The friendly church where you're always welcome!

I am so thankful that we can worship God this morning virtually. Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the Conference sent some suggestions; and with those suggestions, and through discussion with church leadership, we made the decision that it would be best and safest for everyone if we returned to online-only worship for the time being. (See the Conference update below .)

We will be working on ways to allow us to be in community more and interact more with each other. I want to encourage everyone to continue to reach out to each other and to pray with and for each other.

This morning we are reminded of God's amazing grace. We are also reminded of how we can remain slaves of sin or can become servants of God and can allow God's grace to work within us to change us and help us to grow. May we all be open to God's grace working in our lives so that it can change our hearts, minds, and souls and can help us to become the disciples God has called us to be.

May we all praise and worship God this morning wherever we are and may we continue to thank God for all God has done and may we continue to let God lead us and guide us in life. Things are certainly tough and different but we know that God is always with us and that we can always praise and worship God wherever we are no matter our circumstances.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Jeff
This morning's worship can be found on YouTube at this LINK and will also be posted to the church's Facebook page. We hope you will join us this morning in our virtual worship.

12  Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.  13  No longer present your members to sin as instruments[ a ] of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments[ b ] of righteousness.  14  For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Slaves of Righteousness
15  What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!  16  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  17  But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted,  18  and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.  19  I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations.[ c ] For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
20  When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  21  So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death.  22  But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life.  23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Edge Memorial United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 87
Groveland, FL 34736
June 26, 2020

Dear Florida Conference Churches and Clergy:
Last Thursday we wrote to encourage and inform you as you make decisions in the midst of this ever-changing reality. We know there is stress and anxiety in having to rethink decisions as the pandemic continues.
Today, we write to inform and encourage you so you have the information you need to make safe decisions. We are learning and adapting alongside of you. Bishop Carter  stated  on May 28 th  that our guidance around returning to in-person worship could change as the number of cases began to increase. 
The latest information shows:
  • Cases are rising exponentially in our state. The seven-day average of new cases is up 85% from the previous week (new seven-day average is 4,149) and the last two days have seen over 5,000 new cases each day (Breaking news as we send this says 8,942 more cases were reported today). The CDC and other health experts agree that this increase in cases is not simply connected to increased testing. (To listen to the latest CDC briefing click here). 
  • Even though the increase in positive cases is among younger people, the spread of the virus is real and dangerous for all people, especially those with underlying health conditions. Yesterday, the CDC updated its list of people at risk
  • We encourage you to look at all the data including: the number of new cases, the infection rate, the positive test rate, the hospitalization rates, and the ICU bed capacity. We have learned that it is not wise to base guidance solely on ICU bed space availability. As one of our health consultants said, “Sadly, by the time ICU beds reach capacity the outbreak will be uncontrollable.” 
Based on this information we offer this updated guidance:
  1. This is not a time to relax any of our previously stated health guidelinesprotocols, or FAQ.
  2. Virtual worship is the safest approach, and outdoor worship is encouraged over inside. 
  3. Churches should consider delaying plans to return to in-person worship. We know some of you have already pushed your return to in-person worship date back in response to the rise in cases, and others of you have met in person and are now returning to virtual-only worship.
  4. Wearing masks is essential when any group gathers together. We ask everyone to wear a mask and do not consider masks to be optional.  
We continue to honor the sense that there is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach for every church around the conference. Contexts are different as cases rise at different rates in different counties and zip codes (click here for a  county  and  zip code  break down). 
At the same time, your church is not the exception. We have had increased positive cases among clergy families, church staff, volunteers, preschool families, church members, and more. Some of these are connected to individuals who made exceptions to the protocols. Others are connected to the increased spread of the virus around us.
We encourage you to continue your discussions with your local church teams. In your discussion, you and your leaders might refer back to the article  Why Reopening a Church is Different . Although it was written a few weeks ago, a key point remains the same: “Our reopening plans are not about what is best for the management of our church, but what is best for the common good and greater community. This is not a time to focus primarily on what we may be sacrificing by not gathering, but how we are serving and loving all our neighbors by not gathering too soon.” 
The Peace of the Lord,
Bishop Ken Carter and The Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference

The East Central District will have a virtual training on the Child/ Youth Protection policy. There are some important changes that have occurred over the years, so we ask that anyone who will be volunteering with Children or Youth in any capacity with the church please attend. If you are unable to attend, please let me know, and we can schedule a time to have a one-on-one training.

The training will be via GoToMeeting on Sunday, July 19 at 2 PM.   Due to the nature of this subject,  everyone who participates will need to have a camera on their device and actively participate. 

CLICK HERE  for the Child/Youth Protection Policy. Please read it in preparation for the training event.

To register for the training, sign up at the LINK .
UMW News : We are moving forward with tentative plans to meet for summer lunches. Hopefully, we will be able to meet for our first lunch in July. Watch for news regarding the summer lunches, a fun time for everyone, church-wide! We plan to have our UMW salad bruncheon on Saturday, September 12 at 9:30 a.m. in the Hill Building. This is only if restrictions are lifted and we plan to be safe as we meet.
Are you calling a friend? Reach out to someone with a phone call or a card. If we each stay in touch with one or two friends each week, the circle of caring grows and continues. We need each other. You are not alone—there are so many waiting to hear from you and ready to help if you have a need. Pick up your phone and your UMW address/phone list.
You matter. We are all looking forward to being together in person when the time arrives. Be safe!
I'm excited about our new Bible Study using Zoom, an online website that allows us to interact LIVE. You can join by video or just by voice, if you prefer. You can also join by phone.

To join this Friday by computer, click on this LINK when it's time to start.
To join by phone, dial 650-724-9799. When prompted, enter meeting
ID# 89311209351 # Password: 7vTsT6

EMAIL PASTOR JEFF if you have any questions or if you would like to lead one of the weeks.

If you want to know more about Zoom, you can view a demonstration. Join a few minutes early if this is your first time so you can download the free app.
Bishop Ken Carter, b ishop of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, invites you to join him this summer for a scripture study through Facebook. LINK TO JOIN THE STUDY.

6/2: Rebecca Rangel
6/5: Patrick Lenigan
6/10: June Fairchild
6/12: Destiney Rangel 6/13: Bill Jones
6/16: Eleanor Nicholas

6/5: Ben and Julie Taylor (Pastor Jeff’s parents)
6/8: Bill and Julie Law
6/11: John and Brenda Whiteley
6/12: Brian and Lesa Burton
6/14: Rick and Marjorie Berry
6/17: Bill and Priscilla Jones.

If you have a prayer request, you are welcome to send your request directly to Pastor Jeff.