This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Though we haven’t been together in worship for months, in today’s update I want to tell you how encouraged I am about the wonderful ways God is continuing to move us forward during this time of pandemic.
On Sunday we celebrated 4 years of fruitful ministry of Rachel and Ryan DeLaune and said fond farewells to them in a socially distanced, afternoon reception. This week our Trustees are already hard at work cleaning and preparing the parsonage for Associate Pastor Madeline Baum and her family, whom we expect to arrive this coming weekend. We are excited and look forward to welcoming Pastor Madeline, Lou, and Sara!
I continue to be humbled by the amazing generosity of the people at FUMC and the ways we are continuing to be a church in unusual times. Every day, tithes and offerings continue to be dropped by the church office and/or given online. Our leadership teams continue to meet online to move our vision forward. The staff continues to prayerfully plan and implement worship, connections, and financial responsibilities. Small groups and Bible study groups continue to meet on a weekly basis. An online prayer team is praying for pastors, staff, our community, and any request that is shared throughout the week. Outreach, service, and fellowship continue as we find new ways to interact with our world.
I know many of you have questions about the short-term and long-term future of our church. Here are some additional updates:
Reopening “Healthy Church” task force:
This team continues to meet and discuss online and in-person worship and facility use in the future.
The Florida Conference continues to actively lead on the subject of “healthy” church reopening. They have posted the following video with comprehensive information here:
As for our church specifically, we are not yet in a position to give a time frame for resuming in-person worship until the city of Boca and Palm Beach County move to Phase Two of reopening. Once in Phase Two, we will intentionally begin preparing for an in-person worship experience. Even then, some of you have expressed that you will not feel safe gathering, even during Phase Two reopening. We understand this decision and affirm your desire to continue to worship online. Rest assured that we are planning to continue online worship into 2021 and perhaps beyond.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll share more details about how we will proceed when a date is selected for in-person worship. Please continue to pray for the reopening team and the leadership of our church. Our number-one priority is to praise and worship God in a safe environment.
With the arrival of Pastor Madeline, and the end of Pastor Kernie’s contract as preaching pastor on our West Campus, we are in the process of evaluating pastoral responsibilities. I’m pleased to announce that Pastor Kernie has accepted the role of part-time Pastor of Congregational Care for the coming year. In this role he will continue to connect with people on both campuses. We are so grateful to Pastor Kernie for his year of service on the West Campus and are delighted that he is willing to continue as one of our pastors.
When new pastors arrive and begin interacting with our staff, leadership and members, it’s typical to allow time for that transition. Part of what I plan to do in the coming weeks is work with Pastor Madeline to determine the best way to use her gifts and graces in accordance with our church’s needs. Many of you have asked about the future of Dinner Church, for example, which we do intend to continue. I’ll share more details with you in the future about pastoral roles and responsibilities as decisions are made.
Wednesday race conversations in July:
Starting Wednesday, July 8 at 7:00 PM we will meet online for a time of learning and sharing conversations about race. The plan is to share a conversation video on Facebook and YouTube on Tuesday and then gather online Wednesday to discuss in small groups led by facilitators. The first video will be the conversation between my colleague and friend, Rev. William Chaney, Jr., that was shared in worship on June 14. More details will be shared next week in the weekly Constant Contact email.
West Campus task force:
The task force has continued to meet regularly online since our Church Conference in February, exploring options for partnership and/or sale of the west campus. The Leadership Council approved listing the property with Avison Young, a commercial real estate company, to assist with locating potential partners and/or interested buyers. A full update will be shared at the next Leadership Council meeting on Monday, July 20. Please remember that any eventual partnership or sale offer that is recommended by the task force will be brought before the entire church membership for a vote.
Online prayer ministry:
The pandemic has made it clear that prayer is essential as the body of Christ. Think of a car without an engine. Prayer is the engine that allows the church to reflect Christ and expand the kingdom of God. I’m happy to announce that Min Pusey has volunteered to coordinate this important ministry. Min will be sharing more details about our online prayer ministry in the month of July.
Finally, a BIG thank you to the volunteers, staff, and pastors that have allowed us to continue during this season of pandemic. May God continue to bless this amazing team and allow us find new ways to share the love and good news of Jesus Christ.
In God’s Amazing Grace,