It has only been a week, yet it seems much longer. The world has changed dramatically since last Friday. Social distancing in the face of Covid-19 has shut down most of the social institutions that make up the fabric of our lives. Most have had to find new ways of operating or have suspended operations completely. Many of us have cocooned in our homes and communicate through various internet and wireless platforms. The change has meant endless hours for many to re-structure our lives and prepare ourselves for the full onslaught of this virus over many weeks.
We pray for those who are on the front lines of all of this. Medical personnel, those who manage and work in retirement communities and nursing homes, those who keep the food chain going and our utility infrastructure going. And, so many more.
First Church has made some major steps in light of this virus:
- We have moved our worship services to LiveStream on Sunday morning at 9am. Please join us. If you wish to join at another time, these services are archived and available through our YouTube channel. The Annual Conference has posted a list of United Methodist Churches who are carrying LiveStream. We welcome others to be with us! Ross and the Quadrilateral will lead us in music ministry. Tina and I will lead through prayers, scripture and preaching.
- Throughout the week there will be daily offerings in text and video posted here and in the eNews. Paul Melrose will have messages for seniors. Laurie is sharing Bible Stories for children. Ross will lead musical reflections. Tina and I will lead devotions and studies. Blogs will be posted. Megan is connecting with Youth and Young adults through a variety of platforms.
- Any necessary meetings will shift to the ZOOM platform beginning next week.
- The Journeys class will meet via ZOOM beginning Sunday. Contact Rich Oliver to join this ZOOM classroom.
- The Church is shut down to help in social distancing and flattening the curve. Please visit the staff page to connect with us. Dennis and Brooke are securing the building and facilitating minimal operations. Kelly is conducting the financial operations remotely. We are still receiving checks through the Donate Now function of the website and by mail. I am grateful for those who have made special efforts in this last week to continue their donations! Thank you. There are many ways you can give.
- The Food Pantry has changed its operations. It will become a mobile operation or drive through. On Monday, March 23 the parking lot will be closed for this operation to take place. Other food related programs have been moved off-site. Second Harvest is providing pre-packaged meals for our use in distribution. Contact Karen Andro with questions.
- The Shelter we provide in partnership with Porchlight is being moved in the coming days. FEMA and Porchlight will close the three shelters currently in use and move our homeless guests to three motels/hotels in Madison. This is done largely to comply with social distancing guidelines. Porchlight will sanitize the space when this has been accomplished for safe future use.
I want to give special thanks to our communications team. They are largely volunteers or part-time staff. They have stepped up in heroic and extraordinary ways. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Sonja Penner, Holly Johnson, Laura Wendt and Bobbi Reynolds have made much of this happen. I am also grateful to Ev for her work in supporting the pastors at this hectic time.
I know this has been quite a bit of information, but we have been busy trying to do church in a new way and fulfill our ministry and mission in this new and extraordinary environment. We pray for each of you and we miss you.