Our UMC leaders took a decision this week to suspend our services until after Easter. Although we could have taken another approach and held smaller services (ensuring that the numbers were strictly below 100) our view is that we want to support the President's call for social distancing as wholeheartedly as we can - especially if doing so will help our country fight this pandemic and reduce harm caused to vulnerable people.
How will we continue to be the church now that the church has left the building? Here are plans we have put in place so far:
We have a large WhatsApp group (that only I can post to as admin, so it doesn't have loads of traffic on it) that all our people are invited to join. You can join the group by clicking here.
We will be joining together in one service online on Sunday morning at 8am. Go to https://umhlali.online.church to join us. If you register on the site, you will be able to interact with others who are there. My family are quite excited to be attending from Botha's Hill :) A recording of the service will be on our YouTube channel and shared on Facebook later.
Our small groups are not meeting in person but have been experimenting with WhatsApp group audio chats and other means of connecting. If you'd like to start a 'virtual group', we can help you with some ideas!
Our youth and children are on holiday at the moment, but Rose and her team are dreaming up some creative ways to connect meaningfully with our young people - more details will follow.
We have an email address set up specifically to handle prayer requests (firstname.lastname@example.org) but you can also contact Michael or Elaine by phone for pastoral needs or Janet at the office (032 947 0173 / email@example.com). The church office is closed, but Michael or Janet can come in by arrangement.
We know how hard it will be for some of our people who look forward to Sundays as a moment of social contact, but who don't have easy access to technology. Our caring group is collecting names and numbers of people who may appreciate a regular phone call during these times of feeling cut off from their world. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Michael, Elaine or Janet if you'd like to include someone to receive care in this way, or someone who may need practical help (having groceries dropped off etc).
We really hope that we will be able to connect and relate to each other during this time. If you have a question or concern, please don't hesitate to reach out to us, or if you have an idea, keep them coming to email@example.com
We know that we are all anxious during this time, but I pray that we will experience the surprising peace of God. Be careful, wash hands, use the time creatively, and please stay in touch with us!