7th Sunday after Pentecost/July 22, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that I had the great privilege of officiating two Memorial Services this week. First of all, I traveled to the beautiful Western North Carolina Veteran’s Cemetery in Black Mountain on Friday, July 17, to officiate at the Memorial Service of Dr. Joel Vickers. The service was a beautiful celebration of his remarkable service as a soldier, educator, Sunday School teacher, dad, granddad and husband. The service was marked with full military honors and a Scottish bagpiper. Then, on Saturday, July 18, I officiated at the powerful service of Faye Hollingsworth. This service saw a family-only gathering held at Heritage Matthews while it was broadcast over Facebook Live to others. Faye and her family are some of God’s brightest lights.
One of the greatest honors of my ministry life is the privilege of being with families in these holy moments.
Then Sunday, July 19, brought great worship — an interview with my friend Will Thames, the reading of Holy Scripture from the incomparable Hunter Adcock, and so much more. If you missed it, you can watch here. You can also watch a short video about Rainbow Week here.
How Long, Oh Lord?
Did you know the Psalmist lifts the lament, “How long, oh Lord?” in over a dozen Psalms? In our 19th week of virtual worship, we find ourselves again asking, “How long, oh Lord, will our exile last?” We do not know that answer, but we know that each of us has a role to play by loving our neighbor through responsible personal behavior. At Matthews United Methodist (MUMC) we are seeking to be the best neighbors we know how to be in this challenging season. With the decision by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and the Mayor and Governor asking us to forego large gatherings, we will continue meeting together virtually each Sunday for the foreseeable future. I hope you are worshipping with us each Sunday on Facebook Live, YouTube or our livestream.
Right now our neighbors need MUMC’s witness of Reach, Teach, Praise and Service. I am so proud that we are still the Church. I am proud that we are standing together even as we stand 6 feet apart. Exciting ministries of outreach and connection continue to happen such as virtual adult small group studies, Vacation Bible School, Summer Sondays, virtual Rainbow Express Camp, Movie Nights sponsored by our United Youth, Service Days involving our United Youth, United Kids Scavenger Hunts, and so much more.
While our MUMC staff community can’t be with you in person now, please know that we hold each of you in our prayers every day. One day, we will move from lamentations of exile to the joyous sounds of Psalm 100 “entering God’s gates with thanksgiving, and into God’s courts with praise (and a mask)!” The apostle Paul prompts us, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up!” (Galatians 6:9)
Friends, we are the church, and our world desperately needs what we have to offer during these uncertain days.
Weekday Preschool & Lighthouse Afterschool Ministry Update
Over these past months our Preschool Advisory Committee, Church Key Leaders, and the management community at Matthews UMC have spent time carefully reviewing research and prayerfully considering how we might move forward for our school-related ministries during the pandemic. Research from top healthcare experts, detailed documentation from the CDC, direction from the Western NC Conference of The United Methodist Church, and findings shared by our own MUMC Reopening Task Force have been included in the process. In addition, we waited on the most recent announcement from our Governor, as well as Charlotte Mecklenburg and Union County Schools on their final determination for starting school this fall.
After lengthy meetings and prayerful consideration, the most difficult decision has been made to keep our Weekday Preschool and Lighthouse Afterschool ministries closed for the foreseeable future. The safety of our children, our families, our staff and our congregation are our top priorities. Given the unknowns surrounding the pandemic, the continued closure of the Church’s facilities, and the recommended CDC guidelines, we are limited in our ability to provide the children with a safe, comfortable and stable environment. Bringing back only a portion of our enrolled families would be problematic on many levels and now the Governor’s and schools’ decisions impacts the ability for some teachers with children of their own to return to work at all. With the changing landscape and unprecedented times to consider, our Preschool Advisory Committee and Church leadership will continue to evaluate and make a decision about the future of these ministries next year.
We share our deepest gratitude for our teachers, staff and families and invite you to join in prayer for all who are connected to our Preschool and Afterschool…and for what this next season might bring. Please click to our MatthewsUMC.org/updates page to learn more and to read “Questions and Answers” around this difficult decision.
On Being Anti-Racist
Below are some wonderful opportunities for you to deepen your understanding of what it means to be Anti-Racist.
- Participate in Bridge-Building Conversations the last Wednesday of each month. Our July conversation will be led by Pastor Brad on Wednesday evening, July 29, at 7:00 pm via Zoom. It will be based on the book, Fear of The Other by Bishop William Willimon. Purchase the book here to prepare insights and questions for meaningful conversation with Pastor Brad and others. To join the conversation, click here and use the password “meet.”
- Oneness Embraced is a study seeking to promote a biblical understanding of the kingdom foundation of oneness. Fully encompassing areas of unity, history, culture, the church and social justice, we will look to the scriptures for the balance between righteousness and justice that is crucial for this generation and in training the next. Sunday evenings, August 2 – September 6, 7:00-8:00 pm, led by Frank & Terry Brown. You can register here.
- 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge will offer a variety of resources to help you take one action every day for 21 days, to help further your understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression and equity. We will use resources that include films, podcasts, readings, etc. We will follow the format of one thing a day (on your own), then meet on Zoom once a week to have a conversation. Sunday evenings, 5:00-6:00 pm, August 16- August 30. Amy DeVore has done the Challenge and will facilitate our Zoom conversation. You can register here.
This Week (July 26) in Worship
This week in our CCH community Pastor Roldan will begin a new worship series, A Church Without Borders. The scripture lesson will be from the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 9:10-17 and the title of his message, “Everybody Counts.”
In our morning services, we will conclude our worship series, A Church FOR the Community: Studies from the Book of Nehemiah. My sermon for Sunday is titled “At the Intersection of Pain and Hope.” You can prepare for Sunday by reading Nehemiah 8-10.
And, as always, during these strange, uncertain and very challenging days, remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
Grace. Peace. Gratitude.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that Pastor Ken Lyon has joined the clergy team at Wesley Memorial UMC in High Point as the Pastor of Church Vitality and Generosity (part-time)? We all know they will be blessed by having him on staff there! Also, Pastor Ken is recovering from a fairly mild case of COVID-19. We sent Ken & Lydia a meal last week to let them know how much we love & miss them.
Did you know that Russ & Margaret Rogers celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this Thursday, July 23? Happy Anniversary to this special couple!
Did you know that Servant’s Heart Circle was the first group to volunteer at the Matthews Help Center since the stay at home order back in March? They donned masks and helped sort Christmas donations!
Global Impact Disaster and Crisis Relief/Recovery Fund contributed to Changed Choices, our ministry partner dedicated to helping women build new lives beyond prison walls.
- Over 50% of the Changed Choices community clients have lost employment due to COVID19. Our gifts will assist with utilities, rent and groceries.
- Many clients have lost their work-release jobs during this time of pandemic. This funding will provide toiletries, supplies and stamps.
- All programs and classes in jails and prisons have been cancelled, due to COVID19, increasing the women’s feelings of isolation. Our donation will purchase books and crafts to help these women.
THANK YOU for giving to the Global Impact Disaster and Crisis Relief/Recovery Fund.