1. Our church is not closed. Bethel UMC’s part of the Body of Christ is active and working, worshiping and praying and playing together every day of the week, albeit in a different way. So many of you have found ways to stay connected – Praise God! We are growing in the faith, through worship, virtual Sunday School lessons, Zoom chats, front porch visits, phone calls, and cards. Keep doing all those things.
*On a side note, nearly 800 people worshiped with us on Easter! WOW!
2. As United Methodists, we value a connection that lets us work together and pool our collective wisdom. Each week, Pastor Reggie and I talk with the other pastors in our area to see what they are thinking. We are looking to the thoughtful wisdom of Bishop Holston, who has been very attentive to the changing nature of this crisis. Last Monday, our District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Cathy Jameison held a Zoom call with the Columbia clergy to see and support the work that is going on in our churches.
3. Our faith is one that values the contribution of science, and so we continue to monitor what epidemiologists and other health professionals tell us it is safe to do in regard to worship.
4. Our Church Leaders and Staff are forming a team to help figure out how we will gather for worship. We will continue to communicate with you as decisions are made. Most likely we will begin some form of in-person worship on June 14 but it will, by necessity, look *very different* than before COVID-19.
5. We desire your input! I have heard from some already and would love to hear from more of you. I will be sending out a survey later this week. Please take a few minutes to complete it as honestly and faithfully as you are able. John Wesley left the Methodist movement Three Simple Rules, which can be summarized as: Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God. Bishop Carter of the Florida Conference alluded to those rules in his statement in a recent NY Times article: “God will reassemble us when we know it is safe. This requires our trust, assurance, maturity, civility. Our purpose is to love God and our neighbor. Our purpose is to do no harm, to do all the good we can.” Pastor Reggie and I plan to follow those rules in everything we do, to the best of our ability. We love you and miss seeing your faces on something other than Zoom and FaceTime calls. We look forward to being church with you faithfully into the future, whatever the future may hold, knowing it is God who holds the future. Stay well, and be safe.
Pastor Julie Belman