Cabinet and the Program & Arrangements Committee are preparing for our Annual Conference session June 5 - 8. We are keeping everyone’s safety in mind and will communicate if any changes happen. In prayer and care of one another, we will patiently and faithfully journey together through this time.

The past several weeks have been filled with a steady stream of new information and updated guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a brief overview of several of the recent communications from the Wisconsin Conference regarding COVID-19 and WI UM Churches.

Safer at Home and the WI UM Church

Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued a Safer at Home Order that went into effect on Wednesday, March 25. This order will remain in effect until 8:00am on Friday, April 24 or until a superseding order is issued. 

Online Worship Services

This list of Wisconsin churches that are offering online worship services is being regularly updated. Churches can continue to submit their services to be added to the list.

Online Giving Support

For churches that don’t currently have electronic donation capability and would like to offer this as an option to their members, the Conference will offer the use of our VANCO online giving site and absorb the processing fees for the next 2 months. If you would like to have your church listed as an option, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 608-873-7320. Provide your church name as your members would know it and your GCNO (General Church Number). The Finance office will send the donations to your church within 2-3 weeks, with the donor identified.

General Conference to Move to 2021

The Commission on the General Conferencemet March 21, 2020 to determine next steps to take in setting a new date. The Commission made a determination that the General Conference will not meet in 2020 as originally planned and elected to work toward setting a date in 2021.

Resources

A wide variety of resources related to COVID-19 are available. Newly added resources include:

  • UMCtraining.org – UMCOM offers a variety of online courses that can be done on your own time. There is a fee for some of the courses, but many are available at no cost.
  • Stewardship of Presence Bible Study – This study was prepared by Rev. Dan Dick for a church to use during Lent. During this journey through the COVID-19 virus, it is a good resource for us to use at any time. Dan has offered this to the Conference for us to adapt and use in whatever way we choose
  • GBHEM Online Resources: Keeping Your Ministry Connected - On this E-Resources page, the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry offers live online training opportunities, recorded webinars, downloadable ministry resources, videos, answers to frequently asked questions and more.
  • UMCRM Virtual Day Camp – In response to recent events that have caused significant change in the lives of campers everywhere, United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries is offering Virtual Day Camp. Each day, campers can log in and follow a day camp session, exploring topics such as Spiritual Development, Nature Exploration, STEM, Music, Art, Social/Emotional Learning, Exercise, and more.

In the midst of disaster, The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is a sign of hope throughout the world. Your support allows the vital work of UMCOR to reach communities everywhere when disaster overwhelms a community’s capacity to respond on its own. For 80 years, UMCOR has provided assistance where it is most needed. Every gift helps strengthen the organization for the days, weeks, months and years ahead.

UMCOR Sunday falls during a time when most United Methodists in the U.S. are worshipping through digital technology because of the coronavirus threat. Donations to the United Methodist Committee on Relief can still be made online. Donate to UMCOR

Register Now: Telling the Old Story in a New Time Webinar on April 3

You are invited on Friday, April 3 from 10:00am-Noon to participate in a live seminar with Jason Moore: “Telling the Old Story in a New Time: Best Practices for Worshiping Online and Beyond in a Physically Distanced World.”  This webinar is available at no cost to participants, but you must register in advance. Register here

You will receive a confirmation once you register. When the link and resource guide is available, it will be sent to you in a reminder email. This is great for all sizes of churches, with no extra equipment needed. It will cover ways to creatively and effectively create worshiping community and fellowship, small to large-sized.

Jason Moore has worked with Wisconsin UMC congregations in the past. He is a nationally recognized United Methodist Leader in worship, hospitality and the multi-media experience. This seminar is sponsored by the Wisconsin Annual Conference.

 

Details Coming Soon: Vision Day with Fresh Expressions on April 17

A Vision Day is a one-day training event that provides an opportunity to discover what it means to be the Church in new and creative ways, hear from Fresh Expressions practitioners, learn how to renew existing congregations through fresh expressions of church, and discern what this could mean for your region, community, or neighborhood. This April 17th event was originally scheduled to be held in Stevens Point.  Plans for how to restructure this event to be an online training are being discussed. Details will be announced once finalized.

 

 
 

By Forrest Wells

Psalm 121 “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (NKJV)

Psalm 121 has been my favorite Psalm for as long as I can remember. The words comfort me reminding me that no matter what craziness is going on in my life or in the world, God is with me. Unfortunately, often so focused on the troubles in the world, in the Church and in my life that I forget to look to God!

Years ago I had a friend who was great fun to hang out with. Whether we were hiking with friends in the woods or walking the halls of Tremper High School or the streets of Kenosha he would invariably see things that neither my friends nor I would notice. Why? One day I walked into our local meeting establishment and Blair said, “Forrest, how do you like the new sign?” I responded, “What sign!?” The huge sign in front of the bar had been transformed, completely changed and I hadn’t even noticed. We laughed as we reflected that when I walked, I was usually looking down; when Blair walked he was always looking up. He noticed and celebrated the sign while I missed it.

Where are you looking? That is a good question for any time of life, but particularly now as we face the health emergency of Covid-19 and the financial crisis that is following. It is human nature to become focused on questions of survival and become consumed with fear. My encouragement to you is to remember that in the midst of it all, God is with us. “God who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”

Faith requires me to re-focus my gaze. “I will lift up mine eyes…” In the midst of chaos that surrounds me, I will discipline myself to meditate on scripture, listen to uplifting music, share with Christian friends, and continue with weekly worship and daily devotion. I choose to lift up my eyes, that I may be reminded of the goodness, the grace, the glory of God. I do not deny the mounting challenges of this Coronavirus era and the human suffering it is creating. I am consumed with the challenges that confront us. But I do so as a person of faith. I choose to lift up my eyes and trust that God is with me, is with all of us during this chaotic time. Where are you looking? Be strengthened for the work of the day and find peace as you lift up your eyes.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in,
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung announces the formation of a Conference COVID-19 Task Team to ensure that the Wisconsin Annual Conference has an appropriate Pandemic Emergency Response Plan, to include appropriate checklists and communications so that Wisconsin United Methodists can carry out their mission faithfully under the constraints presented by the spread of the Novel Corona Virus.

By Sue D'Alessio

“Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Many Troubles,” is the title for Psalm 107 in the NRSV translation of the Bible. The Psalm lists a variety of troubles (which you can read and empathize with, if you choose). Following each trouble, the Psalm says “Then the people cried in their troubles” and the Psalm continues with ways that God was with the people. The Psalm begins, “O give thanks to the Lord, who is good; for God’s steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those God redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.” Thanksgiving even in the midst of troubles.

Prayer: Redeeming God, we are in a wilderness time of many troubles. Life is changing faster than we can manage and our hearts are distressed and grieving. Loved ones are sick and some have died from this virus. Others have lost income and don’t know how they will survive financially. Our daily lives are disrupted, we are practicing social distancing, we are trying to stay connected with one another and with you. We cry to you in our troubles. Thank you for the ways you are with us through all the medical people who continue to serve and care for all who are suffering, through the many, many service workers who continue to keep vital services open for our community, through the neighbors and our congregations who reach out in care for one another, through your Spirit so alive in this world. You raise us up as we open ourselves in faithful gratitude to the many ways you are present in and among us. We praise you for your steadfast love in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.

By Barbara Certa-Werner

“When I started Lent this year, I didn’t realize how much I would be giving up.” – Facebook post

I read this post last week and at first it made me chuckle, but then the reality struck me that few of us could have foreseen what our lives would be like a mid-way through this holy time of Lent.  I then realized that all the things I thought I needed to do during the Lenten season have gone by the wayside and I have started anew.

One of my new practices is reading a Psalm a day and taking time to reflect and/or pray the Psalm. For today, it is Psalm 4 (yes I just started on Sunday!):

Answer me when I cry out, my righteous God! Set me free from my troubles!
Have mercy on me! Listen to my prayer! How long, you people will my reputation be insulted?
How long will you continue to love what is worthless and go after lies?
Know this: the Lord takes personal care of the faithful.
The Lord will hear me when I cry out to God. So do not be afraid and do not sin!
Think hard about it in your bed and weep over it! Bring righteous offerings and trust the Lord!
May people say, “We can’t find goodness anywhere. The light of Your face has left us, Lord.”
But you have filled my heart with more joy than when their where and wine everywhere!
I will lie down and fall asleep in peace because you alone, Lord, let me live in safety.

This Psalm speaks to me in this time and in this place, and I believe that it will speak to you as well. The psalmist hits the nail on the head, we long for freedom from our troubles, we beg for mercy, we want to love what is worthy and we search for meaning.

And then in the stillness and quiet of a sunrise, the laughter of a child, the smile of a friend, the words of a poet, the coolness of a winter breeze, we realize that our hearts are filled with joy and we may lie asleep in peace. My prayer for each of us is that we may recognize these connectional moments and be filled with joy and peace.

Safer at Home Order and the WI UM Church

Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued a Safer at Home order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, effective at 8 am on Wednesday March 25th. This order will remain in effect until 8 am on Friday, April 24th or until a superseding order is issued. Bishop Jung affirms the following interpretations in light of the Governor's orders. 

UMCRM - Virtual Day Camp

At United Methodist Camps, our campers are always at the heart of what we do. We know that recent events have caused significant change in the lives of campers everywhere and we are here to support in the best way we know how. We would like to present Virtual Day Camp, the next best thing to being at camp! Each day, campers can log in and follow a day camp session, exploring topics such as Spiritual Development, Nature Exploration, STEM, Music, Art, Social/Emotional Learning, Exercise, and more.

Discipleship Ministries - Resources for Responding to COVID-19 Outbreak

The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of daily life for people across the globe. Local churches are attempting to respond in appropriate ways, but many congregations have questions. Discipleship Ministries is regularly adding new resources to assist your church as it seeks answers about this new reality.

GBHEM - Online Resources: Keeping Your Ministry Connected

On this E-Resources page, General Board of Higher Education & Ministry offers live online training opportunities, recorded webinars, downloadable ministry resources, videos, answers to frequently asked questions and more.

ResourceUMC - COVID-19: Ways to Respond

The Rev. Jeremy Smith shares suggestions and insights for how churches can continue to offer worship, fellowship and hope in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

See All the People - Things WE Can Do

Chuck Knows Church is teaming up with #SeeAllThePeople to share a few simple ideas that your church can do to help your community during this time of crisis.

Stewardship of Presence Bible Study

This study was prepared by Rev. Dan Dick for a church to use during Lent. During this journey through the COVID 19 virus, it is a good resource for us to use at any time. Dan has offered this to the Conference for us to adapt and use in whatever way we choose

The Upper Room - Resources for Spiritual Wellness in Anxious Times

How do we open our hearts while our borders, schools, and stores close in efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus? How do we stay centered in the midst of fears, grief, and stress? Here are some free resources from The Upper Room to help you keep—or create—spiritual wellness and wholeness in the midst of anxiety and stress.

Wespath - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This page provides links to all of Wespath's COVID-19/Coronavirus materials including a letter from the Chairperson of Wespath's Board of Directors and the General Secretary to participants, updates and a video from Wespath's Chief Investment Officer, retirement FAQs, health resources, congregational health information and links to important websites.

Minnesota Conference - Bishop's COVID-19 Recommendations

Bishop Bruce R. Ough's message to the Minnesota Conference encouraged members to consider renewing their five-fold membership vow as a template for ministry during this season of disruption and adaptation. When we join a United Methodist congregation, we pledge to participate in its ministries by our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Here are ways to continue to do that:

  • PRAYERS – Initiate a prayer ministry for those infected with the virus, the heroic health care providers, and all those in your congregation and community who are or will be isolated by the social distancing and cessation of large gatherings and businesses. 
  • PRESENCE – Start conducting online or live-streamed worship, Bible studies, and discipleship classes, and organize regular phone calls or video chats with and among parishioners.
  • GIFTS – Institute online giving; the ministry and mission of your congregation and the larger United Methodist connection will go on. We will not stumble or fall; we will not stall or go into a holding pattern. The mission is paramount, and the need for our witness does not wane, but actually increases during a crisis.
  • SERVICE – Consider how to promptly, but safely, provide food assistance or other essential services to those on the margins or most vulnerable during this pandemic.
  • WITNESS – Let us show our communities and the world that the people called Methodist practice grace upon grace and not fear upon fear. Do not hunker down; get creative in how you go about sharing the faith. The primary way we receive and learn and perpetuate the faith is through relationships. Maintain your relationships with one another. Initiate new relationships – they are a phone call or video chat away. Take care of one another; show Christ’s love.  Social distancing is not an excuse for disengagement; it is a call for holy imagination.  

Michigan Conference - Children’s Ministry and COVID-19

The news about the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as a coronavirus, and the response to it, has left communities and families wondering what to do next and how to prepare. First, take a deep breath. As faith leaders, we have an opportunity to be a calm, non-anxious presence in the midst of so much unknown. We can speak proactively about the COVID-19, while maintaining a calm spirit and creating or providing ways for people who want to “do” something in meaningful and healthy ways. When considering how does COVID-19 impact our children, families, and children’s ministries, we need to address concerns of children in age appropriate ways, address anxiety and fears of parents, and be proactive about our children’s ministry spaces and leadership. Here you will find recommendations from the CDC, Michigan Conference, NPR, and other sources about ways that you can inform, address concerns, and be proactive.

How to Navigate as Leaders Through the Unknown

Blog post by Beth Estock

 


Worship and Gathering Resources and Ideas

In response to growing concerns about the Coronavirus, the Wisconsin Conference Cabinet has put together the following guidelines and resources for churches. It is important to be both proactive and caring in our preparations and response. We are strongly suggesting that we refrain from publicly open worship services until at least April 5, Palm Sunday. It may mean we need to suspend worship this year through Easter. Read Bishop Jung's letter

Ways to Stay Connected

  • If the church leadership decides not to meet for worship services, churches are encouraged to livestream sermons if possible. You can also post connections to other churches who livestream their worship.
  • Consider posting or emailing devotionals, prayers or other ways of connecting with parishioners; perhaps covenant to pray together at a designated time each day
  • Develop other ways to connect and gather for bible study, pastoral care and even church meetings:
    • ZOOM is a free resource that can provide “face-to-face” meeting time for three or more people for up to 40 minutes
    • Offer pastoral care via telephone or through email
  • Consider ways to reach out in mission to those who are vulnerable in your community
  • Five Ways to Be the Church When Church is Canceled

Livestreaming Resources

 


Offering and Finance Resources

For churches that currently don’t have electronic donation capability and would like to offer this as an option to their members during this period of unrest and potential church closings, the Conference will offer the use of our VANCO online giving site and absorb the processing fees for the next 2 months.  On our main home page, where there was a DONATE NOW button, there is now a DONATE TO YOUR LOCAL CHURCH.  If you would like to have your church listed as an option, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 608-873-7320.  Provide your church name as your members would know it and your GCNO (General Church Number).  Your donors/members may pay from their bank account or a credit card.  The Finance office will send the donations to your church within 2-3 weeks, with the donor identified.

 


Public Resources and Guidelines

State Guidelines and Latest Updates

Additional Government Resources

Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued a Safer at Home Order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, effective at 8 am on Wednesday, March 25. This order will remain in effect until 8 am on Friday, April 24 or until a superseding order is issued. 

Bishop Jung affirms these interpretations in the light of the Governor’s orders:

  • The Wisconsin Conference Sun Prairie Center is closed to visitors but the work of the staff continues. The majority of the staff will be working remotely. You should expect responses by telephone and email. The district offices are following the same pattern.
  • Our local churches are closed to large group gatherings to honor Gov. Evers continued restriction of gatherings to less than 10 people with appropriate social distancing. As you are able, please continue your important ministry to the most vulnerable in your context. As you minister to the hungry, homeless and indigent, please follow the clear guidelines that keep you and others safe.
  • If you are doing online services from your church building, please feel free to continue them with a maximum of 9 people involved and great care for the health and safety of all. There should be no gathering of more than 9 people in our churches at any time. In every instance please adhere to the healthy guidelines as prescribed by the Centers of Disease Control and Wisconsin Department of Health such as maintaining social distance of at least 6 feet, handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, etc.
  • We are in this together. Should you have any questions, please contact the Conference Center or your district office. Please expect and extend grace, and practice kindness  as we navigate our way through these times.

The Minneapolis Convention Center. Photo by Dan Anderson

Subsequent to the announcement by the Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference that the 2020 General Conference will be postponed, the full Commission met March 21, 2020 to determine next steps to take in setting a new date.

After hearing recommendations from Sara Hotchkiss, Business Manager of the General Conference, and discussion of possible alternatives, the Commission made a determination that the General Conference will not meet in 2020 as originally planned and elected to work toward setting a date in 2021.

In giving direction for next steps, the Commission resolved that holding the event in Minneapolis is a high priority and authorized the business manager to pursue negotiations regarding other dates available at the Minneapolis Convention Center in 2021.

Read press release

Psalm 46:1-3, 11

“God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble.
That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart, when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea,  when it’s waters roar and rage, when the mountains shake because of its surging waves . . .
“The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!  The God of Jacob is our place of safety.”

When our World Changes

By Scott Carlson

This Psalm took on a new meaning for me in July of 2007.  Some may be aware that my daughter, Whitney, passed away in July 2007.  Her death was devastating to me (and our entire family).  On the morning that we were to hold the visitation for her, this psalm appeared as a part of my devotions for the day.  It so accurately summed up a part of how I was feeling on that day.

The world I had known, had fallen apart.  It was such a momentous change for me, it felt like the mountains of strength had crumbled around me.  I felt the waters of life roaring and raging and surging around me.  

And in the midst of all of the changes that had been unleashed with Whitney’s death, there were also signs of the presence of God.  Many people from the church I was serving at the time traveled out of state to be with us, in the place that my daughter had died (North Dakota).  Many of my clergy colleagues and friends dropped what they were doing in their busy ministries and traveled out to be with us for my daughter’s funeral service. 

When we returned to Wisconsin to face a life that had changed, we were surrounded by a church that actually became the church to us.  We were loved, over the next several years, by friends, by family, by church, as we lived in to the new normal.  I discovered through this tragedy, that, indeed, “The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!”

As we walk into these very uncertain days of the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear the land in which we walk is changing rapidly.  The world we have known has changed and fallen apart.  There is fear abounding around us . . . I see it . . . I hear it.

Yet I also know, because I have learned, that even now, God is in the midst of this tragedy working to bring about something new.  I saw it in the hopeful worship services I experienced (online) on Sunday.  I hear it in the reports of what is being done to bring about new therapies that may someday soon, begin to fight this disease.  I see it when I see people reaching out (in healthy, social distancing ways) to their neighbors and others who may be vulnerable.

My prayer is that together, in the midst of the changing landscape that produces fear, that we can remember that even now, God is with us.  God is in our midst.  May God give us the courage to keep giving our fears to God.  May God guide us to help lead our church to deeper levels of faith, trust and commitment.

Prayer:

Loving God, you hold us and this world in your hand.  Let me never forget that.  Thank you for all who are working to fight this pandemic.  Give us the courage, the faith and the hope we need.  In the hope Jesus offers us, Amen.

By Tsuker Yang

The Lord be with you.

Blessed be the God of Israel and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I greet you today with a joyful heart amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that puts our nation in high alert and lockdown in many states.  I am uplifting and grateful for what our government and health professionals are doing to minimize the risk of the disease, and for what our pastors and churches are doing observing the recommendations of our government and health agencies.  Life may be harder now but we will adapt and overcome it eventually.  Just as our immune system can adapt to our seasonal virus in our body, we will learn and adapt to the new reality and social distancing.

Yesterday I sat for two hours worshiping in the comfort of my kitchen table briefly here and there online with couple of our churches.  I am amazed how quickly many of our churches have adapted to the new reality that forces us to adjust, discipline, learn, even change and be creative in our life, especially in our worship and prayer.  We’ve been crushed by the pandemic but it won’t put us to minimize our faith and our worship.  It is an awakening experience to me that drastic change is not only a solution but an immanence of our survival.  I am so glad that most of our pastors and churches are quickened to overcome the challenge before us with great skills and creative mind in the use of technology.  It seems to me now that the use of technology in worship is no longer an option or preference but a requirement and desirable.

Can you imagine the use of social media, texting, video conference and livestream (such as Facebook, Youtube, Zoom, etc.) for worship?  Are you tuning in or tuning off when the Scripture is read from a mobile platform, or from a projection or online screen?  What about sharing our joys or concerns during prayer time through texting, Facebook message or Messenger to the pastor’s mobile platform (cellphone, tablet or computer)?  These were done yesterday, and I agree that it should be encouraged as we are going through an unchartered time of our social distancing.  Even our traditional way of giving in making our offering by check and cash will need to change to online giving or automatic withdraw from a bank account.  As people of faith, how we are to live during such time as these depends on how we can quickly adapt to the new reality and how we put our trust in God.

I want to share with you two Scriptures which I hope we can glean from them to give us power, perspective and perseverance.

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”  By our faith and trust in God, we are not people of cowardice or people who live in fear but people of power, love and self-discipline.   We will be stronger and become better in what we do in our ministry as we make our journey through and out of the wilderness of the pandemic.  We must… this is the most important.  Let’s not allow the pandemic hinder our ministry or close our church door, worship service, prayer meeting, and Bible study.  We will find any mean necessary to continue our worship, open our church door and do God’s ministry, even if this mean virtual/online worship service, zoom meeting, social distancing and online giving.  We will be empowered.  We will love more and we will be disciplined that God may be glorified.

Acts 8:1-4. “At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.  As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.  Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”  The church in the New Testament time didn’t stop their ministry when they faced with persecution and fear.  They grew stronger and larger in the midst of uncertainty and suffering because God was with them and leading.

As we face the pandemic today we are not alone.  God is with us… the One who we call Creator, Savior and Sustainer.  God turned chaos into life and order.  Christ reconciled and restored our God-given humanity of original righteousness.  The Holy Spirit leads and empowers us in our everyday life.  Our God is the same yesterday, and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  The pandemic will force us into fear of death and economic downfall and even chaos.  But we will come out of it with power and hopeful future, as Paul said, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).  “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).  Let’s not be discouraged but be empowered, in love and self-disciplined as we learn to adapt to change and new reality, including our virtual worship and social distancing activities, for the glory of God and God’s ministry.


Tug Tswv nrug nraim koj nyob.

Thov Vaajtswv kws yog cov Ixayees tug Vaajtswv hab peb tug Tswv Yexus tau koob meej.

Kuv tuaj ntsib koj nubnua lug ntawm lub sab kaaj zoo sab quas hlo txawm tas COVID-19 yuav tsim kev kub ntxhuv luj zuj zug rua peb haivneeg hab kaw zejzog kev moog lug.  Kuv kuj txaus sab hab ua tsaug rua tej dlejnum kws peb cov nomtswv hab kws tshuaj tau teev lug txwv kuas txuj kev phomsij muaj tsawg, hab ua tsaug rua peb cov xwbfwb hab pawg ntseeg kws mej tau ua raws le tej nomtswv hab chaw khumob tej kev saamfwm tseg.  Kev noj nyob yuav nyuab rua sijhawm nuav tabsis peb yeej yuav yoog tau hab kovyeej thaum xaus.  Tuabyaam le peb lub cev tej roj ntshaav tub kovyeej tej kaabmob khaub thuas kws peb naj xyoo raug, peb yeej yuav kovyeej, kawm paub txug hab yoog tau txuj kev tshab hab kev tuabneeg ceevfaam tsis pub nyob sibze uake.

Naagmo kuv nyob ntawm kuv lub rooj noj mov hab koom nrug peb tej pawg ntseeg pehawm Vaajtswv nyob rua huv online.  Kuv xaav tsi thoob tas ua caag peb cov ntseeg ntau pawg yuav yoog tau sai rua txuj kev tshab kws quabyuam peb lug txhimkhu, lug tswj peb tugkheej, lug kawm, hab lug hloov peb lub neej, tshwjxeeb yog peb kev tuaj pehawm Vaajtswv hab thov Vaajtswv.  Tug kaabmob corona nuav tau raug thoob tebchaws tabsis peb yuav tsi ca nwg txu peb txuj kev ntseeg hab kev pehawm Vaajtswv.  Tamsim qhov peb raug nuav ua rua kuv tsaag tas tej kev hloov sai sai le nuav tsi yog kev dlaws teebmeem xwb tabsis yog kev cawm peb kev caj hab tuag.  Kuv zoo sab tas peb cov xwbfwb coob leej ntau tug hab ntau pawg ntseeg kuj muaj peevxwm hab kev txawj ntse lug npaaj kev pehawm Vaajtswv nyob rua Youtube, Livestream, Facebook hab lwm yaam.  Ua rua kuv pum tau tas kev sivtechnology lug paab rua kev pehawm Vaajtswv tsi yog ib yaam yug xaiv los nyam, tabsis yog yaam yuavtsum muaj hab xaav tau.

Koj xaav tas kev siv social media, texting, video conference hab livestream (xws le Facebook, Youtube, Zoom, etc.) rua kev pehawm Vaajtswv puas zoo hab?  Koj txaus sab lossis tsi txaus sab thaum nyeem Vaajtswv txuj lug nyob ntawm lub xuvtooj, ntawm dlaim rom powerpoint, hab nyob huv internet?  Tsi taag le, lub sijhawm thov Vaajtswv es tuabneeg xaa text, Facebook, messenger moog rua xwbfwb lub xuvtooj ntawm teg, lub tablet lossis computer koj ho xaav le caag?  Tej nuav tau muaj tshimsim naagmo, hab kuv xaav tas yuavtsum tau txhawb kuas muaj tej nuav sijhawm kws peb nyob rua thaajtsaam kws tsi tau muaj leejtwg moog dlua.  Peb kev sau check hab tso nyaj nsuab fij txajntsig rua Vaajtswv yuav tau hloov moog ua tso nyob online lossis ua ntawv tso cai tshu tawm huv txhaab nyaj lug tso.  Ua ib cov ntseeg, peb yuav nyob rua lub caijnyoog zoo le naj nub nua tau yuavtsum yog peb yoog tau sai rua txuj kev tshab kws peb raug nuav hab peb kev ruaj sab rua Vaajtswv.

Kuv xaav muab ob nqai Vaajlugkub lug rua peb kawm ua kev txhawb peb lub zug, kev totaub hab kev tivtaug kev txomnyem.

2 Timautes 1:7, “Rua qhov Vaajtswv tsi tau muab tug ntsujplig kws muaj sab ntshai, tabsi tug ntsujplig kws muaj sab tawv, sab hlub hab sab tswj tau peb tugkheej.”  Lug ntawm peb kev ntseeg hab ca sab rua Vaajtswv, peb tsi yog cov tuabneeg kws muaj lub sab ntshai tabsi yog cov kws muaj lub sab tawv, lub sab hlub lwm tug hab tswj tau peb tugkheej lub sab lossis tej kws peb ua.  Peb yuav muaj zug hab luj hlub rua kev ua Vaajtswv dlejnum sijhawm peb hlaa dlau lub taj suabpuam kws peb taabtom taug kev nuav.  Qhov nuav tseemceeb heev.  Thov tsi xob ca tug kaabmob nuav thaiv tau peb txuj kev ua Vaajtswv dlejnum, kaw qhov rooj rua peb lub tuamtsev lossis peb kev pehawm Vaajtswv, kev tuaj thov Vaajtswv hab kev tuaj kawm Vaajtswv txuj lug.  Peb yuav nrhav txhua txuj hauv kev kuas peb muaj kev pehawm Vaajtswv hab ua tau Vaajtswv teg dlejnum, txawm tas yuav siv technology hab pehawm Vaajtswv nyob online, lossis fij txajntsig rua Vaajtswv nyob online.  Vaajtswv yuav pub peb muaj fwjchim hab peevxwm ua tau.  Peb yuav hlub tau lwm tug ntau tshaaj ntxiv hab tswj tau peb tugkheej rua Vaajtswv tau ntsejmuag.

Tegnum 8:1-4, “Txij nub ntawd lug cov ntseeg kws nyob huv lub nroog Yeluxalees raug tsimtxom heev.  Taagnrho cov ntseeg suavdlawg tsiv moog nyob txhua lub zog huv xeev Yudas hab xeev Xamalis, tsuas tshuav cov timthawj txhaj tsi tsiv xwb.  Cov txivneej kws fwm Vaajtswv muaj qee leej tuaj muab Xatefanaus lub cev kwv moog log, puab quaj hab hlub Xatefanaus kawg le.  Xaulus tsimtxom cov ntseeg heev; nwg moog huv cov ntseeg tej tsev ib lub rua ib lub, nwg nteg cov ntseeg, tsi has quaspuj lossis txivneej huv tuabsi coj moog kaw rua huv tsev lojcuj.  Cov ntseeg kws tsiv moog nyob rua txhua qhov chaw, puab kuj moog qha Txujmoo Zoo rua qhov ntawd.”

Cov ntseeg kws nyob rua tam sau Phau Vaajlugkub Tshab puab tsi tso Vaajtswv dlejnum tseg thaum puab ntsib kev tsimtxom lossis txhawj ntshai.  Puab yijfuab kubsab hab lujhlub txawm yog tas puab raug kev txomnyem vim Vaajtswv nrug nraim puab nyob hab coj puab.

Sijhawm naj nub nua kws peb raug tug kaabmob COVID-19 nuav peb tsi yog nyob pebkheej nkaus xwb.  Vaajtswv nrug peb nyob, tug kws peb hu has tas tug Tsim Ntuj Tsim Teb, tug Cawmseej, hab tug Komkwm.  Xws le peb paub, Vaajtswv tig chaos lug moog muaj sa hab txuj kaab ke nyob.  Yexus coj peb tuabneeg rov lug sibhum xeeb nrug Vaajtswv hab ua tau tuabneeg ncaajnceeg dlawbhuv le qub thaum hauvpaug chivkeeb lug. Vaaj Ntsujplig tug Dlawbhuv coj hab txhawb peb lub neej txujsa txhua nub txhua lub sijhawm.  Tug kaabmob nuav yuav yuam peb kuas peb ntshai tuag, ntshai poob dlejnum, hab tsis paub ua lub neej nyob le caag.  Tabsis peb yuav kovyeej hab muaj kev ca sab ntsoov rua lub neej tomntej, xws le kws Xwbfwb Povlauj tau has lawm tas, “Peb paub has tas, peb cov kws hlub Vaajtswv, txawm yog peb tau zoo los txomnyem Vaajtswv yuav ua kuas tej ntawd muaj nuj nqes rua peb cov kws Vaajtswv pum zoo hu lug lawv le Vaajtswv npaaj tseg lawm” (Loos 8:28).

“Mej tsi xob ntshai, rua qhov kuv nrug nraim mej. Kuv yog mej tug Vaajtswv, mej tsi xob poob sab.  Kuv yuav paab mej hab txhawb kuas mej muaj zug, kuv saab teg xis yuav puag rawv mej” (Yaxaya 41:10).  “Koj yuavtsum ncu ntsoov tej kws kuv has rua koj lawm, koj ua sab tawv qhawv tsi xob ntshai, tsi xob txhawj hab tsi xob poob sab, rua qhov kuv yog tug Tswv kws yog koj tug Vaajtswv, kuv yuav nrug nraim koj xhua qhov kws koj moog” (Yausuas 1:9).  Ca peb tsi xob ntshai lossis qaug zug tabsi peb yuavtsum muaj sab kub lug rua Vaajtswv dlejnum, sishlub sispaab heev tshaaj qub hab tswjfwm peb tugkheej ua lub neej rua Vaajtswv tau ntsej muag, sijhawm kws peb taabtom txhimkhu, hloov hab nyob rua txuj kev tshab hab kev pehawm Vaajtswv txawv dlua le yaav taag lug.

General Conference organizers are exploring potential new dates for The United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly after the coronavirus pandemic forced postponement. “Details are not yet being released because the business manager is negotiating arrangements,” the Rev. Gary George, the secretary of the Commission on the General Conference, said at the conclusion of the group’s meeting. George said the group would share more information March 23. Read UM News story

By Jorge Luis Mayorga

A Reflection for Difficult Times

“God is our refuge and strength,
 a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
 though its waters roar and foam,
 though the mountains tremble with its tumult”….

“Be still, and know that I am God!
            I am exalted among the nations;
            I am exalted in the earth.”

(Psalm 46: 1-3, 10a.)

In this Scripture, the Psalmist exalts the glory of Jerusalem as the “City of God”, and the place where the Almighty dwells. It’s also a profession of Faith in God’s Power; it affirms that God is always present among his people to set them free from any dangerous and troubled situation.

In these difficult times that we are living with fear and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 and its implications, this psalm reminds us and assures us that God is present even in the midst of the uncertainty. The feeling I am experiencing during this time, it brings to my mind the time that I lived during the civil war in my country El Salvador in the early 80’s. It was a time of fear and uncertainty in which I woke up every day wondering what is going to happen next? But in the midst of this wondering, always came a scripture with a word of Hope and Trust.

As we go through these difficult times, may we make our own the words of the Psalmist “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”

Peace be with you,

Pastor Jorge

 

Una Reflexión para Tiempos Difíciles

“Dios es nuestro amparo y fortaleza, nuestro pronto auxilio en las tribulaciones,
por tanto, no temeremos, aunque la tierra sea removida y se traspasen
los montes al corazón del mar; aunque bramen y se turben su aguas, y tiemblen
los montes a cause de su braveza…

               “Estad quietos y conoced que yo soy Dios;
              seré exaltado entre las naciones enaltecido seré en la tierra”

 (Salmo 46: 1-3, 10ª.)

En esta Escritura, el Salmista exalta la gloria de Jerusalén como “Ciudad de Dios” y lugar donde “habita el Altísimo” También es una profesión de Fe del Poder de Dios, y afirma que Dios siempre está presente en medio de su pueblo para defenderle de cualquier peligro y situación difícil.

En estos tiempos difíciles que estamos viviendo con temor y ansiedad causados por el COVID-19 y sus implicaciones, este Salmo nos recuerda y nos asegura que Dios está presente aun en medio de la incertidumbre. Lo que estoy sintiendo en este tiempo, trae a mi mente el tiempo que viví durante la guerra civil en mi país El Salvador en los primeros años de los 80’s. Fue un tiempo de temor e incertidumbre en el cual yo despertaba cada día pensado que sucedería después? Pero en medio de este pensar, siempre venía a mí una palabra de Esperanza y Confianza.   

A medida que atravesamos por estos tiempos difíciles, que nosotros podamos hacer nuestras las palabras del Salmista cuando dijo “Dios es nuestro amparo y fortaleza, nuestro pronto auxilio en las tribulaciones”

La Paz del Señor,

Pastor Jorge