FMC Reopening & In-Person Worship Service Status

In consultation with FMC healthcare professionals and commission leadership, Trustees and Pastors have developed the FMC Reopening Plan. This document describes the minimum requirements for resuming various levels of in-person, indoor gatherings at FMC. Decision guidelines therein are anchored on a specific leading indicator metric published by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). An up-to-date summary of tracking information may be found in this post. As a transition between levels approaches, further communications will be provided.

FMC is currently at Level 2, meaning that indoor gatherings of over 10, with physical distancing and masks, are permitted. Individuals or groups wishing to make use of indoor facilities must have a representative receive approval from Trustees and clearance from the church office prior to meeting at FMC. The process is initiated by submitting this form. Additionally, in-person, indoor worship services have resumed. To reduce risk as much as possible, the FMC Covid-19 Readiness Guidelines have been jointly developed by the Pastors and Trustees, FMC medical professionals, the Worship Commission, the Faith Formation Commission, and the Facilities committee. Please familiarize yourself with this document and be prepared to follow practices described therein, which include, but are not limited to: wearing a mask at all times, maintaining a distance of 6 feet (between parties), and adhering to instructions posted in the building and communicated by organizers.

Contact email hidden; JavaScript is required if you would like a link to join our Sunday morning service virtually and/or to receive our weekly newsletter. The office can also put you in touch with FMC leadership if you’d like to raise questions or concerns about the Reopening Plan.

FMC Reopening & In-Person Worship Service Status

In consultation with FMC healthcare professionals and commission leadership, Trustees and Pastors have developed the FMC Reopening Plan. This document describes the minimum requirements for resuming various levels of in-person, indoor gatherings at FMC. Decision guidelines therein are anchored on a specific leading indicator metric published by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). An up-to-date summary of tracking information may be found in this post. As a transition between levels approaches, further communications will be provided.

FMC is currently at Level 1, meaning that indoor gatherings of up to ~10, with physical distancing and masks, are permitted. Individuals or groups wishing to make use of indoor facilities must have a representative receive approval from Trustees and clearance from the church office prior to meeting at FMC. The process is initiated by submitting this form.

Virtual-only worship services are once again in place while discussions surrounding future in-person gatherings occur. Contact email hidden; JavaScript is required if you would like a link to join our Sunday morning service virtually and/or to receive our weekly newsletter. The office can also put you in touch with FMC leadership if you’d like to raise questions or concerns about the Reopening Plan.

FMC Reopening Status and the Return of In-Person Worship Services

In consultation with FMC healthcare professionals and commission leadership, Trustees and Pastors have developed the FMC Reopening Plan. This document describes the minimum requirements for resuming various levels of in-person, indoor gatherings at FMC. Decision guidelines therein are anchored on a specific leading indicator metric published by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). An up-to-date summary of tracking information may be found in this post. As a transition between levels approaches, further communications will be provided.

FMC is currently at Level 2, meaning that indoor gatherings of up to 50, with physical distancing and masks, are permitted. Individuals or groups wishing to make use of indoor facilities must have a representative receive approval from Trustees and clearance from the church office prior to meeting at FMC. The process is initiated by submitting this form. Additionally, in-person, indoor worship services have resumed. To reduce risk as much as possible, the FMC Covid-19 Readiness Guidelines have been jointly developed by the Pastors and Trustees, FMC medical professionals, the Worship Commission, the Faith Formation Commission, and the Facilities committee. Please familiarize yourself with this document and be prepared to follow practices described therein, which include, but are not limited to: wearing a mask at all times, maintaining a distance of 6 feet (between parties), and adhering to instructions posted in the building and communicated by organizers.

Contact email hidden; JavaScript is required if you would like a link to join our Sunday morning service virtually and/or to receive our weekly newsletter. The office can also put you in touch with FMC leadership if you’d like to raise questions or concerns about the Reopening Plan.

Goering Wins Prestigious IU Teaching Award

Our own Beth Goering just won one of IU’s oldest and most prestigious teaching awards. Known as the Herman Fredric Lieber Memorial Award, it was established in 1960 to recognize faculty who are not just excellent teachers, but who also show evidence of having made a profound impact on learning and having had a life-changing influence on students over time.

Beth won the award for on-going engagement in curriculum and course development in Communication Studies, at the departmental, university, and national levels. She was part of a nationally chosen 30-mermber team to define learning outcomes in her discipline. Her abiding interest in sound pedagogy is coupled with her dedication to mentoring undergraduates as well as graduate students. In her long career (32 years at IUPUI!), Beth has also been able take her teaching across town, engaging her students in service-learning work with organizations such as the Peace Learning Center and Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigrant Services, as well as across the ocean, regularly working with students in Germany and Russia.

Beth’s department chair, Kristine Karnick, affirms: “Her successful implementation of policies based on her excellence in teaching extend well beyond her department, to the School of Liberal Arts, the IUPUI campus, as well as nationally and internationally.”

Our best congratulations to you!


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Editor’s Note

Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.


Romans 12:2 (CEB)

Pondering a theme for this most unusual year, the MennoExpressions team observed that the pandemic continues to transform our lives in myriad ways. However, in exploring our topic, it is clear that even in more ordinary times, if those exist, the changes and progressions in life and nature around us continue a never-ending metamorphosis.    

Amazingly, flour, yeast and water can be blended and heated to create bread—a fragrant and delicious miracle.  Tiny tadpoles wiggle and grow as they sprout legs and finally jump from their pond as frogs. Fuzzy chicks peck their way out of an egg.  And a piece of lumber cut from a tree, can be transformed into a beautiful and useful new door, when the artist is skilled and diligent! 

As spring gains traction over winter, bulbs, bushes and trees awaken and bring color and fragrance to our yards and gardens. In Japan, celebrations accompany the bursts of cherry blossoms and include a special time of Hanami, or “flower viewing.” Friends and family gather outside to feast and drink under the trees, as they marvel at the transformation of barren branches into scented pink clouds in a floral sky.

This spring issue features photos and stories highlighting our FMC high school seniors, who are to be celebrated for perseverance as they complete their unique year! College and post graduate students will be awarded degrees, and receive congratulations on their years of diligent study! The pandemic transformations in education have been consequential for teachers and students, so we have included views into the experiences of children, as well as university professors.

Magnolia tree in bloom

Our writers share remembrances and images of family gardens, deep ancestral ties, and changes to life and cooking.  Looking back at winter thoughts of an icy reservoir accentuates the vernal changes as snowy days melt away. The promise of rebirth in the world around us is a metaphor for the joy and hope found in the resurrection of Jesus after the dark days and hard ground of Lent. To God be the Glory.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever!

Psalm 118: 1

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New Ways to Learn

Kids! Time to log on for Morning Meeting! Get to your stations!

Bare feet hit the floor running as breakfast is forgotten on the dining room table. The kids finger-comb their hair, still in their pajama bottoms. I hear the click-clack of frantically typed usernames and passwords. Lyra’s teacher begins roll call as Cody’s teacher blasts “Happy” and encourages the kids to dance. A couple of the 1st graders are asleep on their screens. One is hiding under her bed with stuffed animals–sneaking some Cheerios. I can hear Lyra’s teacher trying to remain patient as a student has internet problems, while yet another has to be reminded to “un-mute” for the hundredth time. I open my laptop and begin to answer work emails while the final, staticky chords of “Happy” are playing in the background. Cody’s teacher begins a lesson on the consonant blend “th”, and he is already trying to sneak a copy of Dogman under his Chromebook to read. So starts another day in virtual learning paradise…

When I look back on the almost seven months that our children participated in e-learning, it all feels like a bit of a blur. I would like to say that I was that Pinterest Mom who established a clear, calm routine to the days–with organic strawberries cutely arranged and fanned out after a leisurely morning walk/ “brain break.” But that would be a lie. I did take a stab at the scheduling thing and made a cute, colorful visual schedule that we sometimes used. I dug through closets and found some old sensory toys, and made the kids run up and down the hallway when they started to have what I refer to as “Zombie Eyes” from staring at their screens too long. On our better days, we took bike rides after lunch and enjoyed one another’s company between scheduled Zooms. On our worst days, we would all end up in tears and click our way to the “Stop Sign icons,” whether the work had been completed “correctly” or not.

Detailing the experience of e-learning for almost a year could literally constitute an entire novel, but I’m not going to do that here. I would, however, like to share some of the big take-a-ways for our family. After having lived through this experience with my children, here’s what I know for sure:

  • Teachers had to completely reinvent their profession this year–whether they were internet savvy or not. It wasn’t always pretty, but they leaned into the discomfort because they love their students and failing them was not an option. 
  • Children are resilient. If they are fed, loved, have a safe place to call home, and a semi-stable internet connection–they are going to be okay. They are equipped to not only survive this pandemic, but come out of it stronger, more creative human beings. 
  • Surviving this pandemic and wading through the e-learning experience with my children has made us closer. I gained a front row seat to their classes, peers, and teachers in a way that I will probably never experience again.
  • I have emerged from this experience with an even deeper appreciation for our public schools. While so many federal and state officials were throwing their hands in the air, wailing about the circumstances, our schools got busy feeding and supporting families.
  • Screens are great, but nothing can replace a real hug or in-person conversation.

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Reservoir Winter

I was awakened from my morning sleep by the red shouldered hawk

Shrieking and piercing my dream, ending the reverie with harsh abruptness.  

 

Compelled, I peeked out of the window to see the source, now gone, 

My eye drawn to the frozen lake below, half looking for her through the treetops. 

The chickadee, the downy and their various competitors skirted around the branches.

Geese and mallards lounged on and around a break in the ice.

 

Perhaps a coyote would be stalking her way to them over the water now hardened by days of frozen air.

The fox family who lives nearby might be foraging in the ravine, rust against white snow. 

Could the eagle be out for a morning glide? 

 

A day with possibility begins with thanks to the Maker for this display of nature,

And thanks to the hawk, for the call to observe.    

 

The reservoir in winter 2020

        


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Adventures in E-Learning: A Conversation with the Schmuckers

The Schmucker family has spent the entire past school year experiencing e-learning from home. Caitlin (3rd grade) and Nora (Kindergarten) attend an IPS district school that has swung between virtual and in-person options.The girls will remain virtual for the remainder of the school year. As with so many families, virtual learning has had many ups and downs, but the Schmucker family has also been able to find the silver linings.

Do you like e-learning/learning at home? If so, what do you like about it?

Caitlin I do like learning at home because on my breaks I can do whatever I want. And I like it because we have another good teacher (Mom).
Nora I like it because I can play with my toys on my breaks.
Mel We love being able to go on walks or play outside whenever we have some time between meetings.
Jason I’ve been working from home for a year now and it’s been nice to see Caitlin and Nora more often during the day.

You have been virtual learning for a long time now–has it gotten easier/more comfortable over time?

Caitlin It definitely has gotten easier. I know how to do things better and I know the routine.
Mel In some ways it has definitely gotten better as we’ve adjusted to the routines and expectations. There have also been challenges though when the school switched from virtual only to in-person learning – this has happened twice and each time it takes a couple weeks to adjust to the new schedules and routines (their teachers have to manage both the virtual and in-person students). The majority of the students did go back to in-person learning and it sometimes feels like the virtual learners are overlooked/pushed aside.

What has been hard about learning at home? What do you miss about in-person school?

Caitlin What’s been hard is that I can’t see my classmates in person. I miss my friends.
Mel It’s been hard for Nora (kindergartner) to make friends through the screen. It’s been challenging for me to be a surrogate teacher (teaching is so NOT my thing).

Have there been any funny/notable moments you’ve experienced while e-learning?

Caitlin One of my classmates always has the song Let it Go from Frozen playing in the background whenever we are meeting. It’s so funny!
Mel Nora’s teacher has three dogs and when everyone was virtual and she was teaching from home her dogs were constantly barking in the background.
Performing a lava lamp science experiment with colored water, oil, and antacid tablets.

Any other thoughts or memories you think you will remember from this experience?

Caitlin  I’ve had a lot of cool conversations with my teacher.
Jason I’ve enjoyed getting to observe more of their school days and get a feel for the ways they’re learning, much more than I can when they’re in person. I will always remember how much Mel stepped up to be the at-home teacher – she’s done so much good for our girls.

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From Standing in Line to Going Online

It is a bit after 7 am Monday and our granddaughter just arrived to “go to school”, from my home-office. She logs on; and there is the teacher. She thinks nothing of her phone, stylus pen, computer, or the technology needed for her to “go to school”– she is here to study.

Watching such huge transformation, my thoughts go back 20+ years when I was Indiana University’s guru for distance education charged to “develop pedagogical models and delivery methods for distance education.”

I traveled IU’s eight campuses presenting the advantages of technology-mediated education. Some faculty were willing; many had questions (read: objections). One faculty member (close to retirement) confessed, privately, he never learned to use overhead projectors, and didn’t want to learn this new stuff.

Their questions ranged from the extra work, no classroom, no eye contact, labs, glitches, etc.

A dedicated committee representing all eight campuses, co-chaired by two devoted deans, and IU President Myles Brand committing $1M toward distance education, launched the project. We issued a 36-page strategic plan, CHARTING A COURSE TOWARD AN INDIANA VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY.

Our main message: key ingredients of effective learning are a master, an engaged student, and time-on-task. Technology-mediated education provides both reach and richness.

So, what is different today compared to 20 years ago? A lot!

  • Today there is no need to convince anyone that teaching with technology is necessary – the global epidemic has done that for us.
  • The speed of technology adoption in teaching is unprecedented.
  • There is no distance education central office – everybody does it.
  • There is no strategic plan.
  • Teaching with technology is now in the mainstream of teaching and learning.
  • Faculty live with hybrid, synchronous, asynchronous, HyFlex, learning management systems, online discussions, online laboratory sessions, etc.
  • The reach is limitless.

I heard Greta playing her French horn. When asked, she says students play their instrument and no student hears the others unless we un-mute; the teacher is able to listen to all.  When asked about chemistry labs, she said the teacher tapes the experiments, we watch and write a report.

I asked Greta what she liked about on-line classes. “I like computers because I grew up with them.”

What did she not like? “No friends – but we get together on weekends”.

Distance education is in her DNA.

Technology-mediated education has transformed education forever. Students can balance duties with studies: family, work, pace of study, and relaxation. The reliability and ubiquitousness, the lower costs compared to brick-and-mortar learning, all have increased technology-mediated learning about five-fold since COVID-19 hit.

Students should keep these hints in mind:  

  • Connect with other students as much as possible either online or, if possible, face-to-face.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Start early, stay positive, ask for help, and don’t fall behind.
  • Stick to studies even if the doorbell rings; stay away from the refrigerator.
  • Observe online etiquette.
  • Remember, it is natural to feel anxious.

For faculty:

  • Interact with, and support students even more than in face-to-face settings.
  • When possible, keep sessions short and live.
  • Study current events such as coronavirus.
  • Without close and frequent supervision, students will fall behind.
  • Have tests monitored by a supervisor, parent, or make tests optional.   

We all live with transformations. Whether it is the change in seasons, the metamorphosis of a cocoon into a butterfly, or the transformation from in-person to on-line classes; all are transformations. In fact, life could not exist without transformations. Life is transformations, and transformations bring life. The opposite is a rock which does not change – and it does not live.

Acknowledgement: Written at the suggestion of E. Eric Boschmann, University of Denver.


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