Friday from First! 3.20.2020
Centered on Christ, Sent by Christ
Seeing Jesus, Showing Jesus, Sharing Jesus
Fourth Sunday in Lent - March 22, 2020
Worship on Facebook Live at 9:30 AM!
Even if you don't have a Facebook account, you should be able to see our live worship (from my living room!) by going to the church Facebook page and scrolling down until you see the live broadcast. You might need to scroll past (or click 'not now') the invitation to log in or create a new account. If it doesn't work, wait until about 11:00AM and the video will be uploaded to our YouTube channel. Moving forward, we may decide to use YouTube instead of Facebook to live stream worship. We'll see what works best.
Meanwhile, here are some resources you can download for the kids, thanks to Illustrated Ministry. They are making these available to us for FREE during this pandemic. So many companies are doing everything they can to help churches continue faithful ministry!
We'll hear the familiar words of Psalm 23 this week, and take a fresh look at its central message: God is with us. I remember learning this psalm as a child (King James Version, of course!), and found myself struggling to remember it while trying to sleep early this week. Once I had all the phrases in the right order, I slept like a baby. I look forward to sharing it with all of you.
Gov. Walz has called for no gatherings for the next eight weeks. Since the Minneapolis Convention Center is shut down until (at least) May 11, General Conference of the UMC has been postponed indefinitely from its original May 5-15 dates. The Minnesota Annual Conference is also considering rescheduling our own annual conference session from June 10-12 to later in the summer. Changes seem to come daily, so the best information I have today might change a lot by Monday.
We also have to consider what is best for our congregation as we determine when we can worship together in person again. Right now, we will be worshiping and meeting only via live-stream, at least through April 3rd. We will continue to monitor the situation and heed the governor's and the bishop's directives. We certainly won't resume in-person worship until it is deemed safe by the Minnesota Department of Health. This may mean thinking very creatively about Holy Week and Easter!
But the good news is that we do not need to invent the wheel by ourselves. Many resources are being developed to help us through this time, and I am planning for both in-person and online possibilities. If we have to postpone in-person worship during April, we will celebrate Easter when we can celebrate it together (and those Easter flowers you ordered won't be delivered until then, so they'll be fresh!). In the meantime...
Sue Loose, LaRonda Bourn, and our office administrator Lorna Cotner have put together a team for congregational care, so that people from our congregation who might be isolated because they are at high risk - or simply because they need some encouragement - will receive a "check in" call from someone on the team. If you'd like to join the team (or maybe you'd like to have someone check in on you from time to time) please contact Lorna in the office, and she can add you to the appropriate list. And just because you aren't formally on 'the team' doesn't mean you can't pick up the phone to check on a friend or a neighbor! Let's be Christ for each other, and for those we know in the community who could use some extra care right now.
Even though the 2020 General Conference has been postponed, it still needs to happen at some point. The pre-General Conference information session District Superintendent Fred Vanderwerf had planned for Monday, March 23rd will now be held as a virtual meeting. The good news is we don't have to drive anywhere to attend it! Here's an invitation from Fred, and here are the instructions to join the meeting on the 23rd (you do not need to register).
If you are a first-time BlueJeans user, please follow these guidelines for successful use of BlueJeans for video or phone conferencing:
• For best results, download the BlueJeans app to your device (www.bluejeans.com/downloads) and join as guest
• If you choose to join by browser and not through the BlueJeans app, Chrome is the preferred browser
• Set up your devices (speakers, microphone, and camera, if available).
• Test your connection by going to www.bluejeans.com/111.
• To avoid dropped calls, a wired Ethernet connection is better than wireless.
• To avoid echo, use headsets or earphones.
• Minimize distractions. Close other computer programs. Be in a quiet place.
• Arrive 15 minutes early. Make sure you can hear and be heard.
• Mute yourself when not speaking. Coughs and keyboard clicks are louder than you think.
• Consider your impression. Ensure you have good camera angle and adequate lighting.
Launch Bluejeans app:
Use Meeting ID: 5077209091 and join as Guest
To join via Chrome Browser:
To join via phone for an audio only call:
1) Dial: 1.866.226.4650 (see all numbers - http://bluejeans.com/numbers)
2) Enter Conference ID: 5077209091 #
3) Join as participant/guest by pressing # again
If you run into any problems call this number for support: 408-791-2830
And the work of the church goes on...
We really don't know how long this pandemic will affect us. But we do know that it's a golden opportunity for the church to remember its mission to be the church. As Fred Vanderwerf says, "The impact goes far beyond us, and we still are an incredibly blessed people - positioned so much better than many of our neighbors, so think about how you as a church might model generosity, new birth, and resurrection in your community to those feeling the impact even more so than we."
With that in mind, your continued connection to and support of the church's ministries is vitally important. Remember that you have three ways to give directly to the church: send a check in the mail, click on the "Donate" button on our webpage, or sign up for an automatic transfer directly from your checking account to the church's checking account (call Lorna in the office to learn more about this option). Your faithfulness makes it possible for us to continue to minister in Jesus' name, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Still praying at 5:16 every day for each of you,
Pastor Jo Anne