Ocala First Connection
Weekly Update
April 5, 2020
This year’s Lenten season has seemed longer than most. Lent began back on February 26 with Ash Wednesday. By the Third Sunday in Lent on March 15, we were worshiping online only.  

Lent is a season of deprivation and self-denial, as we learn once more to trust in God alone for our strength and salvation. Our model is the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness after his baptism and before his public ministry.

Our experience this Lent may not be what we had in mind for our spiritual disciplines (to quote one pastor: This is the Lentiest, Lent I have ever Lented). In these times we learn what really matters most to us, our families, and our communities. We pray you know God's peace and comfort even as the pandemic grows.

We will continue to trust the health experts who tell us what we are doing now is the best way to slow the spread of the virus. And as Christians, we believe slowing the spread of the virus is the best way we can love our neighbors as ourselves: in keeping our neighbors from getting sick, and in not overwhelming those tirelessly and courageously serving in the medical professions here and around the world. We are doing the right thing and we share these sacrifices for the common good.  

As we enter into Holy Week, we feel the grief more acutely of not being together as a church family. And yet, we may still walk together spiritually in the footsteps of Jesus through his passion, death and resurrection.

We have prepared a "Holy Week at Home" prayer guide based on the Stations of the Cross. The guide outlines scripture readings and times of prayer in the morning and evening each day this week. We pray these times of prayer may draw you closer to Jesus as he nears the cross, and prepare you for the new life we find in resurrection on Easter morning.

On Monday, we will share our online worship opportunities for Holy Week. We look forward to connecting with you online!


In Grace and Love,
Pastors Anne & David Fuquay

SUSPENSION OF IN-PERSON MINISTRIES
EXTENDED TO MAY 1

This past week, we received the "Safer at Home" orders that cover the whole state of Florida. In response, our Church Council decided to take the following steps:

1 - We will extend the suspension of our in-person ministries until May 1.

2 - Beginning April 6, the Church Office will be closed to public. Administrative, financial and custodial staff will be on site as needed to accomplish essential tasks. We will check the mail and answer voice messages. Program staff will work from home. 

3 - We will continue to live stream both services through and Easter Sunday, but limit the number of staff and volunteers required to produce these services.

4 - To limit our exposure further, we will move toward offering one service online after Easter, most likely at 10 am. We will utilize more pre-recorded segments to limit the number of staff and volunteers needed to be in one location to offer worship for our congregation. 
FIND US ONLINE

The best way to stay connected is through our Facebook page and our "Members and Friends" Facebook group. On our page you can find our livestream feeds and important announcements. And in our group, we share all that information plus special videos from our music staff to bless your day with music, and other helpful resources.
Get ZOOM Video Conferencing!

As we learn how to be the church beyond our walls we are finding ways to stay connected and in community. Video conferencing is wonderful way to meet together when practicing social distancing. We are now having all our staff meetings and church committee meetings online through Zoom.

On Holy Thursday, Pastors Anne and David will host Holy Communion services through Zoom. We can assist you in getting a small group or Sunday School class connected through Zoom. And we will find even more creative uses for the technology over the next few weeks.

Got to https://zoom.us/ to learn more, or search for the Zoom app for your smart phone or tablet.
KIDS AND FAMILIES - STAY CONNECTED!
Our Family Ministries Team is awesome!
FINANCIAL GIVING

An important part of worship each week is the giving of our tithes and offering. Giving is always a form of sacrifice, as well as, a source of great joy as we express our thanks and gratitude to God. That is never more true than in our current situation in this Pandemic, when our lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down. We know that many of you are not able to give as you desire or intend. Please know that does make you any less generous or faithful. We as a church family care about you, your family and our community. We know that you will give as you can and when you can. 

If you are among those who are able to continue giving, we encourage you to do so that we may continue to support our staff, maintain our facilities, and extend the mission of our church in new ways. We will continue to receive your tithes and offerings by mail at our church office. And you can give online. 

In March, we did have some who were able give extra gifts and pay ahead on their pledges. Thank you for all that you were able to do. We trust that God will provide as we enter a second month of being apart.


Gifts can be mailed to the church office.
(1126 E. Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala, FL, 34470)

You can also give online at any time!
PASTORAL CARE

If you need prayer or need to speak with our pastors or a member of our Care Team, please call the church office.

In-Person visitation is suspended for most care facilities, and we are all trying to practice social distancing to protect those most at risk from serious illness from Covid-19.

We will keep our prayer list updated. Our Pastors and Care Team will reach out with phone calls and notes.

We will provide in-person visits in an emergency.

All members are encouraged to check-in with one another regularly, particularly with those older members who are not online and may feel more isolated during this time.
LOOKING AHEAD

Given how rapidly things can change during a pandemic, our leadership and staff will continue to closely monitor the situation and adapt our plans as needed. We will keep you informed each step of the way.

Updates on our website:

Updates from the Florida Conference Website:

Visit our webpage for updates, sermon videos and more!
[352.622.3244]  [info@fumcocala.org]  [www.fumcocala.org]