Updates from Hillside UMC 
on the Coronavirus & Campus Closings

[Released April 1, 2020]

In keeping with recommendations from government officials as well as the Bishop and Cabinet, the Hillside UMC building will be closed through April 30th.
[Released March 25, 2020]

Dear Church Family,  

Based on the following:
• Compliance with current Federal and State guidelines concerning the global and national Covid19 pandemic as articulated by the Governor of Georgia and the President of the United States
• Continued “Social distancing” requirements of groups no larger than 10 persons with 6ft of spacing between individuals.
• Cherokee County School Board plans for school to remain closed through Spring Break.
• The need to protect those in the church family and community who are most vulnerable to the virus:
-Senior Adults
-Those with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus, e.g., asthma, heart conditions, COPD, etc.
-Young children

The Executive Ministry Staff in conversation with Worship, Spiritual Formation, Guest Services, Mission and Administrative Staff recommends implementation of the following:
• The facilities of Hillside UMC to be closed through Easter Sunday 2020.
• Outreach ministries, e.g., Forever Fed, etc will continue to have access to provide ministry to the wider community with staff support and in accordance with state and federal guidelines.  
• Weekly worship services will continue to be developed for online worship.
• The pastors, worship leaders and production staff/volunteers are currently developing ONLINE worship experiences for Holy Week - Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday - and Easter Sunday using all of the church’s talent.
-We encourage worshippers to access the livestream of the ONLINE worship service at 9:30am on Easter Sunday through the church website or Church App rather than Facebook Live: www.hillsideumc.org/live.
-Note: We selected this time and option because so many other churches in our area and beyond are using FB live at the 11am hour, which has affected bandwidth availability and thus degraded the quality of the worship experience on FB Live.
• The EMT, Worship and Ministry staff and Leadership Council will continue to monitor and evaluate the issue of facility access, worship, etc., after Easter Sunday based on developments or changes in State or Federal guidelines.

Know that the health and welfare of our senior adults, our children and those with medical vulnerabilities is of utmost concern to us. We covet your continued prayers and support.

Rev. Herzen Andone, Senior Pastor, Hillside UMC
Mrs. Tina Kirkland, Laity Leader, Hillside UMC Leadership Council
[Released March 15, 2020]

Thank you all for your support and understanding as we’ve had to make some difficult decisions in just these last few days. But we are so thankful for technology where we can still gather and worship online together as a congregation. We want you to know that our decision to go fully digital for the next few weeks is simply a proactive measure to keep you safe; and to the best of our knowledge no one that’s been here on our campus is connected to any cases of the Coronavirus. We also want to respect those in governing authority over us as the Bible commands us in Romans 13. So with their recommendations to consider closing for our own safety, we will act as such.

With that being said, we want to give you some information regarding our campus closing and what that looks like for the next few weeks. We’ve had a lot of questions to come in and we want to hopefully clarify those and any other questions that you may have.

So our campus will be closed through Sunday, March 29th. At that time, we’ll re-evaluate whether we should extend that closing period or not. All updates will be released on our social media platforms as well as on our website.

The biggest question we’ve gotten so far about our campus closing is regarding our bible studies, classes, and groups that meet throughout the week on our campus. So if it is a Hillside generated group or study, we would encourage you to still meet, but at an off-site location if you are able.

If it is an outside group/organization that uses our facilities, those groups are still available to meet in our facility. If you are a part of one of those outside groups that meets onsite here at Hillside, please refer to your group leader or organization for any updates on meeting locations.

Our church offices will be closed during this time, and our staff will be working remotely through March 29. They will be available through email, if needed.

In the meantime, let’s continue to pray for the health of our friends, family, and community as a whole. And let us pray against the spirit of fear. Let this be a time where our faith is deepened, especially during this season of Lent. And in your prayer time this week, we encourage you to take a few moments and read Luke 12 where Jesus talks about the balance between preparedness and worry. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. So be comforted in knowing that He is with us and we have no reason to fear.
[Released March 13, 2020]

Dear family and friends,

We are writing to share that as of Sunday, March 15, 2020, Hillside UMC will be closed for our on-campus activities. Earlier this week, Governor Brian Kemp made the recommendation to consider the closing of schools and other large gathering entities such as faith organizations.

With the support of the Hillside UMC executive staff and leadership, this decision has been made solely as a proactive measure to do what is in the best interest of our church family, staff, and community at large. The Hillside Preschool & Academy has also implemented this for the safety of the students, families and community, and are acting in concert with the church.

Our campus will be closed through Sunday, March 29, 2020. An evaluation will then be completed to determine if the closing period should be extended. This is being done in an abundance of caution to keep people safe and to do our part as community citizens to slow down the progression of the Corona Virus.

However, we will still be offering online services for you on Sunday mornings through our online platforms. We will offer our normal Modern Worship service at 9:30am, but we will also offer our Traditional Worship service online at 11:00am.  You can tune into these services one of three ways: 1) Facebook LIVE, 2) directly through our website at www.hillsideumc.org/live ,  or 3) The Church app. We also invite you to continue your faithful and generous support of Hillside’s ministry and mission to the community by mailing your tithe and/or offering to the church, using electronic bill pay or giving online at www.hillsideumc.org/give .

Please continue to pray for our caregivers, health care professionals and those who are ill. In addition, we urge you to be in contact with our sisters and brothers to ensure that needs are being met and people are receiving the care they need. Thank you for your support and understanding in this matter. Please know that this decision was made prayerfully and with the health and safety of our whole Hillside UMC community. As our community and our world together face a new and unknown challenge, we believe it is more important than ever to be a beacon of hope through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rev. Herzen Andone, Senior Pastor, Hillside UMC
Mrs. Tina Kirkland, Laity Leader, Hillside UMC Leadership Council