Forest City and Crystal Lake United Methodist Churches (UMC) have only held church services remotely for more than two months due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
In an electronic newsletter to parishioners, UMC Pastor Les Green announced that in-person worship services will resume on Jan. 17.
Green said that on Jan. 5, UMC Bishop Laurie Haller addressed a letter to clergy and congregations of the Iowa Annual Conference thanking them for faithfulness, care and innovation during the mandated cancellation of in-person worship and gatherings.
Haller stated that after consulting with local leaders and healthcare personnel, and in view of reported numbers across the state, that the prior directive would be lifted with a return to a cautionary status after Jan. 10.
Notice from UMC Staff and Parish Relations Committee Adam Helm informed church members that the decision to return to in-person worship and groups is still entirely up to them. Worship will also continue to be available by local radio broadcast and on the church Facebook and YouTube pages.
By majority vote, the administrative council of both the Forest City and Crystal Lake UMC decided to resume in-person worship on Jan. 17 with the same restrictions that were in place during the summer and fall of 2020.
There will still be no children's Sunday school or up-front children's time or coffee time. However, "virtual children's Sunday school" online is being investigated and could be available soon. The virus situation will continue to be monitored and the decision could be revisited in the future, if circumstances warrant.
"I wish to express our deep gratitude to all who have invested time, talent and treasure to keep our church, our worship, our administration, and our ministries going and growing during these challenging times," said Pastor Green. "I so look forward to seeing and worshiping with more of you on Sunday, Jan. 17."
Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at email@example.com.