Two Friday Messages in One
Covid-19 and your Church
Good Morning Church

This morning, I want to share just a few words, then I will let Bobby Smith do the rest of the talking. I know what's on everyone's mind as it relates to Covid-19. The first thing I would relate to you is that our church leaders have been in regular discussion about 'what to do next' dating back to January. Back in that time, we made decisions as to some 'what if' scenarios regarding the spread of disease. We did so with God's best interest at heart for each of you. I think that begins with wise choices. The decision made back then was that we would follow our school system for guidance (relying on local health and public officials) to help make best decisions as it relates to church gatherings. Last night, we became aware just after 7 PM that all of our local schools would be suspending classes. In fact, in almost every venue, from the sporting and entertainment worlds to education both in universities and local school settings, best business and travel practices, we are seeing the same thing. Our practice of life together has radically changed in a day we will all remember in the future. At the urging of scientific and health leaders, everyone is working together for the most vulnerable to 'flatten the curve'. Sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 words, this one is an unknown number worth lives...

The premise is simple. Our community and country is calling upon it's members to be responsible together to fight the spread of disease. I believe with all my heart as your pastor that the decision to practice distancing to protect our most vulnerable is a Christlike expression of love on behalf of those who need us most now. 

Simpsonwood UMC will have one 'virtual' worship service Sunday at 10 AM, but the doors will be locked, and we will not gather in person for worship.  We will have church, it will just be online . Watch for more details tomorrow, but our service will be broadcast through Facebook live and then put up for replay soon thereafter on the website. We will send you the links tomorrow separately.  

As I approach big decisions now, I often ask a simple question: How will this decision matter in 5 years time? If the answer to that question is clear, then the direction or course of action becomes easy to choose. I think the events of the last 48 hours make the following decision easy. 

On Sunday, I will greet you at 10 AM online. I will gather at the church with the band and staff musicians, but no one else. The same is being done in some other UMC's and other churches.   Similarly, we will suspend gathering together for ministry gathering events.    That will include dinner, youth, children activities, bible studies, etc.   This is for a season. When local health officials tell us it's responsible to resume normal activities, we will do so. 

In the meantime, let me invite all of us to begin doing what it means to be a 'neighborhood church' right now. Look around. Who needs help on your block or in your mind? Some are already shopping for the elderly and taking food and needed supplies to them. These needs will continue long after our grocery stores work to restock the initial panic buying we have seen this week. Some are cooking 'eating with' as able. If we do face major changes to lifestyle because of disease, many will be isolated. In fact, many already are. Nursing homes are no longer receiving family with strict prohibitions toward any who are not medical professionals or caregivers. We should write notes and regularly call those who can no longer get out safely. In this respect, there is plenty of work to do and I hope we will be the church in more creative ways as the Spirit leads. In that way, help us (the church) think of ways we can serve, let us know of the needs our community faces from your vantage point. That discussion will be important I believe in the day ahead.

So I will see you Sunday for worship online. I will be changing up the theme for the day as we ready for worship and want you to have Sunday's new Scripture. Read here from the book of Psalms. God is our Refuge and Strength

It is truly a timeless Psalm. I invite you to read and meditate on it in preparation for worship Sunday. In the meantime, hear the God who calls us to 'be still', 'know' and trust in God's love and care over us together. God will see us through this time together.

In Christ who loves you steadfastly,

John

P.S. If you are not in worship and wish to make gifts online, here is the way to do that:  CLICK HERE TO GIVE

Now to Bobby…
A Tribute to John Manning
"This is the Day the Lord has Made.
Let us Rejoice and Be Glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

Good Morning Simpsonwood,

I want to share with you about something close to my heart. As John reminded us every week, “ This is the day the Lord has made especially for you, and we should rejoice and be glad in it. ” So today, I would like to invite you to join our effort to remember John, by making a donation to sponsor a Children’s Playhouse, that will be installed in the new John Manning Playground at the Fowler YMCA. Along with our church, the YMCA was a great passion of John’s. He was instrumental in bringing the Y to Peachtree Corner and Simpsonwood UMC is proud to show our love for John by supporting the John Manning Playground Project . Donations can be made to Simpsonwood UMC (make note on your check: for the John Manning Playground) and we will present our donation on April 10 th . A sign will be installed on the playhouse, so that everyone will know that SImpsonwood UMC supports the YMCA and its mission to serve the families in Peachtree Corners.

Here is a short video on the project.   CLICK HERE.

•WHAT: To create an innovative, state-of-the-art playground with STEM components and creative outlets
• WHY: To give children an opportunity to use their imaginations and interact on a safe environmentally friendly playground
• WHERE: Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA, Peachtree Corners, GA
• WHO: Supporting the children in the after-school programs at Fowler Family YMCA and Fowler families
• WHO CAN HELP? Anyone! Seeking personal donations, corporate donations and in-kind donations in the form of service hours, landscaping and playground equipment
• RECOGNITION OPPORTUNITIES: Naming recognition (corporate or personal) available on bricks, benches, shades and other playground equipment    
You can make a donation through the church by designation gifts by clicking HERE  and designate: YMCA John Manning Project

So far, nearly $130,000 of the $200,000 has been raised. I hope you will joing me and Simpsonwood in honoring John's legacy through his family and the YMCA's vision of a playground that joyfully serves everyone. Indeed, this is the day the Lord has made, especially for you!!!

Have a great Friday everyone,

Bobby Smith
Vice Chair, Administrative Council
John Manning always making the children happy. And Lambs too. Here he is with an Easter surprise

Simpsonwood's ultimate Storyteller who always told gospel stories by the campfire at Walk Through Bethlehem.