Ocala First Connection
May 21, 2020
Dear Ocala First Church Family,

As we have read the news accounts detailing the increasing divisions over what to open, when to open, and how to open up our communities, we were reminded that our public witness as Christians is as important as ever. Rather than reflecting the anxiety or anger we see in the prevailing culture, we are called to reflect the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians 5:13-14, Paul tells us that, “You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement:  Love your neighbor as yourself ."
When John and Charles Wesley were forming the first Methodist groups in the 18th century, they had three General Rules which still guide us today:
  1. Do No Harm
  2. Do All the Good You Can
  3. Stay in Love with God (worship, prayer, & scripture)

We pray that Ocala First UMC will offer this faithful witness to Ocala and beyond during this pandemic.

In this edition of Ocala First Connection, we share updates on our Re-Launch Plans, invite you to read scripture together this summer, and more!
We love you! We miss you! We are praying for you!

Pastors Anne and David Fuquay
We invite you to join us in a simple spiritual practice this summer: READING SCRIPTURE TOGETHER!

From June 1 to August 28, we will read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). We will join United Methodist congregations across the Florida in reading one chapter a day together. We will share teaching videos and other resources each week to supplement the daily readings. 

One resource we will use is a short book by Bishop Ken Carter:
A Beginner's Guide to Practicing Scriptural Imagination. Copies are available at the church office for $10, or you can order your own from Amazon, Cokesbury, or The Upper Room Bookstore. Kindle editions are also available.

Additionally, Bishop Carter has created a public Facebook Group that anyone can join. There you will find even more reflections, webinars, and other resources. CLICK HERE TO JOIN GROUP

We hope you will join us in this spiritual discipline as we grow together as a congregation!
Our Re-Launch Task Force has formed to guide us through the complicated process of re-launching our in-person ministries on our church campus. As shared previously, this Task Force will adapt the guidelines provided by the Florida Conference, and begin working with each program, ministry area, and group in our church about specific plans for how to begin meeting together again safely.

You are encouraged to read a recent article: Why Reopening a Church Is Different. This piece does a great job of outlining the complexities of relaunching in-person ministries and offering spiritual wisdom to guide our work.

Based on the recommendations from Executive Committee, Church Council, and staff, the initial Task Force is small, with the intentional of adding members as needed for additional expertise or more experienced hands for key tasks.

Task Force Members:
  • Mike Keepers - Church Council Chair
  • Mark and Jean Imes - Lay Leaders
  • Hank Harrell - Medical
  • Cheri Bedenbaugh - Medical
  • Lori White - organization/management
  • Teri Keepers - organization/management

We cover your prayers as they begin their work with our Pastors!
Our Family Ministries Team is awesome!

Thank you for your generosity during this pandemic! When so many have had their economic lives upended, those who are able have given more.

Truly, we are blessed so that we can be a blessing!

Your generosity in troubling times is a testimony to our faith that God has not deserted us. Though we have been tested we know we have never been far from God's redeeming and merciful love. We celebrate God's relentless care, not only through the ways we give, but through the ways we serve and witness to others. Together, we show the world what it means to live in the light of God's love and mercy. Christ is our rock and redeemer!

During this time when we cannot gather in person, your offerings can be made online and though the mail. Your generosity helps sustain and strengthen the work and witness of our church!

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

You can also give online at any time!

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.

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]