stan-w500h500

Dear Lovers Lane UMC Family,

I am writing to communicate with you regarding two important matters

  1. Our COVID-19 response and resuming of in-person worship, and
  2. The recent weather damage at our LLUMC and Walnut Hill Church campuses.

COVID RESPONSE AND WORSHIP INNOVATIONS

First, it is with great joy that we announce that on Sunday, March 7 we will resume in-person worship services. The COVID-19 statistics have dramatically moved from a “high” in mid-January of 213 weekly deaths in Dallas County and record hospitalizations, to having numbers lower than we have seen in several months. This is largely due to good social distancing practices, people getting vaccines, and those who have had COVID and now have antibodies. We are thankful for this positive movement, but we must continue to be vigilant and responsible.

Nearly one year ago, on March 14, 2020, we were mandated to close our in-person worship services due to the COVID-19 outbreak. At that time, we began online streaming of our worship services at a new and enhanced level, at Lovers Lane and at Walnut Hill Church. On October 11, 2020, we resumed in-person worship, while still offering six online worship services at Lovers Lane and one at Walnut Hill, where we also started meeting in the parking lot.. I know of no other UMC congregation that has streamed seven weekly worship services, and I am thankful for the way the staff and volunteers have helped to make these services meaningful and the quality exceptional.

In December, we started having outbreaks of COVID among the staff and our families. There were eight total virus cases, including Tammy and me. There was a noticeable rise in the number of members whom we knew had Coronavirus and an increase in deaths within our congregation as the Thanksgiving surge was leading us to what would surely be a worse surge after Christmas. This caused us to make the disappointing decision to cease in-person worship, do Christmas Eve online and continue online only until we could see a noticeable change in the Coronavirus statistics.

We have done surveys and regular assessments of class and group members regarding their readiness to return to in-person worship. We have heard from some who have been upset that we have not been worshipping in-person. Please realize we have made these calls based on data, governmental advice, and UMC Conference consultation. We take all of these matters seriously and we prayerfully make decisions to protect you and others. We would not be resuming in-person worship if we did not believe we can do so responsibly and safely. These safety measures will only work if those of us who gather follow them and adhere to the socially distancing guidelines we have outlined; just as we all did so successfully last fall. We are extremely ready to bring members of the congregation together again for safe worship and fellowship.

Please see below for our in-person and online worship times as well as the steps we are taking to keep everyone safe.

WINTER STORM DAMAGES ON CAMPUSES

The historic freeze hit us hard, but we feel very fortunate to have our damages isolated on all three of our Lovers Lane UMC campuses—Lovers Lane at Inwood Road, Walnut Hill at Marsh Lane, and 723 on Fort Worth Avenue in West Dallas. First, the great news—723 had no issues related to the freeze.

Lovers Lane had virtually no damage inside our buildings, nor was there damage at the CSD or Copeland House. Our major damage was in the central plant with the freezing of equipment that shut down our HVAC for much of the campus. It happened later in the freeze event; therefore, the buildings did not get extremely cold nor did we lose power. Our facilities team, headed by Rusty George, did an incredible job of getting a quick response and assessment of our damages. A plan was developed to address these matters to keep Wesley Prep on schedule and the few other on-campus activities continuing. Repairs are costly and some are not covered by insurance, most of the freeze issues at Lovers Lane were repair in nature.

Walnut Hill had considerable damage due to breaking water pipes in the ceiling of the buildings. Quick response and clean-up kept this situation from getting worse. Scott Luginbill and the facilities team worked tirelessly to make sure we had a plan and getting the damages addressed. The Creative School was able to open on schedule uninterrupted. Those in the office area that was damaged, were successfully relocated as cleanup commenced immediately. Walnut Hill will have repairs and damages that the insurance will help with.

All in all, preliminary cost assessments to LLUMC, beyond insurance assistance, could be six figures. Whereas this is not good news, the news could have been so much worse and we are thankful that we dodged most of the disruption issues for our schools and day-to-day activity.

Thanks for all you do for our church and your prayers for our staff, ministry, and outreach. It will be good to be back together in-person for worship. Easter is coming!!!

Grace and Peace,
Stanley R. Copeland

mar7return-1x1-v3

REOPENING SAFETY PROCEDURES

  • Masks: Per CDC guidelines, all attendees will be required to wear masks while in the building.and when gathering in outdoor spaces.
  • Social Distancing: Seating will be marked in the sanctuary and chairs will be set in Asbury to provide safe social distancing. Greeters will guide worshippers to their seats. Attendees are asked to practice safe social distancing in all other areas of the campus as well.
  • Communion: We will celebrate Communion on March 7 in a safe way using elements that have been carefully prepared and individually packaged by our staff.
  • Registration: Attendees will be asked to register their attendance at the entrance to each worship space to provide the ability for contract tracing in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 infection.
  • Parking Lot: We will ask each service to park in designated parking lots, but, we will be flexible in our expectations that congregants may not follow those directions. See assignments below
    • Thrive: 9:30 a.m.
      Park and enter in Entrance A (by the welcome desk)
    • Crosswalk: 11:00 a.m.
      Park and enter in Entrance A (by the welcome desk)
    • Traditional: 11:00 a.m.
      Park and enter in Entrance C (by the Spire)
    • Zimbabwe: 11:00 a.m.
      Park and enter in Entrance B (by the Shepherds Garden)