ESUMC’s Response to COVID-19 Coronavirus Including Cancelled Sunday Services [12 March 2020]

Dear ESUMC members and friends,

With the advice and consent of the superintendent’s office, I issue the following notice with immediate effect:

  • All public worship services in March including Sunday morning services are cancelled. There will be no Sunday morning worship services on 15 March, 22 March, and 29 March.
  • The church building will be open on Sunday, 15 March from 09:00-13:00 for individual prayer. People may come to the church during this time to pray and/or speak with Pastor Matthew or Pastor Stefan. No one is obligated to come. Information about the church’s opening for individual prayer on successive Sundays will be posted later.
  • All ESUMC ministry group and committee meetings scheduled for March are cancelled and will be rescheduled to a later date.
  • The Waermestube (winter daytime shelter) is closed for the season as previously noted in my 11 March communique.

I am available by telephone (+43 664 466 9475) or email (matthew.laferty@emk.at) to provide pastoral care or to speak with you. As a general rule, I am not making house or hospital visitations at this point.

The Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection has established a website and a 24-hour hotline to share information about the COVID-19 coronavirus and preventive measures to protect yourself.

Updated information about ESUMC’s response to the coronavirus COVID-19 is always available on the church website at www.esumc.at/covid19.

I share with you a prayer from the United Methodist Book of Worship (page 616):

Almighty and everlasting God,
who can banish all affliction both of soul and of body,
show forth your power upon those in need,
that by your mercy they may be restored to serve you afresh
in holiness of living, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

The Reverend Matthew A. Laferty
English-Speaking United Methodist Church of Vienna
matthew.laferty@emk.at
+43 664 466 9475 mobile

Issued on 12 March 2020 at 15:00

ESUMC’s Response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus [11 March 2020]

Dear ESUMC members and friends,

In the past two days, the situation in Austria related to the COVID-19 coronavirus has changed. I seek to update you about ESUMC’s continued response to the pandemic.

We will hold public worship on Sunday. Yesterday, the government restricted indoor gatherings to 100 people or less. Only 100 worshippers will be able to gather for worship on Sunday. Ushers will strictly enforce this government policy. We will hold only normal Sunday morning services and special-themed services like Music Sunday are postponed to a later date. There will be no fellowship time (coffee and cake) after worship for the foreseeable future. Worshippers are asked not to linger in the fellowship hall or atrium before or after the service. Hand sanitizer will be available on Sunday for you to clean your hands.

We continue to take the following precautions:

  • We discourage shaking hands, giving hugs, and sharing kisses. We have eliminated the passing of the peace from the worship service for the foreseeable future. The pastor will not shake hands before or after worship.
  • Individual cups will be used at communion only. There will be no sharing of a common cup.
  • The pastor and communion stewards will properly disinfect their hands prior to serving communion.

Additionally, several regular events/meetings are postponed or cancelled. The Wednesday Evening Bible Study is postponed for the foreseeable future. Additionally, our 8th Wärmestube season has come to an end and there will be no more Wärmestube openings on Tuesdays. We are seeking additional ways to support our Wärmestube guests.

It is advised that you:

  • Stay home if you are sick or in a high-risk demographic.
  • Wash your hands. Scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeves.
  • Avoid touching your face including your mouth, eyes, and nose.

The Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection has established a website and a 24-hour hotline to share information about the COVID-19 coronavirus and preventive measures to protect yourself.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NRSV)

Christ’s peace,

The Reverend Matthew A. Laferty
English-Speaking United Methodist Church of Vienna
matthew.laferty@emk.at

Update issued on 11 March 2020 at 22:00

Statement on ESUMC and the Coronavirus COVID-19
[07 March 2020]

The United Methodist Church teaches that the Church is “a redemptive fellowship in which the Word of God is preached… and the sacraments duly administered… Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit, the Church exists for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers and redemption of the world” (Article V of the Confession of Faith). As such, our congregation provides a place for people to worship God, grow in Christian faith, and receive and share the love of God.

We take seriously our commitment to be a gathering place. Equally, we care about the health and safety of all who use our church building and participate in our congregational events.

There is much news coverage in the last weeks about the coronavirus COVID-19. There is no reason to panic. Austrian health minister Rudolf Anschober emphasized that there is absolutely no cause for excitement at the moment. Currently, neither church nor civil authorities have restricted public gatherings in Austria. In this spirit, we will continue to hold public worship on Sundays as well as our scheduled community events.

I have been in contact with the superintendent’s office who has issued general suggestions related to coronavirus COVID-19 for pastors and congregations. As a church community, we take a few simple steps to protect ourselves from the coronavirus COVID-19:

  • We discourage shaking hands, giving hugs, and sharing kisses. We have eliminated the passing of the peace from the worship service for the foreseeable future. Pastors should not shake hands before or after worship.
  • Individual cups will be used at communion only. There will be no sharing of a common cup.
  • The pastor and communion stewards will properly disinfect their hands prior to serving communion.

Additionally, it is advised that you:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands. Scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cough into your sleeves or cover your mouth.
  • Avoid touching your face including your mouth, eyes, and nose.

The Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection has established a website and a 24-hour hotline to share information about the coronavirus COVID-19 and preventive measures to protect yourself.

Don’t be afraid, God is with us. We pray for God’s wisdom, guidance, and protection as the world responds to the coronavirus COVID-19.

See you at worship tomorrow.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Matthew A. Laferty
matthew.laferty@emk.at

Issued on 7 March 2020 at 15:55