In-Person Worship Begins for Gold Country Community Parish

April 15, 2021 | by JB Brayfindley

In-Person Worship Begins for Gold Country Community Parish

“I wore my mask even when I preached,” stated George Beckman, Great Northern District Lay Leader and worship leader at an in person worship on Easter, April 5, 2021 at Placer Hills UMC in Meadow Vista, California. Beckman is a Certified Lay Minister and lives in Colfax, California. He regularly preaches in churches of the Gold Country Community Parish (GCCP) that include Colfax UMC, Dutch Flat UMC and Placer Hills. “We all wore masks.”
 
“There were arrows on the floor to show us where to walk in and walk out. And they took my temperature when I came in,” stated Beckman noting that pews had been cordoned off for the 26 people attending to sit separated. The following week he preached for seven church goers at Dutch Flat which had available pews identified with artistic drawings of people. “Nobody came rushing up to me and tried to hug me or anything. People seemed to understand that I was glad to see [them] but we all greeted from what I call “distance” although we were masked.”
 
“People were so happy and excited to see each other although we still follow—strictly—the protocols,” stated Pastor Ellie Lubiano, part-time local pastor for the parish who preached at the Colfax church for the 25 people who attended on Easter. Lubiano noted that many church goers had already been vaccinated. “We are strictly following the protocols of Phase 3 to keep everyone safe.”
 
“I felt very safe,” said Beckman noting a pre-existing condition that made him follow the shelter in place protocol with rigor. “I’ve been extremely cautious for a year. Easter Sunday was my first time out to a service for a year … and you know, I was very comfortable [with all the protocols in place].”
 
“I touched elbows with a couple of people, but more like bowing [with most people],” said Beckman. “One person I was particularly interested to see, we raised our hands and fluttered [our fingers]—but we did not touch.”
 
Was there music? Yes. Although there was no singing, Colfax and Placer Hills featured songs played on the piano and Dutch Flat church goers listened to chords strummed on an autoharp. “I can’t say that I did not hum,” stated Beckman, “but you hum with your mouth closed and I didn’t hum loudly.”
 
“We are still offering online services,” stated Beckman who often preaches and assists in producing the pre-recorded worship service for the parish.
“But we continuously do send written mail and bulletins for home bound and without access to the internet,” stated Lubiano. “and are keeping up [sending] and providing online worship.”
 
Lubiano was quick to give thanks to all the people who have “continually helped and willingly made this ministry go on in the time of lockdown and to make this reopening possible.”
 
“I hope and pray that this be a start of something, a new normal,” added Lubiano, “when we could connect more, reach out more and serve more without worries and fear.”
 
 
 
 
 


JB Brayfindley is a freelance journalist.
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