Update from the Pastor

Greetings in the name of Jesus.  I pray this email finds you well in the grace and peace of our God.  This is a longer email, so please read to the end. 
In these strange times, remember, God offers truth and love to the depths of our souls.  As all else that we know crumbles into the raging sea, let us not forget God’s love for us, for our neighbors, for our world.  A world for whom he gave His Son and showed us all true love bleeds.  In pursuing and receiving that love – in living that love – we are together at Central.  This is a bond which unites though we may be absent in body from one another for a season.  It is a love which allows us to bravely face the stark realities we find today.
Our world this morning was not the world we woke up to at the beginning of the month, nor even one week ago.  The rules by which society operates change by the hour.  It is scary, but we are in this together and will be together on the other side.  The latest we have heard here in Indiana is that we are not to gather in groups greater than 50.  Our first presumptive case just arrived at Reid this morning.  The restaurants are only offering drive-thru services.  Other social gatherings spaces have been shut down.  Our community members are losing their jobs.  Our neighbors may not be sure how they will get through this unknown reality.  What we are seeing is unprecedented in our lifetime and its effects will be far reaching for a long time.  I do not know what news may come next, but I do know one thing from my short time here in Richmond – a loving response will rise from the good people of Central UMC.  No matter what may follow your Godly love and wisdom will be expected and needed from a community in desperate need of it.
For now, I wanted to share the following measures being taken by Central UMC.  At this time our doors are still open for Childcare and day to day operations.  However, it is with a heavy heart, I must share we will be moving our ‘public’ worship to online spaces for at least the next 4 weeks.  Furthermore, we are asking all groups to consider alternative gathering arrangements for at least the next week as we monitor the ever changing reality we find ourselves within.  This is a great loss.  Your faces and laughs will be missed by many.  My heart hurts at the thought of our building not being full.  But we are not standing still.  We are praying and discerning how we can be Christ’s hands and body and feet in the midst of the storm.
On the other side of this, I am excited about what is coming.  We are organizing.  We are developing neighborhood communities. We will have a revamped Facebook Live service on Sunday morning at 10.  You will be able to message us both before and after the service while sharing thoughtful comments along the way to one another.  We are working with local agencies on how we as a people and our building could be leveraged to help those who are disproportionately affected by the closings.  We are developing a pick-up and delivery system for those who cannot go out. Right now you can coordinate with Linda Jennings to write or call those in forced isolation.  More to come soon (stay tuned) –  Facebook Live for various offerings throughout the week, small group studies and conversations via Google Hangout (Instructions here for group leaders – feel free to call Pastor Jen or Joseph for further steps), live worship concerts, and roll out of our online communication portal Realm Connect.
Yet we are in this moment.  God is still good.  Let me share again what I offered on Sunday.  We have experienced the overwhelming love of our savior.  We respond by following Jesus and sharing His love – with redeemed spirits and disciplined bodies.  We draw closer through the Spiritual Disciplines – prayer, fasting, reading Scripture, Christian conversation, solitude, worship, simplicity, etc.   Public worship is but one of these Spiritual Disciplines.  We have a time before us when we can build up our other disciplines.  We can lean into one another and our households as we walk through this together.  Here are a few resources (we will be sharing more in the coming days):
Right Now Media – Our church has a subscription to this discipleship service.  You can access Christian movies, children’s shows, Bible
Studies, and other studies to go over during this time with your household and others you are in connection with.  If you are not
already signed-up, please email Christin at christin@richmondcumc.com.
You Version Bible App – Several
The Bible Project – A great treasure of videos, blogs, and podcasts all about God’s word.  
Methodist Prayer – A daily arrangement of the prayer offices for those seeking disciplined practices at home.
Thank you again for your prayers – they are essential.  We will be sending another update soon.  Until then, know you are loved – by your God, by your Central staff, by me.  Know you all are being held before our Father in prayer by us.
In Christ,
Pastor Joseph

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