By Dr. Carol McPherson

Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, by any means necessary, for the transformation of Peoria and the world.

FUMC makes and nurtures disciples through Sunday School, small groups, activities for children and youth, tender care for our Wee Bitties, shared meals, fellowship, and so much more.

How do we do these things now that COVID-19 has happened? Phrases like “social distancing,” “shelter-in-place,” “stay-at-home,” and “flatten the curve,” have all become part of the national conversation.

With cases increasing exponentially, and the death toll rising, it is clear that our lives have radically changed. Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited. On March 15, Pastor Tim Ozment made the difficult decision to move all worship services online. On March 21, the governor mandated that we were to stay at home, except for essential business. We have been worshiping and gathering online since then.

We have begun to reach out to people in new and creative ways and that includes people who may not attend our services at all.

We recently celebrated Holy Saturday - that day in between Christ’s death and resurrection. Perhaps as a people, as a church, and as a society, we are in Holy Saturday – a time between death and resurrection. The Church is still called to make disciples of Jesus Christ, to worship God, and to love others. Some of the ways we have always done this have ended – or at the very least – been suspended. But, God is still at work in and through the Church, and is moving us in directions we never imagined.

We are able to worship together through online technology, including Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and our church website. We are able to gather virtually and study together through Zoom Sunday School, Bible Study, and Small Groups.

We are engaging children, youth, and their families, through videos and watch parties. We offer the littlest of our flock comfort and familiarity through Ms. Sue’s Bible Story Time on our Wee Bitties Group. We are reaching out to members of our congregation through phone calls and emails. We are inviting people to the Foster Gallery through virtual exhibits. We continue to offer meals through Loaves & Fish while following social distancing protocols.

When we are finally able to gather together in person, my prayer is that we continue to reach out in new and creative ways, and that we continue to fulfill our mission – making disciples of Jesus Christ, by any means necessary, for the transformation of Peoria and the world.