Volume 50
Issue 18
April 30, 2020
              
Vacation Bible Camp
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Thou hast been summoned to join us at our Virtual Bible Camp, June 8-11, as we learn to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of God's power!

Since we aren't able to gather in large groups, we are going virtual! You can register your 4K through 5th graders (as of the 2019-2020 school year) now. Before the week of Bible Camp, you will have the opportunity to pick up supply bags and t-shirts for each child you have registered. Beginning June 8th, your child will be able to watch interactive videos and use the hands-on supplies and ideas in their bags to help them learn about being strong in the Lord!

Thanks for the Surgery
Many of you know Okai Gates who has served with us for nearly three years as a pastoral intern. He will be graduating from seminary in December and will return home to Ghana (if travel restrictions are lifted!).

In late March, Okai's father, who is a District Superintendent for the Methodist Church in Ghana, suffered a debilitating stroke. In many countries, surgery cannot be performed until funds are raised to pay for the surgery. Okai's family worked to raise the funds, but were still short after several weeks. Thanks to the generosity of VHUMC and our In Christ's Name Fund, we were able to wire the money and the surgery happened the next day.

This week, the Rev. Maxwell Tweneboah Koduah sent this video message of thanks to all of you, inviting us to visit him and his family. What a great possibility to continue sharing life with Okai and his family as he returns to also serve Christ's church. Click on the link below to hear the greetings from Okai's parents.

COVID-19 Response Team Update
We continue to be grateful for your generous and caring efforts to reach out to neighbors, friends, and others throughout our community, state, nation, and world. Our church is receiving ongoing requests for assistance and help, and because of all of you, we are meeting those needs. We encourage you to frequently visit our web page: www.vhumc.org/coronavirus for the latest updates and information.

We are assisting our various mission partners, local and state agencies, and individuals with the resources we have available. Our "How Can We Help" phone line at (205) 259-8835 receives frequent requests, as does our Help Request Form at https://vhumc.org/coronavirus/response-form/. Sunday School classes, small groups, and individuals of all ages are responding and helping. As needs present themselves, we are reaching out for your assistance. Together, we are making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Vestavia Hills Farmers Market
Our farmers market will officially open as an essential service starting on Wednesday, May 13 to provide critical food access for our community. We encourage you to stay heathy and shop safely, while supporting your community of local farmers and food makers. The market will be open from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm every Wednesday through August 26 and will be located right off of Highway 31 in Scouts Square. Mark your calendars and come see the seasonal goodies from local producers. The farmers market is an outreach ministry of the church, and monies obtained from the fees (paid by the farmers) are used to buy fruit and vegetables that are distributed through our VHUMC Food Pantry.

Vestavia Dance News
Our competition season ended unexpectedly but not without remarkable success and growth for our dancers. We brought 22 routines to our three competitions this year - a Vestavia Dance record! This included six solos (another Vestavia Dance record), one duet, and 15 group numbers. And for two weekends in a row, our Production number with 53 members of our Performance Company received platinum awards.

We've been blessed with the opportunity to continue providing classes to all of our dancers during this time of social distancing. Our teachers are providing pre-recorded videos of exercises and dances and are interacting personally with our students through Zoom in the afternoon and evenings. Our Instagram and Facebook pages have highlighted many of our Vestavia "Dance At Home" efforts, from dog show-and-tells to student spotlights and more.

Our faculty members have been able to shower our students with love from a safe distance, and we have plans to continue to show love and support to our dancers! Kelly Avery, Angel White, and Anna Sims surprised our senior dancers and Senior Vestavia Dance Performance Company groups with posters and words of encouragement. Many of our dancers and parents answered the call to decorate lunch bags for the Church of the Reconciler to distribute food to people experiencing homelessness during this time. We are so proud of our community of dancers and continue to lift them up through all of this.
UAB Covid-19 Tracker
Our good friends at UAB have developed a COVID-19 tracking system that could prove very important for our state. It's a very quick, non-invasive, user-friendly survey that allows for the tracking of symptoms and diagnosis. The goal is to track the spread of the virus across a spectrum of demographics (age, race, income, neighborhood, etc.).

This data will help in many ways. For example, it will help decide who gets a vaccine first when one is developed. They have had over 50,000 people participate to date, but they need more people to participate in order for it to be helpful. If you are willing to help provide useful information to UAB and have time to do so, please go to the following link and help them help our community.

Helping Others Continues
As we continue to help others during this time, our mission partners are needing our support now more than ever. Last week, the church and community would have been setting up for one of our biggest community events, Rise Against Hunger. It is a weekend full of energy, prayer, fellowship and serving others by packing meals to be shipped to children across the world.

This year, our meals were going to the children of South Africa. The same children that we were able to meet last August. RAH has had 400 events canceled due to COVID-19, but there are other ways we can help support Rise Against Hunger until the meal-packing events are back on schedule.
  • If you are a runner or walker, there is a virtual 5K/10K race that you can be a part of individually or with friends. Go the social distance race to support Rise Against Hunger. If you would like to participate, visit: www.riseagainsthunger.org/race to register or more details.
  • You can help transport rice from US warehouses to needy places around the world. Convoy of Hope in El Salvador, ADRA in Madagascar, and ORPHANetwork in Nicaragua are receiving and distributing rice to needy hospitals, schools, children, and families.
    • A 40-foot container with 20 pallets would ship for $25,000 and provide 423,360 servings or rice.
    • Each pallet of 42 bags would ship for $1,250 and provide 21,168 servings of rice.
  • The United Methodist Hospital in Ganta, Liberia needs meals and medical supplies. RAH is trying to raise $28,844 to ship over $20 million in food and medical supplies.
Visit RAH's website below for more details and how your donations can help.

Join a Virtual Group
If you're looking for a virtual Sunday School class or Bible Study, we have many available now. Take a look at the link below to see what fits your schedule and either email the leader directly, or contact Kelly Bottcher (kbottcher@vhumc.org). We're here to help and keep you connected with our VHUMC community.

The Upper Room
The Upper Room devotional guides for May/June are in the portico outside of the Lighthouse. If you would like a copy, please drive by and pick one up.
Thrive Student Ministry Meeting Virtually
While our students and amazing volunteers are not able to meet in person, our ministry has not stopped and so many groups have met over Zoom the past several weeks! From weekly Bible studies, small groups, Confirmation family groups, and a college hangout, Thrive has continued to connect with our students during the COVID-19 pandemic. We miss everyone so much, but we are so thankful for technology to be able to stay connected in God's love. For more information about our virtual ministry, visit our Thrive Student Ministries App, follow us on our social media platforms, or reach out to our Thrive Student Ministries Staff.
Communion Elements Partnership
During this time ministry has certainly looked different, but we are so excited for all of the new ministry opportunities. This week we were able to partner with Due West United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia by providing leftover communion elements from our Maundy Thursday service for their Congregational Care Ministry. Through this, many people will be able to experience the grace of the Lord's Table and the hope found in Christ!
Prayer 2020: This Week in Prayer
Please join us, each in your own home, every morning at 8:00 am as we unite in prayer as a church family. We also continue our weekly fast from Tuesday evening until Wednesday evening.

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness." - Psalm 115:1

Gracious God, You are beginning to part the waters for us again. We stood at the beginning of this pandemic wondering if we would make it through. We prayed for healing and we prayed that your great name would be known. We prayed that you would do infinitely more than we could even ask. And you have been with us through it all, working all things together for good. And now the waters are starting to part and we are starting to see a path forward and we are tempted to say "we did it!" Oh Lord forgive us. Thank you for healing! Thank you for the wisdom that you have given our health care professionals, our researchers, our community, and our government leaders. Thank you for your constant presence and for your unfailing love and faithfulness. "Not to us, O Lord, not to us" but to your name goes all the glory! In the name of Jesus, Amen.
National Day of Prayer
The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America's leaders and its families. Please make sure to join the nation in prayer on Thursday, May 7!

Weekly Memory Verses
Between now and Virtual Bible Camp, children 4K through 5th grade will have the chance to learn a memory verse each week. You can send a video of your child reciting the verse to Jamie Meeks (jmeeks@vhumc.org). Their names will be put in a drawing for a chance to win a Sparky puppet that week! Sparky is our mascot for VBC.

Our 4K - 5K verse for this week is: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." - Proverbs 3:5

Our 1st - 5th grade verse for this week is: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5

We will choose our first winner on Sunday, May 3 at noon. The winner will be announced on our Facebook page.
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 have been receiving Lamb Lovey bags that 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 a different hero from the Bible who showed incredible faith. You will be able to download a skit for the kids to perform, a lesson, discussion questions, and an activity. This week we will be encouraged to think of people we can help as we learn about the "Princess of Protection!"

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!
Calling All Runners and Walkers
Join many across the Birmingham area for Run for a Reason 5K. It is a virtual race to help support Sozo Children. You can register online now and run anytime between May 10-16. Through your support, your efforts will help continue to empower vulnerable children in Uganda and you get an awesome t-shirt.

Ongoing Outreach
Food Pantry
Thanks to the VHHS students for their RISE project and collecting two trucks of cans for us. They will come in handy on our drive-thru food distribution days. Thanks also to our church members for taking bags of food to the church during this time. Items can be dropped off at the office door on weekdays between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm. Please call the number posted on the door and someone will get your donations to the Food Pantry. Suggestions are canned soup, dried beans, and breakfast items. Thank you! Our next Food Pantry distribution will be Wednesday, May 13.

Oak Mountain Ministry
Oak Mountain Ministry is only open to distribute food to their clients. There is no need to bring items to the church for them right now. 

Habitat House Family Moves In
Over the weekend Habitat for Humanity had another move-in day. The Caver family are the proud homeowners of the house built by the VHHS Habitat Club and VHUMC. This house was in Montevallo. What a great partnership for so many years. Thank you to everyone who made this year's house possible.
General Fund Fiscal Year 2020
 
Donations this past week
 
July - March 2020
Donations
Other Income
Total Income 
Actual
$73,199
 
 
$2,919,054
$112,275
$3,031,329
Targeted  
+$3,802
 
 
-$184,475
+$7,186
-$177,289
 
(+) 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: