A message of hope from Dr. Tim Bruster, Senior Pastor.
In light of escalating COVID-19 cases and hospital occupancy, and in consultation with public health officials, our FUMCFW clergy and program staff made the decision today to go back to online-only worship, meetings, and ministries.
It’s important to note that this request that churches return to online worship only comes to us from Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley who has urged churches to take action now because our county has moved into what he calls “dangerous territory” and are venturing even further into the uncharted spread of COVID-19 throughout the coming holiday season.
This information was reported in the FOX4 News article by Dionne Anglin titled, “As COVID-19 cases surge, Tarrant County judge urges churches to stop meeting in-person for churches to go back online and for civic groups to stop meeting in person.” The frustration of Judge Whitley and others is that because Governor Gregg Abbott eliminated local control of these policies, Judge Whitley, who last spring was charged with this decision making, other local officials, and local public health officials can now only urge and try to convince people to follow their closure recommendations with no authority to enforce them.
“As a leader in our community it is important for FUMCFW to step up and comply with this request to become a part of the messaging urged by Whitley and public health officials for everyone to stay home as much as possible,” says Dr. Tim Bruster, FUMCFW Senior Pastor. “Working together and with public health officials we can make a difference by not contributing to this unprecedented spread of the virus.”
Dr. Bruster is quick to point out, however, that the well-thought-out and executed safety protocols put into place to allow First Church to resume in-person worship in October created a low risk environment. “The recent change in the case counts and available hospitals plus a variety of other factors in the Fort Worth and Tarrant County community that we’ve been watching very closely with public health officials tell us clearly that the time has come for us to move from “low risk” to “no risk.”
“It is clear that while we had safety measures in place that will be reinstituted when the time comes to safely resume in-person worship, this is without question the right decision,” Dr. Bruster adds. “If it were within his power to do so, Judge Whitley would enforce this.”
Pointing to the dwindling number of available hospital beds in the wake of this recent dramatic uptick in cases, Whitley says that the worst culprit in this escalating spread is the coming holidays and families and friends getting together in groups. “Everybody needs to just try to tap the brakes right now,” he urges. He adds that by following these suggestions we can all help keep businesses and jobs intact while tackling the looming prospect of out-of-control holiday spread of COVID-19 in Tarrant County.