Check out what's happening at the Hill.
A Word from Pastor Thomas
Governor Kemp has announced that a statewide shelter-in-place order will take affect beginning Friday, April 3, 2020 . This order will remain in place until April 13th. I anticipate that this timeline will be extended.

In an effort to help combat the pandemic caused by the Coronavirus, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and the cabinet have strongly recommended and expects all church building remain closed through the month of April . Churches that continue to gather for worship, funerals, rehearsals, etc., have been some of the main culprits in contributing to the rampant spread of this virus in new areas. I am in agreement with and fully support this recommendation. Therefore, Ben Hill United Methodist Church will remain closed until further notice.

Ben Hill has been providing virtual worship through live stream for the past three weeks. I have been encouraged by the number of people who have been joining worship from the sanctuary:
We will continue to provide worship each Sunday at 9:15 a.m . However, in order to comply with the Governor’s shelter-in-place order, as well as our Bishop and her cabinet’s recommendation, worship from the sanctuary of Ben Hill will no longer take place. I am very pleased to let you know that we will continue to offer a worship experience through other digital platforms at 9:15 a.m. on Sundays. We will be offering this via a modified live stream experience or pre-recorded format. I look forward to what will be a new worship experience for all of us.

Regarding this Sunday’s service and Holy Communion, I am asking that you would be prepared to participate following the sermon as is our norm. The ritual will more than likely be abbreviated. Due to the unprecedented circumstances we are facing, a cracker, a piece of bread, and an appropriate liquid may be used (no grain alcohol for this one please –😊).

I continue to be encouraged by how you have adapted to the current pandemic by finding creative ways to continue to do ministry. Last week, for the first time a drive-up food distribution was implemented. Forty (40) families, the most that have been served in years, benefited from this ministry. In keeping with the intergeneration focus of our vision statement those serving were high school and college students, seniors, and others.

Our Wednesday noonday Bible study had 100 people participating through free conference call. We apologize for those who were not able to join us because of limited capacity. We have made adjustments and expanded the capacity of those who are able to join to 1,000. I am particularly encouraged by the courage of our seniors, for whom this is a new experience. You have demonstrated your willingness to learn new things in order that your growth as a disciple of Christ may continue.

Disciple Bible studies have also gone virtual. Technology has allowed us to actually see each other through Zoom. This has taken Bible study and us to a whole new level.

Choirs and other Sunday school classes are continuing to connect by using the various virtual platforms available. And there is so much more that is taking place to advance the gospel and build community.

Our children and youth are continuing to be ministered to and invited to be involved in their own growth through the efforts of our Children’s and Youth Pastors.

The Prayer ministry is inviting us to do something that we all can do – pray! And there is so much more that is going on.

As your pastor, I am exceptionally proud of the many ways in which you are caring for each other, for those in your communities, and ensuring that the God who is Sovereign is made known to all. I would however ask that you be in earnest prayer, make every effort to do no harm, and be kind and gentle with those around you. Reports are that the cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse are up. There are many who are having difficulty with sheltering-in-place and are not equipped with the spiritual tools to handle this new normal. Let us, during these extraordinary times, be people of encouragement and exemplars of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Be well and remember those words of the Apostle Paul found in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Thomas
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Virtual Easter Egg Hunt
Even though we won't be gathering for our annual Easter Egg Hunt, we will still have a virtual Easter Egg Hunt during Holy Week. Beginning Sunday, April 5th through Saturday, April 11th, children will have the chance to win prizes by visiting our church website and finding hidden Easter eggs throughout the site. Find the final egg and your name will be entered into a drawing for a fun prize. Prizes are restricted to children ages 2-12 years old.
Resources for Children
Many of our Children's Ministry partners have released free resources for children and families. Please check out the lastest resource by Minno: Church At Home. This resource features activities and videos for children, as well as articles for parents. Please reach out to Kristan Scales if you need additional resources for your children.
Sign Up to Pray During Holy Week
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

We urge everyone to unite in seeking the face of God through prayer and fasting, persistently asking our Father to send revival to the Church and spiritual awakening to our nation so that Christ’s Great Commission might be fulfilled worldwide in our generation.

Our prayer slots are 10 minutes each and run 24 hours a day for 7 days starting from  Sunday, April 5 through Saturday, April 11 . Some of you may say you can do a few slots a week, some half an hour or an hour or more daily. Whatever it is, we want to encourage you to let it be a sacred time. Getting up in the early hours won’t be easy but it will be a blessing.

We are hoping to see every slot covered! We want there to be prayer going on all over the city. To sign up for a slot go to the day and time you want to pray and enter your name & your email. You will then get an email to confirm your prayer time.

Holy Week Daily Prayer
Each day during Holy Week, April 5th through April 11th, we will gather for daily prayer at 12pm until 12:15pm. Prayer will be led by our Prayer Ministry and clergy.
The number to call in is (712)770-4932
Access Code 627746.
Sympathy
May our Lord bless and comfort you and your family during this time of grief.
Please accept our sincere condolences.

Kermit Majett (M) on the loss of his stepson
Wallace Roney (R)

Gail Jones-Smith & Ron Smith (M) on the loss of her brother and his brother-in-law
Donald Jones (R)

Donna Johnson (M) on the loss of her mother
Barbara Delores Morgan (R)

Beverly Register (SM) on the loss of her aunt
Helena Edwards (R)
Resources
The FDA is working to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and keep you and your family informed on the latest developments. In case you missed it, here is the latest information for consumers on this important topic:

Fraudulent COVID-19 products can come in many varieties, including dietary supplements and other foods, as well as products claiming to be tests, drugs, medical devices, or vaccines. Because COVID-19 has never been seen in humans before, there are currently no vaccines to prevent or drugs to treat COVID-19 approved by the FDA. The FDA is working with medical product developers to rapidly advance the development and availability of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. 

The FDA is working in many ways to help keep people safe while the nation is coping with the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Food availability and food safety are vitally important to our well-being, and the FDA is working hard to help ensure the foods you, your family, and your pets eat are safe and available. 

Each of us can help stop the spread of COVID-19 disease by washing our hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds – especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that consumers use alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol. 
 
To learn more about these and other coronavirus topics, visit:  FDA Consumer Updates