This year has been an extraordinary year, in both tragic ways and good ways. We certainly pray for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, loss of livelihood, loss of friends and companionship, loss of independence, loss of connection, and so much more. The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has left no life untouched, and we as a church and as individuals pray continuously that this crisis comes to an end as soon as possible.
And there have been a few surprising silver linings. As confining as the shelter in place, stay-at-home order, virtual offices, and online everything has been, there have been a few unexpected side effects of this pandemic. Across our local community, many families have rediscovered sitting down to dinner together again, spending time outdoors walking, hiking, riding bikes, and more. Some have learned to cook, build or repair things, plant gardens, craft, or sew. Even drive-thru, takeout, or delivered food is most often consumed together, at home.
Scavenger hunts for families with kids have appeared in neighborhoods, everyone getting in on the fun with objects representing letters of the alphabet, numbers, “seek and find” items, yard to yard for kids to “look for” on their daily walks. Neighbors have begun helping neighbors again.
People have reached out to one another with telephone calls, handwritten notes and cards to those they cannot see in person.
Though this time has been rife with serious challenges, there have been bright spots. We’re happy to say First Church has become one of them for so many people because of the continued, unwavering generosity of our faith community.
Here at our church, we have also had some amazing transformations:
Our sanctuary became a soundstage for online worship that has attracted church members, guests, and people from around the world looking for a place to worship; all services have also been available “live” and “on-demand” via fumcfw.org, Facebook, and YouTube with record numbers accessing worship throughout each week, not just on Sundays. Even as we have begun limited, in-person worship in the sanctuary, most people continue to participate in worship virtually.
Our online programs have become virtual experiences, bringing people together in new ways, including some who have moved away or lost touch with our church. Sunday school, study and discussion groups, youth hangouts and parent check-ins, Together Time with Mister Mark, Summer Jam, and even VBS have all found new life in a virtual space with innovative execution that has kept our church engaged and thriving, even in this very difficult time and in circumstances none of us could have imagined this time last year.
Through it all, your faithfulness to God, to this church and to one another has been an amazing gift that has made a tremendous in all the lives we serve. Your generosity speaks very clearly of who we are as a church and what we stand for.
We begin our annual Stewardship emphasis on November 1, All Saints Day — the day we celebrate the faithfulness of those who have gone before us. Our Stewardship emphasis celebrates this faithfulness and how our faithfulness and the faithfulness of God work together for good. This faithfulness empowers the church to continue to be who we are and do what we do every single day to Love God, Serve People, and Transform lives, even during a worldwide pandemic.
As you prayerfully consider your commitment to the FUMCFW 2021 Ministry and Operating Fund, please know that your continued faithfulness will help empower our church to continue our mission and ministries in the coming year. Thank you for all you do and all we will do together with your continued generosity in 2021.
Dr. Tim Bruster