Update | Worship Planning June & July, 2020

Both Rev. Tim and I are very grateful for your Livestream attendance! 

These have been interesting days and I cannot thank our media team enough for the work they are accomplishing. It has been a work in progress for all of us, but we have sought to do our best to keep you in the heart of SHUMC worship even as we are apart.

Please note that for June we will continue Livestream as our only worship opportunity. The sanctuary will remain closed to attendance for all of June. Opportunities to be together will open up soon, Lord willing. This Sunday was a momentary exception with the courtyard communion stewards helping us prepare.

We are in the process of constructing a plan for the return to worship; no matter how we decide to reopen, there will be limits upon how we undertake this task. Both state and UM Conference guideline are keeping us at a 50 person occupancy with social distancing practices mandated. We are a congregation that has a sizable at risk population, so our aim is to keep people healthy while also examining the impact of singing, preaching, chair placement just to name a few concerns. The staff and some of the leaders will be spending a good portion of Wednesday morning plotting a strategy for how to gather and be safe. You will be hearing more soon so keep your eyes open and your hands praying for your leaders!

I wanted to thank those who were invited to help prepare the courtyard for our outdoor communion today; they literally scrubbed the area from top to bottom before the 9 am worship! It was a great effort and a special thank you goes out to the Wades, the Coles, Willis Digman, Jean Elmer and Marilyn Fassler. Rev. Buddy, your words were ever encouraging and thank you for leading us in the liturgy! And a thank you to all who came out to enjoy communion in the courtyard; it was great to see so many of you and may the holy meal strengthen you for the days that lie ahead.

Below, you will find our Trustees Chair Greg Fisher’s note on Covid 19 and why it is such a concern. Greg has his Master’s in Microbiology and is in a wonderful position to share some of the science about the pandemic with us. Please take a look and know that we are going to do our best to protect each other as we come back to the place that we so lovingly call our faith community.

Peace to all, and I know I will see you soon!
Rev. Michael

A Message From Trustees – Basic Facts about Covid -19

by Greg Fischer

As chairman of the Trustees and as someone with a Master of Science degree in Microbiology, I was asked to provide some Basic Facts about the Covid – 19 virus.  I realize we are bombarded on a daily basis about this current pandemic.  Some of the information being repeated is scientifically accurate and some of the information is misleading at best.  My hope is everyone in the SHUMC family diligently observes safe practices because this virus is extremely virulent (infectious/contagious) and it knows no boundaries.

  1. COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2.  The virus first appeared in late 2019 and quickly spread around the world.
  2. The virus that causes COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person.  This usually happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks near other people.  Doctors also think it is possible to get sick if you touch a surface that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.  This is similar to how the flu spreads, but the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads more easily and more aggressively.
  3. A person can be infected, and spread the virus to others, even without having any symptoms.  This is why keeping people at a distance is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the disease to others.
  4. Symptoms usually start 4 or 5 days after a person is infected with the virus.  In some people, it can take up to 2 weeks for symptoms to appear.  Some people never show symptoms at all.
  5. When symptoms do happen, they can include:
    Fever, Cough, Trouble breathing, Feeling tired, Shaking chills, Muscle aches, Headache, Sore throat, Problems with sense of smell or taste. 
  6. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.  There are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting the virus and spreading it.  These steps are a good idea for everyone and they are extra important for people age 65 years or older or those who have other health problems.
  7. To help protect yourself and others:
    • Practice “social distancing.”  It’s most important to avoid contact with people who are sick.  But social distancing also means staying away from all people who do not live in your household.  When you come in close contact with an individual, remember you are also coming in contact with everyone they were in close contact with (the circle of possible infection widens).
    • Avoiding crowds is an important part of social distancing.  But even small gatherings can be risky, so it’s best to stay home as much as you can.  When you do need to go out, such as for food or medicine, try your best to stay at least 6 feet away from other people.  Six (6) feet should be considered a minimum.  Virus particles are spread in a wide arc and can be spread over a significant area depending on the force of the sneeze or cough from an infected person.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water often.  This is especially important after being out in public.  Make sure to rub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, cleaning your wrists, fingernails, and in between your fingers.  Then rinse your hands and dry them with a paper towel you can throw away.
    • If you are not near a sink, you can use a hand sanitizing gel to clean your hands. The gels with at least 60 percent alcohol work the best.  But it is better to wash with soap and water if you can.
    • Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose, or eyes.  Anyone who’s tried this knows it’s difficult but try to make a conscious effort.
  8.  When experts recommend staying home, it’s important to take this seriously and follow instructions as best you can.  It’s hard having to change your life and habits, and it’s normal to want things to get back to the way they used to be.  If people stop social distancing too soon, more people will get sick.

I realize none of this information is new to most people; however, it seems few people in St. George are taking this seriously due to the low numbers of infected individuals.  Please be diligent, if not for yourself, for your loved ones.

Blessings,
Greg Fischer

Palm Sunday Worship and Communion 2020

Palm Sunday Worship and Communion 2020

Covid 19 has made our capacity to gather in groups unfeasible, but the need for liturgical comfort has been acknowledged by the United Methodist Church. Recently the Council of Bishops approved a temporary process for taking Communion at home. This week is Palm Sunday and we will be consecrating the elements during the 9:00 a.m. worship while we livestream. For all that would like to join us, please tune in! For those who wish to take communion with us as a community, whether watching the livestream or not, here is the process for partaking with us as a community.

You will need some bread and grape juice; just a small cup and a roll, a pita or even a water cracker will work just fine. I will be sharing the words of Institution at 9:30, so if you are not on the livestream, you can say a prayer of gratitude and grace, take the bread and remember the words we share when the bread is broken “This is my body, given for you. So often as you partake, do so in remembrance of me.”

Then take the cup, and then proclaim “This is my blood, shed for you and for the sins of many. So often as you drink, do so in remembrance of me.” Once we have finished, the opportunity to once again give thanks is before you and perhaps you might close with a verse of your favorite hymn (Amazing Grace perhaps!?)

We will try our best to bring worship to you via the livestream and the website for Holy Week, but should the virus increase in Southern Utah, we will minimize contact and make sure all are protected from exposure.

Current schedule live steam:
Sunday, April 5th, 9:00 a.m. Worship with communion.
Friday, April 10th, 7:00 p.m. Good Friday with Rev. Joe Doherty of New Promise
Easter April 12th, 9:00 a.m. Worship

We will be under the Government mandated 10 people gatherings at all events, but if the worst case, I will present only some prayer, a homily and maybe Rev. Michael’s guitar (unless I can get Anne to sing!). Should our area take a dramatic turn for the worse, the livestream will be suspended, and I will post a prerecorded video from home.

The Staff and I are taking into account every circumstance and possibility during this pandemic. We are diligently sanitizing, social distancing and will seek the welfare of every person involved as a priority. Continue to pray for us, to join us and I thank you for your continued support by your prayers, presence and offerings. Our community is alive, the Kingdom is coming and each one of us is light of God’s grace in this struggling world! Keep Calm and keep the faith!

We are Jesus’ people, and I know we will be together again, sharing the songs, the laughter, the hugs and handshakes of a people born of the greatest love of all.

In His love,
Rev. Michael

Giving Your Heart a Reset

Giving Your Heart a Reset

“Cast your anxieties upon the Lord, for he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7

Saints of SHUMC,

How is your extended Sabbath going? I do hope all of you are social distancing and washing those hands! But if you are like me, you might be discovering that Sabbathing is actually hard! This has been a time of reflection upon how much of our time is monopolized by culture and circumstance, yet armed with such an awareness, I hope we are making time to not only “recreate” but to do it with quiet and peace as our daily bread. A devotional time, a quick song of praise in the head, or a moment of simply listening to the sounds of creation, gives the heart a time to reset.

It has been a trying time, this Covid-19, challenging the treadmill of familiarity that our human nature is so easily comforted by. The church has been especially pushed toward innovation. We are about relationships, but what to do when the power of touch is removed? Will it be enough to sit and observe when even the most introverted among us feels separated and isolated in such times? Cary Neiwhof, a wonderful pastor in Canada, says that the future of the church is connected to its online ministry, inviting others to meet and seek the touch of grace and relationship with Christ and the people of His Church.

We at SHUMC are working diligently with the tools of the internet with the intention of it being an important part of how we reach out in Christ’s name. But the touch of grace, the sensory connection of relationship expects that we will use all of who we are to bring life to others. The Lord created us as a people of spirit AND of body, so I am looking for ways to stay connected during this time.

If you are immune compromised or concerned about infection, please do not join us. Do not risk your health; the Eucharist will be offered at a time the virus has been overcome. Please be safe. And if the risk increases, we will not attempt these options. I am posting some devotions and encouragement on Facebook and the services are available on You Tube.

And next Saturday evening, April 4th at 7 pm, the Chasing Eden portion of the Praise Band is going to offer a mini concert of encouragement for you on You Tube. We will do some of praise music, some of Luke’s music and a few of the songs we worked up for special music during Communion. We might even take a few “requests” from you!!

We are working to figure out the tech, but it should be a wonderful time! Neighbor to Neighbor is available to assist anyone who needs some grocery or pharmacy pick up help. Karen Cole and Bob Moffit are ready to assist you if you need something from the store, so call the office and we will get connected!

Be strong, take heart and let’s pray for one another during these days of transformation. I am sending out a “virtual” hug to each of you and may this Sabbath time be one filled with new encounters with the Lord and life! Our situation is very fluid at this time, so keep up with us on the Website, You Tube and via emails.

Peace and hope in the one who lives,

Rev. Michael

Learning is Foundational for Believers

Learning is Foundational for Believers

Ronald Reagan tells a great story of a youngster who reached the age for kindergarten. His mother began to prepare him for the school experience, buying him new clothes, telling him about all the projects he would do, the other children he would meet and managed to get the young man excited about this new opportunity. He eagerly went off to his first day, and later returned with some very exciting reports of how wonderful the school experience was. The next morning his mom wandered in and said “Honey, time to get up!”. With ruffled hair and through bleary eyes he sat up and proclaimed, “why?”. You have to go to school!” she replied. He rubbed his eyes and said “what, again?!”

Jesus placed a great premium on the adventure of learning. In fact, as we look at the scriptures, even those who didn’t particularly care for him would grudgingly call him Rabbi, or teacher. There is one very important trait shared by true disciples; they long, they hunger to learn more about God, more about Jesus and how to follow as a people who are equipped to serve and care as Christ cares. Initially the followers of Jesus were known as the ones who follow the WAY. Learning is foundational for believers; in order to make sense of who we are as a ministry, we must understand matters which are not easily condensed into a bumper sticker of a cute slogan. Faith is not the absence of wisdom or knowledge; it is the application of reason and experience culminating in transcending the limitations often imposed by “what we can know”.  In order to better know God, we need some info, we need some history, we need some scripture… and in order to do God’s will, to hear God’s voice and to uncover our purpose in God’s dreams of tomorrow we have to be able to learn, to discuss, to grow.

With this in mind and with a few reflections of SHUMC’s present, we will be looking some great opportunities for the summer and fall.. Our aim is to offer teaching experiences and opportunities that quicken our spirits, unearth questions and give us a chance to deepen our own personal relationship with God and with God’s community of grace. Pray for us in these days, for the community of faith is never a static or unchanging entity! We look forward to coming face to face with the future, and in all ways continuing on the path which leads us closer to Christ!

See you in worship,

Rev. Michael

Don’t Play the Blame Game – Rev. Michael’s Musings

“The one who blames others has a long way to go on their journey.
The one who blames themselves is half way there. The one who blames no one has arrived.
—Chinese Proverb

One thing about being young and having siblings is the joy of pointing our finger at them when something goes wrong! “Who made this mess?” my mom would ask my brother and me. Both of us would our quickly point our fingers at the other in the hope of passing off the responsibility. It didn’t work to often; usually mom had a pretty good idea of where it came from and who was responsible.

It is interesting that this tendency to point the finger is often not only meant to avoid accountability but also to distract. And when the finger is pointed in another direction too often, we might get the idea that all our problems are caused by others. One of my favorite quotes goes something like this; “The only common feature of all your dissatisfying relationships is you.” Jesus is indeed right. Even though our fingers may point at others, the reality is we are the authors of all of our dissatisfactions and unrealized expectations. And too often we allow our unhealthiness to keep us looking in all the wrong places for solutions to our troubles, but in pointing the finger we neglect the actual prescription; examine our hearts.

Lent is upon us, the season of examining our hearts. In our worship we will be g at some of the soul struggles that keep us emotionally immature and, and, accordingly clouds our relationship with God and each other. Let’s own what is truly troubling the waters of our spirt: our broken hearts, our self centered souls, and out thoughtless words and deed. Let us ask Christ to illumine our souls and gracefully smooth our personality’s edges. Join us as we work on the heart so that it may not just know Jesus, but that we may love like Jesus as well. Let our fingers point in only one direction, to the source of healing, mercy, and salvation.

See you in worship!
Rev, Michael