Last week, when I watched coverage of the governor closing all schools in Michigan for three weeks, my heart sank, and I began to pray about whether our church should close, too. I had already heard of other United Methodist Churches in our area that had decided to close for the rest of March. I reached out to a couple of our folks and asked them to pray about this decision, too. After taking the time to pray, we had agreed to hold our worship services. Then, our bishop asked all of our UM churches in Michigan not to hold worship services, bible studies, or any other meetings in our buildings through the end of the month.
When I spoke the words over the phone, “the bishop has asked us to stand down,” I got choked up. When I saw the slide on our digital sign out front indicating we were not holding any meetings in our building, I got choked up. My emotional response to standing down also caused something to well up inside me.
The truth is, WE ARE STILL THE CHURCH! Our worship of God is still happening. Sermons are still being prepared and shared (although in a different format). Our food pantry is still open and seeing a larger number of folks coming for food. Some of our bible study classes are getting creative and finding new ways to meet virtually.
If anything, I believe the world needs the church even more in times like these. We just have to be creative about how to be the church at a time when we can’t gather in groups. One innovative idea of being the church (which many folks have been inspired with) is to have a group of people who will call other folks of the church each week to inquire of how they are, ask about prayer needs, as well as other needs. We anticipate having this calling ministry up be the end of this week. I know there are other creative ways we can be the church for one another and our community. I invite you to share them with me.
Our church office is open. If you need to reach me, my cell phone is still the same: 810-650-0917. If you have a prayer request, please reach out. If you need someone to bring you groceries or other supplies, please reach out. Also, if you are on Facebook, please look at my page, as I am posting a new scripture each day to encourage us in these days.
Not gathering as we usually do is hard for all of us. I know you feel it too. I found these words from Bishop Bryan of the South Georgia Conference helpful:
- Our physical doors may be closed, but our church is not.
- We are loving our neighbors by protecting our neighbors. By practicing social distancing, we are protecting those who are most vulnerable.
- We are not being fearful. We are being responsible; we have a role to play in defeating this virus.
- This is what love requires of us in this season. We want to love our neighbors and be Alive Together in Witness in the face of a major social need.
Grace and Peace,