4th Sunday of Easter/April 29, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that I hope you’ve had a chance to listen to Pastor Paul’s message from Sunday (April 26)? It was outstanding. And how about all those wonderful musicians we have in the life of our church! We are so fortunate. You can watch Sunday’s service here: 9:30 contemporary service or 11:00 traditional service.
I do hope you can join us for our virtual Matthews United Methodist Town Hall Gathering tonight (April 29) from 7:00 to 8:00 pm on YouTube.com/MatthewsUMC. This is an opportunity for our leaders and congregation to connect as a faith community and answer some of your questions about our Church.
A Few Thoughts on Re-Opening
You can’t imagine how grateful I am for the overwhelming support and encouragement you have provided for the Church through these difficult weeks of “sheltering in place.” The massive effort on behalf of society — both to slow and to prevent the spread of this pandemic — has been humbling as well as painful for so many. No aspect of our lives is left untouched, either by the direct effects of the disease itself or the residual impact of our social distancing.
My interactions with people have been powerful. I wept with one family that could not be with their deceased loved one at death because of the virus. I cried over the phone with one of you who cannot visit her loved one in a care facility. I have listened to the confusion of a business owner scrambling to salvage what was once a thriving small company. I have prayed over the phone with a young adult so desiring to start a new family, yet corporate layoffs loom like a dark storm cloud. I have spoken with the high school senior who wonders whether or not college will be really open in the fall.
These have been and remain disruptive, uncertain, and isolating days. There is an urgent desire and need for the lives we once shared together. At Matthews United Methodist Church (MUMC), this means lifting our voices together in praise, hugging the friends we cherish, and dropping our children off for a Sunday School class or a day at camp. These activities will come, but we must be patient.
Since a number of states began transitioning out of “shelter-in-place,” some of you have inquired as to the Church’s plan for re-opening. Sadly, my answer to that question will be a longer timeline than what any of us would wish. In consultation with our bishop, key leaders and medical experts, our approach toward moving back to filling our pews and normal programming will be cautious, deliberate, and methodical (always the good Methodist).
Our framework for decision-making is not based out of fear and timidity, but wisdom and vigilance. The safety and health of the people of MUMC must be paramount as we begin the process of gathering in person. The structure of our plan (being developed) will include new procedures for cleaning/sanitation, compliance with size regulations and types of activities. You can imagine the complexity of all that we do here at MUMC – from sports to support groups to Vacation Bible School to musical ensembles. During a typical week, a few thousand people walk through the doors of our campus. The need to evaluate the risk of each particular ministry is not a responsibility we take lightly on your behalf.
We will continue to monitor the advice of our civic leaders and health professionals as we move ahead. This will not be a typical summer as a larger society or as a local church. As soon as we have details about the months ahead, we will share them with you.
Thank you for the partnership we have in making the love of God real to our community, our region and our world. The love of God made real to us in Jesus Christ cannot be confined to a church building or hindered by a disease. Hope will rise from our efforts to encourage one another and our community. Already, our mission efforts in the last few weeks have helped Greenway Park Elementary School, COS Kids Child Development Center, Matthews Help Center, Charlotte Rescue Mission (Doves Nest/Rebound), Urban Ministry Center/Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Turning Point, Hoskins Park, Matthews Free Medical Clinic, Loaves and Fishes and Kidron Valley Ministries in Uganda.
Friends, the Holy Spirit is at work in spite of our limitations, and one day we will gather together “face to face” beyond the dimness of the darkened mirror in which we find ourselves today. Yes, this is partial knowing of one another but one day we shall be fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
A Couple of Reminders
- Wellness Ministry – Our Wellness Ministry, consisting of health professionals who have volunteered their time to MUMC, is designed to help navigate our members through any health or wellness issues that arise in our community. They have an updated FAQ that you can find on the COVID-19 response page of our website, which includes names of some of the team who are available to assist any of us who may need it. To learn more about our Wellness Ministry, please click here.
- Pray for your Church, community and world during these uncertain days. We call it Fixed-Hour Prayer. Every day take the time to pray for our Church, community and world between Noon and 12:15 pm. In addition, we offer this Fixed-Action Prayer to use each time you wash your hands. Hopefully, we are all doing a lot of that, so I invite you to pray the following: “Help me and my Church, O God, to be a source of hope and encouragement to all.”
A Note on Scam Emails
We are aware of scam emails that appear they are being sent from our Church leadership, particularly from me. We have alleviated much of this by removing email addresses from our Church website, but some still slip through! Please remember the following if you receive a suspicious email:
- Look at the email address. Emails from our staff always come from @matthewsumc.org email addresses, mostly firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A Church staff member will never contact you directly via email asking to “donate” for any reason.
- Do not respond to the email or to any solicitations. Just delete the email.
- Questions? Contact Beth at 704-815-1989.
This Sunday (May 3) in Worship
I want to begin to include the Passing of the Peace again in our livestream weekly worship, but I need your help in doing so. Do you mind sending a short video of you and/or your family saying the words, “The peace of Christ be with you”? Please contact Joel at 704-815-1981 (leave a message). I’m excited for you to see what we’ll be doing with them.
I hope you can join us for online worship Sunday at 9:30 or 11:00 am. Click here for either service: YouTube.com/MatthewsUMC. Since it will be the first Sunday of the month, please plan to have your elements (bread and juice), as well as your candle to light. My sermon comes with a thought-provoking title, “Facing North When the Economy Goes South” from I Kings 17:7-16. I’ll see you on Sunday, if not tonight.
Remember … Jesus is on the loose,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know Cliff McElveen was featured in a half page ad for Plantation Estates in the Matthews/Mint Hill newspaper and The Charlotte Observer?
Did you know Liz Mockler and her daughter Hayley delivered juice boxes and peanut butter crackers to Charlotte’s Migrant Assistant Project? MAP has provided more than 600 lunches each weekend to OurBridge, which during COVID-19 has been serving lunch to immigrant children on the east side.
Did you know that several youth and their families participated in the United Youth “Serve at Home Saturday” opportunity on Saturday, April 25, to provide care for their community, neighbors, and family during this stay at home season?