by Tom Norrell
Where Are We?? COVID-19
Several weeks ago I asked you to go to our Annual Conference website www.umcsc.org and read the "reset/restart RENEW" guide for reopening worship. We are clearly in the stage, "restart," and are worshipping in person outdoors each Sunday at 9:00 a.m. This past Sunday approximately sixty worshippers participated, and we will probably continue to do so until the summer heat drives us indoors.
The sanctuary has been roped off for "safe distancing." Our facilities are sanitized regularly and sanitation stations with masks, gloves and sanitizer are at each entrance to our facilities. Our committees and classes can meet on Zoom or in the Fellowship Hall, if fewer than sixteen, which has been sanitized and is set up for "safe distancing."
The church office is now open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 a.m. until noon. If you are in an at risk group or have any fear of coming to the church for any reason, please STAY HOME! Your pastor is available for prayer, counsel, and questions at the church office (864) 582-7263, ext. 102 or my cell (864) 384-2779.
When we are together please remember:
Do not touch anyone.
Stay at least six feet from other people.
Do not exchange items by hand.
Wear a mask.
Pick up your own documents or supplies.
When in the sanctuary or Fellowship Hall, sit only in designated areas.
Our Board of Trustees and Evangelism, Communication and Marketing Committee (ECM) have evolved into the "RENEW" stage. They are beginning to gather ideas and plan for increased audio/visual capacities in our online-multimedia age. We want our facilities, equipment and programming to be ready for a vigorous renewal in 2021 and beyond.
As always, I solicit your ideas and suggestions. The regular process of ideas and plans "percolating" up through our frequent in-person committee meetings obviously cannot function as it did. You must make the extra effort to call or e-mail without being timid.
I look forward to receiving your input.
Racial inequality and police reform have become burning issues. The protest movement is national and local and will continue. I applaud the efforts of the Clemson University Board of Trustees to address some aspects of its racist past. Where we stand as Methodist Christians is clear.
Our Social Principals state:
We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection. We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race. Racism is the combination of the power to dominate by one race over other races and a value system that assumes that the dominant race is innately superior to the others. Racism includes both personal and institutional racism. Institutional racism is the established social pattern that supports implicitly or explicitly the racist value system. Racism plagues and cripples our growth in Christ, inasmuch as it is antithetical to the gospel itself. Unfortunately, historical and institutional racism provide support for white privilege, and white people, as a result of the color of their skin, are granted privileges and benefits that are unfairly denied to persons of color. Therefore, we recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons. We assert the obligation of society and groups within the society to implement compensatory programs that redress long-standing, systemic social deprivation of certain racial and ethnic groups.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 fears keep many of us away from mass demonstrations. Let me suggest that for study materials you can go to
(Access code: LBPSCM)
We will notify you of any gatherings or online events, when we become aware of them.
Fortunately, the justifiable anger has taken on a feasible and overdue focus on reform of police training and policies. I think law enforcement leaders want the public's help in these reforms. Obviously, there is much more to be done to fight systemic racism but this is a positive concrete first step.
I am confident in this season of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit will guide us as we move boldly into a better future, as we resist both the virus and violence. Our bishop recently gave us some key strategic words for being the Church of Christ in our time:
"Engaged, Aware, Flexible" "Try and Re-examine" "Pray, Plan, and Pivot."
We will be, and do these things with the indwelling power of God's Holy Spirit!
ARTICLES FOR REVIEW
FAITH INITIATIVE TO END CHILD POVERTY
Speaking Down Barriers training session for all volunteers will be held Thursday, June 18, at 6:00 p.m.
Read more information below from the SDB team, add to your calendar, tell us you're coming, and click the Zoom link to attend.
And . . .