What a wild week. Based on our conversations and social media, I have seen how hard the roller coaster of COVID-19 and the stock market has been on you, and the grace with which you have weathered it. I’m writing with an update about FUMC’s response.
First, our approach.
It is difficult to hold the tension of current events. From moment to moment, we can easily swing back and forth between fear and fatalism, panic and apathy. I believe our call is to live in the middle, which means living in the tension. While God assures us that we are freed from the need to let fear drive our lives, we still hold responsibility—both as individuals, and as a church family in partnership with our wider community.
We are making decisions with that responsibility in mind, along with our desire to serve, drawing on Paul’s admonishment to “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” This is a time for setting aside preferences and desires for the sake of the most vulnerable; many of you have had to adjust precious plans, vacations, and important events in order to be a “team player” as a member of the community. We will do the same as a church.
Here’s how that plays out as of today:
- We will cancel all public, in-person worship services for Sunday, March 15, and Sunday March 22. We are taking a creative approach to “gathering” the community for worship and prayer using technology. Several components:
- A live, interactive component | At 11:00 a.m. each Sunday while services are cancelled, you are invited to join the Pastoral Staff on a live video feed through Facebook Live. We will spend around 10-15 minutes together, with time that includes updates and announcements, an invitation to share prayer requests through chat and comments, and a time to pray together. The atmosphere will be warm and casual—we figure most of you will still be in your pj’s! If you’d like to join in, we invite you to make sure you have a candle nearby to light, remembering that we are always connected to one another through the light, who is Christ.
- An expanded podcast | For several years, our podcast has brought the scripture and sermon to the ears of many who have missed worship for one reason or another. For this season, we will expand that podcast to include musical selections and other elements of worship—a fuller worship experience. After you join us for the live portion of worship, we invite you to continue by listening to this worship podcast. The link to listen will be available at 8:00 a.m. each Sunday morning, and we will send it to you via email and make it available through various social media outlets and our website.
- For families with younger children | We’ve found a live resource for families to worship together from home. This is produced by Cokesbury, the United Methodist Publishing House and will happen live at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday. Click here to find out more and sign up!
- Feel free to share any and all of this with friends and relatives who are also unable to attend worship in the coming weeks. We will keep you updated about how long we anticipate having to shift to this format for worship. Keep an eye on your emails, and you can always check the website.
- The church office and buildings will be closed through March 22nd. We will not be holding in-person events, classes or meetings.
- We are working with class and group leaders to provide opportunities to meet electronically through Zoom, a platform that allows video conferencing with groups of any size. It’s fun and surprisingly effective! Be in touch with your group leader to see if your group will be using this tool. If you need to start your account, click here.
- We are making accommodations to serve our neighbors experiencing homelessness; our staff is in consultation with our ministry partners at Foundation for the Homeless and Mobile Loaves and Fishes to ensure that we can still provide for the needs of the most vulnerable without putting anyone at greater risk.
- The April 11th FUMC Community Easter Egg Festival has been cancelled in compliance with Capitol Grounds restrictions on large events, just released today.
Finally, what can you personally do during this time?
Think of it in terms of John Wesley’s Three General Rules…Do no harm, Do all the good you can, and Stay in love with God.
Do No Harm | Consider carefully the consequences of your actions during this time. Social distancing and good hand hygiene help everyone, not just you. While this may mean some inconveniences, it’s worth it!
Do All the Good You Can | Pray for the world, our leaders, and our neighbors! Check in with vulnerable neighbors, friends, and church members (and let the Pastors know if we can be helpful). Check on your Table for Eight! Keep up with your church giving so we can keep powering our mission through this crisis (Give online here or feel free to mail your check to the church).
Stay in Love With God | Watch your spiritual diet by ensuring that you are not just watching the news or Facebook/Twitter all day. Take time for prayer and meditation. Find the books, podcasts, conversations with friends, therapist, or loved ones who will help keep you connected with God and spiritually centered during this tough time. Find good reasons to laugh. Go for a hike and pick flowers. Watch a movie with Steve Martin in it–whatever works! We are working to give you great resources along the way—stay tuned.
Friends, we will get through this, and God has always been with us. I hope to “see” you in worship on Sunday.
With great love,