Dearly Beloved of God,
In many of his letters, Paul greeted to the new testament churches in a way that bears remembering. Paul addressed his letters to “the church” or “to the saints.” The lyrics of a hymn remind us, “The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple … The Church is a People!” Paul’s greetings and those lyrics are ever true. Alas, right now, we are not gathering to worship The Lord. Nevertheless, we remain His people called in this area to His mission. Let us not forget our mission to disciple persons to follow Jesus. Now we have an opportunity to impact people in ways we didn’t even imagine just 2 weeks ago!
The decision to not hold services on March 15 was not easy. The many discussions that were held, and text messages that were exchanged, and prayers that were lifted for guidance all contributed to the decision. There were many factors involved, not the least of which was protecting those in our area who are in high-risk groups. For those over 64, the mortality rate seems to be between 1.5% and 4.7%. In our congregation that would be 1-5 people potentially lost due to this virus. So, we pray you see the wisdom in our decision not to meet.
As many of you know, the situation with COVID-19 is a constantly developing situation. We asked for your patience last week and you obliged. We are thankful to you and to The Lord for that patience. In fact, we must complement you on your patience and the encouraging words which you have shared. Our church and denominational leaders, as well as our political representatives, are attempting to be proactive in this situation rather than reactive, although that isn’t easy given the nature of this situation.
Therefore, our Bishop has asked that United Methodist Churches in our North Alabama Conference not meet for worship on March 22 nor March 29. Therefore, right now, our plans are to not meet for corporate worship for the next two Sundays. Should circumstances change, we will continue to keep you informed. This is a considered request based on assessments by medical and community representatives.
Gathering for worship at 127 Church Street is what we do on Sundays. Representing the Kingdom of God on Earth and effecting our community and culture is who we are. We do that best when we represent Christ’s heart for all people and take steps to protect the vulnerable of our community and congregation
This strange time in which we are waiting, and living is going to call for us to be creative. We do not want to lose touch with our church family. Right now, the staff and church leaders are developing creative responses: yet this is unprecedented territory in modern times. Nevertheless, please, if you have a need that someone else can meet, let us know. Call us, email us, reach out to us on social media. The information will be dispersed quickly to those who can respond, and a difference can be made. We need to know how we can minister to you and with you most effectively. Let us live into these opportunities to witness and testify to the awesome God who sits on His throne and numbers each of us as His child. Our lay leader Billie Goodson is putting together a lay ministry response team for those who need errands run. Another e-mail will be sent out shortly about that.
So, dear saints, we will continue to reach out. Since, for a brief time, we cannot meet for worship at our church building, we shall yet be the church. Check on your neighbors. Disseminate accurate information about resources that people in the community might need. Pray. Serve. And wash your hands. Let us be the church and never fear.
Grace and Peace,
Trav Wilson, Pastor
Billie Goodson, Lay Leader
Doug Smith, Chair of Church Council