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As we approach one year since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of our world and forced churches to rethink how we worshipped together, it’s important to remember that, even though encouraging news has been coming out lately about the fight against the virus, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.
With that in mind, Bishop Mueller is issuing reinforced guidance on how United Methodist Churches in Arkansas should participate in the upcoming Ash Wednesday holy day.
In order to continue to keep everyone safe from the virus, Bishop Mueller is recommending that local churches provide individual units of ashes for online, drive-through, or in-person Ash Wednesday Worship Services. However, no one – including the pastor – should impose ashes on anyone else.
Individuals should administer their own ashes as the pastor offers the appropriate words of imposition, in order to reduce physical contact between the pastor and the person receiving ashes.
Additionally, everyone must wear masks correctly, maintain 6 feet of social distancing and wash hands frequently for every in-person gathering.
Bishop Mueller will also be offering a special virtual Ash Wednesday service for clergy that will be streamed through Zoom.
“We have been separated by so much this past year it’s no wonder many of us are experiencing a deep sense of loneliness and isolation in our lives and our ministry,” Bishop Mueller said. “Those of us who are leaders – whether we are lay supply, local pastors, provisionals, elders, deacons or retired – can do nothing more important than gather together to worship so we discover anew that we are never alone.”
The service will take place at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
“I can think of no place I would rather be to begin this Lenten Season than with those of you who are my colleagues in ministry as we experience together the powerful reality, “From dust we have come and to dust we will return; repent and believe in the Gospel,’” Bishop Mueller said.