Bishop Keith Cowart brings Holy Week Encouragement for the way forward.

added 4-9-2020

Holy Week thoughts and encouragement as we respond to the current situation are the topic of Bishop Keith Cowart’s words from the Board of Bishops today. The church is moving forward!

Thursday, April 23rd at 7:00pm Eastern Time, the Board of Bishops will present,

“Embracing Our Opportunities: Moving Ahead in this New Season of Ministry”

“With great challenge comes great opportunity. Join the Bishops of the Free Methodist Church – USA for conversation and encouragement to think innovatively as we re-envision ministry amid the greatest changes in our lifetime.”

 

 

 

https://facebook.com/fmcusa

 

Bishop Linda Adams brings today’s final daily word for now.

added 3-30-2020

In today’s final Daily Word from the Bishops for now, Bishop Linda Adams shares why it’s okay to grieve, and the need for respite at times like these. 
 
 
“I appreciate that many of you have been seeing these daily videos from your Board of Bishops and have been watching them faithfully. We’ve decided that we’re not going to send them everyday anymore. 
 
Your superintendents and pastors and friends – many of your loved ones all around you in your churches – are posting all kinds of things that show good ideas for how you can get involved. They post encouragement, they give you a little bit of levity with a joke here and there, they’re giving you sermons and songs and and you’re listening to the people who are really closest to you in your life and that’s the way it should be. So, Bishop Keith and Bishop Matt and I will only be coming on every once in a while when we have a special announcement to make, but we’ll be stopping our daily pastoral reflection.
 
We want you to know that we love you, we’re praying for you, and we are honored to be your Bishops for such a time as this.”
 
Bishop Linda Adams
for the Board of Bishops, Free Methodist Church – USA

Bishop Matt Whitehead brings today’s daily word amid experiences of grief and loss.

added 3-28-2020

It’s Saturday March 28th and I’m privileged to have these moments with you. One of the passages that has been on my heart recently is from John chapter 11, and it’s the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The home of Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus, was a special place for Jesus.
 
 
We know this was a place where he could go and rest and relax and get away from the crowds, so it’s all the more unusual when Jesus gets the word that his good friend Lazarus is sick – he doesn’t go to Bethany. The scripture tells us that Lazarus was dead and been in the tomb four days. When Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha meet Jesus they both say the same thing. They both say, “Jesus if you’d been here our brother would not have died.”
 
But Jesus’ response to Mary and Martha was very different. Jesus meets Martha first. When she says this He lays out a deep theological truth. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life anyone who believes in me, even though they’re dead, they will live again!” Such an important theological truth.
 
 
But when Jesus meets Mary something very different happens. Yhe scripture says that Mary says the same thing; “Jesus, if you would have been here our brother would not have died.” But then Jesus asked to see the place where Lazarus is buried in the tomb. The scripture says that when he saw the place where Lazarus was buried, and when he saw the grief of Mary and Martha and their friends, Jesus cries.
 
It seems all the more unusual because in just a few moments Jesus is going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was Stone Cold dead, and Jesus raises him to New Life. But before that happens Jesus stops and grieves. It’s so important for us, in the midst of this crisis, to recognize that Jesus understands grief.
 
 
And I think the feelings a number of us are experiencing are grief and loss. This unprecedented reality that we’re all facing is just another reminder of how much we need Jesus – how desperate we are for God’s grace. How much we need the empowering of the Holy Spirit in these days. So, based on this incredible story from God’s word, I want to remind you that however you’re feeling today; if you’re feeling anxious, Jesus will meet you there.
 
If you’re feeling fearful, Jesus will meet you there. If somehow you’re feeling so isolated from others around you, Jesus will meet you there. However it is that you’re feeling, Jesus, whom we love – the Jesus that we serve, the Jesus who is the founder of our faith, will meet us.
 
 
So, whatever the reality of your circumstances right now, I don’t know exactly what that looks like for you, there’s so much happening around the country and around the world, I just want to simply lift up Jesus. The Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead, the Jesus who met Martha, Jesus who met Mary and wept with her, is the same Jesus that is available today.
 
 
Perhaps this crisis is a a new point of re-commitment for you. Perhaps a commitment to the spiritual disciplines. Perhaps a commitment to generosity, as Bishop Keith and superintendent Pam Braman talked about.
 
 
Whatever that reality is, would you open yourself up to Jesus? Would you simply pour your heart out and say, “Jesus, I don’t know how we’re going to get through.”  “Jesus, I need your help!”  “Jesus I need your Grace.”
 
I’m confident that when we open up our hearts, Jesus will meet us there.
 
 
So today, may you just be reminded of the reality of what it means to be serving a risen Savior who desires to meet with you, encourages you, and then calls us on to serve one another and serve our world even in this crisis.

Generosity “expands” our world while scarcity “shrinks” it. Join Bishop Keith for today’s daily word.

added 3-27-2020

Today’s Daily Word for our FMC family is about the necessity for all our people to continue to give, even now, even when it seems counter-intuitive.

added 3-26-2020

Now is the perfect time to be the church and do what we’ve known for years.

added 3-25-2020

This is not the Crisis, but it is Just a Few Weeks Away

It is time to move from focusing on the current challenge of doing church and turn to the crisis weeks away from our communities.

Christianity Today Coronavirus Topical Archive

 

Legal Considerations for Coronavirus Guidance and Church Gatherings

Government actions that impact constitutional interests must follow certain rules.

 

From Our Bishops

“The Board of Bishops has determined that it is unwise for any FMC congregation here in the United States to continue to meet in person for any type of church or social gathering. Out of respect and compassion for the most vulnerable among us, we’re asking our ministry family to respect this decision, and also to follow all state and federal guidelines. If individual pastors have questions about this directive, they’re encouraged to contact their superintendents.”

A challenging call to peace and trust

added 3-24-2020

And Please Remember…

“The Board of Bishops has determined that it is unwise for any FMC congregation here in the United States to continue to meet in person for any type of church or social gathering. Out of respect and compassion for the most vulnerable among us, we’re asking our ministry family to respect this decision, and also to follow all state and federal guidelines. If individual pastors have questions about this directive, they’re encouraged to contact their superintendents.”

A Special Directive from the Board Of Bishops for FMCUSA Churches

added 3-23-2020

“The Board of Bishops has determined that it is unwise for any FMC congregation here in the United States to continue to meet in person for any type of church or social gathering. Out of respect and compassion for the most vulnerable among us, we’re asking our ministry family to respect this decision, and also to follow all state and federal guidelines. If individual pastors have questions about this directive, they’re encouraged to contact their superintendents.”

Bishop Linda Adams Brings a word of encouragement.

added 3-21-2020

Bishop Matt Whitehead Brings a word of encouragement.

added 3-20-2020

 

A video message by Bishop Matt Whitehead, on behalf of the Board of Bishops of the Free Methodist Church – USA, provides words of motivation to return to Scripture to see how we can encourage and help one another during this time.

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it, Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
(Exodus 17:8-13 NIV)

Bishop Keith Cowart Brings a word of encouragement.

added 3-19-2020

 

Dear FMC Family,

I want to say first of all, that it has been our privilege to share these moments with you. We pray the daily articles have been and now these videos will continue to be a source of encouragement to you, to your church, and anyone else to whom you may want to pass them along.

Unlike some of us – especially those of us on the West Coast – I have never experienced an earthquake, but I can imagine how unsettling it must be when the very ground under your feet and the structures over your head suddenly become unstable. I would imagine that in such a moment, one’s collective senses would be instantly focused on one aim: find solid ground.

As COVID-19 continues its march around the globe, the effect on many is like an emotional earthquake. Every “Breaking News” announcement that brings word of a new restriction or government initiative designed to flatten the curve or calm in the public, becomes another tremor that also brings disruption and uncertainty to our daily lives. From social distancing to suspended travel plans, work stoppages, a plunging stock market and panic buying, the world we knew of yesterday is not the world we’re living in today. So much of the familiar, the predictable, and that which we can control – or at least think we can, anyway – seems to have vanished, along with the comfort we tend to find in such things.

But I want to suggest that while we would probably never choose such conditions, they are precisely the kind of conditions in which God often does his greatest work. I am reminded of the ominous, but in the end glorious words of Hebrews 12:26-29:

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

 You see, there are times when God allows or even causes the ground under our feet to shake. It’s never fun in the moment, but we must always remember God’s ultimate aim: God longs to give us an unshakeable foundation. And God, himself, is that foundation. Everything else in the universe is a “created thing” that can be shaken: our jobs, our finances, our homes, the people we love, the very ground under our feet – no matter how good any of those things may be, they were never intended to replace God as our foundation. So, God lovingly allows the shaking in order to expose the idols, the very things that are robbing us of a foundation that cannot be shaken.

So, may we have the courage to endure, even to embrace the shaking, by asking ourselves the hard questions: “What is the foundation of my life? Where have I been looking for security, significance, meaning and purpose?” And if the answer to those questions is anything other than God, himself, then let them shake…”so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” As difficult as these days have been – and if the experts are correct, they’re likely to get even more difficult – I believe we Christians can not only be hopeful, but expectant that God is up to something awesome. And that’s why we can be thankful and worship Him even as the world continues to shake.

I close with these words from Psalm 62:1-2:

My soul finds rest in God alone;

my salvation comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;

he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Bishop Keith Cowart
For the Board of Bishops, FMCUSA

Bishop Linda Adams’ response for 3/17/20

added 3-17-2020

March 17, 2020 

Today marks the death of St. Patrick, who died on March 17 of about 461 AD. COVID-19 restrictions on our daily movements in many countries of the world mean that the typical singing, dancing and revelry associated with St. Patrick’s Day aren’t happening today. No parades, shamrocks, leprechauns or green beer. A loss for some, perhaps.  

How should we appropriately remember this man? At 16, he became a victim of human trafficking, being carried off to pagan Ireland from his home in England. While serving as a slave in Ireland, he encountered Jesus and was transformed into a devoted disciple, wholeheartedly loving and serving God. After escaping slavery and finding his way back home, in a vision he heard Irish people calling him to come back and bring Christ to them. He returned and lived the rest of his life as a missionary to Ireland.  

Patrick reminds me of many missionaries and Free Methodist leaders with whom I worked for the past eleven years as director of International Child Care Ministries. Many face hardships and danger, often suffering for their faith. Sometimes they are forced to operate in secret or face imprisonment. The churches they are establishing soldier on without any of the conveniences and security we typically enjoy. No buildings to worship in, no sound systems or airconditioned or heated sanctuaries, usually no theologically educated pastors to lead them. Yet they are thriving! They are spreading the gospel persontoperson, householdtohousehold, villagetovillage, citytocity. The presence of Jesus is real in their midst as they gather in homes or under shade trees around the world.  

I will never forget a private worship service in a hotel room in a Creative Access country in Asia a few years ago. Four ICCM leaders from that country were not allowed to join the international church for worship, and the three of us foreigners could not legally attend the local Free Methodist Church. So, we all met in our hotel room. One of them played Hillsong worship songs in their own language on an iPhone while we outsiders sang along in English. We prayed in both languages. People shared testimonies from their hearts. The Spirit of God descended on us! We interceded for the children, for the spread of the gospel, for the sponsors back in the U.S. One of them shared a brief message from the Bible. It was genuine worship for seven sisters and brothers, united by our love for Jesus. 

As we make radical choices to adjust our life together during this global pandemic, let’s remember our brothers and sisters around the world. Let’s pray for those who will encounter this illness without any access to medical treatment. Let’s intercede for loved ones here in the U.S. and all over the world who live hand-to-mouth and will be desperate for food and daily necessities. Whenever and however possible, let’s do our part to help.  

As our worship format begins to resemble theirs more closely  perhaps with informal worship among families and friends, led by those in the room or joining in via livestream from our churches  let’s ask God to help us sort out the essentials from the luxuries. Let’s enjoy our solidarity with believers the world over who cling to this promise and experience its blessings: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). 

Praying for you, 

Bishop Linda Adams on behalf of the Board of Bishops 

Bishop Matt Whitehead’s response for 3/16/20

added 3-16-2020

We have received reports today that access was not granted to the free webinar offered today because it had reached capacity. THESE SESSIONS ARE BEING RECORDED and links to these sessions can be found once they become available right here at https://fmcusa.org/covid19. Thanks for your patience. 

Dear FMC Family,

Because of the Covid-19 health crisis we are now living in a new “normal.” We’re facing a daily reality we never have before. As the crisis worsens the anxiety is palpable.

The Apostle Paul writing to his son in the faith, Timothy, provides this timely advice, “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). 

These practical words from one pastor to another serve as an appropriate foundation of how we can respond in this crisis. These four admonitions contain the framework for our ministry in the days and weeks ahead:

  • Keep your head in all situations
  • Endure hardships
  • Do the work of an evangelist
  • Discharge all the duties of your ministry

Bishop Linda, Bishop Keith and I were on the Zoom call this morning and prayed for you. We asked the Lord of the church to help you lead realistically and hopefully in this unprecedented crisis. We also discussed the importance of our churches abiding by the state and federal guidelines that are changing almost daily. As a Board of Bishops, we strongly advise you to consider the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines of limiting gatherings of more than 50 people. This is the link to the CDC statement: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html

Melanie and I were part of an online service on Sunday at Ballard Church, in Seattle. Our pastor, Lance Watson, quoted from A.W. Tozer, “A scared world needs a fearless church.” What a powerful admonition for us as leaders in God’s church.

The future is uncertain, but God is with us and we have not been abandoned. These are days of unparalleled uncertainty but also amazing opportunity. May God give you and your church the grace and strength to lead and serve as never before.

– Bishop Matt Whitehead for the Board of Bishops

 

Free Webinars for all FMC leaders

added 3-16-2020

Moving Church Online Webinar with Angela Craig (3 Webinar Series)

For webinar links and info, visit:  https://www.missionigniter.org/webinars

Free for FMC leaders

You are invited to join us for online training designed to help pastors and leaders create community, disciple, and care for people in the digital space. This training will be conducted by Pastor Angela Craig, who currently leads Pursuit Church Live, a global and completely online church. (http://www.angelalcraig.com/)

She will provide training to equip our pastors and churches on how to:

  • Shift Sunday services from meeting in-person to meeting online
  • Keep people engaged when they can’t meet for Sunday services
  • Create community online
  • Provide pastoral care online
  • Disciple people online
  • Develop best practices for digital ministry

Please plan to invite others on your leadership teams or in your church to join in this training by providing them with the meeting link.

Monday (3/16) 4-7pm ET / 1p-3p PT

Moving from in-person to online: https://zoom.us/j/380347201

  • My Church is closed. What do I do now?
  • The story of PCL
  • Is community online possible?
  • Strengths & weaknesses of church online
  • How do we perform the 5 functions of the church online?
  • The Basics: A quick start plan for making church online possible for ALL.
  • Streaming and social media that meets the needs of your community.
  • How do I take attendance online?
  • Recruiting a team
  • understanding analytics and promotions
  • Insurance & safety: what you need to know

 

Wednesday (3/18) 12-2pm ET / 9a-11a PT

Developing Community & Discipleship Online

  • How do I keep people connected while my church is closed?
  • Understanding social learning in a digital world
  • The basics: A quick start plan for daily discipleship, worship, prayer, communion & baptism online
  • Training your online team
  • How to create engagement and dialogue online

 

Friday (3/20) 12-2pm ET / 9a-11a PT

 Caring for Community

  • How do we care for our members online?
  • How do we care for our local community in a world of social distancing
  • How to equip teams online
  • Are micro gatherings an answer

 

We have also created a Facebook event for each of these webinars. Here are the links for those:

Monday (3/16) 4-7pm ET / 1p-3p PT  – Moving from in-person to online – https://www.facebook.com/events/530564751177049/

Wednesday (3/18) 12-2pm ET / 9a-11a PT – Developing Community & Discipleship Online – https://www.facebook.com/events/206002250748769/

Friday (3/20) 12-2pm ET / 9a-11a PT – Caring for Community – https://www.facebook.com/events/326136925009450/

 

Informative Resources from Christianity Today

added 3-15-2020

Our Bishops Recommend This Page of Excellent Resources and Information from Christianity Today.

Bishops UPDATE for Saturday, March 14th

added 3-14-2020

Dear Friends,

“For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV).  While I have long drawn strength and courage from those words, they have obviously taken on new meaning in recent days. Yes, coronavirus has been with us now for two months, but the speed and magnitude of change that has come in its wake over the past few days has taken us to an entirely different realm. It seems every hour brings new information and new recommendations or mandates that have profound impact on both our daily lives and our future.

Not surprisingly, the response of everyday Americans reflects the polarization that has come to define our nation. Even the coronavirus can’t escape the toxic effect of a politically charged environment devoid of trust and replete with divisive rhetoric. One side accuses the other of fearmongering. The other side accuses the former of carelessness. The divisiveness created by both adds to the confusion and fuels the fear.

What if we as Christians offered a radically different response to this crisis? Rather than being sucked into the vortex of fear, suspicion and judgment, what if we demonstrated to the world what it truly means to be a follower of One whose Kingdom is not of this world? I believe Paul’s words to a young and timid Timothy reveal the way we could do just that.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear…” The very fact that Paul felt compelled to write these words to his young friend is a helpful reminder that none of us is immune to fear. Fear is very much a part of this world in which we live. But it is not from God. Fear is a key weapon in our Enemy’s arsenal used to carry out his mission to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

“…but of power” The Holy Spirit, poured out on the first believers at Pentecost, transformed a band of frightened followers into a force that would “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). When we are overcome by fear, we feel powerless, trapped, helpless. But those feelings are rooted in a lie. While we cannot choose our circumstances, we absolutely can choose how we respond to them. History abounds with examples of how followers of Jesus through the ages have refused to view themselves as victims, even when faced with extreme persecution. Such courage is not “worked up” from within but comes from the knowledge that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us (Romans 8:11).

“…love” To love is to give ourselves for the highest good of others. Fear does just the opposite. Fear drives us inward toward self-absorption and self-preservation. But John reminds us that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), and in so doing, liberates us to love without restraint!

What would it look like for followers of Jesus to inject a huge dose of love into this pandemic of fear and cynicism? It might look like selflessly caring for the sick. It might look like praying for and encouraging those who are afraid instead of mocking or standing in judgment of them. It might look like choosing to inconvenience ourselves in order to protect the most vulnerable among us. Whatever form it takes, love gives us eyes to see others as Jesus sees them and compels us to consider others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

“…and a sound mind.” In what increasingly feels like a storm-tossed sea of anxiety, we Christians have a profound opportunity to speak and live in ways that still the storm.   Soundness of mind is rooted in the discipline of consistently replacing irrational or reactionary thoughts with the truth of God’s Word. Paul shows us the way when he reminds us to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and warns us not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). God’s Word is filled with truth that reminds us that God is with us (Joshua 1:9; John 14:16-18), that God will use every circumstance for his purposes (Romans 8:28), and that we have an eternal inheritance that outweighs any suffering we may endure in this world (Romans 8:16-18). Perhaps the most powerful thing you could do right now would be to pause and renew your mind with these words from Psalm 46 (ESV):

        God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

        Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

        though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

        There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High.

        God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

God will help her when morning dawns.

        The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;

he utters his voice, the earth melts.

        The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

        Come, behold the works of the Lord,

how he has brought desolations on the earth.

        He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

he burns the chariots with fire.

        “Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

        The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Keith Cowart, Matt Whitehead and Linda Adams

The Board of Bishops of the Free Methodist Church – USA

Bishops UPDATE for Friday, March 13th

added 3-13-2020

Dear FMC Family, 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV). 

We are living in a moment when things are unfolding at dizzying speed. Every hour another U.S. governor declares restrictions on gatherings; the map of COVID-19’s global impact keeps expanding.  

Whatever you decided yesterday about continuing to meet together this Sunday may have to be revised, as governments seek to contain the spread by prohibiting large gatherings. We repeat what we communicated yesterday  do abide by your local and state government’s guidelines.  

We believe this can be a moment for the church to shine. Seize the opportunity to do something new —maybe something old! Worship formats are flexible. How about giving some guidance for families to circle up and create their own interactive, participatory time of singing, prayer, reading the Scripture and offering one another insights from the Word? Maybe your church members who live close to each other could be encouraged to gather in the community room of an apartment complex or someone’s living room for this kind of informal and highly personal worship time.  

If you have the capacity to live-stream a service from your church building (even with only the pastor, the worship team and a tech person onsite), maybe you could have small “watch parties” all over your community. Some of your people might even invite friends and neighbors who are feeling stressed and fearful to join in for a word of hope and comfort from God. 

If you do choose some sort of gathering, please be particularly aware of all the advice we’re being given about disinfecting hard surfaces, washing hands frequently, avoiding unnecessary touching of one another (we really can get used to elbow-bumping with a knowing smile), maintaining some distance between each other, and above all, discouraging anyone with cold symptoms or fever from coming. Even if a household member is elderly or particularly at risk, family members should be encouraged not to come and risk exposure. We don’t exercise caution out of fear, but out of regard for those most vulnerable to serious complications from the virus.  

And of course, our life together is not meant to be a Sunday-only thing. We have lots of ways to stay in touch 7 days a week  calling, texting, emailing, sharing on social media. Let’s use whatever resources we have to speak into each other’s lives words of faith, hope and love. Let’s pray for one another and for our leaders, and then let each other know. Let’s share Scripture verses that God has impressed on our hearts. In the face of the anxiety all around us, let’s be a non-anxious presence because of the peace Jesus gives.   

We are grateful for the privilege of leading the church in times like this. We are praying for you. 

With hope, 

Linda Adams, Keith Cowart, Matt Whitehead 

The Board of Bishops of the FMCUSA 

Bishops offer care, guidance and encouragement amid COVID-19 outbreak.

added 3-12-2020

Dear FMC Family,

As we face growing concerns over the spread of COVID-19, we would like to offer words of care, guidance and encouragement.

For those already affected in a number of ways including those having contracted the disease, those quarantined as a result of potential exposure, or those affected by travel restrictions, closed schools or the like, we extend our prayers. In fact, we encourage the entire Church to be in fervent and earnest prayer for one another, for our communities and the global efforts being engaged to combat the spread of this virus.

We also want to extend words of guidance for our local congregations. We are communities that thrive in gathering, so questions have naturally emerged amid the closings and cancellations of many institutions and public events. There are many options available to us all, and, through prayerful discernment, would encourage you to explore one or many of these options as they apply to your local context:

  • Encourage anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms or respiratory distress to refrain from attending public services or gatherings of the church, and to seek medical attention.
  • Since symptoms can be very mild and often do not appear at all for 1-2 weeks, encourage anyone who has reason to suspect possible exposure (travel in a high risk area or contact with a confirmed victim) to self-quarantine for 14 days or until testing rules out infection. Such precautions are not born of fear but are meant to protect the vulnerable (the elderly, those with underlying medical issues or compromised immune systems, etc).
  • Engage networks of people in your congregation to check in on one another, pray for one another, and meet one another’s needs as they arise.
  • A number of our congregations have sought to lessen contact during services by collecting offerings via one receptacle rather than passing them through the aisles of your church, engaging alternatives to handshakes like elbow-bumps, and making hand sanitizer readily available.
  • When serving the elements of communion, do so in ways that provide individual portions and means of serving.
  • Offer an attitude of peace to all. Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, refusing to live by neither hysteria nor cynicism.
  • Abide by local health and governmental regulations, including bans on large gatherings if instituted.
  • Leverage other means to worship through social media livestreams and electronic communication.
  • When caring for your worship spaces, go above-and-beyond normal protocols to disinfect.

In these ways we can exhibit our commitment to love our neighbor as ourselves doing so in wise and discerning ways. We are committed to continued monitoring of the situation and issuing further communication as needed.

With hope,

Linda Adams, Keith Cowart, Matt Whitehead

The Board of Bishops, FMCUSA

 

How Should Churches Respond to the COVID-19 Outbreak?

added 3-12-2020

How are FM churches and institutions responding to the COVID-19 outbreak? Read an ariticle by Jeff Finley, editor of Light + Life Magazine HERE

A helpful resource for churches from Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute

added 3-12-2020

Click Here to download the PDF