COVID-19 UPDATE FROM PASTOR MATT - Thursday, March 19
Hello Church Family & Friends,
When the going gets tough, turn to wonder. This is a phrase that I have used in ministry several times when encountering challenges in life. I learned this from the Center for Courage & Renewal, run by author Parker Palmer. It’s one of the key tenants in their Circle of Trust Touchstones. It can be so easy to give in to anger, hurt, and frustration when life becomes challenging. Yet, I think in our current moment, God is inviting us to turn from those feelings and seek the wonder of this moment that we’ve each been given.
Several things in life are new, different, uncertain, and divergent. We had a goal to start live streaming Hilltop’s worship services by the fall kick-off, but now we’re forced into it at a moment’s notice. We were planning for potential major changes at the United Methodist’s global General Conference in May, but now that conference is postponed. Our melodious choir was diligently working on a Good Friday Cantata, but now we’re not even sure we’re going to be back together by the time of Easter.
Who could have predicted our world would change so much in just a few short days? I was just meeting with our MCCI Facilities Team Coach a week ago and planning for upcoming projects, and now there is just a pause. And while some of the normal routine church items have paused, immediate needs have increased. Things like food/meals, dry goods, diapers, and cleaning supplies have suddenly increased in demand. This doesn’t affect many middle-class families (who have disposable income and freezer/pantry storage space), but it disproportionately affects the lower class, immigrant, and elderly families in our communities.
So, maybe this goes without saying, but this past week has been one of the most challenging weeks of ministry I’ve ever experienced. This is why we’re hoping to get back to some sense of a new normal with several things in the works.
First, we will live stream one Sunday morning worship service at 10:30 am each Sunday morning forward on our YouTube channel. Our church musicians will lead us in both traditional and contemporary music in this blended service. If you’re not able to figure out live streaming on your own device, or you know someone who doesn’t own a computer, the service is broadcast on local cable access KTV in Mankato every Wednesday at 9:00 pm and every Friday at 12:30 pm.
Second, we have TWO Facebook ways to connect. The Hilltop Facebook page is for announcements and live-videos from the church/Pastor Matt. The HILLTOP Facebook Group is a place where we can share prayer concerns and community needs with one another. Pastor Matt will lead storytime for the children (& adults) live on the Facebook page on Tuesday nights. If the church has any ministry needs, those will be posted in the Facebook group. If you know of a need or have a prayer concern: please post those to the Facebook group as well.
Third, every Wednesday night from 6:30-7:30 pm Pastor Matt will be leading a time of Bible Study and prayer using BlueJeans video conferencing. To join that bible study and prayer time, all you need to do is click this link (https://bluejeans.com/5073873877) slightly before 6:30 pm each Wednesday. I will post reminders on the Facebook group about events like this.
Fourth, Marj Blommel and Jean Jackson are working on calling the older members of the church who might be in a vulnerable situation. They plan to call and check in with all of them. If this is something you’d like to help with, please call Marj at 507-257-2298.
Fifth, the Sunday School & Youth Group teams are working on ways to connect with your children and youth during this time. Plans are still in the works for both of these important constituents of the church, but expect some information coming soon. We hope to have some Sunday School packets for kids and a way for the youth to connect virtually.
Sixth, PRAY. Pray for our healthcare workers and doctors on the front lines. Pray for our teachers and professors and childcare workers who are adapting everything on the fly. Pray for our government leaders who are working to ensure public safety and a healthy economy. Pray for those who are home alone, those who are experiencing illness, those who are in the hospital or nursing homes, and pray for the many families that will be impacted by the loss of work and/or employment.
Seventh, the future remains uncertain, but know that ministry needs are continuing to flood the church. If you have an emergency need, please call our emergency phone number at 507-201-9241. If you need to get in touch with someone while the office is closed, please email Pastor Matt or Michelle.
Eighth, a lot of people have asked what they can do. We are doing well on food and other in-kind donations. At this point in time, other than the things listed above, the best way you can help the church is to continue to support the ministry of Jesus Christ through Hilltop church. Your gifts are making an impact. If you normally give via check, please mail those check to the church office. If you give online, you can make gifts here. Thank you to everyone who is continuing to support the church financially. Your gifts are what are making all of the changes possible. With your support, we’re able to get live stream, and video conferencing, and many other emerging ministry needs quickly and efficiently to meet the needs for the foreseeable future. If other ways to help the church become available, we’ll let you know via email and on the Facebook group.
Lastly, BREATHE. Pause. Wonder how God might use this moment to help us re-connect with family and loved ones. Write a letter. Work on a puzzle. Skype with the grandkids. Listen to the birds while drinking your morning coffee (my personal favorite). Turn to wonder and God will reveal new items unfolding around you.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Best of all, God is with us!
COVID-19 UPDATE FROM PASTOR MATT - Monday, March 16
MAR 12 - 6:30 pm Master Facilities Meeting
MAR 12 - 8:00 pm Pub Theology
MAR 13 - 7:00 am Men's Morning Risers
MAR 15 - 10:30 am Connect Group-Path to the Cross
MAR 15 - 12:00 pm Wesley Class Meeting
MAR 17 - 1:30 pm Women's Bible Study
MAR 18 - 6:00 pm Confirmation/RISE Youth Group
MAR 18 - 6:30 pm Evangelism for the Non-Evangelist
MAR 18 - 6:30 pm Cantata choir rehearsal
MAR 19 - 6:30 pm Church Council Meeting
Click on calendar date and event for more details.
Southern Prairie District Gathering
The pre-General Conference discussion with District Superintendent Fred Vanderwerf scheduled on Monday, March 23 at Hilltop UMC, Mankato has been postponed.
Breakthrough Workshop -
How to become a Great Commission leader