April 17, 2020 Updates
I am praying today that this weekly note finds you well and holding steady as we continue to self-isolate and practice gracious hospitality and love to others. Remember, in those days and hours that it becomes wearisome, that it is truly a call to serve others by remaining vigilant in our social distancing.
I have several things to share with you today.
First, know that we continue to pray for you each day. I am praying through the directory, usually 2X a week, lifting your names for encouragement and strength. Pastor Becky and her team are continuing to reach out as well, and if you would like a weekly check-in call, please let Pastor Becky know! If you have any needs that we can assist you with, do not hesitate to ask – we can serve best when we know what the specific needs are!
Second, at our last Town Hall meeting, the desire of the congregation was to keep informed of our financial status, so that you might give accordingly. I do have some concerns about our giving in April, and while we still have two more weeks remaining in this month, this is a time to be aware of our financial situation and faithful in our support of the mission and ministry of the church. This week the Finance Team will be meeting to go over our figures and budget, and Governing Board will meet as well (virtually, of course).
*includes $80,000 one time budget support gift
|# of donors||203||191||186||111|
Third, and I hope this is good news for you. We are going to institute our Wednesday night meal service beginning next week! I will be sending out a separate email about this with all the details as well. But the basic information is that FOOD ON THE FLY will provide an entrée and dessert to go. You will have the opportunity to sign up and pay for your meals here. You may sign up for one week at a time or all weeks you would like to pick up food. You can add to or even cancel your registration at any time, knowing that meal counts will be taken on Tuesday at noon prior to the Wednesday night preparation. All meals must be prepaid; checks will be accepted at pick up on a limited basis and only as necessary; so please use this option only if you absolutely must. We are unable to accept cash payment at pickup. Food will be served warm and packaged in foil containers suitable for freezing or reheating in the oven at a later date.
Cost of the meal is $7.00 per serving and will include entree and dessert. We regret that we cannot provide children’s meals, salads or drinks at this time. The cost will cover increased cost of take out containers, etc. Orders must be received by noon on the Tuesday prior to your pick up. We are unable at this time to offer drive up orders.
Fourth, we continue to accept donations of nonperishable food items (canned fruits and vegetables, pasta and rice) and toilet paper and paper towels for Eldercare. If you would like to donate please leave items listed above at any time on Meg and Charlie Guyton’s front porch (2605 Marston Road in Betton Hills); Mondays – Fridays, 8:00 – 5:00, at Eldercare Services (2518 West Tennessee Street – a few blocks west of Ocala Road) or at our church office –Monday through Thursday.
Finally (and thanks for hanging with me!). Your leadership team is already talking about what it looks like to be the church in the post-COVID world. Clearly, we are anticipating some changes having to be made – not to our mission – but to the way that we strategically live out our mission in order to reach all people with the love of God in Christ. I personally have attended several webinars and meetings about what we might expect, and we are having discussions with ministry leaders in our own church about how we might shift ministry focus and availability. Be assured that decisions regarding gathering again and how to best accomplish this will be done with the health and safety of the congregation in mind and following all federal, state and local guidelines and recommendations. Just today our Bishop indicated that we will not hold gathered worship until May 15, and will again reassess at that time.
I am so proud of the staff of this church who are moving through these times with extraordinary creativity and flexibility. I am proud of you too – the way that you are adapting to new ways of being together and growing in faith and discipleship. There is much that lies ahead of us, friends, and the bottom line is that we are all in this together – united – as the Body of Christ. I am privileged to be a part of this community.
Blessings and peace,
For your reference, Golden Age @ Home is offering in home facilitation of Health and Wellness appointments. Our RN goes to the home to provide assessment and report of findings to the Physician’s office at the time of a scheduled Tele-Health appointment. GA@H staff is able to assist with both technology and report of health needs throughout the virtual visit. Staff are provided PPE and Sanitizer for all technology items and we make every effort to reduce physical contact with clients throughout the visit. Essential assessments are performed at the request of the physician only. The primary benefit of these visits is avoidance of the delays in rescheduling appointments after offices are reopened. Local offices are reporting up to 6 months will be required to catch up from the missed appointments as of now. Seniors are most likely to avoid tele-health calls due to difficulty with the technology required to complete them. These virtual visits are essential for the continuation of prescription refills and treatment schedules. If you can benefit from these services, please reach out. We are waiving all initial Golden Age Assessment requirements during this time and clients can pay a PRN rate of $80 per hour for this service.
April 9, 2020 Updates
We stand at the start of the great Triduum, the three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This is the most sacred time of the liturgical calendar, and while we are apart, we are still observing in the following ways:
- MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE will be live streamed tonight at 6:30 p.m. You can join us on either our Facebook page or our webpage for this sacrament of Holy Communion. The order of worship has been sent out earlier this week, and can be found on either platform as well. Gather your communion supplies and join us at 6:30 p.m. tonight.
- GOOD FRIDAY We are posting a powerful meditative video on the Stations of the Cross on both our Facebook page and webpage. Allow the images and text of scripture and hymns to draw you into a prayerful observation of this day of sacrifice.
- EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE I will be going live on Facebook (and on our webpage) at 7:00 a.m. on Easter morning from our outdoor chapel on Lake Ella. Join me in hearing the Easter story and a brief meditation as we begin the day of Resurrection.
- EASTER SERVICES at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning – again you can access on both our Facebook page and our website. I have been gratified by the number of folks who are connecting with us online! I will send out the Order of Worship for Easter Sunday morning sometime tomorrow. Feel free to invite others you know to join us as we celebrate!
We continue to run our office on a very skeleton staff, and I want to give huge thanks to Simon Webb and Linda Fletcher for the EXTRAORDINARY work that they are doing in keeping the church maintained and running smoothly. We will continue this pattern for the foreseeable future. When you have a chance – say ‘thank you’ to these two amazing individuals!
Are you taking good care of yourself and those with you? In these stressful and anxious times, please pay special attention to how you are responding emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Be gentle with yourself and others, and take a break when you need to!
Know that you are deeply loved, and if there is any way we can be of help, please call my cell phone (Kandace – 407-484-1408) or send an email. You are being prayed for, by name, everyday!
With anticipating of celebrating Resurrection with you soon!
WE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO HELP
Your Missions Lay Team has become aware of a serious need among clients of Eldercare Services, the organization which administers our local Meals on Wheels program and many other vital services for seniors.
Many Eldercare clients have difficulty shopping, even in the best of times. To do so now is not only difficult, but poses a health risk. During these days, those clients are dependent on donations of nonperishable food items (canned fruits and vegetables, pasta and rice) and toilet paper and paper towels. Elder Services will sanitize all donations when they are dropped off.
The next time you shop, please add a few items for Eldercare clients to your cart. You may then leave those items at any time on Meg and Charlie Guyton’s front porch (2605 Marston Road in Betton Hills) or Mondays – Fridays, 8:00 – 5:00, at Eldercare Services (2518 West Tennessee Street – a few blocks west of Ocala Road) or at our church office – there will be a bin outside the Sanders Hall door for drop off from 8:00 – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday beginning next week.
Thank you for caring for our brothers and sisters who are struggling even more during this challenging time.
Questions? Contact Meg Guyton at 850-443-4175.
April 2, 2020 Updates
I pray that you are doing well, and paying good attention the all of the recommendations of the CDC with regard to social distancing and washing your hands often. It is sobering to see the news each day, and so easy to get caught up in the anxiety of the unknown that is associated with COVID-19. Here are some really good suggestions made by a mental health professional in how to deal with the stress of quarantine. I’ll share several each week, here are the first few:
- Stick to a routine; go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time; write a schedule that includes time for work and time for self-care
- Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.
- Get out for a 30 minute walk at least once a day. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits. If you cannot walk, any movement for 30 minutes each day will be helpful!
- Reach out to others…why not do this for 30 minutes a day? You can use any technology you are comfortable with… FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. If you have children, allow them the same thing – set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too!
- Stay hydrated and eat well. This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!
As we care for ourselves and others, let me remind you of the various ways we are staying connected:
- Daily Bible Reading: 6:00 a.m. every day via email and Facebook
- Daily Youth Check-in: 5:00 p.m. every day via Discord
- Sunday morning worship: 10:00 a.m. via Facebook and website
How to access online worship:
On Facebook: Go to the Saint Paul’s page @SaintPaulsUnitedMethodistChurch, and look under ‘VIDEOS’ – there you will find all of our worship services that you may watch. If you cannot connect with us at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings, those videos are always available. Please check in using the comment section so that we know you joined us in worship.
On Website: Go to the Saint Paul’s webpage (www.saintpaulsumc.org) and then click RESOURCES. On the drop down list under RESOURCES, go to Sermons. That will take you directly to all of our sermons. You may listen there. If you are joining us on the webpage, please click the link that says WORSHIP ORDER if you want a copy of the order of worship. Right below the video you will see a place where you can register your attendance.
Sunday morning Sunday School 4-5 grade: 9:00-9:45 a.m. via ZOOM with Jenni and Kevin Cox
Sunday Youth Group: 5:00 p.m. Sunday via Discord
Wednesdays: 8:00 a.m. morning prayer via Facebook live & 7:00 p.m. evening prayer via Facebook live
Several Sunday Schools are checking in with each other via email or Facebook or ZOOM.
Pastor Becky, Rev. David Gill and a wonderful team of caring folks are being sure that we have a phone call check in system in place. Right now they are focusing on those who do not have a Sunday School class, but are expanding that soon to all church members. I am grateful for the volunteers who are assisting in this pastoral care work, and for our Sunday School and ministry leaders who are staying in good contact with our folks. Thanks for all you do!
I am going to be hosting a Facebook group to read through the book Entering the Passion of Jesus during Holy Week. You can find that group here. This link takes you to our Facebook page; at that point, click on GROUPS in the left hand side menu, and you can then find the group for this book. After Easter, I will be leading an online Bible Study, and have not yet determined the platform for that gathering. It may be something we do on ZOOM, which is easily accessible on any computer. Watch for more information! If you would like to participate, you can fill out this brief form.
We are exploring ways that we might be able to further reduce our costs in anticipation of decreased giving. The Conference office is offering some financial relief in that they are paying half of the clergy pension funds for the next three months. This will save us approximately $3000 this year in pension payments. In addition, we anticipate lower utility bills for March and April, and some additional savings from our original budget.
That said, it is so very critical, as you are able, to continue to support the church financially even while we are not meeting together. The Governing Board wants to be able to support our staff and our ministries as much as we can in these difficult times. We are aware that we are living into a new reality and are doing all we can to maintain the mission and ministry of the church.
While you can continue to send in checks to the church at our physical address (1700 N. Meridian Road, 32303), I invite you to consider the online giving option that you can access here. Setting up a regular online giving is easy, safe, and gives you one less thing to think about! This is your church, and how we come out of this period of quarantine is largely dependent upon our faithful support of the mission of Saint Paul’s UMC.
Public Events and Public Worship
We are following the guidelines of no public worship or events until at least April 30, with reevaluation to happen at that point. Know that we take seriously Jesus’ commands to love our neighbor, and are doing all that we can to ensure the health and safety of ALL people. The office will be running on a very skeleton crew (no more than 3 people on campus at any given time) with an abbreviated schedule.
If you have an emergency or pastoral need, please call Pastor Kandace on her cell phone (407-484-1408) and I will do anything possible to help you out.
Holy Week Plans
Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020 – we will have a special service online with a celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion in your homes. Materials and instructions for that service will be sent out early next week.
Good Friday, April 10, 2020 – I am preparing to post a beautiful video of the Stations of the Cross at noon on Good Friday. This will be on our website and our Facebook page.
Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020 – the plan is for me to go live on Facebook at sunrise from our outdoor chapel with a devotional message, along with our regular online service at 10:00 a.m. Look for more information about Holy Week opportunities coming next week.
We will celebrate RESURRECTION together as a church family when we are cleared to do so, regardless of calendar date.
With such deep thanks for your faithfulness, your leadership, and your friendship, I am praying for our whole church daily. Remember the words to the creed we often share together, “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.”
God is indeed with us in these days; and in the days to come as we as a church courageously and joyfully proclaim the risen Christ!
March 26, 2020 Updates
Once again our Weekly Notes comes in a different format – an update on where we are as a church in dealing with COVID-19 and the restrictions currently placed on our community. This is a long communication, and I encourage you to read it through in its entirety, responding where and when you can.
This past week I had a meeting with Becky, Jill and Gaye to talk about how we will continue with a longer period of quarantine, and we are currently working on, or have in place the following initiatives:
Daily Bible Reading: 6:00 a.m. every day via email and Facebook
Daily Youth Check-in: 5:00 p.m. every day via Discord
Sunday morning worship: 10:00 a.m. via Facebook and website
*Jill is working on providing a ‘virtual mouse bag’ for our children that will coordinate with the worship theme for the day. The materials can be printed out to use during the service or even later in the day. This will be emailed out to all of our families on Friday, so keep an eye out for an email “Saint Paul’s Kids News.” If you know someone who would like to sign up to receive these virtual activity bags, or updates on Children’s Activities, please fill out this form.
*On Friday afternoon we will be sending out a weekly WORSHIP THIS WEEK via mail chimp and social media. This link will include all the materials needed for worship (order, scripture, sermon notes, mouse bag links)
Sunday morning Sunday School 4-5 grade: 9:00-9:45 a.m. via ZOOM with Jenni and Kevin Cox
Sunday Youth Group: 5:00 p.m. Sunday via Discord
Wednesdays: 8:00 a.m. morning prayer via Facebook live
7:00 p.m. evening prayer via Facebook live
Several Sunday Schools are checking in with each other via email or Facebook or ZOOM.
Pastor Becky is working with Rev. David Gill and Congregational Care to put together a phone tree so that everyone in the congregation gets a check-in phone call. We hope to operationalize this in the next few days.
Youth are writing cards/notes to Burleigh Law Sunday School class, and children will be writing cards/notes to Ed Wynn Sunday School class. These are the classes that have our most vulnerable, and perhaps least ‘connected’ folks online.
In addition, we will be exploring some other ways of remaining connected while we are physically apart from one another. This may include some online classes or book discussion groups, as well as group meetings online using the ZOOM platform.
Can you respond please? If you are interested in a book discussion group or online class, would you fill out this brief form? If there is enough interest, I would be happy to set up an online class to keep us engaged during this quarantine period.
Here are a few staff updates for you:
Linda has spent the last two weeks training with Laurie before the transition to one administrator. There will be a good bit of necessary training that will need to take place in the next few weeks/months. Please be patient with us as we make this transition in the midst of the unforeseen circumstances around us.
Laurie’s last day of work is March 27 and she starts at Trinity UMC the following week. As you know, we are providing a love offering and carrying her on our health insurance for 2 additional months as Trinity UMC has a 60 day waiting period for insurance coverage.
We have suspended the part-time custodian position for now, and several of our hourly employees will not be working due to the shut down, notably our nursery workers/PMO and kitchen folks. There will also be no income from PMO, as they follow the school schedule, and will be closed as long as the schools are closed. Trustees have reset the thermostats in our buildings to help us save on utility costs while there are no activities going on. Right now Simon is continuing and getting some deep cleaning accomplished and Raymond is working with the youth with a daily check in and weekly online meetings. Jill has shifted a bit and is connecting with families, PMO and MOPS families as well; is coordinating touch points for our families and is doing some planning for VBS should we be up and running by then.
Here are our most current financial figures.
Income Year to Date: $296,200
Expenses to Date: $227,955
Actual Income This Week: $9,574
The income numbers include a large gift that was given to assist in covering expected shortfalls for 2020, and our expenses reflect the large insurance payment ($46,777) that we make at the beginning of the year.
In the expectation that we will experience even further shortages this year due to COVID-19, I have asked all staff to reduce spending to the bare necessities, and the Governing Board is continuing to monitor our finances carefully.
I want to encourage you, as you are able, to continue to support the church financially even while we are not meeting together. If at all possible, I want to be able to support our staff and our ministries as much as we can in these difficult times. We are aware that we are living into a new reality and are doing all we can to maintain the mission and ministry of the church.
While you can continue to send in checks to the church at our physical address (1700 N. Meridian Road, 32303), I want to encourage you to consider the online giving option that you can access here. You can also text to give using the number (850) 354-6082.
This is your church, and it runs because of your support…thank you for your faithfulness in giving to Saint Paul’s UMC.
Public Events and Public Worship
Today the Florida Conference send out guidelines and restrictions, suggesting no public worship or events until at least April 13, at which time they will be putting out additional and updated guidelines. We are all aware that the situation is fluid and will make the very best decisions for the health and welfare of ALL people.
Until we are cleared for public gatherings, we will not be having any public worship gatherings, events or in-person meetings at Saint Paul’s until further notice. We will continue to move as many of our ministry opportunities on line via Facebook or other platforms.
Your leadership team will be discussing ideas for celebrating Holy Week and Easter on line with worship and other family activities that can be done at home. We will celebrate RESURRECTION together as a church family when we are cleared to do so, regardless of calendar date.
With such deep thanks for your faithfulness, your leadership, and your friendship, I am praying for our whole church daily.
March 19, 2020 Update
You will notice that even our Weekly Notes looks different – there are no announcements of upcoming activities. As of this writing, we are holding to our announced activity restrictions through the end of March, including worship and any other gatherings on our campus. The end-of-March date may be extended, as we are in a fluid and ever-changing news cycle. We will be sure to communicate any changes to you next week as we know more.
In the meantime, let me urge you to do a few things:
- Become an active follower on the Saint Paul’s UMC Facebook page. This is where you will find our streamed worship on Sunday morning; the Daily Bible Readings; along with any updates and other faith formation resources during these times.
- Watch for new opportunities in the next week to connect via social media and other easy to utilize platforms. We are hoping to have our intercessory prayer team meet remotely, and will be exploring other ways to use these technologies for Bible Studies and other check-in groups.
- Join us for worship online and participate fully in our time together either alone or as a family. This worship will be pre-recorded and posted Sunday morning. You will want to have a candle nearby to light as we pray together and celebrate Christ as light of the world.
- Please continue to be faithful in your giving to the church so that we can continue the ministry and mission to which we are called, and so we can protect our staff during this uncertain time. You can give online through our website (it is securely encrypted) or you can mail your check to the church office.
- We will be operating on a very skeleton staff in the next week, and several of our staff will work from home. If you need any assistance in shopping or running necessary errands, please let us know – there are people ready to assist you. When we are together (even two or three of us) we are taking all necessary precautions to be safe.
- This from a conference call this morning with Mayor Dailey and faith leaders: Follow all recommendations by the CDC in terms of physical hygiene and distancing. If you feel sick, please CALL your doctor first – they will give you instructions on next steps. If you do not have a primary care doctor, please call the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Transition Center at 850-431-4470. They will provide on-phone screening and if necessary, a referral for testing at the Northwood Center site. Please do not go to your doctor’s office or ER so as not to overwhelm our medical systems at this time.
- Check in with one another – we have a wonderful community here at Saint Paul’s. Check on one another by phone or email. Use your Sunday School and ministry connections to their best advantage.
- Already we are talking earnestly about how ministry may change in light of the profound effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am so impressed with our ministry leaders who are educating themselves and participating in webinars, and look forward to working with our strong laity to move forward with a strong vision for care and compassion.
Please know that we are making all decisions and actions with the very best intentions of individual health and the church at heart, and are praying daily that we will emerge from these days more strongly connected to each other, and to God.
Continue to be in prayer for our front-line responders, those who are serving our community, and all leaders in these days. Know that you are being lifted in prayer as well.
Blessings and peace,
March 17, 2020 Update
Bishop Ken Carter asked all Florida Conference churches to suspend in-person worship through the end of the month, with a reassessment to follow. Therefore, we will not worship in our sanctuary on March 22 and March 29 but will provide a live—streaming service on our Facebook page that can be accessed live or any time following. I would ask that you avail yourself of this online worship as a way of remaining connected with our church family. I will include a word for our children, and there will be music provided as well. While it will certainly be different than our norm, we will do all we can to make it engaging.
All church activities have likewise been cancelled until the end of the month; this includes chapel services, Wednesday night programming, and scheduled meetings.
March 16, 2020 Update
ALL CHURCH ACTIVITIES FOR THE WEEK MARCH 16 THROUGH MARCH 22 (INCLUDING WORSHIP ON 3/22) HAVE BEEN CANCELLED. THIS INCLUDES WEDNESDAY MORNING CHAPEL AND EVENING ACTIVITIES AND THURSDAY LUNCH AND LEARN (FORMERLY PACESETTERS).