Survey Results and Re-opening Announcement this Sunday
Thank you to all who filled out the Return to In-Person Worship Survey! We received 442 responses, which provided crucial data for our COVID-19 Re-Opening Task Force. We plan to make an announcement this Sunday about our plan for re-opening for in-person worship. Please plan to tune in to our service on Sunday for more details. In the meantime, here are some of the key takeaways from the survey:
- Most people are not yet ready to come back.
- A strong minority (39%) said that they are ready to come back now.
- Most people will be ready soon.
- Nearly 2/3 (64%) of our congregation are either ready to return now (39%) or believe that they will be ready by late spring/early summer (25%).
- More than 1/3 (34%) are either unsure or do not think they will be ready until late summer/early fall.
- At this time, people prefer an outdoor worship service to an indoor service.
- Just over half of respondents (54%) are likely to return for indoor services, whereas two thirds (66%) are likely to return for an outdoor service.
- People are anxious about the safety of the community.
- Rise of COVID variants (27%), unknown vaccination status of others (26%), and difficulty of social distancing (23%) were the three largest areas of concern.
- Virtual church is here to stay.
- 58% of people reported that they plan to worship through the livestream either exclusively (18%) or alternating with in-person worship (40%).
- Fortunately, we plan to continue the livestream even after we re-open fully!
Thursdays starting April 22, 7-8:30 pm, Zoom, zoom.us/j/8347173468
Enrich your Eastertide/Springtime by joining Rev. Kathy Thiel and me, Claude Adair, in an insight practice group that will explore the book The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See by Fr. Richard Rohr. We're calling it an 'insight practice group' because our time together will be a mixture of discussion and contemplative practices all geared to building a safe community and opening our hearts and minds to new insights about the word so central to our faith and to reality itself; Christ.
Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (cac.org), teacher, internationally recognized author, and spiritual leader. Of his many books, The Universal Christ, which came out in 2019, is thought to be his most important. Fr. Richard teaches primarily on incarnational mysticism, nondual consciousness, and contemplation, with a particular emphasis on how these affect the social justice issues of our time.
In the foreword to the book Rohr asks, "What if Christ is a name for the transcendent within of every “thing” in the universe? What if Christ is a name for the immense spaciousness of all true Love? What if Christ refers to an infinite horizon that pulls us from within and pulls us forward too? What if Christ is another name for everything—in its fullness." No doubt there will plenty of challenging ideas and associated feelings that come up to give us all a chance to stretch and grow together.
Help us get back to in-person worship by filling out a brief survey!
We have just held our second virtual Easter, and many are wondering when we will be able to celebrate the resurrection in person and in our sanctuary. Soon—we hope.
As we continue to plan for our return, we would love to have each of you complete a brief 7-question survey. Your responses will help us do our best to remain open to all as we love, live, serve, and repeat!
All are encouraged to participate in this survey, whether or not you ever intend to join us for in-person worship.
We are thankful to each of you for your continued support throughout this past year. And for those that may never enter the doors of our sanctuary, we look forward to continuing to connect with you through our streaming services and various virtual small groups and opportunities. We truly are Better Together!
The COVID-19 Re-Opening Task Force
Tuesday, April 6, 1:30 pm, Click here for more information and to register
Next Tuesday, April 6 at 1:30 pm, our Senior Minister, Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady, will speak at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School's Spring 2021 Lecture Series "This Far by Faith." Stephen will be lecturing on The Divided Methodist Church: The Struggle for LGBTQ Inclusion in the Largest Mainline Denomination as part of "The Christian Faith and LGBT Experience" topic in partnership with CRCDS, Lake Avenue Baptist Church, Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church, and Third Presbyterian Church. This year's lecture series will be completely virtual, and registration is required or recommended for most events. See the link above to learn more or register for the lecture.
Place your orders by Sunday, April 25th!!
Order online here, Pick up orders on Saturday, May 8, 10:30 am—1 pm, Asbury First
“Open to All—We believe we are all equal in God’s eyes and all are one in Christ. We extend hospitality and encourage full participation for all regardless of any perceived defining characteristic.”
— From the Asbury First Values, as described in our Dreamscape
During this season of COVID-19, we are faced with many challenges as we live out our mission, vision, and values as a congregation. As we carefully begin welcoming people back to campus, we will:
- Have numerous hand sanitizing stations throughout our campus.
- Ensure that all surfaces are cleaned and wiped down between group gatherings.
- Schedule adequate time between on-campus events to reduce or eliminate overlap
- Abide by all of the regulations and recommendations as put out by the CDC and NYS in regards to the use of our campus.
In order to help us honor our commitment to remain Open to All, we are asking everyone that comes to our campus to commit to the following:
- Only come to campus for pre-arranged gatherings and events.
- Go directly to and from your designated meeting space.
- Use the available hand sanitizer station immediately upon entering the building.
- Wear a face-mask at all times (including children over the age of 2).
- Maintain social distancing of at least six feet.
- Limit restroom use to designated facilities.
Similarly, we ask that you love your neighbor by refraining from coming to campus if:
- You are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Muscle or Body Aches
- Sore Throat
- Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing
- Congestion or Runny Nose
- Nausea, Vomiting, or Diarrhea
- Loss of Taste or Smell
- Increased Temperature
- You or a member of your household has had close contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in the past 14 days.
- You or a member of your household have received a positive COVID-19 test in the past 14 days.
- You have traveled internationally or to one of the restricted states as designated by the State of New York in the past 14 days (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory).
If you are willing to join us in this covenant each time you visit Asbury First United Methodist Church, please sign the form by clicking here.
Each adult must digitally sign a form - one adult per form; children who will be on campus may be added to their parent's/guardian's form using the "Add Another Name" link. Additional adults must sign a separate form.
In the worship service today we announced that, effective July 1, Bishop Mark Webb has appointed the Rev. Rachel Dupont to Asbury First as the Minister for Christian Formation and Director of the Discipleship Project. This special one-year appointment is made possible through a generous gift in memory of Shirley Petherbridge in the hope that others might find faith and connection at Asbury First through small groups as the Petherbridge family did over 60 years ago.
In addition to regular pastoral duties, Rev. Dupont will be working on a special initiative called The Discipleship Project, which she envisions as a network of “class” and “band” meetings (the original Methodist small groups) that covenant together to be accountable to a Methodist way of life. These small groups will begin within the Asbury First community to train leaders that will help start similar groups around Rochester, inviting new people into Christian discipleship. Not only does this align perfectly with our Dreamscape goals, but it also provides a new means of meaningful connection for a community coming out of a year of isolation.
The generosity of the Petherbridge family gives us the opportunity to try this initiative for a year. Our hope is that it will be so fruitful that we will be able to identify funding to support Rev. Dupont’s appointment in the years ahead.
About Rev. Rachel Dupont
The Rev. Rachel Ann Dupont is excited to be joining the ministry team at Asbury First. Trained in Spiritual Direction, Congregational Formation, and New Faith Community Development, Rachel is passionate about guiding individuals, groups, and congregations in discerning and living out God’s unique call on their lives. She believes Christian Formation is all about living our professed values of love and grace, which transforms the world!
Baptized as a baby in the United Methodist Church, Rachel has never left. Rachel has lived her whole life in New York State, and loves to explore this beautiful place with her family. She is a partner, a parent, a pastor, and a friend. She loves good food, fresh air, and reading memoirs.
Rev. Dupont is an ordained elder in the Upper New York Annual Conference, where she serves as the Coordinator for Annual Conference Worship, and as a delegate to General Conference. She has served as the pastor of four churches in Upper New York, as well as on the Oneonta District as a New Ministry Cultivator, and carries a high level of connectional and community participation. Rachel earned her M. Div from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York in 2010.
For forty-four years Asbury First has been celebrating Pretzel Sunday and this year, though virtual, the tradition continues. Below you can learn more about this tradition and find links for a pretzel recipe (or use Wegman's pizza dough), a video of Mr. Rogers touring a pretzel factory and more!
The Story of the Pretzel
Around A.D. 672 Brother John, a monk who lived in a monastery in the German Alps, worked in a bakery with his assistant, Brother Bonafice.
It was time for the season of Lent when people spent more time in prayer. Children would pray with their arms crossed over their chest. So Brother John decided to use some dough to make "little arms" in the shape of their praying arms to remind us of this special time of prayer. The three holes in a pretzel are said to represent the Trinity: one God in three persons.
And so, as time passed, these little arms of prayer became known as pretzels. You may be used to thinking of pretzels as heart-shaped but turn one upside down and you will see the shape of the praying arms.
Learn More with Fun Links
- Click here for an easy pretzel recipe!
- Click here to see a video of Mr. Rogers touring a pretzel factory.
The Pretzel Prayer
I bow my head and twist my arms tight, before I climb in bed each night.
I say a prayer to God above to give Him thanks and feel His love.
As we look back at the past year of the pandemic, we stop to evaluate its effects and ask: How has worship and fellowship changed at our church? We hope you take some time and go through the newest edition of the Visitor @ Home to learn more about how we have adapted to the challenges the pandemic presented.
Scroll through our Q&As with the different ministries and work areas to learn more about the church's behind-the-scenes work. Take a look at the technological updates implemented to enhance our virtual worship with our live-stream worship timeline (download a printable PDF here), and check out the amazing statistics and connections we've established with our virtual reach.
Even though the world changed almost over night, our ministers, staff, volunteers, and congregation have proven that through God's grace we can be together even while apart. And, that we are always Better Together!
Submit your images by March 10, Click here for Kudboard link
We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic shutdown. Not only has it disrupted "normal" life, but the pandemic has exacted a toll with the lives lost to the virus as well as their family and friends. Not one of us has gone completely unaffected by this world-wide pandemic.
However, there have been some creative and inspirational ways that we have pulled together to get through these difficult times. One of those ways, is the connection we have each week as a nation- and world-wide congregation. Asbury First is proving more and more that we are greater than the building.
So, as we approach this anniversary, we'd love for you to tell us "What has the live stream meant to you this year?"
Share your answer on our Kudoboard by clicking here. Also, we'd love for you to share a picture of you and your loved ones with a sign saying where you're tuning in from.