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Shifting Connections for this Season: Myers Park UMC’s Response to COVID-19

Updated 5/19/2020

I hope you’ll watch this conversation I had with our own Dr. Sid Fletcher, who heads up Novant’s coronavirus response, Rev. Joe Clifford of Myers Park Presbyterian Church, and our own parish nurse, Lauren Smith – sharing our thinking about “reopening.” I’m proud of the intelligence and thoughtfulness of our Medical Advisory Team, our neighborhood clergy, and our staff as together we navigate what’s wisest. – James Howell

Updated 4/20/2020

We are continuing to respond to COVID-19 as a church family, and there are many ways that you can participate.

Have a need or want to help?

We hope to prepare in anticipation of growing needs in our church community in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. With so much uncertainty of what the needs will be, we are currently working to find folks who are in the low risk category who might be willing to help shop, deliver supplies, or address other needs as they arise. We ask that you be abundantly cautious and aware regarding illness risks and infection prevention strategies during this delicate time. Complete this form to let us know if you would like to help as needs arise for members of our church.

We also want to be mindful of folks who fall in the high risk category and may need assistance during this time if feeling uncomfortable about going out in public. Even if you do not have specific needs at this time but you know that needs may arise, please feel free to share your information so we can be intentional to check in with you. If you live alone, struggle with anxiety, have auto-immune disorders, or have other health risks and would like intentional follow up, please let us know. If you have a current need for assistance at this time, please let us know that as well. We will structure our care response efforts in ministry with you based on the information that you share via this form.

Children’s Ministry Opportunity:

The Children Caring Card Ministry is still going strong, and we’ve recently received the names of 90 more folks who would love to hear from your children. To sign up, click the SignUp Genius link.

Financial Support:

Financial support continues to be the most critical need in response to COVID-19 efforts. Your faithful offerings have enabled our congregation to remain connected and continue operating during this season of shifting. In addition, your gifts to Jubilee Plus, the mission and outreach fund for the church, have supported our most vulnerable neighbors locally and globally.

To make a gift to the Operating Fund or Jubilee Plus, visit https://onrealm.org/MyersParkUMC/-/give/now), or by mail to 1501 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207

Mission Travel Update: 

April 20, 2020

Dear MPUMC church family,

In this season of Covid-19, many things have been shifted. Our beautiful worship has been shifted to a virtual campus on Sundays. We have shifted our small groups, Sunday schools, and congregational care to phone calls and Zoom calls. We have had to shift our mission response to financial giving only.

After much discussion and prayer with church leadership, we have decided that we want to shift our mission focus this summer to local ministry partners and new opportunities to serve rather than our planned trips to Chicago, Mexico, Tennessee, Kenya, and Armenia.

We believe that when we do mission, it’s not a matter of being local, national or international, but rather a way of life, a commitment, a lifestyle to see the need, walk with the neighbor, and to respond with the love and passion of Jesus Christ. It is the essence of our discipleship.

This summer we see a unique opportunity to come together with other churches in our area to rebuild the spirit of our beautiful city and to walk alongside the most vulnerable in our community as they continue to recover from the ramifications of COVID-19. We want, and hope, to “Take Over Charlotte” in the months of June and July with different service/outreach projects and chances for fellowship. More details will be released at the end of May about what this will look like, including opportunities for student leadership.

Rejoice in this opportunity, and please begin praying on how you will be living as the hands and feet of Christ with our sisters and brothers here locally. We are better together. 

In the meantime, we want to answer your questions: 

  1. Will I get my money back for the trip(s) that I already paid for?

Yes, we can either fully refund your payments or apply money paid toward a mission trip next year. Please email Ellen Spence at ellenspence@mpumc.org to let her know which option you would prefer.

  1. What if I want to go on the mission trip next year? 

You are guaranteed a spot on a trip next year. We will use the same applications you have submitted. As mentioned above, we can apply money paid toward next year’s mission trips, but that is not required to save your spot on a mission team.

  1. How can we still support our mission partners in Chicago, Mexico, and Mountain TOP?

Most mission trip organizations are non-profits whose funding mostly comes from hosting summer groups, so we do hope you will prayerfully consider supporting these great organizations:

  1. DOOR – Chicago – https://www.doornetwork.org/donate-now
  2. Faith Ministry in Mexico – https://faithministry.org/give/
  3. Mountain TOP – https://mountain-top.networkforgood.com/projects/89647-mountain-t-o-p-general-fund-2020

We understand this will create grief and sadness for many of you that were looking forward to returning to organizations and people that you love. We will be hosting a Zoom meeting for all youth participants and their parents this Sunday April 26 at 5pm to discuss this further and share in the process of getting through this together and embracing the new opportunities ahead.

We are so grateful for your flexibility and are looking forward to loving and caring for the people in our own backyard! If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to.

Blessings,

Jason, Sarah and Ellen

Your Youth Ministry Team

And

Nathan, Britt, and Julie

Your Missions Department

Updated 3/12/2020

Friends,

After consulting with several doctors deeply involved in the life of our congregation, and witnessing the dramatic news unfolding day by day, we have decided that we will not have in person worship this Sunday, and for the next few weeks until the situation improves.

We will, though, be connected with you for worship online. At 8:45, 9:45, and 11, tune in to our livestream or Facebook. We will have some music, and prayers (urgently needed right now!), and some reflections I’ll share. A full service, designed for you at home. By next week we hope to have some interactive mechanisms in place so we can connect with you even more deeply.

We hope and pray you understand the importance of doing our part to protect our people and make a witness to the way God is with us during this season. We are not alone. Thank God for the gift of technology to enable us to worship and be the family of God together in a time of physical distancing.

Your thoughts and prayers are welcome.

Your pastor and friend,

James

FAQs

The answers to some of our most frequently asked questions can be found here.

3/10/2020

Friends,

You may know that I am stubborn, and that I’ve declared we’ll have church when there’s snow and ice. I never cancel.

And yet we find ourselves in an unusual season as a church, city, state, nation and world as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Know that God is with you, and all of us.

Your church leadership and I are continually monitoring the situation, in consultation with health officials and other churches. As of right now, your leadership and I have decided to transition from in person gatherings to new ways of being connected – for this peculiar season. We need each other, we need our connection more than ever! And yet prudence suggests we enter into a season of our small groups, choirs, Wednesday dinners – all weekday and evening groups – not meeting in person but online, via Zoom, phone, chat rooms and the like. We will help and guide you in how to do these things very soon!

As of today, we still plan to have worship in person on Sunday, with the ask that we not shake hands but reserve a little space between one another. Nods, elbow bumps, etc., are welcome! If you are sick, or just uneasy with coming, stay home and watch online.

We will also be sharing with you ways to be prayerful and worshipful if you’re increasingly isolated in your home. Cabin fever is something we want to alleviate as a church! Be on the lookout for ways to connect with God at home, and with others in your church family.

Know that our expenses during this season can’t be shut down. Your ongoing offerings during this time are much needed and to be celebrated. Mail to 1501 Queens Rd. 28207, or give online at myersparkumc.org/give.

We are grateful for your understanding and patience. As soon as we sense that all is well, we will reconvene – as being bodily present to one another in our beloved church family is essential, much needed, and life-giving! We’ll get creative in the meantime as we find fresh ways to connect.

Your thoughts and responses are more than welcome! Let’s stay in touch – without touching!

Your pastor,

James

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