June 3, 2020
The Weekly Wind
News and Updates from Polk City United Methodist Church
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FROM THE PASTOR'S PEN
WHAT'S HAPPENING??

Once again this year it seems that the world has changed almost overnight. Now we are not only dealing with a global pandemic of a serious respiratory virus, a first in most of our lifetimes, but we've also been plunged into yet another era of political unrest over racism in our country. I've been having lots of conversations with people lately about how heavy all of this feels right now. They're right. It does.

But as people of faith, we have a responsibility to lift our eyes from the darkness and chaos swirling around us in order to fix our eyes on Christ.

The New Testament book Hebrews is a written form of a sermon that was circulated among discouraged Jewish Christians, likely during the reign of Nero. Remember that it was under Nero's orders that most of the city of Jerusalem, including much of the Temple, was destroyed by Roman military around 70 CE. This siege included the massacre of many of its citizens.

In this sermon of encouragement, the Hebrew writer includes these words:

So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Let's throw off any extra baggage.

What extra baggage are your carrying right now that you can lay down at Jesus' feet? What feels so heavy right now that it is weighing you down? Are you weighed down with fear, with resentment, with anxiety? Are you burdened with extra work or family responsibilities? Are you feeling stuck and alone? Are you angry about situations outside of your control? Are you navigating conflict with others who don't see things the same way as you?

The various stages of pandemic spread and the fact that there is no unified approach from states, counties, cities, business entities, and even churches may be adding to our stress, anger or fear right now. We also may be angry or frightened or grieving over the unrest in our country.

So how can we throw off the extra weight we feel under these conditions?

Get rid of the sin that trips us up.

Earlier this week I wrote about the sin of racism - overt or covert - that many of us who are white are guilty of, even if we may not be aware.

Feeling burdened, feeling like things are out of our control, and feeling angry, fearful, resentful, or threatened can lead us to thoughts or actions that separate us from the goodness of God. These thoughts and actions are also sins.

Getting rid of sin begins with acknowledging it. We call this confession.

The next step is making a decision to change our hearts and lives. We call this repentance.

Fix our eyes on Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that laying down our burdens, and getting rid of the sin that results from those feelings, depends upon the discipline of fixing our eyes on Jesus.

The writer goes on in some length in chapter 12 to talk about how discipline shapes us, how it helps us set our paths in the right direction, and how it helps us share in God's holiness. As followers of Christ, we are to keep Christ's teachings and examples always in front of us, constantly asking Christ's spirit t o guide us, and looking for Christ in others.

Pursue the goal of peace along with everyone—and holiness as well, because no one will see the Lord without it. Make sure that no one misses out on God’s grace. (Hebrews 12:14-15a)

What Spiritual practices are helping you keep your eyes fixed on Christ during this time of pandemic and unrest?

On Sunday, June 7 we will begin a new online worship series "Searching for Beauty - Returning to the Heart of Worship." This series is designed specifically to help us look more intentionally for the presence of the Divine Spirit within and among us - in the beauty of creation, in the beauty of worship and scripture, and in the beauty of God's children.

We also want to include more of our congregation to participate in leading online worship by reading scripture, offering prayer, and sharing their music and art. There are several ways to participate - see below!

You can also read more about a new Online Study and Life Groups below, both designed to help you practice your faith.

Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith . In these difficult days, we need the spiritual disciplines of worship and community to help us stay rooted in our faith more than ever!

So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us!

Blessings,

Pastor Melody
STATUS OF RETURNING TO WORSHIP
When will our church resume in-person Worship?
Our congregation's re-entry team is meeting over the next several weeks to continue discussions as we monitor the situation in Polk County. As of now, we are still in the Red Phase (through June 15). We are also being guided by the Re-Entry Plan put forth by the Iowa UMC Crises Response Team. You can review some updates to their plan below .

What are the results of the Congregational Survey?
67 people responded to our congregational survey which we used to try to get a better sense of participation in a variety of online and in-person activities, including worship.

The survey did not give us as clear a picture as we had hoped. So with the feedback we did get, we are planning the following:
  • We will try an outdoor worship opportunity in mid-July.
  • We will begin an online Zoom-based Bible study this week for those interested.
  • We're still offering the Life Groups for those who want to be connected (you choose phone, text, facebook, video, etc.)
  • We are updating our online worship service to include more congregational singing, more members of our faith community, a built-in children's moment, and a study guide for your own personal study & devotions.

Please continue to be patient with us as we meet and pray about the safest and most effective ways to offer ministry in these times. And please continue to hold the Re-Entry Team and all of our Church Leaders in prayer!

SURVEY RESULTS:

During the pandemic, how frequently have you / your family tuned in for online worship?
31 - Very Frequently
16 - Somewhat Frequently
9 - Sometimes
8 - Rarely
2 - Never

During the COVID-19 pandemic, how likely are you to participate in any of the following?

Drive-In Large Group Worship:
36 - Likely or Very Likely
11 - Neutral
20 - Unlikely or Very Unlikely

Outdoor Large Group Worship:
33 - Likely or Very Likely
12 - Neutral
22 - Unlikely or Very Unlikely

Zoom Fellowship Time
23 - Likely or Very Likely
18 - Neutral
26 - Unlikely or Very Unlikely

Zoom Bible Study
14 - Likely or Very Likely
20 - Neutral
33 - Unlikely or Very Unlikely

Zoom Small Groups for Care and Connection
14 - Likely or Very Likely
23 - Neutral
30 - Unlikely or Very Unlikely

Facebook Small Groups for Care and Connection
12 - Likely or Very Likely
26 - Neutral
29 - Unlikely or Very Unlikely

Phone Tree Small Groups for Care and Connection
11 - Likely or Very Likely
25 - Neutral
31 - Unlikely or Very Unlikely

In-Person Small Groups for Worship
9 - Likely or Very Likely
21 - Neutral
37 - Unlikely or Very Unlikely

Resuming In-Person (Indoor) Worship with Guidelines:

With guidelines in place, how soon would you / your family feel comfortable attending in-person worship?
11 - June 1 or as soon as possible:
14 - Not until after July 1
7 - Not until after August 1
4 - Not until after schools resume in the Fall
28 - Not until there is an effective treatment or immunization

With guidelines in place, how LIKELY are you / your family to attend in-person worship?
16 - Likely or Very Likely
11 - Somewhat Likely
40 - Unlikely or Not at All Likely

Based on the guidelines stated above for resuming in-person worship, what are your preferences for worship between now and the time an effective treatment/vaccine is available for COVID-19?
13 - I prefer to worship in-person, even WITH restrictions in place.
25 - I prefer to worship in-person, but would rather wait until we can worship WITHOUT restrictions
28 - I prefer NOT to worship in-person until there is an effective treatment or vaccine
The Iowa UMC Plan for Reentry is guided by John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules , which provides a message and methodology of how to approach our strategic and compassionate plan to care for our churches and communities through COVID-19.

Wesley’s rules have been placed within a stoplight framework to guide us as we move through a graduated 3-Level reentry process from red to yellow to green status in an intentional and careful model of care and mutual accountability.
NEW WORSHIP SERIES AND ONLINE STUDY
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. ~Psalm 27:4

Make plans to join us online for a 6-week worship series, June 7 - July 12, which explores the beauty of the Earth, the beauty of God's goodness, and the beauty of God's beloved children. With a focus on spiritual practices that help us see the world as God sees it, we'll be invited to return to the heart of worship.

We want to include members of our faith community during this series, so that we can see more of each other and feel better connected. Here are some ways you can participate:

  1. Readers of all ages can read the worship leader script (fully-scripted Words of Welcome & Opening Prayer) OR read the scripture (also fully written out). Sign up here: WORSHIP READERS
  2. Families can take turns leading a fully-scripted Children's Moment! Sign up here: CHILDREN'S MOMENT VOLUNTEERS
  3. Individuals, Groups & Families can lead one of our congregational Hymns or Praise Songs - OR share a piece of special music or a dance! If interested, email Pastor Melody.
  4. Children are invited to record a song with the Children's Bells on MONDAY, JUNE 8 at 3:00 PM! Mrs. Carol will be leading the bell ringing for the song, "Jesus Loves Me." Children of all ages are welcome! We will meet on the deck outside the Wing in the Woods, will have hand sanitizer and will be socially distanced - we'll be taking all precautions to do this in a safe manner. No need to sign up - just show up!

Even if you haven't been tuning in for online worship regularly, or have felt like online worship wasn't nourishing your soul.... we invite you to try it again.

Watch on Facebook Live at 10:30am : www.Facebook.com/polkcityumc

Watch on our website anytime after Noon on Sundays: www.polkcityumc.org/online-worship

ONLINE STUDY: TUESDAYS AT 2:00 PM
BEGINS JUNE 9
Do you long for a deep, fundamental change in your life with God? Do you desire a greater intimacy with God? Do you wonder how you might truly live your life as God created you to live it?

Sacred Rhythms is a curriculum designed to help you arrange your life around a regular pattern of spiritual practices that God can use to nourish your soul and transform your life.

To participate in the study, you will need to purchase a copy of the Sacred Rhythms Participant Guide .

Note: the participants guide is different than the original book, and is all you will need for this study; the videos will be provided.

We will use the Zoom platform to share the video sessions together, then engage in discussion. You can listen to the session and participate by audio only by dialing in by phone, or you can access both audio and video using your smartphone, tablet or computer and clicking the link to Join the Zoom meeting at the start time for each session.

Register for the study below, and you will receive the information to join.

If you have questions or concerns about Zoom, feel free to call or email Pastor Melody.
NEW: LIFE GROUPS
Launching Life Groups at Polk City UMC
We believe that God created us for relationship - relationship with God, and with each other! Simply stated, life is better together.

During the time when it is not safe to gather for in-person worship, we want to find a way to help each adult to connect to a small group of spiritual friends so that everyone is connected to community in a way that nourishes our need for connection and belonging.

To do this, we're encouraging ALL ADULTS to join a Life Group - a smaller group of people with whom you can share the ups and downs of life.

All we're asking these groups to do is touch base with each other every other week or so, either through calls, text messages, emails, Facebook, zoom or whatever is easiest for you and your group. Once people have signed up, Pastor Melody will give each group a QuickStart Guide to help you get going.

To get connected, fill out the form below and choose your preference for a group type.

If you're willing to be a leader for a group, let us know that in the form, as well.
CHILDREN'S MINISTRY
Children's Ministry at Polk City UMC
Our online Sunday School has ended for the season. We appreciate the Young Family for each week's video lesson!

For the Summer, we're inviting families to take turns sharing the fully-scripted Children's Moment for online worship! The Young family will take the lead this Sunday, June 7, then they'll be tagging another family to take their turn the next week!

To volunteer your family to be tagged, make sure to SIGN UP HERE : Children's Moment Volunteers

We're also going to be recording a song by any children of the church who want to play Children's Bells. No need to sign-up - simply meet us outdoors by the Wing in the Woods on Monday, June 8 at 3:00 PM! Mrs. Carol will be directing the song, "Jesus Loves Me" for one of our upcoming online worship services. We'll have hand sanitizer and will practice social distancing, and will follow other mitigation strategies to do this in the safest manner possible.

In case you missed it, here is last week's Sunday School lesson on Pentecost.
IOWA UMC OFFERS BACKYARD CAMPS!
The Summer of 2020 is just around the corner and with it comes opportunities to connect in different ways than ever before. Iowa United Methodist Camps are proud to announce “Backyard Camp”, a one-of-a-kind summer program offering from the combined staff at Wesley Woods and Okoboji United Methodist Camps. 
Registration for Backyard Camp can be found at  www.iaumc.org/camps .
MISSION & OUTREACH
NP Comet Cupboard Tiny Food Pantry
On Saturday, June 6th, the North Polk Comet Cupboard will offer another Bag of Food Distribution.

The following non-perishable food items are needed and can be dropped off at the church; look for the plastic bin outdoors.

  • Pancake mix
  • Pancake syrup
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauce
  • Loaf of sliced bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned chicken
  • Canned tuna
  • Mac-n-cheese
  • Canned fruit/fruit cups
  • Canned vegetables
  • Brownie/cookie mix

We'll also be including eggs and baby carrots in each bag.

If you can help, we're filling each bag with $25 worth of groceries and a $10 milk card. Your donation of $35 can fill one bag, which will provide a week's worth of meals for a family of four! Our goal is to provide 100 bags of groceries for individuals/families in need!

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Dixie Bequeaith: dbequeai967@msn.com
In the memo line of your check, or from the online giving menu, use "NP Comet Cupboard"
If you or someone you know would like to request a bag of food,
please fill out the request form below.
Updates from the DMARC Food Pantry
HELP FROM CAPITAL CITY FRUIT

For the next 5 weeks, which started May 29th, Capital City Fruit is providing boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. DMARC has been partnering with Capital City Fruit for 10 years The boxes include 20 pounds of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce is distributed through the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) Food Pantry Network's 14 partner pantries. A public giveaway, also, will be held 10 am to 1pm (or as long as supplies last) on Fridays, for the month of June, at South Ridge Mall parking lot.

A BIG THANK YOU goes out to our Polk City United Methodist Church Congregation for your generous donation of $1,065 for the month May. Our year to date money total is $4,090.

THANK YOU FOR THIS GREAT UNITY IN THIS TIME.

To continue your wonderful donations, please consider writing a check out to Polk City United Methodist Church and in the memo write "DMARC food pantry" and mail your check to Polk City United Methodist Church, 1421 West Broadway, Polk City, Iowa 50226 or use the church's electronic site polkcityumc.org/give.

Your hungry neighbors appreciate your constant help.

Any questions? please contact Linda Pennington penningtonl@q.com
SPIRITUAL CARE DURING THE PANDEMIC
In the midst of pandemic and economic slowdown, we are not alone.
God is with us.

Here are some resources to help you create and maintain spiritual wellness during these anxious times.
The Upper Room May/June Issue Available Free as Downloadable PDF

Since churches are unable to meet and gather safely in their buildings during the pandemic, The Upper Room is offering the May/June 2020 issue, both in English and Spanish, as a free downloadable PDF.
Pray with the Upper Room each morning on Facebook Live

The Upper Room is committed to praying with you during this season of uncertainty and isolation. They will be hosting Morning Prayer on Facebook Live daily at 11:00 AM Central Time.
Pandemic Prayer Practices for Children, Youth, and Families

If you are a parent with children or youth, try this list of simple prayer practices you can do as a family during these times of social distancing.

Seven Suggestions for Healing and Renewal in the Midst of Stress and Anxiety

God longs to heal us and renew us in these difficult times. Here are some suggested ways by which we can be fed by God at a deep level.
Contact Us
Christine Perry
Administrative Assistant
Lauren Wilken
Director of Children/Youth Ministry
Melody Webb
Pastor
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