Dear Paragould FUMC,
Grace and peace in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
THIS SUNDAY: “Good News for Tough Times: Romans 8-13”all people. Further, we know Paul is writing in the context of first century Rome where life was unpleasant and unrelenting for developing Christian communities. Admittedly, Romans can be dense, but with a little study and attention, it is a beautiful and encouraging letter. We are in need of some encouragement right now! And I believe Romans 8-13 is a wonderful place to study and grow. This sermon series will have more of a “Bible study” feel as we give attention to these texts, one chapter per week over the next 6 weeks. Dust off your Bible and prepare to study together. This Sunday we’ll focus on Romans 8:12-30 which includes some of my favorite verses and phrases. Consider verse 18, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” This has been a supportive word for countless Christians across the centuries who find themselves in difficult circumstances. It also helps to put our own challenges in context. Our lives have been turned upside down, and still yet we continue to enjoy and celebrate many of life’s blessings including the ability to worship in freedom and truth. First-century, Roman Christians could not imagine the modern expressions of church! In preparing for Sunday, consider your sufferings. But also take account of your blessings. Looking forward to worshipping with you!
SENIOR SENDOFF SUNDAY 7pm: This Sunday at 7pm we are celebrating a “Senior Sendoff” service. High School Seniors in our community have faced a difficult time. Further, they are looking toward what will be a strange and challenging season. We want to take this moment to recognize, celebrate, and pray for our graduating seniors and their families. Because of the necessary safety measures, we are only allowing 50 folks for in-person worship including wearing masks and practicing social-distancing. Therefore, seniors and their families are the only people who will be in attendance. We invite the rest of you to watch the service over live-stream. Below are the student’s names. I invite you to hold them and others in prayer in these coming weeks and months.
FUMC Class of 2020 Seniors: Claire Busby, Eli Cook, Anna Gazaway, Alexis Griffith, Phoebe Harris, Luke Hickox, Haleigh Jackson, Wake Kasserman, Jas Malone, Shea Malone, Carter Starling, McKenna Timmons, Carlee Weatherford
NEW MEMBERS I extend a word of welcome to our newest church members: Maxine Smith and her daughters Lola and Vada. Maxine recently married Justin Smith who was already a member of our congregation. Maxine and the girls wanted to transfer their membership to FUMC as soon as possible, so we did so over internet-video-chat! Cody Gray joined us as our lay representative in welcoming and celebrating our newest members. You can see the video on the church’s Facebook page. Send a note of welcome to 1303 Florence St., Paragould, AR 72450.
PRAY FOR THE PILLOWS Youth & Children’s Ministries director Kaylee and her husband Alan are preparing for surgeries on their son Luke. Luke needs a procedure known as endoscopic craniectomy which involves making space in his skull for proper brain development. The first surgery is scheduled for August 14. He will be in the hospital and then need close attention as his skull will be very delicate. Another surgery will follow some weeks afterward. Kaylee plans to work as much as possible including working from home some. There may be a time when she needs to take a limited leave. Staff and volunteers will make sure Youth and Children’s ministries do not miss a beat. Typically we do not share church members’ medical information, but the Pillows must keep their family as safe as possible including with respect to the COVID-19 virus in the coming weeks. Further, Kaylee gave us her permission to share this news so that you can begin praying for Luke and their family now. We need to avoid in-person visits with the Pillows, but I know they appreciate your prayers and acts of support from a safe distance.
IN-PERSON WORSHIP I thank those who have attended for helping support all of the necessary safety guidelines. The church must help to keep our community and our worshippers safe. Thank you for following the ARUMC & Bishop’s requirements for safe gatherings. Below is a summary of what to expect if you return to in-person worship.
+ You must pre-register to attend church via the church’s website (fumcparagould.org/register) or by calling the church office. 9am & 11am services will have an attendance limit of 50 total. We will add more services as needed.
+ Live-streaming, radio, and television access continue
+ There is no pressure on anyone to return, especially if you are in a vulnerable population.
+ Everyone in the facility will wear a facemask except those speaking or singing.
+ You will be seated from front to back, every other pew/row, and encouraged to spread out as much as possible.
+ You can download the order of worship from fumcparagould.org/homeboundrelaunch.
+ Stationary giving boxes are available. Giving online or via mail is encouraged.
+ As services end, we will exit back to front and make our way outside as quickly as possible.
+ Children are welcome, but no childcare will be available.
Typically in July we are ramping up plans for Back to School and Fall programming. Staff and committees are still engaged in this effort, but we are doing so knowing things will look different this year! We have a lot of ideas on the proverbial whiteboard, but we will press forward with caution as we want to be as safe as possible with respect to staff and volunteers. I invite you to be in prayer for our church and its members with respect to our annual ministries. May the Lord lead us to be creative and flexible. May the Holy Spirit open our hearts and minds to God’s work in new ways in these strange days.
Grace & Peace,
Dear Paragould FUMC,
Governor Hutchinson & the Arkansas Department of Health have shared expectations for churches returning to in-person worship. The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church and Bishop’s Task Force have offered further guidance including a letter from the Bishop urging churches to practice great caution as we return to in-person meetings.
FUMC in-person activities are suspended through May. Following the aforementioned guidelines, we hope to then proceed into “Stage 1” which allows for groups of less than 10 and before later pursuing “Stage 2” which allows for groups less than 50. Congregations will proceed in different ways these next few weeks and months. Smaller churches will likely return to worship sooner. Larger congregations have more obstacles in returning to in-person worship. Though in the meantime, we have excellent resources like quality live-streaming worship experiences. Thank you for your patient support.
FUMC has organized a “Relaunch Team” under the guidance of the Conference which will oversee plans to reopen FUMC for public access and worship. We have much to consider including scheduling, safety, liabilities, and expectations. The team will meet this coming week. Members include: Rev. Dane Womack, Rev. Chase Burns, Stewart Runsick (Council Chair), Cody Gray (Lay Leader), Matt Hobbs (Trustees Chair), Brian Pearson (Worship Coordinator), Dr. Vern Ann Shotts (Pediatrician), Jill Weeks (V.P. Patient Services St. Bernards), Robert Thompson (J.D./SPRC Committee), Luke Cook (Insurance/Finance Committee), Shelia Ragsdell (City of Paragould/SPRC Chair), Denise Chipman (FUMC Administrator), Karole Risker (FUMC Communications & Technology), and Nancy Cupp (FUMC Hospitality Captain/Finance Committee).
Upcoming business meetings:
This month the Witt House is collecting specific donations: canned Corn, Green Beans, Pinto Beans, and Tuna. Purchase these goods during a regular grocery pick-up. Do not make a special trip. Donations should be left at the Witt House, near the back door by the big freezer. Drop off anytime.
Grace & Peace,
Greetings Paragould FUMC,
From Psalm 66, verse 16; “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.” This time last year I and my family and Rev. Chase were finding out we would be coming to Paragould and FUMC. One thing I enjoyed about those first few months was your willingness to share. Do you remember our cottage meetings where you spoke about your lives and church history? Others of you met with me in my office or shared during a conversation on a Sunday morning. You have incredible stories of faith including personal trials and losses, interesting experiences, and hopes for the future of FUMC. You may not think of it in those terms, but this is your “testimony”. As the psalmist says, “Come and hear and I will tell what God has done for me.” You did that! Remember those stories! In trying times it is good to recall the difficult moments through which God sustained us. One day, this pandemic will also be part of our testimony and our church’s story. I look forward to when we share “what God did for us” during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Hang in there!
PRAYER: Source of all creation, maker of the world and everything in it, you are never far from each one of us. We continue to seek you, O giver of life and breath. Reveal yourself to us; dwell with us; and abide in us. We live because of you. We hope because of you. In the name of Jesus Christ in whom we live, and the Spirit of Truth who abides in us, Amen.
+ Governor Hutchinson & the AR Dept. of Health have shared expectations for churches returning to worship. The ARUMC Reopening Task Force have offered further guidance. We are assembling a FUMC Relaunch Team to guide the reopening of FUMC. Gatherings at FUMC are suspended through the month of May. Further information forthcoming.
+ Our weekly pattern of Facebook ministries continues: The Richardson family shared the story of Joseph for our Children’s Storytime Monday evening. Great job! … On Wednesday 7pm, please watch an interview with professor of bioethics and theology Dr. Brett McCarty (Duke Divinity School) regarding a Christian response to COVID-19. Brett is a good friend of mine and a wise fellow! … Lastly, continue to tune in Thursday at 7pm for the Worship Moment including some of your favorite songs live from FUMC!
+ We celebrate the life of Luke William Pillow, newborn son of Kaylee and Alan. Continue to hold the Pillows in prayer during this season. Over the next couple of months, Rev. Chase will oversee our Youth program. Chase served 4 years as a Youth Director and recently completed his speciality certificate in Youth Ministry. Chase will do a great job! I will help coordinate Children’s ministry responsibilities, though many of us will work together. Currently there are no plans for in-person Youth or Children’s ministries.
+ In Friday’s newsletter, we mentioned the Witt House needing specific donations: canned Corn, Green Beans, Pinto Beans, and Tuna. Purchase these goods during a regular grocery pick-up. Do not make a special trip. Donations should be left at the Witt House, near the back door by the big freezer. Drop off anytime.
Grace & Peace, Rev. Dane