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Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

I greet you in the name of Jesus, the Light of the World, and I share with you some information and news.

MARANATHA FELLOWSHIP DECIDES TO CLOSE.  I am saddened to report the closing of one of our United Methodist fellowships.  The Maranatha United Methodist Fellowship officially made the decision to close on January 1, 2021. The fellowship served people in the Ethiopian and Eritrean American community for over 20 years and was supported spiritually and financially by the Desert Southwest Conference.  In leaving the United Methodist connection, the congregation decided to re-form on January 1 as an independent church. We have models in Scripture when separating becomes necessary. In Acts 15:36-41, Paul and Barnabas found that they could no longer serve together and separated from each other to serve the Lord in different ways. The believers commended each other to the grace of the Lord. We learn from their experience that God continued to use them to spread the gospel. The Desert Southwest Conference is saddened by this closing even as we pray they have fruitful ministry in their new setting.

PLEASE KEEP PRAYING!  As of this moment, I am aware of 24 clergy of our DSC who have had COVID-19 or who are currently dealing with the disease.  In most, but not all cases, the symptoms have been “mild” and the clergy have returned to working with some minimal residual effects.  However, a few of our clergy have experienced hospitalization, or more severe symptoms and others are finding that there are long-term challenges as a result of COVID-19.

ADD TO YOUR WORSHIP PLANNING.  Even with COVID-19 restrictions in place, the task of planning for the Lenten season culminating with Holy Week and Easter takes a great deal of time and energy.  For churches interested, the DSC will be offering a worship service for a Sunday after Easter.  Rev. Stuart Salvatierra, one of the pastors at St. Marks UMC in Tucson will be spearheading the task group to plan the service. Details will be forthcoming.

I AM HOLDING YOU IN PRAYER, asking God to care for you!  May God grant us grace for these days as we, unable to embrace physically, can nonetheless hold each other tightly in the love and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Blessings,

Bishop Bob

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