Dear Church,

First, we would like to thank you for your patience and continued support these past 13 months.  We understand that it has been a very difficult year for all of us.  We are excited to share with you our plan for when and how we will be coming back together.  At this time, we are gathering outside (Phase 1) on Sunday mornings as long as we can continue doing so safely. 

As we share this plan with you, we would like you to know that it was a team effort.  It includes input from the following teams: Worship, Hospitality, and Church Leadership.  Together, we discussed the many issues involved in coming back together, including the current surge in cases, vaccinations, and the continued possibility of causing harm to others if we were to come together too soon. 

We are attaching a copy of our Re-Opening plan for you to have with you along with a copy of the rationale we are using to make these decisions.  This plan as well as the rationale will also be on our website for you to view.  We hope it will help guide you in understanding when and how we will be getting together for worship and other activities in the church building.

We continue to offer our thanks to you for your faithfulness throughout this season of disorientation.  May we continue to “Do No Harm” as we prepare for all that God has for us next.  If you have any questions, please contact either the pastor or one of these members of the Leadership Team: Doug Belles, Paul Sadowski, or Mike Moore Sr.  We will gladly be in conversation with you regarding your questions or concerns.


                                                            Rev. Melissa J. Claxton 

First UMC of Warren Re-Opening Plan

Entering the phases described below are dependent on the “Daily new cases per 100k population” number. The current status and the historical chart for that number can be found here:

Phase 1: Outdoor Worship—According to the CDC as well as state and local health officials, when Covid cases rise above 12 per 100K, the only safe place to gather is outdoors. We have also learned over the course of this past year that gathering outdoors for worship is an amazing and worshipful experience.  (We will be moving service to the front lawn on June 6th.)

When:  We will be offering outdoor worship (weather permitting) throughout the summer and until Covid cases in Macomb County fall below 6 per 100K (52 per day). 

            Rules for Outdoor Worship:

        • Members can either sit in their vehicles or outside.
        • FM transmitter will be used so that the service can be heard in the vehicle.
        • If sitting outside, please maintain physical distancing of 6’ from other members of the congregation that are not in your household bubble.
        • Masks must be worn when outside your vehicle.
        • Please, no handshaking or hugs (as much as we miss both.)
        • Bring your own chair if you can, but we will have chairs on hand if you can’t.

Phase 2: House Churches— When the Christian church first formed, they met in what was called Ecclesia or House Churches, small groups of people gathered together in homes.  When it is safe to do so and until it is safe for all of us to gather safely, we would like to form a couple of House Churches for those who may not feel comfortable worshiping outdoors.  These House Churches will be closed groups of 10 or few people and will allow for flexibility in worship time.  When the time comes, we will have room for two groups to meet in the building while outdoor worship is going on.  Worship would still be virtual, but you would be worshiping in community.

When:  House Churches can begin meeting when the daily number of covid cases in Macomb County fall below 50 per 100K (below 435 cases per day).   These groups will be able to meet even when outdoor worship is canceled due to weather.

Rules for House Churches:

      • Each group member must be fully vaccinated.
      • Each house church would be made up of no more than 10 people.
      • House church groups are closed groups. (This means that it would be the same 10 people worshiping together each week.  Others would not be able to join your group once it was set up.)
      • Masks would be required at all times.
      • Space would be set up to assure physical distancing of 6’.
      • No food or beverages.

Important Note:  We were reluctant to include a rule where members of these small groups needed to be fully vaccinated, but, according to the CDC, State, and Local guidelines, it is the only way to safely bring small groups of people together indoors. We continue to stand firm on our commitment to “Do No Harm” to the members of our faith community, the members of our greater community, and the doctors, nurses, and staff at our local hospitals.   

Phase 3: Indoor Worship—Throughout the pandemic, this has been the hardest to navigate, requiring us to make drastic changes in both the worship space as well as in the way we can gather.  We will outline all of this here:

When:  We will be able to gather together in the building when the covid cases in Macomb County fall below 6 per 100K (below 52 cases per day).    

            Physical Changes to the Worship Space:

        • Socially distanced seating with a majority of the pews removed from the worship space as well as setting up a second worship space in the Fellowship Hall.
          • Sanctuary seating ~ 18 family units
          • Fellowship Hall Seating ~ 20 family units
        • Touch-Free Hand Sanitizer stations inside both main entrances and just outside of the sanctuary.
        • Individual worship bags for each child present.
        • Nursery will be open for nurturing and fidgety kids with limited toys. It will not be staffed.  Physical distancing (6-foot) must be maintained.

Cultural Changes for our Community:

        • Masks worn at all times with the exception of those leading worship.
        • Each person/family will be asked to check-in/sign-in at the entrance to allow for contact tracing if an exposure is identified.
        • Offer a friendly head nod ~ Please, no hand shaking or hugs
        • No on-site children’s programing
        • Small groups will be able to meet on site with safety protocols in place
        • Onsite offering will be collected in drop boxes at the rear of the worship space
        • No congregational singing in worship at this time.
        • No bulletins, connection cards, hymnals, or Bibles provided.
        • Offering envelopes and prayer requests slips will be available in the Narthex and by the north entrance.
        • No Coffee Hour
        • Individual, pre-packaged elements will be used for Communion
        • A second worship space set up in the Fellowship Hall to accommodate physical distancing. If needed, we will set up a third worship space in the basement.
        • If you feel sick and/or are running a fever, please do not come to in-person worship.

Phase 4: Back to the new normal—We understand that this pandemic has changed our lives forever.   When we come out on the other side, we will need to discover a new “normal.”  Although we do not yet know what that new normal will be, we trust that God’s hands are at work in it. 

When: We will return to in-person, in-building worship when covid cases in Macomb County fall below 2 per 100K (below 16cases per day) for an extend period of time.

At this time, we will once again be able to sing together, enjoy fellowship with one another over a cup of coffee after worship, and all the many things we have missed this past year. 

Virtual Worship—As we lay out this plan, we want to stress the fact that virtual worship is here to stay.  Even after we are able to start gathering together in the building with few or no restrictions, we will continue to offer virtual worship.  This will allow us to connect with non-churched or nominally churched people in our community.  It will allow us to worship together even when we can’t be together due to travel or illness. 


If you have any questions, please contact either the pastor or one of these members of the Leadership Team: Doug Belles, Paul Sadowski, or Mike Moore Sr. 


                                                            The Church Leadership Team