From God’s word: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
Have you noticed recently how quickly things change? I find myself wanting to share inspiration, information, ideas, and news with you in a way that is quick and simple. So I am creating a new vehicle for doing so. I’ve named it “E-Lumination,” as a way of distinguishing this new vehicle from our regular Desert Southwest Conference monthly newsletter. My hope is to publish the E-Lumination bi-weekly with the assistance of our Director of Communications, Christina Dillabough. With the hope of connecting with you and connecting you to some inspirational thoughts, ideas, resources. I’m also pleased that our Conference Lay Leader, Laurie Lineberry will contribute her wisdom and faith. Here’s what is on my mind to share with you in this E-Lumination.
THE QUESTION OF THE MOMENT: When will we be able to meet again in person for worship and other group meetings? Please be patient. I am working with Conference leadership and monitoring sources to determine when we can begin to safely move toward easing of restrictions. I am sure we all know we need to be cautious. Watch the Wednesday weekly UPDATE from my office to know when it is appropriate to begin to make changes. Until then, please be in prayerful conversation about the myriad of decisions and preparations that must be made before you can begin to implement changes. Until there is word from my office, no changes are to be made.
COVID-19 LOANS/GRANT: Knowing that some of our churches are experiencing financial challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, by action of the Covenant Council, the Conference has created the New and Vital Faith Covid-19 Church Loan/Grants. I am pleased that this assistance is available because we have practiced good stewardship and have the ability to create these loan/grants for this time of financial need in local churches. Funds must be used to assist in the payment of employees, then rent, mortgages and utilities. For more information, click here.
ANNUAL CONFERENCE NEWS: Due to COVID-19, our Annual Conference will be held virtually this year. We have never done it this way before, so there are some major shifts being made by your conference leadership. The registration is now open, so if you are an elected delegate to Annual Conference, please register to be in attendance. We are working diligently to make sure the details of our virtual meeting are cared for. We will also be offering technical assistance and will meet virtually for a Pre-Conference Briefing to introduce you to the agenda we will follow, the processes we will be using, and to give you some practice with online conferencing.
RESOURCES FOR COVID-19: With thanks to our Connectional Ministries staff, resources for your use are on our conference website. I want to lift up one resource in particular, which will help guide you as you look forward with anticipation to a time when we will begin to relax the suspension of in-person worship and gatherings of all types, including small groups to produce worship. This resource can be found here.
A WORD OF DEEP APPRECIATION: I close with a note of gratitude for all that you, the laity and clergy are doing to be the church in these days. Great things are happening to connect people with each other when we cannot meet in person. I am impressed with ways we are learning and growing in our comfort with new formats for worship, prayer, Bible study and meetings. We are learning skills that I hope we will continue to use even after the pandemic is over. GREAT JOB! I am holding you in prayer for these days as we feel the renewing spirit of God among us! God IS with us! Let’s have faith and trust in God’s abiding love.
MOTHER’S DAY BLESSINGS as you celebrate and give thanks!