How is SUMC responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

May 27, 2021


We are excited to announce that next Sunday, June 6, we will return to worship inside our sanctuary!
All are invited to come as they are able.  For anyone unable to join in-person at this time, we will continue to offer a livestream.
What will worship look like?  Following the latest CDC guidance, anyone who is fully vaccinated will be able to worship without a mask.  We fully respect and honor a decision to continue wearing a mask.  We ask that everyone give grace and understanding to their brothers and sisters in Christ as we each determine our comfort level in this new setting.  We ask that those who are unvaccinated continue to wear a mask at this time.  We will still have physical distancing requirements in place, such as in restrooms.  We won’t be able to physically pass the peace of Christ yet either.  But we will continue to embrace each other in community in all the ways we can.
Will we be able to sing?  We are still awaiting Conference guidance on congregational singing.  At this time, we will not be joining our voices together.  Jason will continue to offer gifts of music until we can outwardly lift our praise.
What if I’m not feeling well?  We ask that everyone self-screen and stay home if you are not feeling well or have any symptoms.
What if I’m not yet ready to return to worship in the sanctuary?  We will continue to offer a livestream option which is also viewable anytime after worship.  Haven’t subscribed to our channel yet?  CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE and you will be notified when we go live and when we post new videos.
Questions?  You can email or or call 509-332-5212 and we will get you answers.

March 12, 2021 Update

An Update from the Committee on Reentry (aka Reimagining Life Together)

We are closely monitoring information from the state, county and the Bishop and her cabinet about reopening for Sunday worship.  We are not there yet, but we believe that we will be soon.  Please note that we are required to make a determination about in-person worship each Monday based on metrics at  If those metrics show a risk assessment of yellow or green then we are allowed to hold in-person worship for up to 25 people. If those metrics show a risk assessment of orange or red, we will notify members that we WILL NOT be holding in-person worship the following Sunday.  This indicator has been moving between orange and red over the last several weeks.  Look for updates about in-person Sunday worship in the weekly email and on the church website.



February 10, 2021 Update

Church family –  

On January 11, the state of Washington issued very specific “Religious and Faith-Based Organizations COVID-19 Requirements” for worship gatherings.

Our own SUMC Committee on Reentry has reviewed these requirements and found that our existing plan is well-aligned with this new information.  However, there are a few areas that our Plan, the state requirements and the guidance from our Pacific Northwest Bishop and Cabinet are inconsistent.  For this reason, we have elected not to amend our plan, but to append the recently issued state requirements to our local church’s plan.  We will continue to monitor guidance from the state,  Conference and our District Superintendent and modify our Plan as necessary as we approach the time when we can re-open our building for worship and other church activities.

 If you have questions about out Reentry Plan, please feel free to contact one of our Committee members:

Carrie Coen

Alice Davis

Tim Lewis

Pastor Lesli McGowan

Jean Logan

Jeannine Rembert

Dec 3, 2020 Update

Our Bishop, Rev. Elaine Stanovsky, has issued additional information regarding reopening our church for in-person worship and ministry.  In the form of an Addendum, she has issued a “Phase 2.1 – an Option within Phase 2”.  

The primary change is that in-person, indoor gatherings of up to 25 persons are permitted.  This is an increase from the previous Phase 2 guidelines of 10 people maximum.  The Addendum requires that county level data available at be used for decision-making AND that data be used every Monday morning to review whether a congregation would stay in Phase 2.1 (25 persons) or revert to Phase 2 (10 persons).  This database uses a color scale (green, yellow, orange and red) to connote risk-level to determine if larger in-person meetings are warranted.  At present, we in Whitman County do not qualify.

The Addendum also highlights Additional Considerations, such as the impact that larger, and perhaps, multiple, weekly gatherings would have on staff and leaders.  It also points out that frequent moves between risk-level could create challenges with communication to the congregation and additional work for our staff and leaders if they shifted between in-person and virtual meetings while still providing virtual access for those that do not want to meet in person.

The Simpson UMC Committee on Re-entry continues to meet regularly (approximately every 3 weeks) to review current information and determine what adjustments might be needed to the Plan that was completed in July.  The Committee met on Nov. 17, reviewed the Bishop’s Addendum and determined that no change to the existing written Plan was warranted at this time.  Several factors were considered, including our congregation demographics, the high quality of on-line worship that Pastor Lesli, Ryan and Jason are producing and the current of Covid-19 activity level in Whitman County.

If any member of the congregation has questions about our Re-entry Plan, please direct them to Pastor Lesli who will take them to the Committee’s next meeting.

Jean Logan & Committee on Re-entry

July 31, 2020 Update

 Our plan for re-entry phases 3 and 4 has been approved by our District Superintendent.  We will continue to update you on any changes.  If you have any questions or concerns, please email or call 509-332-5212. 

Here is the latest version of our approved re-entry plan, dated July 24, 2020.

Simpson UMC Re-entry Plan: July 24, 2020

July 26, 2020 Update

The committee formed to reimagine life at Simpson UMC and formulate a plan for reentry into the building has been hard at work.  As of June 16, 2020, we are in Greater NW Phase 2.  The building remains closed to all but staff and essential ministry activities.  A chart of the phases as designed by the Greater Northwest Area is available below and more information can be found on their website at  Our plan for phases 3 and 4 is currently awaiting approval from our District Superintendent and will be made available here as soon as possible.  More information to come.  If you have any questions or concerns, please email or call 509-332-5212.

20200602 Reimagining-Life-Together chart

Committee for Safe Re-entry

  • Ann Williams
  • Jean Logan
  • Carrie Coen
  • Karen Garrett
  • Tim Lewis
  • Jeannine Rembert
  • Pastor Lesli McGowan

Letter from the Committee: June 22, 2020

To our beloved members of Simpson United Methodist Church,

 We hope you are all safe and doing well during these challenging times.  The re-entry committee has been very busy crafting a re-entry plan for Simpson.  The next page lists the 4 phases that have been determined by our Bishop.  While you will notice some similarities, the phase process set forth by the Bishop is independent of the Governor’s process, and will move at a pace appropriate for the safety of the conference and, specifically, Simpson UMC.

As of June 16, 2020, our bishop has allowed congregations that have a satisfactory plan on file to move to phase 2.  Each District Superintendent is responsible for approving plans by each individual church within their jurisdiction, and our draft plan for Phase 2 was approved by our Superintendent, Rev. Gregg Sealey.  You will notice that there is not a lot of difference between phase 1 and phase 2.  For the most part, our staff will continue to work from their homes. Maximum group size has increased from 5 to 10.  Some committees would be allowed to meet in person but we advise that committees should still choose to meet virtually to keep contact to a minimum.  Note that the Safety Actions in Phase 2 require that meetings in the church building require face coverings, hand hygiene, and physical distancing.

Your re-entry committee still has a lot of work to do before we can finalize our plan and have phase 3 and 4 approved by the district superintendent.  We are reimagining every piece of our church’s ministry to evaluate what we need to do to reopen our church while taking as many precautions as we can to keep people safe.  That being said, just because we have a plan to go to phase 3 or 4 does not mean we will go into those phases immediately.  We have to be convinced we have done everything to live John Wesley’s three simple rules:  Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God.

When we are able to participate in corporate worship together, it will look very different.  Your re-entry team is evaluating each and every detail of our services looking through the lens of “Do No Harm”.  Please remember this when we are together in worship.  Some of these changes may be temporary, some may be permanent. 

We ask your patience as we continue our work.  We also ask for you to lift us up in prayer; that we will gain clarity as we work through the details, and act with love and care in deciding when Simpson is ready to move into phases 3 and 4.

Lastly, we have attached a survey to this note.  Your needs are the most important part of our decision making process, and will be taken into account as we understand the greater needs of the whole of the Simpson community. As such, we encourage your feedback through this survey.  If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the members of the re-entry team listed below.

You are missed and loved, and we cannot wait to be able to worship safely together. 

God Bless,

Pastor Lesli McGowan

Carrie Coen

Karen Garrett

Tim Lewis

Jean Logan

Jeanine Rembert

Ann Williams


Masks required

Anyone entering the church building is required to wear a mask and follow physical distancing guidelines.

Sign in and Disinfection Requirements

We are asking everyone that enters the building to attest that they are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and to provide contact information if contact tracing by the Health Department is necessary. All touched surfaces need to be disinfected with provided resources.

Worship Online and Virtual Gathering

We are continuing to provide online worship experiences.  We are also working to offer more virtual gatherings, from ice cream socials to prayer gatherings, to ensure the spiritual, emotional, and mental well being of our community.