Leading and Living in Anxious Times

There can be no doubt. We are living and leading in anxious times: a pandemic, racial injustice, political divisiveness, economic crisis, violence and unrest, church shut-down/restart, and the uncertainty of the future of our denomination. While we may think of this time as extraordinary, it’s certainly not the first time in history when the world was in turmoil. As people of faith, we may turn to the scriptures and find stories of anxious times: the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt, Esther trying to stop her husband/king from annihilating the Jews, Naomi grieving the death of her husband and two sons, David facing Goliath, the Israelites in exile, the Jews living under Roman oppression, and Paul persecuted and imprisoned. In all these stories, we see that God was still at work, God was present, and God was victorious in bringing healing and redemption. The cross reminds us that violence, death and suffering are not the final word. Jesus Christ is the final word, the Word become flesh, who made his dwelling among ordinary people who faced extraordinary anxious times. In the cross and resurrection we find hope of a new beginning, new life. We are in the “in between” time – like Jesus, trapped in the dark tomb for 3 days. We long for the bright light of Easter morning, and the joy of resurrection. While we await a more peaceful time, we need to be patient, pray without ceasing. trust in God, live one day at a time, share our burdens with one another, look for signs of grace, and breathe deeply.

The Upper Room has created resources for anxious times, and you may find devotionals here:

https://www.upperroom.org/resources/alive-now-and-weavings-issues-for-anxious-times?utm_source=The+Upper+Room+Ministry+Engagement&utm_campaign=83bfd9fe12-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_01_15_05_38&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0542d9a4cf-83bfd9fe12-204312017

Aldersgate Supply Drive-Washington St. UMC

Columbia, SC — Washington Street United Methodist Church (WSUMC) is holding a Drive n’ Drop collecting much-needed supplies for Aldersgate Special Needs Ministry. The drive will take place on August 6 and 7 from 10:00 am to noon in the parking lot of the church located at 1401 Washington Street on the corner of Bull and Washington Streets. The community is encouraged to participate in this worthy cause. Volunteers will receive the items in a socially responsible manner taking the donations directly from your car. Just drive through and drop off your gifts.

Click link below.

Aldersgate Supply Drive-Washington St. UMC

A Cure for the Dis-ease

“The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’”  Acts 17:24-28

I came across this passage today while doing a devotional in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.   I’m sure you have read or heard of her book.   She writes as if Jesus were talking directly to her, and to all of us.

I was reminded of how relevant this passage is to our current reality.   First of all, Paul reminds his diverse audience that God is indeed Lord of “heaven and earth, and does not live in shrines made by human hands.”   In the midst of the pandemic, we have been pushed out of the sanctuary, a shrine made by human hands.  Paul was combatting idol worship, which is still around today when we value facilities over faith, and end up accumulating debt, rather than disciples.    The Coronavirus has pushed us  beyond the four walls, beyond stained glass and pretty oak pews, beyond altars and brass candles, or whatever other shrines or rituals we have made to honor God.   We have been forced to worship outside, in parking lots, under picnic shelters, or on the internet.   God doesn’t live in a sanctuary, but in the world and in us, as we are the temple for God’s indwelling spirit.   “….indeed He is not far from each one of us.  For ‘In him we live and move and have our being.”    When the vaccine arrives, and we feel safer to return more regularly to our facilities, will we look for God’s presence only in the “shrine” or will we experience God in all life, in all mortal beings, in all things?  Where does the line exist between what is sacred and what is secular, if He is Lord of heaven and earth?  Secondly, Paul was attempting to persuade others about the meaning of scriptures, as he argued in the synagogue with Jews, other devout persons “and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.” (Acts 17:17)   In this strange exile, we have been removed from the building and put in the foreign land of technology.  We have the opportunity to creatively persuade others about our faith.   The internet has opened wide the doors of the church to “those who happened to be there.”   I’m hearing stories from pastors who tell me they have more “likes” or “hits” from persons visiting their worship on Facebook than they ever had visitors in the pews.   The word “prayer” has been googled thousands more times during this pandemic, than ever before.   Many persons are searching for comfort, hope, meaning, and God has opened a way, “that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him.”   When the vaccine arrives, and we return to a somewhat “normal” routine, how will we continue to reach those who are searching for God, but are not likely to come through our sanctuary doors?   What can we offer in the “marketplace” where people are shopping for comfort and security in the midst of great suffering during the pandemic?  A vaccine may inoculate us from COVID-19, but it will not cure the dis-ease that comes from the spiritual and emotional brokenness of life in this imperfect world.   The only cure for that dis-ease is the healing power of Jesus,  4Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.  Isaiah 53:4-5

 

Virtual Concert to Benefit Homeless

May 31 @ 6:00 pm-7:30pm

Livestream broadcast on the Main St. UMC YouTube page, Main
Street UMC Columbia. Virtual attendance only.

Donations for Transitions will be accepted prior, during, and after the
fundraiser concert online at mainstumc.com or transitionssc.org or by
mail. A recording of the concert will be available on the church
YouTube page following the event.

Virtual Concert to Benefit Homeless

Help Feed Guatemala: $30,000 by June 30

A Special Mission Project for The Columbia District

In 2017 the Outreach Section of the District Council on Ministries identified Healing Guatemala as a special district mission focus.    Healing Guatemala is headed by Rev. Dr. Luke Rhyee, former pastor of the Korean United Methodist Church in Columbia.   The usual focus of Healing Guatemala is three-fold:  Education, Medical and Hunger Abetment.

In ordinary times Guatemala is a poverty-stricken country.  Many people live on a subsistence economy that is day to day.  If they do not work they do not eat.   In this time of Covid – 19 the hunger issues have taken precedents.  To that end, the folk at Healing Guatemala have created a special program that has enabled them to provide 1,500 families with food.

The organization has purchased 60,000 lbs. of corn and a similar supply of beans.  That has been distributed in bundles of 30 lbs. of corn and 15 lbs. of beans per family.  This, along with whatever vegetables the family are able to grow themselves, may be all they eat, each day, every day until the pandemic moves on and work reappears.  At a cost of $20.00 per family, these beans and corn will feed a family of four as long as 15 days.    Then the cycle starts over.   Work / food shortages are anticipated to last until late June or into July.

The Columbia District has set a goal of raising as much as possible to provide for a two-week cycle.   To do that we need to raise $30,000 by June 30th.  Every dollar raised will purchase food for the need of our neighbors.    It is hoped that each church in the district will address this need in some significant manner.

Forward funds, offered prayerfully, to the Columbia District Office, 4908 Colonial Drive, Columbia, SC 29203 with the notation that they are directed to the Healing Guatemala Fund.     Periodic notations will be sent out to pastors to inform about our progress towards the goal.

For more information about Healing Guatemala find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/healingguatemala.org/ and on the Web,  https://www.healingguatemala.org/

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?”

A Pastoral Letter to Pastors and Churches

All will be well and all will be well and every kind of thing shall be well.”   Julian of Norwich(1343-1416)

Grace and Peace to the pastors and churches of the Columbia District:

First and foremost, I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the creative  ministry you have been doing “outside the walls of the church”.   I have watched your worship on TV, FB, and Youtube, and have been inspired by your spiritual leadership.  Pastors and church leaders are charting new territory.  The church is in exile, and we have been placed in the foreign land of technology.  Ministry is relational, and it is difficult for the Body of Christ to not gather face-to-face.   I know you are eager and anxious about the next phase of ministry:  Return to Church.   The Bishop,  Cabinet and Conference staff have been working this week on decisions and guidelines.   As you receive these documents, no doubt concerns and questions will arise.  Please know that each church has a different context.   If pastors and church leaders discern that it would be highly risky for your particular population to gather (or too risky to share in communion), then it is certainly fine for you to delay re-opening, beyond the date given by Bishop Holston.   While the Conference will provide guidelines, you may also be overwhelmed by resources that are flooding your in-box and the internet.   To discuss “best practices” for your particular context, it would be wise to consult with leaders of similar church sizes.  I will set up Zoom meetings to discuss Return to Church (2 are set for next week: Monday – all pastors at 3:00pm, and Thursday, 12:00noon for moving pastors and SPRC Chairs).    In the midst of all these challenges, take time to care for yourself.  Don’t hesitate to call on me for guidance.   Stay grounded in God.  Pray without ceasing.  And remember our Wesley Rules:  “Do no harm.   Do good.  And stay in love with God.”

“Let nothing disturb you,

Let nothing frighten you,

All things are passing:

God never changes.

Patience obtains all things.

Whoever has God lacks nothing;

God alone suffices.   St. Theresa of Avila (1515-1582)

With thanksgiving to God for your leadership,

Cathy

Rev. Dr. Cathy Jamieson, Columbia District Superintendent and Secretary to the Cabinet

Connecting to Epworth During Social Distancing

A Letter from Rev. Kathy James

Dear Friends,

Grace and peace to you in this holy season and in this unprecedented time.   As I hope you know, Epworth Children’s Home has responded to state and federal law changes regarding child welfare by expanding their ministry to include the recruitment, training and support of foster parents and kinship caregivers, and by setting up offices throughout the state to provide these and other services locally and in partnership with United Methodist churches.

The nearly 60 children currently on Epworth’s Millwood Campus are primarily middle schoolers and high schoolers.  Younger children are now mandated by the state to be placed in foster care as close as possible to where they are from.  To date, Epworth has placed 49 children in foster homes, has licensed 54 foster families and is currently shepherding 28 additional families through the foster care process.  In the meantime, the need for foster families in our state is significant.  There are currently 4700 children in foster care in South Carolina, and over 1900 foster families still needed.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Epworth was holding monthly Foster Care Interest sessions in Columbia and Summerville.  With the social isolation directives, a live, virtual interest session has been scheduled for Thursday, April 30 at 3:00 pm.  I am writing to you to ask for your assistance in getting the word out about this session by connecting with Epworth on social media and sharing their information broadly.

 Below you will find detailed instructions about how to connect with Epworth on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and also how to share this connection with your networks on these platforms.  You do not know who God might be calling to serve as foster parents, and you do not know how many of these people you may be connected to through social media.  Our hope is that by intentionally connecting, inviting and sharing, the word will get to people who will want to attend this interest session.  In addition to these instructions, our gifted staff has created a video that actually walks through these processes so that less technically-minded people can see how to spread the word on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.   You can see that video here: https://youtu.be/GCWonbyEWsY.

I am asking you to follow the instructions below yourself and also to share these instructions with your Methodist networks by Friday, April 17 so that we can extend the social media reach of Epworth to the people God is calling to be foster parents.  Will you allow God to use you in this way?  Thank you in advance for your consideration.  Also, now and in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me for more information regarding the work that Epworth is doing.  I look forward, once the world starts up again, to meeting with you and your local church and your leadership groups about how you can partner with Epworth to make a difference in the lives of children in your area.

Gratefully,

Kathy James, Director of Church Relations

Epworth Children’s Home, kjames@epworthsc.org

Connecting on Social Media

Connect with Epworth on Social Media! Did you know that Epworth Children’s Home is on all social media platforms? We love to share stories about what is going on, say thank you to our generous donors and volunteers, and keep everyone up-to-date on what’s happening on campus and across the state! Check out the directions below on how to ensure you are seeing our content & for ways to be an ambassador for Epworth!

Facebook:

Like us on Facebook by searching Epworth Children’s Home or follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/EpworthChildrensHome/

By liking us on Facebook it gives you the ability to see all of our posts and stay up-to-date with the latest announcements and good news!  Want to make sure you never miss a post? You can turn on post notifications by clicking the “following” icon on the home page and click “on” under “post notifications”.

Want to help support Epworth with just two easy clicks? You can invite you friends and family to like Epworth on Facebook by clicking the ellipses on Epworth’s page, then clicking “invite friends”. You can choose “select all” and then “send invites” and Facebook will invite all of your friends on Facebook to like Epworth’s page. Imagine the impact just a few clicks could have for our residents and clients!  When you see a post you like, please like it, share it, and even tag a friend in the comments who you think would enjoy it! We are truly thankful for every single interaction.

Instagram:

Follow us on Instagram @epworthchildrenshome or by clicking here: https://www.instagram.com/epworthchildrenshome/

Instagram is a great way to see awesome photos and helpful inforgraphics about Epworth! We also love to share things on our Instagram story like fun checklists or Mental Health tips from our counseling center!  Make sure you never miss a post by turning on our post notifications! You can do this by clicking “following” on our page, then “notifications” and clicking on whatever you would like to be notified about: posts, stories, IGTV or Instagram Lives!

In addition to following us on Epworth you can share our posts to your Instagram story by clicking the share button and then clicking “share on your story”. If you see a post that a friend would love – you can click that share button, type in your friends Instagram name – and send it directly to them!

Be sure to like and comment on any post that you love. We love hearing from you and want to you know what you like to see!

Twitter:

Follow us on twitter at @EpworthCH or by clicking here: https://twitter.com/EpworthCH

On twitter, like any posts that you like and retweet anything that you want to share with your followers!  On all social media, if you do something with or for Epworth, please tag us!! We love to like, share and retweet our supporters and it is so helpful when you tag us in those items.  For any specific questions on how to be an Ambassador of Epworth through social media – please reach out to Teddi Garrick at tgarrick@epworthsc.org.