As our community, country, and world face the challenge of Covid-19, our church continues to work to adapt to our new reality. We will continue worship on Facebook Live at 10 A.M. on Sundays for the foreseeable future. In addition, the UMY has begun meeting via Zoom; the Children's ministry team is working on having time for our kids on Zoom, and each of the Sunday School classes are moving toward online times together as well.
Members of our church have been working diligently with the Sheridan Schools to make sure that kids in our community have food each day, using the resources of the backpack program and the routes of the Summer Feeding Program. Ministry continues! We are being reminded of that deep truth that the church is not a building but a people engaged in the work of God.
As we approach our next worship service together online, I would ask a few things of you. First, remember that while we are not in our beloved sanctuary together, we are still with one another in spirit. While you may be on your couch or in your favorite chair, prepare your hearts and minds to be in the presence of God.
Next, our time of communal prayer has always been one of the most meaningful moments of our shared worship. With so many churches on Facebook Live at the same time, there is a lag between when we broadcast and when you see the service (15-20 seconds). Therefore, if you would be so kind to text Pastor Todd-Paul (501-786-3184) any prayer requests that you would like shared in the service at any time before worship, I'll be able to incorporate that into the service.
Finally, church operations continue as do expenses. I'd like to encourage you to continue to extend your generosity to the church. Mrs. Betty Lancaster continues to work from home and checks the church mail, so you may mail a check (PO Box 357, Sheridan 72150). By next week, we will have automatic bank draft available for any who would like to give in that way. And we should also have an e-giving option available by next week as well.
As odd and disconcerting as the past 7-10 days have been, all measures show that we are just beginning this "new normal." It is my hope and prayer that actions that are being taken will mitigate the severity of this pandemic, here and around the world. However, we are more than likely just in the beginning. Please remember in prayer the many health care workers who are working every single day to heal and prevent illness, including Covid-19. To the many nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and other health care workers in our church: we are praying for you, and we thank you. For others who are in vital industries, like those who deliver packages, keep the supply chain open and running, or help to produce the vital goods and food that we need: we thank you as well and pray for your safety.
For those of you who do not need to be out: please stay home. If you are vulnerable (by virtue of age or infirmity or as a caretaker of the same): members of the Fellowship Sunday School class are on standby to shop for you. Please contact Joe Archer (870-313-1029) or Pastor Todd-Paul to arrange for someone to run your errands for you. Friends, this is NOT an imposition! For many of us during this pandemic, the most important thing that we can do is stay home!
Like you, I look forward to the day that we are re-united in body together in our beloved sanctuary. I look forward to shaking hands and hugs as we pass the Peace. I look forward to the children coming forward to sit with me in the chancel as we explore our burgeoning faith together. I look forward to Soul Food Cafe, with the laughter of our youth and the bonds of fellowship renewed and strengthened. That day will come. In the meantime, I am strengthened by the ability that technology affords us to maintain our ties with one another and worship together. First United Methodist Church of Sheridan IS. We are not only a "was" and a "will be," WE ARE. For each of you, I am thankful, and I am in prayer for your safety.
Different World. Same God.
Grace and Peace,
Yesterday we shared with you that all non-worship activities at FUMC, Sheridan would be suspended until further notice. Today we learned that the Sheridan Public Schools (along with all public schools in Grant, Saline, Jefferson, and Pulaski Counties) are closed until March 30, by order of Governor Hutchinson.
Throughout the day, news continued to be reported on COVID-19. Indeed, reports seemed to come at us in waves that multiplied exponentially. Perhaps this is due to the virus reaching an exponential multiplication stage in our country and community. We have also received advice (though not orders) from Bishop Mueller and from our District Superintendent, Rev. Mark Norman. Pastor Todd-Paul and church leadership have been communicating throughout the day. We have received information from physicians and health care officials.
Beginning tomorrow, March 13, all activities of First UMC, Sheridan will be closed until at least March 20. In addition to Wednesday night activities and youth, it includes all Bible studies, Sunday School, and most importantly, worship on Sunday morning. The church office will also be closed.
We did not make this decision lightly. It is our firm desire to be gathered with one another. Gathering in groups at this time, in these circumstances, is dangerous to individuals and our community. It is not only in the best interest of our own congregation that we not gather together, but in the interest of public health.
As next week progresses, we will monitor the situation and determine what we will do
moving forward. In the meantime, we are going to (attempt to) have worship on Facebook Live on Sunday morning at 10am. We hope that you will join us then! You can also continue with your Christian learning through CouRSe, the Arkansas Annual Conference's online learning academy. Follow this link: https://arumc.org/our-resources/course/ sign up, and find what interests you.
In case of pastoral emergency, please contact Pastor Todd-Paul at 501-786-3184. Please follow all recommendations from the Department of Health and CDC.
Most importantly, please pray with us. Pray for one another, pray for our community, country, and world. Pray for those who have the illness, those who have been (or may have been) exposed and are worried. Pray for health care workers. Pray for those who are afraid. Pray for those who must go to work and for those who cannot work. Pray.
We believe that God loves us, that Jesus died and rose again for us, and that the Holy Spirit is active in our world and in our lives. This Good News is more relevant now than it has ever been. When we do gather again as a congregation, we look forward to celebrating that Good News.
With the World Health Organization announcing that COVID-19 is now a pandemic, the first confirmation of a case of COVID-19 in Arkansas, and the Arkansas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church cancelling all events, out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to suspend all non-worship activities at First United Methodist Church of Sheridan at this time, BEGINNING THURSDAY, MARCH 12. The church office will remain open during regular hours (unless otherwise advised), Rev. Taulbee is available for pastoral care, and we plan to continue to worship on Sunday mornings.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a new situation for almost all of us. There is much that we do not know. We do know the following: the best defense(s) are washing your hands, self-quarantining if you are ill, and using "social isolation" practices to help slow the spread. We also know that persons with respiratory illnesses, compromised immune systems, and older persons are most at risk. Therefore, please wash your hands! and we'll continue to provide hand sanitizer. If you feel ill, please stay home. We really want to see you, but we don't want to put our at-risk members and guests at risk.
Finally, a word on the impact of this on our understanding of who we are and whose we are: as Christians, we have been assured by our Lord that perfect love casts out all fear. I would urge us not to panic! I would urge us to (even if we are "stuck" at home) to be in prayer for one another, our community, and world. Jesus also said that we are to be wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. The best wisdom at this time appears to be helping our community by observing the practices recommended by the CDC and WHO.
Be not afraid. Wash your hands. We'll be back to regular scheduling soon!