But What Can We Do...and When?
A Message from The Vicar

There is no one more eager to get back to worship and church activities physically present with you than I am. At the same time, I also know how virulent and contagious this COVID-19 virus is. We have watched as Jim Adams fought for his life, and the road to a recovery of any kind of life he will call "normal" is still long and very difficult. His story is but one of thousands of others that are unfolding in the Metroplex. The number of people testing positive and tally those who are dying in Tarrant and Dallas Counties continue to grow daily and at a pace that shifts the headlines of our local news papers from "highest day" to "second highest day" and back again almost without fail. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said emphatically on Tuesday as he implored us to remain home even as restrictions are relaxed across Texas, "We have NOT reached a peak in Tarrant County." Friends, I would not wish the struggle of this virus or the helplessness of having a loved one hospitalized without visitors anyone. Therefore, as a church we will proceed at the warp speed of prudent caution.

Here are some wise words shared by Bishop Lowry regarding the easing of restrictions, and they resonate with the ethic on my heart as well:

"The Cabinet and I are aware that many are anxious to return to in-person worship following the recent updated guidance to houses of worship from Gov. Abbot and Attorney General Paxton. It is my hope that the churches of the Central Texas Conference “Breathe Deep” and stay the current course of worshipping online. As the economy slowly reopens, it is possible if not quite likely that there will be a rise in  COVID-19  infections. Many of our congregations have several members and guests who are in the high-risk category (over 60 or with underlying health issues) The vulnerable are not disposable and we must not put them at risk. As I said in my latest video update to the conference, now is a time for us to be a Christian people who live not by demanding our rights, but by being in care and compassion for our neighbors."

It goes without saying, we’re living an unprecedented experience, at least in our lifetimes. Just as many of you are finding in your own lives, professions and families, there is also great challenge in working daily as a church staff and congregation to navigate a new norm. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused rapid changes in the way we function, how we serve, and our ability to help our friends and neighbors. However, I want to say again how proud I am of the speed and spirit with which you have adapted and are engaging in community with one another to worship, pray, praise and learn together.

I am also aware that some of you yearn to get back to mission service in the ways we are accustomed to doing. Know this, I long for that also. However, the food banks are geared up to meet needs in ways we simply cannot; although, even Mission Central is distributing food using only paid staff while no longer allowing help from unpaid volunteers. Yes, Jesus sat with the leper and healed the sick; and, yes, there are some churches (not Methodist Churches) continuing the things they did before while espousing faith in God to keep them and others safe; but we have been asked repeatedly by the human healers of our day to be the Christ among them by reducing our exposure to curb the spread of this disease and allow them a fighting chance to treat the sick, save lives, and preserve the inventory of personal protection equipment. Having said this, let me also say that I am considering a few possible options for the near future that would allow individuals within our congregation to participate in hands on mission ministry without risking themselves or potentially adding to the healthcare burden.

I have no crystal ball, but given the recommendations from the Bishop, the advise of the federal task force regarding group gatherings and social distancing,
directives from our state government, and the counsel of local and national medical authorities, I can safely say that we will not have “in person worship” any earlier than June 7, 2020. Even that date is unlikely, at least according to people like Dr. Birx (the Coronavirus Response Task Force Coordinator) and others who seem to know what they are talking about.

When we do reopen the campus, we will need to be prepared for our way of doing community to be very different. The current State recommendations for churches that choose to reopen would see us in masks, with no more than 45 people in the sanctuary seated 6 feet from one another side to side and back to front, not one of our adult Sunday school class able to meet with even most of its cohort in the their classroom, no restrooms available and...and...and...and...you get the picture.

If only one non-symptomatic person is in our midst it could prove disastrous for some of our most at-risk folks. That is not such a far-fetched possibility. Although she is safe to be around now, as you may have read in the Linda Adams' Facebook posts, for as deathly ill as Jim Adams was Linda remained completely free of symptoms even though she was positive for the virus and highly contagious.

I know this all seems harsh and undesirable. It is, but none of us can do anything but reduce our exposures to alter the reality that is before us. As for what the church, I will continue to lead alongside our lay leadership using these two core values as my guiding principles:

  • Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Do No Harm (part of John Wesley's Three Rules; the other two are Do Good and Stay in Love with God).

I will also tell you that I am confident we will not let this diminish our practice of discipleship, covenant with one another to be the church, faithfulness to Christ's Body, or fortitude to persevere, no matter HOW long it takes us to get back to being together as we were prior to March 16. I am in this with you, and I know we will emerge from it stronger and more appreciative of the grace of God, our place in the priesthood of all believers, and the strength we've been given to run with perseverance the race that is set before us. True, it's looking like it won't be a sprint, but we will run it together even if it proves to be a marathon. Today, I'm praying for 800 meters...3000 tops!

To the extent you are able, stay in. Stay safe.

I love you all,
Pastor Lara
Apple Corps meets via Zoom at 9:30 every Sunday morning for casual fellowship. Class begins at 9:45.
The Zoom Meeting ID is 293-856-379 or click the link below to go directly to Zoom.
Branches meets via Zoom at 9:45 every Sunday morning. The Zoom Meeting ID is 213-928-173 or click the link below to go register and go to Zoom.
Genesis meets via Zoom at 9:30 every Sunday morning. The Zoom Meeting ID is 904-595-472 or click the link below to go register and go to Zoom.
"I CONNECT" meets via Zoom at 9:45 every Sunday morning.The Zoom Meeting ID is 963-430-720 or click the link below for Zoom.
Journey meets via Zoom at 9:30 every Sunday morning.The Zoom Meeting ID is 429-051-096 or click the link below for Zoom.
New Beginnings meets via Zoom at 9:45 every Sunday morning.The Zoom Meeting ID is 387-197-129 or click the link below for Zoom.
The Way meets via Zoom at NOON every Sunday morning.The Zoom Meeting ID is 450-965-323 or click the link below for Zoom.
Sunday School for preschool and elementary school meets via Zoom at 9:45. To maintain a secure site for our children, please email Ms. Robin for login information before Sunday.
Confirmation class continues via Zoom on Sundays at 9:45. The meeting ID is 241-775-056. To maintain a secure site, please email Pastor Gena for a password.
In order to maintain a safe space for our youth, Pastor Faiana is sending information directly to the kids regarding Zoom and Facebook Live opportunities. Email Pastor Faiana for more information or to be added to her contact list.
Prayer Concerns & Sympathy
Please continue to check the Facebook Prayer Page for daily updates of concerns. To be redirected to the Martin UMC Care Team Prayer Ministry page, click here:

We send our love and sympathy to Tommy Mann on the death of his aunt, Louise Fletcher

Martin Community: Jim Adams, Dru Allen, Jan Batjer, Virginia Browning, Nancy Cowain and family, Glen Dow, Barb Herbison, Jeannie King's daughter, Lisa,Alilia Kongaika, Kyle Kunz, Karen McDaniel, Margaret Metts, Melissa Norton (Bob & Barb Herbison's daughter), Lee Swann, Pam Cook's daughter, Rhonda; Mary Gladstone's son, Eric; her son Ryan, daughter in law Jamie and new baby, MaryLou Nash's daughters, Nikki & Angie, Michael Neal

From Devon Patterson's sister, Tanya, who watched live with us on Sunday:Please pray for her children:Alexis, Brittany, Candace Ann; and pray for her business.

Family & Friends: Kenneth Almstedt, Bobby & Diane Arnold, Skip Bradford, Lauren Brown, Donna & Taryn Cates, Gwen Caylor, Cory Chalk,
Emma Dills, Rose Foley, Barbara Gorden, Art Grimes,Pat Hern, Barbara Hertz, June Ivey, Emily Manning, Danielle Marie, Jan Nelson, Monica Miles, Billy Parker, George Parker, Steve Parker, James Sills, Jerry & Cressan Smith, Bill & Dorothy Standley, Al & Deb Viney