Category Archives: Announcements

Online Resources

We are in uncharted territory now as we seek to be the church without meeting together for a time. To help aid our spiritual growth as a congregation, we want to share these resources with you. In the link below, you will find a variety of links to the videos for several studies, including Adam Hamilton’s “Unafraid” study that a few groups have used, the “Adult Bible Studies” that is currently used by the Crusaders class, and the “Deep Blue Kids” videos that are used in Power and Light. There are also videos for four Lenten studies! This is a great resource that is being made available and I encourage you to take a look and watch any studies that pique your interest. We will continue to find ways to help us virtually connect with one another as we navigate new ways of being the church while helping to keep vulnerable people safe during this pandemic. Please let us know what needs arise that you are aware of.

Link: https://t.e2ma.net/message/n27jmc/zrr9y5

God Is With Us. We Are Not Alone.

In the midst of the COVID-19 onslaught, I keep going back to these words from A Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada:

In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

We don’t know what will happen in the coming days and weeks. We fear the worst, but pray for the best knowing that either way God will be with us. We are never alone. Thanks be to God.

Love Your Neighbor, Slow the Spread

Amanda Cormack shared the following:

Slowing the spread of COVID-19 (via social distancing, etc.) matters not because it lessens your chance of catching this bug—many of us are going to catch this bug at some point. That’s kind of a given, considering how easily it seems to spread.

It matters because our medical professionals and facilities are finite resources. There aren’t enough of them to treat all of us at the same time. And just because you don’t need your doctor for COVID-19 doesn’t mean that you (or someone you love) won’t need your hospital and doctors for other reasons: car accidents, heart attacks, spring allergies, etc. are still going to happen, and when they do, you’re going to want to see your doctor. So “flattening the curve” means we’re reducing the likelihood that we’ll all need those medical resources at the same time.

That’s why major sporting events are being cancelled and postponed, and schools and churches are going virtual. It’s not because we’re over-reacting or panicking. It’s because we want to support our doctors and nurses as they fight this thing, and care for our loved ones, and improve their own chances for health.

Jesus taught us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. At this time, physical-social distancing is a way to show love for your neighbor. When my grandchildren ask me what I did during the Great 2020 COVID-19 Outbreak, I’m going to tell them that I was a hero, that I saved lives, and that I did so by staying home and watching Netflix.

But physical-social distancing need not be emotional-social distancing. Reach out through phone calls, emails, and texts to check on those who may be isolated and alone. Let them know that they are beloved children of God. Let them know that their church loves them. Let them know that you love them. You don’t need to explicitly say, “I love you,” making a phone call or sending an email or text is enough.

Help Us Get the Word Out

I’ve put out the news that worship services tomorrow (March 15, 2020) are cancelled through this blog, facebook, twitter, email, and text. But I’m concerned that there are still people who don’t know about it. I’m writing this post to ask those of you who know to share the news with those who may not. Please also inform those folks of the radio and streaming options that will still be available.

Change in Worship Plans (Please Read)

In compliance with the recommendation of the Dickinson County Health Officer (Dr. Brian Holmes), we are CANCELLING in-person worship until at least the first Sunday in April.* We plan to be online (at https://www.facebook.com/pg/abilenefirstumc/videos/) and on the radio with KABI 1560 AM. Jenny and I will be doing this from our home (your parsonage). We encourage you to gather your family together to watch and listen and worship as a family.

We know that this course of action may be frustrating for some of you. It’s frustrating for us as well. Please know that we are doing this not only because it is good public policy, but also because we love all of you and we don’t want to lose any of you.  That said, we know that isolation is difficult and stressful. Please pray for one another and stay in touch with one another (and especially with those who are alone) via phone calls, emails, and social media. We’ll be reaching out to local care homes to see how we can be supportive of members there without endangering their health.

In an attempt to lead by example, Jenny and I will be making a special effort to offer daily devotions, theological thoughts, and scriptural reflections from this blog and email list beginning tomorrow.

*If Dr. Holmes’ recommendation changes, our plans will change as well.

COVID-19 Worship Update

At present, Jenny and I intend to hold both regular Sunday morning services open to the congregation and the public this coming Sunday (March 15, 2020). HOWEVER, in line with the guidance of the Great Plains Annual Conference, we urge those who are vulnerable to the COVID-19 Coronavirus to stay home. We also encourage you to stay home if you are sick. If you are not part of a vulnerable population nor sick, we still urge you to base your attendance on what you feel is best for you and your family. We know that those who stay home will be doing so out of an abundance of caution and not out of a shortage of piety.

The 10:30 worship service will be broadcast on KABI 1050 AM and live-streamed on Facebook. In our experience, the sound quality will be better if you can livestream the service. Those who plan to attend in person should know that we will skip the time of “Greeting One Another” and an offering plate will be placed at the door following the services rather than offering plates being passed among the gathered congregation during the services.

Thank you for your patience and discretion. God has given us one another that we might look after each other. Please take all reasonable precautions for the sake of your own health and for the sake of those siblings in Christ who are especially vulnerable to communicable diseases like COVID-19 Coronavirus and influenza.

You can watch the live stream on Facebook without joining Facebook at this link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/abilenefirstumc/videos/

Voices: For the Spirit of Truth

Looking through The United Methodist Hymnal while planning worship this Sunday, I came across the following prayer, number 597:

From the cowardice that dares not face new truth,
from the laziness that is contented with half-truth,
from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord, deliver me. Amen. — Prayer from Kenya

No Weekly Sunday Communion This Lent

After conversations with lay leadership and discussions between ourselves, Jenny and I have decided that, with so many things going around, this Lent is an inauspicious time to begin the spiritual practice of weekly communion. We will talk to the worship design team about when to give weekly communion another try, and we’ll let you know what we decide. We still plan to have Holy Communion on Wednesday evenings and the first Sunday of the month.