Grace and peace! We are almost into May, and it is a joy to see our world coming back to life as the trees and flowers burst forth in color. At the same time, we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Schools will be closed for the rest of the school year, and I have asked all of our United Methodist congregations to continue virtual worship through the month of May. This decision was reaffirmed by a statement released yesterday by state denominational leaders
in the Christian tradition.
Even though we all want to return to our churches and be a part of the body of Christ in person, it is more important to assure the health and safety of our communities from further infections. I encourage you to continue loving your neighbor, checking up on family, friends, neighbors, and church members, and participating in online worship. There are also ample opportunities to reach out to those who have lost their jobs or are suffering economically. I continue to be blessed every Sunday by online worship with our UM congregations around the state.
I’d love to share a few inspirational, good news stories with you. Pastor Peggy Ellingson of Webster City Faith
United Methodist churches in the North Central District, applied for a grant through UMCom.org for a year-long subscription to Zoom. This will help the congregations commit to providing an experience of worship through social media into the future. There are other types of grants available to support churches that want to create a website or upgrade technology.
On a recent Friday, a tremendous group of Grace Ottumwa
volunteers in the South Central District gathered to prepare meals for kids in Ottumwa who depend on school lunches to keep from going hungry. Thank you, Pastor Chris Childs and congregation, for sharing God’s love and provision with these precious children!
At St. Paul’s UMC in Cedar Rapids
(East Central), church committees met early on to determine priorities and shift their focus to meet them. They have sent all-church communications by mail and will continue to communicate by email and snail mail for those they have identified who are without email. Leaders have worked diligently to create systems of care within existing spiritual formation groups and shift the focus and practice of their “friendly visitors” ministry.
In regard to reaching out to care centers, members are delivering dvds to one care center and are connecting with chaplains and activities directors to make church materials available to them. Church leaders continue to stay open to new opportunities and best practices as the days go on. Thank you, pastors Sherry Ilg and Jonathan Heifner
I’d like to share two more stories from the mainstream media that have touched me. One story showed two young women playing excellent tennis across the rooftops of a city in northern Italy. But here’s the catch. They were each on the top of high buildings that were separated by a street. So, instead of hitting the ball over a net, they had to hit the ball across the street onto the roof of the other building. I was utterly amazed at how long they could keep up the rally. Of course, when the rallies used up all the balls, one of the fathers gathered them up from the ground street, and they would start over again.
There is one last story that I saw several weeks ago on the evening news that touched me deeply. A 99-year-old World War II veteran in England raised $36 million dollars for workers in the U.K.’s National Health Service during the coronavirus pandemic. With the help of a walker, Tom Moore
completed 100 laps in his backyard, which is 25 meters (82 feet) long.
Moore wanted to walk the distance before turning 100 years old on April 30, (which is this Thursday) and completed the challenge well ahead of time by walking ten laps a day. He decided to take on the challenge after receiving treatment for skin cancer and a broken hip, praising health-care workers for their “patience” and “kindness” in a TV interview.
I want to thank each one of you for your patience and kindness during this time of quarantine. We are truly making a difference in unique ways that we could have never imagined before COVID-19. Stay strong, stay connected to God and each other, stay faithful, and God bless you!