“So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.”(Hebrews 12:1–2 CEB)
Dear Members and Friends of Asbury UMC,
Grace and Peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I pray that this letter finds you well and that you are finding glimpses of God’s presence each and every day. When I last wrote to you, I told you that the Annual Conference is allowing congregations to consider hosting in-person worship services. This is still the guidance and our goal. Unfortunately, the resumption of in-person worship will take a little longer.
This week, I met with our leadership team (Committee Chairpersons (Nancy Ann Morgan, Scott Rahm, Ilona Hagen, and Karen Hall), Lay Leader (Karl Voigt), and Lay Representative to Annual Conference (Miriam Lareau) to discuss and continue to develop our reopening plans. As part of our discussions, we have listened to your concerns and your comments and reviewed the guidance provided by the Annual Conference. After conversation, and because of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in our state, we have made the decision to continue online worship through the end of July. As we continue to meet and develop our relaunch plans throughout July, we will make a determination regarding in-person worship for August. You will still be able to continue to access the worship service via our website or Facebook page, submit your tithes and offerings by mail or through our website, and contact the church office for any assistance that you might need.
As most of us have discovered, there is no road map for navigating this new reality in which we find ourselves. I want to personally thank the members of this team for working together and making tough decisions that might be unpopular to some. I understand the desire to worship together in-person. Know that we will. It is just going to take a little longer than anyone could have expected.
The early church was greatly persecuted. Its members faced attacks, ridicule, and possible death. The writer of the above scripture knew this and new the difficulties that stood before them. The writer is reminding the readers that they are not alone. The many leaders and prophets of the Old Testament are with them and encouraging them. They are reminded that Jesus, through all of his hardships and persecutions, continued journeying toward his goal by the power of his love. They are encouraged to continue to run the race and keep their eyes on the final glory.
My prayer is that you will continue to run this race in which we currently find ourselves. Know that you do not run alone. The ever-present God is with you. Help others along the journey. When you feel exhausted, know that a cloud of witnesses are with you. In the end, our faith will be made stronger.