I pray this note finds you well and as safe as possible. What an amazing and anxious time we are living through...we need to do it together!
I know the buzzword for this time is social distancing. However, I propose we adopt different language. As a friend encouraged me, I now encourage you to start using the term physical distancing instead. Physically, we need to keep our distance--socially, we need each other more and more!
At First UMC Newport, we have been using technology and social media as much as possible to LOVE, GROW, REACH, and SERVE. One of the technologies being used worldwide right now is Zoom for Video Conferencing. It is a great tool that helps us provide physical distance while remaining social! DON'T BE AFRAID! It's not as hard as you might think...here is a link to a very helpful video tutorial on how to get started using Zoom: https://youtu.be/9isp3qPeQ0E
Once you are set up on Zoom, let me know! Send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will add you to my contacts for future meetings, gatherings, and studies--yes, book and Bible studies via Zoom (a new study announcement is coming very soon)!
Let's stay socially connected...but keep your physical distance! I love you all!!
Even though we are not currently meeting together, WE ARE STILL THE CHURCH. We continue to worship, care for each other, help those in need, and reach out to others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ministry continues and so do financial obligations. There are several ways--some tried and true, some brand new--through which you can continue to share your weekly tithe. You can:
Remember: We are still the CHURCH!
Stay wise and safe...don't hesitate to call or email...we're all in this together!
My Dear Holston Friends,
Every day brings new surprises related to Covid-19. On this eve of the Vernal Equinox, I learned from CBS evening news that two brothers in Atlanta have converted their distillery from making bottles of alcohol to making hand sanitizer. Their recipe is a mixture of 2/3 alcohol with 1/3 aloe. One brother said it is that simple, but the community needs it. The clip showed police officers and fire personnel thanking them for helping them in this way.
Last week as the Cabinet met to project appointments for the coming year, we discussed the need to close our churches for the next two Sundays. Our hope was that keeping our distance from one another would slow the spread of Covid-19 in our communities. The good news is medical experts know social distancing is helping slow the spread of the virus. The bad news is it is still spreading. We hoped after two weeks of church closure, we would be able to gather for worship on Sunday, March 29; however, we now know it is in the best interest of our communities to remain closed until further notice.
I also learned today that the United Methodist General Conference scheduled to meet in Minneapolis Convention Center in May has been notified by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Governor of Minnesota, and the Mayor of Minneapolis that the General Conference has been cancelled in order to slow the spread of the virus. Since the facility has cancelled this event, the United Methodist Church will not lose the money which had been paid to hold the event.
This morning, Rusty and I were surprised to see that the song he posted yesterday on Facebook has now been viewed more than 1400 times. That encouraged him to sing another song and post it today. I am blessed to have a God-gifted husband.
I realize that although we are not able to gather in our church buildings right now. The spirit of God is very much at work around us. Our connection is strong. Rusty and I watched an online worship service from Cokesbury this evening. The Reverend Charles Maynard’s sermon on the “What If’s of Life” was very helpful and hopeful. Michael Rodgers blessed us as he sang “His Eye Is On the Sparrow.
Like you, we follow the news with great anticipation for the day when we can gather together in person to worship our risen Lord. In the meantime, I want to reiterate how proud I am of you as I hear and see all the wonderful and creative ways you are remaining in ministry. Again, just a reminder that I want to urge all of us to check on those who are vulnerable and in need within our churches and communities.
Our conference communications team will continue updating Holston.org, so please check our coronavirus resource page for ministry tips and ideas. Please continue sharing what you and your churches are doing during this time so we can spread the love and hope we have across Holston.
God's Grace, Mercy, Love and Peace is always sufficient,
Holston Conference of
The United Methodist Church
March 12, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I know that all of you are following the news about the corona virus and the impact it is having and will have upon all our lives. We are seeing major impacts on our nation such as whole neighborhoods being quarantined, the NBA suspending their season, and cancelation of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. What is hard right now for all of us is separating the panic from what is prudent.
Our bishop, Rev. Dindy Taylor, has released a statement helping us be prudent. You can read her entire statement here: https://www.holston.org/article/a-message-from-bishop-taylor-13441713?fbclid=IwAR0FGEbO-eDQoMBx0V3zR7j5vKLLB3wflQs_7oOxtO1jVZj6-LknFlOUaC4
Out of an abundance of caution and our concern for you, our churches, and communities, the Cabinet and I strongly urge the churches of Holston Conference to suspend worship and large-group gatherings beginning today [March 12] for the next two weeks.
—Bishop Dindy Taylor
FUMC Leaders and I have been in conversation over the last hours and have come to the decision to heed Bishop Taylor’s advice and suspend Sunday Worship, Wednesday Kingdom Quest, and Youth for the next two weeks.
On Sunday, at 10:45 AM, I will be live on the church’s Facebook page to share in a time of devotion and worship with you. To find the church’s Facebook page, go to: https://www.facebook.com/NewportFUMC/ or search for @NewportFUMC on Facebook. If you are not on Facebook, I will do my best to record the devotion and share a link with you when it is available.
It is unfortunate that we are in this situation. However, finding a way to livestream our worship services has been a congregational priority for some time. The opportunity before us is to work over the next few weeks to make this a reality. Please share this opportunity with your family and friends in Newport and around the world. What an opportunity to share the Gospel with millions via the internet!
Let me encourage all of you to call upon and check on those whom you know to be shut in or isolated. We want to make sure that everyone who may be in need is taken care of.
It is important to remember that even though we will not be together the next two weeks, we continue to have financial obligations. If you are comfortable doing so, you can use your bank’s online bill payment system to quickly and efficiently have your bank send the church your tithe (your bank will send the church a check). If you would rather, you can always mail a personal check to the church at 212 Washington Ave. Newport, TN 37821.
Finally, let me encourage all of you to pray. Let us pray for God's mercy, God's protection, and God's healing as we all journey through this crisis together.
…And remember, the opposite of faith is not doubt. It is fear.
“Fear not, for I am always with you…” Isaiah 41:10
Grace and Peace,
Rev. David S. Woody, Pastor