What We Can Do as the Church in the Midst of COVID-19

 

Dear Church family,

This is your one-stop place for information about what is going on in our church in the midst of our challenging times. Here's the latest!

You can continue to support the church by giving online.

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There’s an old hymn of the church that reminds us: “The church is not a building; the church is not a steeple; the church is not a resting place; the church is a people.”  We all believe that, we all know that, but in a season of “social distancing” it can be really hard for us to remember what it means to be connected.  That, in many ways, is my worst fear. We need each other.  And we need the church.  The church will continue to be at work, being the hands and the feet of Jesus in this season, and we each can continue to do our part, and remember vows that we made upon our joining of the church.  We made those vows to God and to each other.  In this time, in this moment, we continue to need God and need each other.  I love our memberships vows of the United Methodist Church, and I believe that in this time, as we keep faithful with our prayers, presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness, these vows will hold us together more and more.  I wanted to share with you some useful resources that can help you (and me) live into our calling in this (and every) season. 

This will be a growing list in for the days to come – Andy

Prayers

  • Methodist Prayer is one of my favorite tools for prayer.  This website will help you pray throughout the day.  I have found that this deeply strengthens my prayer time.
  • Our Rooted in Christ Daily Reading Guide will be continuing.  Join us as we read through the scripture together as a church family!
  • Net Bible is one of my favorite tools for both personal study and sermon preparation.  I know you’ll find it to be very helpful. 

Presence

  • You can worship with us every Sunday through our St. Matthew’s Live Steam.  Visit our site and you can worship with the most recent week’s service, as well as previous week’s.
  • You can click here get each week’s sermon as a podcast
  • Keep checking in for additional Facebook and YouTube Bible studies and other video offerings.
  • If you’ve not done so, go like our St. Matthew’s Kids Facebook page.  Kate will be sharing great resources for families and children during this season.  Be sure to check out this new tool!

Gifts

  • You can continue to support the church by giving online. The ministries of the church will continue, and we continue to need your gifts.  Giving a vital part of the worship experience, in fact in some of the oldest services, the offering was after the sermon, as a response. I encourage you to visit here and make a onetime act of worship through giving or set up a recurring offering. 

Service

  • One of the best bits of advice I was given when I was young in ministry is what I have called the “Rule of Three.”  Each day try to make three contacts with someone.  A call. A text.  A note.  A visit.  In some way, seek to connect to at least three people a day.  This is going to be VITAL for our connection to be strong. We all need to check on each other. Pay attention to who God lays on your heart. Reach out them. Reach out to your neighbors.  Your Sunday School classmate.  Those in your small group. Those who sit on the pew by you or those who you drink coffee with.  Reach out.  Stay connected. Seek each day to connect to three different people. 
  • Our church will be continuing to serve. We will need people that are able to check on others. Deliver food.  Flowers.  To be present in times of need. Stay connected to us, and we will let you know where we specifically need servants.

Witness

  • There are many ways that you can be a witness to your faith in Jesus Christ.  First and foremost is your actual faith. In a world going crazy, the calm assurance of faith is something our world needs.  Live our faith in person and online in ways that point to our confidence in Jesus.
  • You can help within our local community.  Here in Madison, there are great resources like MadCAAP, as well as the Salvation Army, Stewpot Mission, and so many others.  Be attentive for ways that you can help at this time. 

Together, we are the church. And God will do great things in us and through us. 

Here is the announcement we made last week regarding worship in this season, check back here, and we'll keep you updated!

Remember, one of the common commands of scripture is to not be afraid (Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 43:10, Matthew 10: 31, just to name a few), but Jesus also tells us to be wise and discerning when making our plans ("For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28)

It is in that spirit of faithful discernment we have prayerfully considered what our upcoming schedule should look like.  After consultation with other churches within the Metro area, churches across our conference, and a variety of medical experts, as well as the recommendation from the Mississippi State Department of Health, we want to share with you some changes to our worship and ministry schedule for the coming weeks. 

  • In an abundance of caution and with the desire to be a good citizen within our community, St. Matthew's United Methodist Church will not be having public worship on March 15, 2020.  We will live stream my sermon along with some music by Tim Rigby and Jordan Gibbs at 10:00 a.m.  We will reassess future services and events early next week and let you know all that is planned.  Gather together at 10:00 in the morning with your family to worship together online at www.stmlive.org.

  • Under the advisement of medical experts, and after conversation with other churches, for the next two weeks we will not have our weekly Wednesday Night Live Meal or Adult Classes. We will be communicating with you more in the coming days about any changes in schedule for Children and Students.

  • Our church will continue to be open and continuing in ministry, and we need your continued support through your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.  In this season, we encourage you to consider using our online giving option to continue your support of our church and its ministries. You can give a one time gift or set up a recurring offering by visiting here - https://stm-umc.churchcenter.com/giving

  • Our team will be meeting early Monday to look at additional upcoming schedules and events, and we will be communicating with you regarding any upcoming changes to scheduling and ministries. 

As a church and a staff, we are attempting to live into faithful discernment and even before today’s events, I wanted to make you aware of a few changes we have already made to continue to keep all of us healthy:

  • Our custodial staff has been taking extra time and effort to deep clean: sanitizing door handles, water fountains, sinks, and other surfaces touched by multiple people throughout the week.

  • Earlier this week we had multiple new hand-sanitizing stations installed throughout the church, providing additional coverage across our campus.

  • We will be giving our pews a much-needed deep cleaning in the coming days.

Thank you for being a part of our family.  Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.  One of our primary concerns as a church (and me as your pastor) is your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  I know these temporary adjustments are different, but I know that they are just that – temporary. I know that we will fully continue in the robust life of our church in the coming days. 

In moments such as this, and many times in life, I think of Wesley’s great words of hope, “Best of all, God is with us” along with words of Julian of Norwich: “but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”  Have hope, have faith, have love. God is with us and all shall be well. I love you and love being your pastor!

Peace of Christ,

 Andy