Volume 50
Issue 14
April 3, 2020
From Our Senior Pastor
Church Family and Friends,

From Genesis through Revelation, Holy Scripture echoes a common theme: "Do not be afraid." Our God knows that there are times that trigger our fear and anxiety. And absolutely, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 - how it transfers from one person to another, how we should respond in a responsible way, what we need to do to protect ourselves and all of our family, our friends, and our neighbors - well, it all has ripple effects of fear.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we know that God is with us in the midst of the questions and fears generated by this disease. And, while it is easy to be overwhelmed by the information (and misinformation) flowing around us, we can rely on God's promise to be a calm and hopeful presence to those who are anxious, afraid, and sick.

I know that it is not easy to social distance, but we all need to stay home as much as we can unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary to go get something essential. We need to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our area by loving our friends and neighbors enough to stay home and always remain six feet away when we do have to go out for the essentials of life.

Holy Week and Easter

Holy Week
  • Today - Palm Crosses will are available for pick up today outside of the Lighthouse. 
  • Monday - To-go communion will be available for pickup underneath the Lighthouse portico. 
Worship Services:
  • Palm Sunday - Live stream starting at 8:30 am
  • Maundy Thursday - Live stream starting at 6:30 pm
  • Good Friday - Live stream starting at 6:30 pm
Easter Sunday
  • Sunrise - Live stream starting at 6:30 am
  • Traditional Service - Live stream starting at 8:30 am
  • Contemporary Service - Live stream starting at 11:00 am
Be on the lookout tomorrow for an email detailing all of the worship opportunities for next week.
Time to Egg Your House
Our children's egg hunt had to be canceled because of the new social distancing guidelines, but our team has found a great way for your family to enjoy safely getting out of the house for a ride-along egg hunt! From April 8-12, we want you to egg your house for this unique Easter egg hunt! You heard us right! Next week we want you to download an Easter egg printout that you can cut out and hide in a window of your house so that neighborhood children can drive by and safely hunt to find your egg from the seat of a car. A full set of instructions and downloads can be found using the link below. Spread the word so we can make this a fun way for our whole community to celebrate Holy Week from safely inside your home and car!

COVID-19 Response Team Update
1. We have been very active since mid-March preparing for, and responding to, this COVID-19 challenge. We have re-organized our staff and lay volunteers to receive expressed needs, and then to lovingly respond. We have established direct communication with strategic agencies, organizations, and mission contacts. For example, we are working with the City of Birmingham Operations Manager to assist, when required, with any needs of the homeless in Birmingham.

We are also connected with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Christian Service Mission, and a long list of others. Our message to them? "We want to help you with your needs as they arise. Please let us know what those are, and we'll enlist the resources of our church family to do our best to respond."

2. Within our church family, we have been actively connecting with as many members as we can. We are connecting with all of our members in retirement/nursing homes and their families. We have a lay volunteer connected to 13 of those local facilities, offering to help meet the needs they face.

We are connected to all of our homebound and vulnerable members, and we've organized our Sunday School Classes to identify needs that arise and be prepared to help meet those needs. Sunday School leaders are communicating with class members and networking to assist with needs. We have been fortunate, to plan, and act, in loving response where resources are needed the most.

3. What can you be doing? Please go to our web site (https://vhumc.org/coronavirus/) dedicated to all of our COVID-19 response information. As you learn of any needs that present themselves, please do one of two things:

a. If you are a member of a Sunday School class, do your best to address that need within your class. If you need help, please have your Sunday School leader communicate that need directly to Suzanne Scott-Trammell (sstrammell@vhumc.org).

b. If you do not belong to a Sunday School class or if you feel that a need requires more immediate action, please submit a needs request ( https://vhumc.org/coronavirus/response-form) or call the "How Can We Help" phone line (205-259-8835). At this point, we're happy to report that we have addressed all the needs that have been presented.

4. How can you help now? First, take good care of yourself and your family. Stay safe, be smart, and stay healthy. Social distance. Next, keep calling and checking on your neighbors. The neighborhoods are doing amazing things to take care of one another. Thank you for what you are doing. Your efforts are truly making a difference!

 We may be faced with more needs and challenges over the next 2-4 weeks before everything starts subsiding, and we move back towards "normal." Please be patient and stay at the ready. Check our website and social media often. Keep praying for this virus to be contained and this suffering to end.

We are truly grateful for all you have already done, and thankful for all that we shall do together in the days ahead: to do the most we can, to help the most people we can, in every way that we can. We have been blessed with abundant resources. May God bless us with the wisdom, patience, and discernment to wisely use them during these challenging times.
Helping Your Children Through This
We miss seeing children at church! During this time that our lives have been put on hold, we want to show our children that God is still with us. Even though many activities have been canceled, learning about Him and growing closer to Him can still go on.

Preschool and elementary parents, check your email for weekly newsletters updating you on what will be provided. You will also receive Sunday School lessons on Sunday mornings. These will be simple lessons you can do as a family. Let Anne Strozier (astrozier@vhumc.org) or Jamie Meeks (jmeeks@vhumc.org) know if you need anything!
Little Lambs and Bible Pathfinders
Wednesday night Bible Studies are a time when we learn so much and have even more fun! We plan to bring that fun home each Wednesday during our social distancing. Our Little Lambs will be receiving Lamb Lovey bags that will contain a devotion and some activities so they can have their own fun at home!

Parents of elementary children, you will receive an email each Wednesday that contains a lesson about "Incredible Faith." Each week we will look at the faith of a different hero from the Bible. You can download a skit for the kids to perform, a lesson, discussion questions, and an activity. You won't want to miss our lesson this week about "Mr. Obedient!" Please email Anne Strozier (astrozier@vhumc.org) and Jamie Meeks (jmeeks@vhumc.org) with pictures of your children doing these activities. We would love to see them in action!
Extra Easter Eggs
A few weeks ago our Bible Pathfinders children stuffed 1,800 Easter Eggs! These eggs are now available in bags under the cover of the Elementary entrance. We hope you will stop by to pick up one bag for each child in your home. We would love for you and your family to have an egg hunt at home! Please send pictures and videos of your egg hunts to Jamie Meeks (jmeeks@vhumc.org). We would love to see your fun!
Visit Our Prayer Wall
Please remember to visit the Prayer Wall in the Lighthouse portico to pray over the requests there, pick up a palm cross, and leave a prayer if you would like. Also pick up one of our new "Growing in Prayer" guides, which will help in your prayer life.
You May Be Missing Us
We are posting about the church daily on both Facebook and Instagram. Several members have recently reported that they are no longer seeing our Facebook posts. If you have not seen us recently and would like to get our posts, please open your Facebook account and type "Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church" in the search bar at the top to find our page. Click on our page (our church is the only option) then be sure that the "Like" box is set on "Liked." This is one of the best ways to stay connected with us during this Covid-19 crisis. Click on the link to create a Facebook account.

Pick Up a Yard Sign
We hope you have seen our "How Can We Help?" banners across Vestavia Hills. We now have the same message on yard signs. Will you help promote this by picking up a yard sign and putting it in your yard? We have put the yard signs in the ground in Dick Kelly Park (the area behind the Lighthouse near Vestavia Lake Drive). Please come by and take one of the signs for your yard. The help line is monitored continuously and we are already helping people in our community. We also anticipate the needs rising significantly in the days ahead. Thank you for your assistance in helping our neighbors during this time of need.

Stay Connected for Free
Even though we are physically separated, it is more important than ever for us to stay connected. We have done our research and testing and are recommending Cisco Webex as a free app for connecting with your classes and groups.

The program has no time limit for up to 100 users. It features mute for voice and video, public and private chat options, a whiteboard, and recording. It also allows the host to see which participants have raised their hands to speak and allows users to make notes to save and/or send later. In the screen share feature, users can connect to the internet to show videos or online content.

Each participant needs to download the app to their computer or smart phone before their first meeting. The host has to schedule the meeting and send a link by email or text so members can connect. Please share your ideas and experiences of how you're staying connected with your classes and groups to Suzanne Scott-Trammell (sstrammell@vhumc.org).

Dropping Off a Check
Many of you have dropped off donation checks at the church. Thank you! Since our office is closed, please use the drop box in the main office door. That box is locked on the inside so your check is secure. You don't need to follow-up to see if it was received.
Prayer 2020: This Week in Prayer
As a church, VHUMC is uniting each of us in our homes at 8:00 am for a daily prayer for those affected by and working to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Our weekly fast is from Tuesday evening until Wednesday evening as we journey in prayer together.

"I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies." Psalm 18:1-2

Prayer: Father, You are our strength and shield, our rock and fortress, our deliverer and refuge, our salvation and stronghold. You alone are worthy to be praised and we thank you that we can call on you and you promise to be with us and not forsake us. Help us to stand firm on your promises and to be a light to the world in your name and for your glory. Amen.
Lenten Offering
Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. Many miles from Vestavia, our neighbors are counting on us to do just that. Our Lenten offering this year will support our efforts to pack 300,000 meals during our Rise Against Hunger meal packaging event. You can easily give online. Just choose "Missions" and "Lenten Offering" in the "Give to" box. Nourish your soul by providing nourishment for those who need it the most.

Weekly Memory Verses
While we aren't able to attend church, our 1st - 5th graders will have the opportunity to memorize a different memory verse each week! Once they have memorized the verse they can email Jamie Meeks (jmeeks@vhumc.org) a video of themselves saying the verse for a chance to win a swinging tent at the assembly at the end of the school year! Also, Jamie will deliver Hershey Bars to the mailboxes of the first 5 children who send videos! This week's verse is: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." - Psalm 46:1 
Mel Sparkman Scholarship
The Mel Sparkman Memorial Scholarship Fund was created in honor of a faithful youth volunteer to assist deserving students through the award of a general scholarship grant. Scholarship applications must be completed and e-mailed to the Student Ministries office by April 15. Scholarship applications can be downloaded using the link below.

Biblical Resources
Please continue your online Bible studies and classes by accessing these free online resources:

RightNow Media: the "Netflix of Bible Studies"  - now free to you from VHUMC, with over 20,000 videos, movies, interviews, Bible studies, and more. You'll find great content for Sunday School classes, Bible studies, kids, students, young adults, parents, married couples, teens, and more searchable by topic. Go to: vhumc.org/rightnowmedia or text "rightnow vhumc" (no quotes) to 41411 for your free registration link.

The Bible Project:  videos and podcasts sharing information on books of the Bible, themes, word studies, Old & New Testament, and daily readings. Go to:  youtube.com/thebibleproject

The Chosen:  the first-ever multi-season series based on the true stories of the gospels of Jesus Christ. Watch the first eight episodes for free at:  thechosen.tv/app  and on Facebook at:  facebook.com/The Chosen .

Storytellers Live podcasts:  a gathering of women who share real and personal stories of encounters with God. This curriculum was used in our Storytellers women's small groups this spring. You can access these online at:  storytellerslive.org  or on Facebook at:  facebook.com/storytellerslivepodcast.
Ongoing Outreach
Food Pantry
In the interest of safely, the Food Pantry will not be assembling and distributing food until further notice. Please pray for our families during this difficult time.

Oak Mountain Mission
OMM is now temporarily closed. Please do not take items to them at this time.

Our Mission Partners Need Us
If you are sitting at home wanting to help or serve others while trying to stay safe and keep our communities safe, many of our community partners have found ways that we can continue to serve them. Here are some ways you can help make a difference by helping others.

Be a Blessing
This organization feeds our homeless people daily. Currently their cupboards are bare. They need chips, crackers, bread, sandwich meat, cookies, etc. They also need Veg All, carrots, green beans, or anything green - fresh, frozen, or canned. Tarps and raincoats are also needed for the days it rains and vacuum filters are needed to make masks.

Items can be delivered to Church of the Reconciler from 1:00-3:00 daily at 112 14th Street North, Birmingham, AL, 35203.

Sozo Choir
We can support the Sozo Choir while they are still in the United States by purchasing a gift card for their local trading store / thrift shop. You can shop online or donate toys or furniture to their thrift store that supports their efforts. Please call 205-703-0553 for a pick up.

Bundles of Hope
Every year, VHUMC hosts a spring diaper drive. This year we don't want you to buy diapers and drop them off, but you can still assist Bundles of Hope financially. Diapers have become hard to find in select sizes, so Bundles of Hope really needs our help as they participate in the COVID-19 relief efforts. They have partnered with COVID-19 testing facilities to supply families with kits that include diapers, wipes, formula, and feminine hygiene products. Visit the link to donate and help them as they help others. Every little bit helps.

Birmingham Face Masks
If you can sew or cut material, you can help make masks for the healthcare workers in Birmingham. Visit www.bhamfacemasks.com  for more information.

We Sew Love
For those in the congregation cleaning out during this time, please hang on to any shirts you may be ready to toss. A group of people who sew dresses and shorts for the underprivileged around the world needs t-shirts.

Thank you for always being the church to so many. Even if our church looks different at this time, we can continue to be the hands and feet of Christ wherever God is calling us.
General Fund Fiscal Year 2020
Donations this past week
July - February 2020
Other Income
Total Income 
(+) Better or (-) worse for the church than our target
Care and Support
Congratulations, hospitalizations, and sympathies

Prayer Requests
Please be in prayer for the following persons: