April 2020 Pastor Article
Heading into January, I wondered how many times we would have to cancel worship due to blizzards or severe winter weather. Somehow, we only had one winter weather-related cancelation. Fast forward to February. I was impressed by one of my professors as the Spring semester began and I became very excited for the scheduled on-campus time. At that time, I verbalized to Gina my concern that a blizzard might come and keep me from making it to class on time. Wow, how things have changed… Today was supposed to be my first full day of class on campus at the Orlando campus of Asbury Theological Seminary. Instead, I had three hours of class time online using the platform called “Zoom.” And now, I’m writing this letter to you, one day after our first cancelation of worship due to the coronavirus. Even two weeks ago I admittedly didn’t think our lives were going to look like they do now. Wow, how things have changed. So, church is going to be different for us for a while. As of now, the Minnesota UMC bishop has mandated that we not meet in our church buildings at least through March. I’m not sure what decisions will be made as we move forward. It is possible we won’t be meeting in person beyond the end of the month. I will be sure to provide updates via our website and Facebook as future decisions are made.
There is obviously a great deal of uncertainty for each one of us. One thing that is certain and will always be certain, Christ is Lord! This virus, as disruptive and scary as it is, does not change the fact that Jesus is the Savior of the world. Jesus is present in each moment, in the same way that He was before the virus changed everything. Jesus continues to be there for us despite all we are going through. He longs for us to turn to Him in prayer and comforts us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid (John 14:26-27). Jesus grants us peace by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus will speak to us during these uncertain times and show us the decisions we should make. Our responsibility is to make space for silence so that we can listen, pray, and respond. Our lives have already been rearranged, so let’s allow God to use this time to comfort and teach us. I’m certain that the Lord can use this suffering to deepen our relationships with Christ, each other, and our community if we are intentionally making efforts in these areas. These times will undoubtedly be difficult, but we who rely upon Christ will look back on this time as one of great transformation and strengthening in our faith.
God is faithful, especially to those who seek Christ through prayer and scripture.
Lastly, please know that I am here for you. If you want to talk or receive prayer, please call or message me. I’m happy to visit with you and support you however I can. I am here to serve you and consider it a great honor to be your pastor in a time such as this. May you be strengthened and comforted by the power of the Holy Spirit in the days and weeks to come. May Christ grant you discernment each day so that each of us can navigate this uncertain time with Christ, and each other by our side.
Your brother in Christ,
Online Devotions, Piano hymns, and Announcements
One of the tools we have for staying connected as a church during this time are our new website and the Cornerstone UMC Facebook page. Last week, I started sharing devotions on both of these platforms. Adam also played nearly an hour of hymns from his home and recorded himself playing. I also plan on sharing any announcements for our church on the website and the Facebook page. Lastly, we have a private Cornerstone UMC group, which is meant for sharing more personal things like joys, concerns, announcements, or prayer requests. Be sure to check that page if you are on Facebook. If you need help joining the private group, or need help with anything technology related, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I’m happy to help or connect you with someone who can! Here are the instructions for accessing the new webpage and the devotional content or future announcements:
1. Visit cornerstonelc.net
2. click the tab “blog”
3. There you will see the posts I have made. Click on whichever one you wish to view (note: some will be links to the Facebook content. You don’t need to have a Facebook account to view the videos).
Online Giving and Text to Give
It goes without saying that the church is likely to face a financial shortfall without gathering for worship. A large portion of our offering comes from passing the offering plates during worship. I hope that if you are able, you would continue to give to our church. We have many expenses which will continue despite our not gathering. Utilities still need to be paid, our mortgage payment is still due each month, and of course, my family’s livelihood directly stems from your giving. Having said all that, I understand that this time is causing significant financial harm and worry for everyone. I simply ask that whatever you give or don’t give, you do so with intentional consideration and prayer. If you are accustomed to giving in person and can keep giving, please consider giving through one of our digital means. Thank you for your continued support of our church! Here are the ways you can give digitally:
Text to give:
Text the number 73256 and include “Cornerstone” with the dollar amount you want to give. You will receive a text response with a link to a webpage to complete the transaction by entering your card or