We’ve been carefully watching the CDC, Governor Ducey, and Bishop Hoshibata’s recommendations for gathering. Given the CDC’s recommendation that groups larger than 50 stop meeting for at least 8 weeks, it has become clear that the only responsible decision is to suspend all gatherings at the church until further notice. To be clear: we are not having any in-person meetings, groups, classes, or worship until further notice. It is a simple choice to keep you all safe, but nothing about suspending in-person worship is easy. I love our community and the joy of worshiping together and I know you will gather faithfully with renewed heart when all this has passed. Your new pastor will have further guidance when he arrives, but here is my plan for the next few weeks:
I plan to provide at-home worship materials like prayers, suggested hymns to listen and sing along to, and a devotional to guide for your reflection. They will be emailed and posted on the website. Here are a few churches that are worshiping online that you can join:
If you want to stay with the Wilderness Lenten theme, both of these churches will have service via Facebook Live:
I pray that you will continue to set aside time to connect with God and each other.
It is essential that we find ways to support each other. To help ease the social distance between us, we will start forming community groups that I’m calling “Bridging the Gap.” The early Methodist movement started with weekly meetings where people would gather and respond to the question “how is it with your soul?” They took time to hear and really know each other. Through these communities of intentional listening, the Methodist Church was born. This is a critical time to go back to those roots. If you are interested in joining one of these groups, please sign up here.
On that form, you’ll also see an option to volunteer as a “runner” that can buy groceries, pick up medications, or do other essential errands for our members who cannot leave their houses. Please prayerfully consider other ways you can help serve through this time.
As of March 20th, the office will be closed for the time being. You can email any of us questions or concerns.
Your prayers and support are still crucial during this crisis. We need you to share the news with people who may not receive a letter or email. We need you to check in on one another. We also need you to continue to give financially to the work of the church. While some costs will be reduced, most of the expenses will continue. Please consider setting up online giving, mail in your pledges, or ask Lionel to come pick up your offering. He assures me that he is more than willing to do a house-to-house collection. Ask him to sing the Doxology to really add to the experience. We want to continue to be the beacon of Christ’s love for many years to come. Your support will ensure that.
Blessings to all of you as we walk into this very new Wilderness experience. Scripture reminds us over and over that God is with us in all places. I never could have imagined my time as your pastor would end with a global pandemic, so please know that my prayers are always with you.