Bishop Laurie and conference leaders are starting a short video series sharing how our connection is still strong even if we are not physically connected. It will begin on Wednesday at 2:00 pm. You can watch them on Facebook (@iowaumchuch)
or follow us on Vimeo (@iowaannualconference)
or bookmark this page
that will have all Caring Connections videos
. In addition, the Caring Connections podcast
will soon be available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and five other sites.
In the midst of our anxiety, we are not alone
Grace and peace! I’m Bishop Laurie, and I want to chat with you for a few minutes about what’s happening here in Iowa and around the world in regard to the Coronavirus Pandemic. As you may know, Governor Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency on Tuesday. This requires the closing of restaurants to the general public, except for carry-out, drive-through, and delivery. Health clubs, gyms, theaters and gatherings of ten or more people, including worship services, are prohibited until the public health disaster is over.
Listen to Caring Connections podcast
Our life as we have known it has changed for the foreseeable future, as many of us are now working from home, including me. Others have lost their jobs. It also means that our congregations can no longer gather in person, so we need to rely on livestreaming or even drive-in worship. I am so proud of how you are all stepping up, not only in learning different ways in which to worship but in how you are determined that no one in your congregation is going to fall through the cracks and that no one in your community will be forgotten.
Nothing like this has ever happened in my lifetime, and likely in yours as well. We are in uncharted territory for how to be the church in a new way. In the midst of our anxiety, however, we are not alone. We are all in this together, for, as the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, “You are the body of Christ and are parts of each other.”
For the foreseeable future, I will be sharing weekly thoughts and encouragement with you through video. The videos, which are called CARING CONNECTIONS, will be released every Wednesday at 2 p.m. through social media, the conference website, and email blasts. Every week we’ll also include several stories of how local churches are reaching out to each other and their neighbors. Our Iowa United Methodist response is three-pronged. Each District Superintendent will be naming chaplains to care for congregations and clergy in their areas. The second prong is the Office of Congregational Excellence and Leadership Excellence, which will be hosting regular webinars on topics of interest to clergy and laity. And the third prong is our conference and district lay leaders and UMW and UMM, who are also coordinating a response.
We also want to hear from you. Send us questions, comments, and stories about unique ways in which you are making a difference in your community right now. You can use this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am convinced, my friends, that through the Coronavirus Pandemic, we have an unprecedented opportunity to share our faith, become good neighbors, and reach out to all people with the love of Jesus in ways that we never dreamed before. This is our new reality not only here in Iowa but around the world. In the midst of struggles and uncertainty, I truly believe that this can be our finest hour as the church. God bless you.
Let us pray.
Oh dear God, we ask for your presence and the power of your Holy Spirit to move across the face of our world right now, in a time of great fear and uncertainty, calm our minds and our spirits and our hearts. We turn to each other, and reach out into our communities, whatever way we can and express the love of Jesus in tangible ways.
Oh God, we love you and we pray that we might be instruments of your grace and your mercy, and your hope for our world. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.