recovery; however, we are hopeful for the “new normal” of post-pandemic and post-election fevers. In the mean time, our church continues to address the current and future needs of our community.  Let me try to capture some of the progress that we’ve made.
Just before the COVID 19 pandemic dramatically forced the closure of schools, businesses, and houses of worship, we had enjoyed great progress on four of the five NLI areas of concern. The fifth area, Facility Alignment, is beginning as we start a new Preschool year and plan for our return to in-person worship. Full of energy and commitment to our self-professed objectives and vision, Haygood UMC adopted a new administrative structure using the StrengthFinders Survey and by developing a Leadership Covenant and Guiding Principles.  This more agile and responsive administrative structure was approved at the 2019 Charge Conference, and consolidates the functions of four distinct bodies – Church Council, Board of Trustees, Finance Committee, and Staff-Parish Relations Committee – into one comprised of 12 members, plus the Lay Leader as Chair and the Senior Pastor. The Leadership Board for 2020:  Bill Slingerland (Chair, Lay Leader), Suzanne Dalton, Kristi Farris, Beth Fite, Tony Flora, Kristin Fogle, Brian Gerber, Mike LaRock, Patrick Moore, Ruth Page, Kyle Smith, Bree Weatherly, Carol Eugley (Recording Secretary), Pastor Tammy Estep (advising).
The Leadership Board created and supervises the following working Ministry Teams:
1.  Children’s Ministry Team that examines ways to engage with children in the surrounding community. Online Children’s Chapel time, a very successful virtual VBS, and fun and interesting activities are highlighted on our website, Led by Lori Michalochick
2.  Student Ministry Team, led by Marie Porter which includes a) Jr. High Ministry 5th – 8th grade meets Friday nights 6-8 pm, b) Sr. High Youth Group meets on Sunday nights from 6-8 pm.  There are also combined events throughout the year. Virginia Wesleyan University. You can sponsor a student that is away from home under very unusual circumstances and seeks comfort and reassurance that the peace of Christ can provide.
3. Connections Team will soon sharpen their skills in making visitors feel this is the church where they want to worship and fellowship.  Led by Phyllis Porter
4.  The Staff continues to meet at least weekly to plan worship and coordinate the efforts of the myriad teams with which they are engaged.  Their support and relationships to the different teams listed below is so important in bringing all the pieces together.
5.  Visioning Team set the following goals: In addition to the safe and successful fulfillment of the Re-Entry Plan, Haygood UMC will see continued progress in, and 6-month targets established for, each of the following committees and in each of the following areas of ministry, in order or priority:
            1. Facility Alignment – Hospitality Audit and Church-Cleanup
            2. Communication – Gather Data from online viewers (perhaps form First Connections      subcommittee)
            3. Communications – Complete Data Migration and Launch of New Services
            4. Congregational Care Team – Ongoing Outreach Plan for Current Membership with        documented assignments by group (UMM, UWM, Youth, etc.)
            5. Crossroad Team – Establish this Team
            Long Term: Haygood UMC will retain current membership while increasing engagement, both within and outside the walls of our building, with the following demographics: the missing generation, youth, and non-member community residents.  

6. Building Committee:  Though the work of this Team is complete, some of the improvements made have not been seen by the congregation yet.  You will be impressed: Construction of the wall and glass panels separating the Social Hall and Narthex. Installation of LVT flooring in the Sanctuary, construction of a permanent choir loft, steps leading to the altar. Repair of the organ and replacement of speakers in the Sanctuary Window treatments in the Social Hall Installation of LVT flooring in the Narthex and carpet squares in the vestibule Thank you to the 2019 Building Committee for their work: Sonny and Jane Quesenberry (Chair), Denise Becker, Austin Grau, Mike LaRock, Cathy LaRue, Clint Porter, Phyllis Porter, Linda Sigmon, Marsha Sokolowski, Richard Webb, Carol Wicks, 
7. Technology Infusion Team: A Technology Infusion Team is developing a plan to upgrade the technologies used for a return to COVID 19 in-person worship AND direct live-streaming worship.  These technologies would address the capability for growth and vision-based utilization of our spaces.  This will include installation of large-screen monitors in the Sanctuary and the Social Hall; add hardware and software to support an improved and consistent worship for those attending in person and joining us online. Additionally, the installation of Wi-fi throughout the campus.  Led by Jimmy Porter and Clint Porter
8.  Communications Team: the installation and implementation of Elexio, a technology suite that will improve all areas of church administration, social media, and communications within the church and to the community.   This effort is in the final stages of data migration from our current administrative vehicle to a web-based and secure Elexio. All areas of communication within and without our church will be brought within this single system.  Training will be provided, and warranties required.  Led by Agnes Smith
9. Healthy Church Team (HCT): The HCT, as required by the District, established a Protocol for safe return to in-person worship.  Everything required by federal, state, and local governments AND by the Bishop has been examined and incorporated in regards to security, protocol, safety, sanitization, and reporting. 
10. Finance Team:  tasked with maintaining a focus on stewardship; application for and oversight of the PPP the church used to pay its preschool staff during the pandemic. This Team is also engaged in review of YTD budget spending and helping establish a 2021 budget for a COVID 19 environment.  Led By Gene Jones.
11.  Congregational Care Team: Attempts to maintain close relationships with all our congregation, particularly those that are homebound, residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes, patients in hospitals, and with those who have suffered mobility issues, loss of loved ones, personal isolation, illness, hospice, loss of employment, or mental illness.  A cadre of volunteers plays a vital role in providing support to all as we are unable to enjoy fellowship on a regular basis.  This is a church-wide responsibility for all our members. Led by Debra Hockey and Margo Bavry
12.  Staffing Review Team: a subset of the Staff-Parish Relationships Committee has examined our revised vision and ministries identified in the NLI Report and is preparing information that will be useful to the Leadership Board in ensuring that our staffing is relevant and ministry-based for not only today but also for our future.  Led by Suzanne Dalton
13.  Nails ‘n Hammer Team: called to serve and use their gifts of time, service, presence, and money to help maintain the facilities of our church. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry, repair, replacement, painting, removal, landscaping, and contractor interface are just some of the many services this Team provides. We need your help in this area.  The perception is that this is very time-intensive and demanding.  The few that are still engaging in this important ministry spend the time they can afford. Led by Dennis Best
14. Haygood UMC Preschool: Upon the recommendation of the NLI report, the Leadership Board approved integrating the Haygood Preschool as a focused ministry of the church.  New Bylaws, Teacher Handbooks, Parents’ Handbooks, and a Christian-based education curriculum have been developed. With the COVID 19 pandemic, a protocol was developed for the Preschool based on the requirements from the CDC and the VA Dept. of Social Services. Led by Myra Scott chair and Pat Dickerson, Director
15.  Nominations and Leadership Committee: a list of candidates to serve in leadership positions for the upcoming year was developed and are now being approached about leading our church into the future God has in store for us.  Led by the Pastor
16.  Food Pantry Ministry: Your continued generosity has supported 339 families with 1,264 persons since March.  Led by Marsha Sokolowski
17. The Children’s Clothing Ministry: Because of Covid 19, this ministry is by appointment only and allows parents to exchange children’s used clothing for someone else’s used clothing. Led by Roseanne Carlson and Jan Lockwood
18.  Music Ministry: Our talented Praise Band and choir members have provided such inspirational music during our online worship and will continue to do so when we go to in-person worship.  Likewise, a combined choir will embrace new technologies while observing safety protocols. The first rehearsal will be September 10th at 6:30 p.m.  Our Angelus bell choir will resume in-person rehearsals starting Monday, September 21st.  New “ringers” are always welcome, and it’s easy to learn.  To join these fun and welcoming groups, contact Keith Best or Carol Woodall.
My prayer is that you will all realize that there is a place for each of us in God’s work, now and in the future. Please pray for these teams and for your discernment of where you might offer your gifts of time and service as the Body of Christ.
Haygood UMC plans to reopen for in-person worship on Sunday, October 4th for one worship service at 10 am in the sanctuary. As need requires, another service will be added.  Registration is required and can be found on our church website or by calling the church office.  The church protocols required are on our website as well.  As we have often said, it will not be the same experience we remember from early March but it will be one more step in the right direction.  Thank you all for your participation in our recent survey and for your continued patience and grace.  
1 Peter 4: 8-10: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
“The Church is closed”?  NO!!!! There is lots going on!  Won’t you be a part of God’s work? May God’s will be done.  Be safe.  Be kind to each other.  Breathe. Peace.
In His service,


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