This is a unique and important season for us. Just when I thought I knew how we would respond, I heard the CDC’s mandate for no gatherings of 50 or more for the next 8 weeks. That significantly changes our planning and efforts. How will we be church in a season when we lack the ability to gather in-person with one another is going to take creativity, a willingness to learn something new, and the love and grace of Jesus flowing through us. Thank you for your patience as we make the best decisions we can at the time.
On the recommendation of the CDC, the MDH, and our Bishop, we will suspend all in-person small groups, meetings and worship for now. How long that will last is yet to be seen. As you know, details and recommendations are changing rapidly. We will continue to communicate changes to this decision via email on Mondays and Thursdays (an in between as becomes necessary). If you lead a small group or team in the church, please be in touch with your folks to be certain everyone knows the in-person meetings will be suspended for now.
We are still going to be church! That means that our “big enough to make a difference, small enough to care” needs to show.
Here’s some ways we can be “small enough to care” in these changing times:
- Online Worship will continue to be the method of worshiping together. I am so grateful to Eric Peterson for his professional efforts this past weekend. Eric, Megan, KT and I are working to continue to deliver a weekend worship experience that will be available on our website on Sunday morning. I hope you will make an effort to tune in with your family and be blessed by gathering “together” with EPUMC.
- Children’s Ministries are a top priority for our community and will continue to be in these changing times. Rachel, Jody and I will be working to create experiences for children to keep them connected to the church community, to one another, and to the amazing story of a God who is always with us. Stay tuned for more information on that.
- Staying connected as a community is a high priority. I am working with a few leaders to organize a system of care and connection. If you want to be a person who shepherds over a small portion of our congregation, checking in with them and sharing connection and community, please email your willingness to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be in touch with you. Rachel and I are also working on a system of getting our younger households relationally engaged with our older households even while we cannot do that in person. Stay tuned for that opportunity as well.
- Growing in our faith doesn’t take a break while we are isolated physically. I will personally be working on ways to deliver spiritual growth opportunities, either recorded and available or virtually in real time through an online meeting service. If this interests you, you can email your interest to email@example.com
- Praying with and for one another is an essential part of our community. We will share prayers in each Monday and Thursday email with the entire congregation. You can send your prayer requests to Becky in the office at firstname.lastname@example.org And I encourage you to make a daily habit of praying for one another.
Here’s some ways we can be “big enough to make a difference” in these changing times:
- Sheridan Story serves children in Eden Prairie (and beyond) who have food insecurity at home. Normally that is a bag of food that goes home with a child for the weekend. With school out, hundreds of thousands of children are facing a substantial increase in food insecurity. Sheridan story is working with the Eden Prairie School District (and others) to provide a nutritious source of food directly to children. To continue quickly adapting and moving forward through this dynamic situation, Sheridan Story needs additional support from the community to ensure children have food for every meal. Sheridan Story has added food packing events for small groups (with proper social distancing) while taking extreme precautions to maintain a sanitary environment before, during and after each packing event. If you are healthy and able, you can volunteer on their website (https://www.thesheridanstory.org/) At that same website you can make a financial donation to sustain their increased efforts to feed our children.
- PROP Food Shelf has also stepped up their efforts to provide food for our most vulnerable neighbors who need services more than ever. PROP has made significant changes to help keep their doors open, as well as limit the exposure for clients, volunteers, and staff. PROP could use your help to continue to keep the food shelf stocked, by giving financially on their website (https://propfood.org/). You can donate food at the church right now. The most immediate needs of which are canned beans such as kidney, black and baked; canned soups of all kinds; canned fruit; canned chicken and tuna; and coffee. See the website for instructions on delivering food to PROP in person (hint, you won’t be getting out of your car). You can also donate food to be delivered to PROP on Amazon. PROP’s address is 14700 Martin Drive, Eden Prairie, MN 55344
- United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is on the frontlines of the response to COVID 19 concerns, as well as other international and national disaster needs, as they always have been. This Sunday in worship we were going to take the UMCOR offering that supports their infrastructure so that they are ready to respond when disaster strikes. I encourage you give an UMCOR gift when you are making your regular offering to EPUMC. You can do that via check, online on our website, or via the Give+ ap.
You are an amazing group of faithful people who are still finding ways to be “big enough to make a difference, small enough to care.” We are followers of Jesus, and now more than ever our care and compassion for one another and for the world around us needs to be lived out. Join me in our efforts to be the body of Christ in these changing times.
Blessings to you and prayers for our world,
Pastor Becky Jo Messenbrink