COVID-19 AND RE-OPENING news

SPECIAL NOTE: As an act of love and care for our community, the church office will be closed until further notice in observance of the State of North Carolina Stay-At-Home order. Staff members will be monitoring incoming mail, emails, and voicemail regularly. You can mail your giving to Benson Memorial UMC, 4706 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh, NC 27612, or visit bensonmemorial.org/give/ to give online. You can reach the pastor on call at (919) 342-8849. 


May 18, 2020

Update on Returning to Worship and Community at Benson Memorial UMC
Benson Memorial Family,
Just as God lives in community as Trinity, we were created in the image of God to be in community with one another. In these days of pandemic, we are learning and re-learning that the ties the bind us go much deeper and wider than just being physically present to each other. Thank you for being the community of the Body of Christ, not just a community that worships in a particular place, but one that lives and breathes the love of Christ into every connection and is able to glorify God and worship in every place, even from our living rooms! I continue to give thanks to God for your patience and encouragement throughout this challenging time of being apart.  
On Sunday, May 17, at 2:00 p.m., we gathered a group of key leaders and lay servants online to begin the work of discernment toward identifying the necessary safety precautions and preparations required for a phased approach to gathering again in person for worship. This team is called our Do No Harm Wellness Design/Planning Team, and is made up of these servant leaders who join me in this important work:
Ann Collins, Physician
Jerry Crenshaw, Honorary Trustee
PD Hill, Audio Visual team
Allen Till, Trustees
Susan Brooks, Lay Leader
Ginny Wise, Worship
April Cervi, Children’s Council
Kate Johnson, United Methodist Youth Fellowship
George Lee, Staff Parish Relations Committee
Megan Alvord, Annual Conference Rep
Warren Reynolds, Church Council Chair
Charlie Hobgood, SS Superintendent
Kim Sylvester, Discipleship and Spiritual Formation
Carol Wright, Family Fellowship
Shannon Luxford, Preschool Director
Martha Johnston, Director of Communications and Office Administration
Mary Elizabeth Hearn, Director of Music Ministries
Cortney Babajtis, Minister of Families and Outreach
Jeff Babajtis, Teaching Pastor
Kelly Lyn Logue, Senior Pastor
At our initial meeting, we agreed that, in determining when and how to resume in person worship and other gatherings, we will follow the guidelines from our Bishop and Conference leadership as outlined in the document “Model for Renewing Face to Face Community and Worship”. We also agreed that we will adapt these guidelines to Benson Memorial’s needs by adding to the precautions, not taking away or lessening any portion of them, out of a motivation of love rather than of fear.
These guidelines are companions to Governor Cooper’s 3-phase plan for North Carolina. Following these guidelines means that we will wait longer before we gather again on our campus for worship, no sooner than North Carolina's Phase 3.
While we all long to be together again on a Sunday morning, waiting until later this summer gives us the time to put in place the safety protocols required of us, like installation of hand sanitizer stations at all entrances, safety signage, directions and preparations for social distancing, and necessary cleaning. This extra time also allows us to address more questions like how many we can safely gather in our sanctuary, how many services will we need to offer, how we will limit the number of people, how much time we will need between services to re-sanitize, and what we will need for contact tracing if there is risk of exposure.
Our Do No Harm Wellness Design/Planning Team will meet again on June 2 to address when we can resume the gathering of small groups for study and meetings, when and how we will open the church office, and to manage our progress so far.
These are new and uncharted waters for all of us. So, we are committed to communicating our planning and progress with you as often as possible. You are invited to join our pastors for a Q & A session on Wednesday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 7, at 2:00 p.m. via Zoom. You can RSVP, suggest a question and get the invite for the Zoom Q & A’s by clicking here(The link to the form is on the home page of our website.)
We appreciate your prayers for these decisions and discernment. May we remain motivated from a place of love and care for all, especially the most vulnerable among us. 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Kelly Lyn

May 11, 2020

A COVID-19 UPDATE ON IN-PERSON GATHERINGS

 

Benson Memorial Family,

 

When the stay-at-home orders began, we had hoped to resume in-person gatherings this month of May. As we continue to learn more about this virus and all the necessary safety precautions that need to be in place before we can gather as a worshiping community and in smaller groups, we realize now the need for a phased approach to re-opening, and it will be longer before we can all be together in person again.

 

Be assured that our key leaders at BMUMC are meeting online to design and plan the safest ways for us to phase a church reopening which aligns with the phases of re-engagement offered by Governor Cooper, the CDC, and the guidelines given to us from our Bishop and Annual Conference leadership. 

 

Below you will find our Bishop’s message of hope and prayer, along with the “Model for Renewing Face to Face Community and Worship” guidelines. Thank you for your patience as we carefully and diligently work through these plans and make the necessary safety preparations so that we can be faithful to our General Rules as Methodists: 1) do no harm, 2) do good, and 3) stay in love with God.

 

In order to “do no harm” for now and until further notice, our worship services will continue to be offered online only, and the church office and campus will remain closed. The church staff continues to work at full capacity from home. We will be in touch with any changes by email, social media, and our website. So, please stay in touch.

 

Thank you for your understanding and encouragement, for all the ways you are choosing to stay engaged as a community of faith, and for your continued faithfulness in financial giving for our ongoing ministry and life together.

 

I give thanks to God for the gift of each of you as part of our church family. And for being the church wherever you are! 

 

“May the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace in believing,” (Romans 15:13)

 

Pastor Kelly Lyn

 

Read the Guide for the Model for Renewing Face-to-Face Community and Worship: https://nccumc.org/coronavirus/renewing-community/


April 30, 2020

We ARE the Church!  

I am the church! You are the church!  We are the church together! All who follow Jesus, all around the world!  Yes, we’re the church together!

The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people.  (Words & Music by Richard K. Avery and Donald S. March, 1972. The United Methodist Hymnal 558)

Thank you, Benson Memorial UMC Family, for all the ways you are BEING the church in this season while we are not able to physically meet together.  For your care for your neighbors, family, friends and other church members, for your generosity of spirit, financial and in-kind gifts to the church and local missions, for your perseverance, understanding, and creative willingness to try new things, we give thanks and celebrate our continued life together.  

All in-person gatherings and worship services continue to be cancelled and the church office remains closed through at least May 18 at the urging of our Bishop Hope Morgan Ward.  As the state-wide Stay-At-Home order (now in place through May 8) is addressed again and possibly extended in the coming week, we will have more guidance coming from our Governor, Health officials and the Annual Conference. We will continue to inform you of changes and updates through church-wide emails, our website, and Facebook. Check out the changes to the home page on our website, where you’ll find the links to worship services, how to give online, and everything you need to stay engaged.

Please remember that the needs and expenses of the church continue even when we aren’t together. If you have been reluctant to give online in previous times, we urge you to consider giving online for this season. You can give online at bensonmemorial.org/give/, set up an automated draft or bill pay service, or mail your giving to 4706 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh, NC 27612.

Know that our staff is continuing to work at full capacity, even from home.  We are monitoring incoming mail, emails, and voicemail regularly. If you have a pastoral need or emergency after those hours, please call the pastor-on-call number, (919) 342-8849. Please know that we are committed to being available to you, our church family, even though we can’t be together in person.

We hope you will continue to join us each Sunday at 11:00 a.m at facebook.com/bensonmemorialumc/, as we worship together online.

Please continue to pray for those whose lives are at stake in the midst of this health crisis: our health care providers, first responders, all who are sick, and all who are anxious. Know that your pastors and church staff are praying for you and are here for you. 

We’re in this together and we ARE the church together!

May we persevere in love (1 Corinthians 13:7),

Pastor Kelly Lyn


Challenging Days
(March 24, 2020)
Dear Benson Memorial Family,
The Apostle Paul ends his first letter to the church in Corinth with the encouragement to “Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous and be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13) 
This is my prayer for all of us in these challenging days:
  • May we keep alert in our diligent care for others as we practice social distancing and stay at home as much as possible.
  • May we stand firm in our faith, knowing nothing can separate us from God’s love.
  • May we be courageous and strong as we learn and accept new ways of doing things together.
  • May we let all that we do be done in love—our love for God, for one another, and for all of creation.
Below you’ll see a letter from our Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, sent yesterday, March 23, 2020, urging us "to continue the compassionate practice of not gathering for worship, funerals, weddings, studies, or other groups for the next two months.” Following the Bishop’s urging, this means we will not be back together again until at least May 18.
I am sad at the thought of physically being away from our community of faith for such a long time. But, I’m also encouraged by the way you’ve already responded to this challenging time with creative willingness to try new things like live online worship! We will weather this season together, and we will be more unified and assured of God’s presence that can sustain us through any trial.
Even though we are not gathering in person, we are finding new ways of being together and staying connected through online worship, through online studies and small group meetings via Zoom, daily meditations, etc. Please continue to do your part to stay connect, such as how to make your financial gifts online, watch Sunday’s worship service, or listen to the sermon audio. You can always be in touch by emailing the church staff, calling the church office at (919) 787-0789, or the pastor-on-call number, (919) 342-8849, in case of emergency.
We are in constant need of your faithful financial support to enable our ministry and life together to continue. If you have been reluctant to give online in the past, please consider giving online for this season and know you can go back to your preferred method of giving once we are through this crisis.
  
Again, with the words of the Apostle Paul, “My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 16:24).
Pastor Kelly Lyn
Dear United Methodist friends,
Grace and peace to you in this challenging time for the entire human family.
 
This morning, I was in zoom conferences with faith leaders, public health professionals and several episcopal colleagues. In addition, with you, I received the directive of Governor Cooper for schools to remain closed through mid-May.  
 
I urge you to continue the compassionate practice of not gathering for worship, funerals, weddings, studies, and other groups for the next two months.
Resources abound on our conference website and beyond to help us and to engender our own creativity in leading groups, classes and churches.
 
Public health leaders are working tirelessly for us, for our families and our neighbors, for our communities and our state and our nation and our world. We give thanks for them and their selfless service. I urge you to help lower the number of people exposed to COVID-19 and to protect your family and also those you may never meet or know. Social distancing, or as a friend re-phrases, distant socializing, is the best way to slow the advance of COVID-19.  
 
I continue to work with the Cabinet, the Conference Staff, and elected Conference Leadership to garner resources for all our life together. I am inspired by your leadership, your creativity, your compassion and your perseverance.
 
Today, I connected with our heritage anew, remembering John Wesley's concern for public health. The double blessing of physical and spiritual health was - and is - a central dimension of Methodist ministry. Like our spiritual forebears, we are convinced that God wants to give us both inward and outward health. Realizing that the least resourced people of his time were without medical care, he recorded his reflection: At length I thought of a kind of desperate expedient. I will prepare, and give them physick myself. The urgency of our founder resonates in the creative and life-giving responses you are offering.  
 
Let us make holy use of this unwelcome time, going deep in our reflection, going wide in our concern, going carefully in our ministry.
 
Thank you for the work of healing grace that you offer in this time, in your community, leading your church.
 
With gratitude to God for all our life together,
Hope Morgan Ward
References from "John Wesley on Holistic Health and Healing" by Randy L. Maddox, William Kellon Quick Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Duke Divinity School, available online.