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Eastertide Update
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easter 1 300x169Happy Easter! Easter Sunday may be over but this week begins the season of Eastertide–the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost. It’s a festive time in the church year as we celebrate resurrection, new life, and new creation. An even though we we are still in an uncertain time, there is much to celebrate as well as much to which we can look forward. To that end, I wanted to give you, the members and friends of Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church, some updates on how we are continuing to be the church even though we’re scattered. Our work continues and there’s much to celebrate!

 

 

WORSHIP UPDATE

We transitioned to online worship services only on March 15, and Easter Sunday marked our fifth week in this virtual setting. The results have actually been amazing. We’ve been averaging around 500 views of our worship services each week over all of our streaming platforms. If you consider the fact that more than one person is usually watching each screen represented, that means we are likely reaching upwards of a thousand people with the good news of Jesus Christ. Our Easter online worship attendance rivaled our regular in-person attendance for that Sunday with 617 views. We are hearing from people around the country who are watching our services, with a few others outside the country watching as well. While the coronavirus has largely left church buildings empty, we are seeing the gospel being spread across the world in unprecedented ways through electronic media. This will no doubt bear fruit for revival once the pandemic is over.

 

While our online services have been a success, they are no substitute for getting together for worship in person. We are looking forward to the day when restrictions are lifted and we can begin meeting in the church building, but it’s likely that won’t happen all at once. We anticipate a gradual process of a returning to “normal” and, in the interim, anticipate that there will still be recommendations for social distancing, limiting crowd sizes, and enhancing hygienic practices. Our staff team is looking at this and are making contingency plans. Some of those plans include adding additional worship services during the week (perhaps some outdoors by the crosses, weather permitting) and expanding seating to the Great Room in order to spread out our worship attendance and allow for more social distancing. Our procedures for serving communion, taking up the offering, and doing hospitality will also be modified so that we can do as much as possible to keep our worshippers safe. We’ll be sharing more with you about this in the coming weeks as we respond to the anticipated change in some of the current restrictions.

 

Our Morning Prayer services on Facebook Live have been a great success. We gather for about 15 minutes each weekday at 7:30am for readings, a devotional, and prayer. You do not need to have a Facebook account to join us. If you haven’t yet participated, I encourage you to do so. This is a discipline we will likely continue even after the pandemic has subsided. There’s no better way to start the day!

 

NEW SERMON SERIES BEGINNING THIS SUNDAY

In uncertain times, it’s often difficult to know how to pray. Sometimes the words just don’t come. That’s when the Scriptures can speak to us and speak for us, and that’s especially true of the Psalms. This collection of poems and prayers was the prayer book for ancient Israel and for Jesus, who quoted the Psalms more than any other Old Testament book. Throughout Christian history, praying the Psalms has been a daily discipline–a rhythm of prayer that shapes the heart and mind. The Psalms express a deep honesty about the human condition, awe and wonder about the nature and purposes of God, and joyous praise and thanksgiving for the God who saves. We find nearly every emotion and every situation in the Psalms, which is why reading and praying through them can help to guide us through these days. Join us for this unique and powerful sermon series that will introduce you to a new and meaningful expression of prayer. You may wish to pick up a copy W. David O. Taylor’s new book Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life, which is the companion book for the series and perfect for individual or small group study.

 

If you’d like to set up an online small group to discuss the series or the book, let us know and we’ll get you started!

 

MISSIONS AND COMMUNITY UPDATE

Our Missions Team is doing an incredible job discovering and meeting needs during this time of pandemic. They are inviting us to collect protective equipment, food, and other items for distribution to those who need it most right now. They are connecting people in need with helpers who can grab groceries or run errands for those who can’t get out. Click here to learn how you can be involved. Our women’s ministry has been sewing masks for those on the front lines. Volunteers continue to serve in soup kitchens and in a myriad of other ways.

 

In addition to these opportunities to serve our community, we’ve also had people take on the responsibility of checking in on our church members regularly. Each of these leaders is calling on seven church families to see how they’re managing through the crisis, to pray for them, and to see how TLUMC can support them. Many of you have received these phone calls (and if you haven’t and would like to be on the list, email Pastor Jason –  ). This is a great way for us to continue making new connections even in this time of physical separation.

 

As always, please let us know if you have a need or would like to speak to one of the Pastors. You can email me () or call the church office at 719-481-1365 to set up a time to chat either on the phone or online. We are checking voicemail at the church regularly.

 

UPDATE ON THE UNITED METHODIST GENERAL CONFERENCE

The UMC General Conference, which was scheduled to take place in May, has been postponed until 2021. While no date has yet been published, we anticipate that it will take place in the late summer of next year. That postponement obviously changes the timeline for the anticipated separation of the denomination, which the vote on the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation would have addressed. The extended timeline, while disappointing for many, allows more time for prayer and discernment. During this extended interim period, TLUMC will continue to be a vital and faithful United Methodist congregation in the Mountain Sky Annual Conference and will join the rest of the UMC in prayer and preparation for whatever future is ahead in 2021.

 

FINANCE UPDATE

Thanks to your continued generosity, TLUMC remains in a strong financial position during this crisis. We are continuing to pay our staff, maintain the church building, and support ministries that are carrying on vital work for the Kingdom of God. As needs emerge in our community during this crisis, we have been able to help meet them with financial and material support.

 

While the recently passed CARES Act provides payroll relief in the forms of forgivable loans to small businesses (including churches), the TLUMC Church Council chose not to apply for one of these loans because of our strong financial position and because we recognize that there are other churches and organizations in far greater need.

 

Given the extended timeline of the UMC General Conference, the TLUMC Church Council, at its April meeting, made a decision to restart full payment of the church’s apportionment obligations to the Mountain Sky Conference and the general United Methodist Church. In December of 2019, the TLUMC Church Conference voted to hold the church’s 2020 apportioned funds in church-held designated accounts as we awaited the outcome of the 2020 General Conference, giving the Church Council discretionary authority to disburse those funds as appropriate. With the postponement of General Conference, the increasing need for ministry support in the global UMC due to the coronavirus, and the expectation in the proposed Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation (submitted in January 2020) that churches will maintain their financial obligations until separation occurs, the Church Council believes that releasing and maintaining these payments is prudent at this time. The TLUMC apportionments are thus currently paid up to date and in full.

 

A FINAL WORD

I want to express how proud I am of TLUMC and the great things that God is doing among us even in these challenging days. We are blessed with great lay leaders, a hard-working staff team, caring and compassionate members, a generous spirit, and a hope grounded in Christ’s resurrection. I have been so blessed by many of your cards, emails, and expressions of prayer and support during this time. This is not something that seminary prepares you for, but challenging times often reveal new opportunities and ways of ministry that can have a long-term impact. Thank you for your commitment to Christ and to TLUMC! We will get through this and we will be an even stronger church on the other side.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Bob Kaylor



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