Thank you to the clergy and lay leadership of the Heritage District churches for your receptivity to Bishop Hope’s email last week, and my follow up phone calls made last Thursday and Friday. This is an unprecedented situation. We’ve closed our church doors because of snow or in the aftermath of natural disasters, but this is something we have not seen before.
When a crisis occurs, the natural response of people of faith is to gather together to worship God, to draw strength from their community of faith (Hebrews 10:24-25). But actions taken now may protect and save lives not only within our church family but the communities in which we live and serve. John Wesley’s General Rules for Methodists were to – “Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.” As we heed recommendations of government officials at both the state and federal levels, we are loving God, loving neighbor, and trusting that we are doing our part to slow the rate of the transmission of COVID-19.
Please be attentive to communication received from the NC Conference over the next several weeks. We will provide updates as deemed necessary. The recommended suspension of public worship through March 22 may very well be extended by the time you read this. Last week we also offered advice for the continued meeting of small groups essential to well-being – that we be vigilant that such groups meet in cleansed spaces, that they practice social distancing and are especially mindful of those who are older or otherwise medically vulnerable. Yesterday new recommendations discouraged any gatherings of more than 10 persons. How we deal with COVID-19 is a moving target. For the good of all, please heed new recommendations.
This past Sunday many churches in the Heritage District and the Conference offered worship or devotions through “streaming”, live feeds, or other social media methods. In some parts of the district, this is may not be possible. Be creative. Think of ways you can connect with one another without being physically present with one another. That’s why God invented the telephone! Some suggested “phone trees” as a way to connect with every member during the week. It’s an old method, but it still works!
With some creativity, we may also find ways to do community outreach. In response to school closings and mindful of how that would impact students who receive free breakfast and/or lunches, one Heritage District church with a large food pantry posted a sign outside that read—“FREE FOOD FOR KIDS… MONDAY—FRIDAY… 11-12 AND 5-6… TIL WE RUN OUT.” There are other ways we may find to step up. Please feel free to share them with me. God will be pleased with every effort made by the Church to shine the light of Jesus Christ in a wounded and fearful world in the grips of this crazy pandemic.
With gratitude for each of you and our shared ministry,
Heritage District Superintendent