I pray that this message finds you well at the start of a new week. I expressed in my Sunday morning message yesterday that the best way for us to navigate these fast-changing circumstances and to find our footing on this unsteady path is to remember that we do not walk alone. God goes with us—“The Lord is my shepherd…”—and we go together.
We received updated correspondence last week from Bishop Leeland of our Western NC Conference, and he has encouraged churches to continue to heed the recommendations of the CDC to cease public gatherings. You may see Bishop Leeland’s correspondence and a video message here. As we do our part to care for our community and remain physically distant at this pivotal time, I have communicated with Monticello leadership, and we have determined that it is best to cancel in-person worship for Sunday, March 29 and all other in-person ministry gatherings and activities through next week.
Once again, for this coming Sunday, March 29, we will plan for online worship at 10:00 a.m. here on Facebook as well as prayer and reflection at 5:15 p.m. (call-in/login information forthcoming). In this time of temporary distancing, you may mail tithes and offerings to Monticello UMC, 308 Island Ford Road, Statesville, NC 28625 or give online here.
We will continue to keep you updated about additional opportunities to connect and about future scheduling changes for our church. Watch your email, check this website, listen for phone tree calls, and keep up on Facebook. Please let us know of your needs or the needs of others. We are ready and able to respond as needed. As we go together with God into the days and weeks ahead, may we continue to pray for one another, for our community, for our church, for medical professionals, for educators, students, and families, for first responders, and for government leaders. Peace be with you.
In Christ’s love, Pastor Amy
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Good evening, Church,
This is a reminder that Monticello UMC will not have in person Sunday school or worship tomorrow, Sunday, March 15. In lieu of in person worship, we invite you to call in by phone tomorrow for a time of prayer and reflection at our normal worship time of 11:00 a.m. You may use the following access information in order to join the phone call tomorrow.
To dial in to the phone call, use this phone number: 425-436-6377
CALL IN AT 11:00 A.M. OR A FEW MINUTES BEFORE THAT TIME.
Once you have dialed that phone number, when prompted, dial this access code: 776284#
Once you are on the call, wait patiently until we begin. Anyone with a land line phone or a cell phone may participate in this call.
In these unprecedented times, please check on one another. Check on your neighbors. Call one another. Text one another. Stay connected. And receive this prayer:
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful and lift up all who are brought low that we may rejoice in your comfort, knowing that nothing can separate us from your love. In Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen. -Author Unknown
I look forward to sharing the time of prayer and reflection with you tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.
Grace and peace, Pastor Amy
Friday, March 13, 2020
Currently, the unfolding news regarding COVID-19 indicates that there are growing numbers of cases in North Carolina, now including counties adjacent to Iredell. Health officials are advising communities to limit gatherings and err on the side of caution so that social distancing slows the spread of this novel coronavirus. In light of these considerations, I want to update you about decisions related to Monticello UMC.
In a conference-wide email from our Western NC Conference on Thursday afternoon, Bishop Paul Leeland urged caution and recommended (in partnership with Bishop Hope Morgan Ward from the NC Conference) that all United Methodist churches in North Carolina suspend Sunday worship for the next two weeks. You may read the email here. In consultation with Monticello leaders, we have made the hard but necessary decision to suspend in person worship and all other ministry gatherings starting today through Sunday, March 22. We do not respond out of panic or alarm but instead with the hope that these proactive plans will work for good in our community to slow and even alleviate community spread.
Since we won’t be together for this temporary time, I encourage you once again to stay connected with one another. As the body of Christ, our lives are bound together in faith. Call one another. Text one another. If you lead a Sunday school group or other small group, keep in touch with folks in your group throughout the next two weeks. Check on your neighbors. And if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call me directly or the church office. We will be maintaining regular administrative duties next week but ask that we limit visitors into the church office. Please call, and Kallie will work with you, as needed.
At this time, Monticello Weekday Preschool and WW (Weight Watchers) are maintaining regular schedules in our church facility this weekend and this coming week. They are aware of recommended precautions and will implement them with care, and we will remain in close communication. If anything changes with WW and/or Monticello Weekday Preschool, we will let you know.
As we continue the day-to-day operations in the coming weeks, we are mindful that our regular opportunities for spiritual giving will be limited without Sunday worship. Some folks already give automatic weekly/monthly tithes online but many do not. So, we ask that you consider mailing the tithes and offerings you would typically give on Sunday directly to the church at 308 Island Ford Road, Statesville, NC 28625. Or you may give your tithe or offering directly online here. If you need assistance with this process, please don’t hesitate to call the church office.
In lieu of Sunday school and worship this coming Sunday, I will offer prayer and reflection in varying ways. Expect a phone tree call at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. We have thoroughly updated our phone number list for our congregation, so if you would like to connect on Sunday, expect a phone call. We will also post prayer and reflection by 11:00 a.m. on our website and our Facebook page. You can access the Facebook page here. You do not have to have a Facebook account to see posts from Monticello UMC.
As we watch the continued reports on COVID-19 by the WHO, the CDC, and the NCDHHS, I am reminded of our 2020 guiding scripture from Philippians 4:6—"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Being non-anxious can be challenging, especially when we are faced with looming uncertainty at a time such as this. I pray that even with real concerns we will hold firm to our hope-full faith and bear witness to this hope through all that we say and do. Our Christlike compassion and witness matter, and the world needs our prayers and hope right now, as individuals face illness, quarantine, and loss of work and as leaders and countries and communities and organizations make difficult decisions for the sake of our well-being and the well-being of people all around the world. I pray that we will hold first responders, military, health care providers and support staff, care-givers, and their families close at heart. They deserve our deepest gratitude.
In the coming days, we will keep you informed through email, church website, and Facebook and encourage you to continue these sensible practices. Eliminate handshakes and hugs. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and supplement with hand sanitizer. Stay home and rest, if you are sick. Limit social interactions but stay connected in other ways. Check on folks who are sick and call the church office, if you need any necessity items like groceries or prescriptions. (We can arrange for someone to coordinate with you and deliver to the exterior of your door.) Breathe and pray. And last but not least, love your neighbor and share rolls of toilet paper as needed. :-) I am praying for you, our church, our community, our nation, and our world.