District Laity Report
posted on October 23
South Central District Laity Report 2020
By Linda Sparks, Lay Leader
The year 2020 reminded United Methodists in the South Central District that our faith is not bound by buildings and that the world is indeed our parish. When we ran head long into that covid wall, we took a couple of weeks to “Be still and know that I am God,” and then we got busy. Our learning curve seemed to go straight up, but we learned anyway.
Large portions of our district are rural and some are not served by the internet. We have adjusted to our new reality by remembering some things from our past. Some worship services went back outside. Pastors climbed up on hay wagons again to preach. Tents have been pitched again. One church has thrown open the cargo doors and double doors of their gym to make it more open-air pavilion than gym. To share with those who cannot attend, services are offered on radio and/or local tv. Pastors and laity have dusted off those phone trees so they can keep watch on the flock.
We have also taken full advantage of real-time technology with many churches putting services online for the first time. Congregations have been amazed by the number of views that have shown up on their screens. Pastors are thrilled to talk about folks from all over this country and, in some cases, other countries, who are joining them for weekday prayer or Bible study. Lay people have been able to return to the spiritual nourishment of their small groups by meeting safely online. Confirmation class has even been done by Zoom. Charge conferences and district conference are also being accomplished online.
Nurturing our brothers and sisters in Christ and our neighbors has been challenging but we have adjusted. We phone and email and text. Those who are more isolated have been the recipients of card showers, covid caroling, and prayer parades. Go Teams have been established to ensure that crucial supplies and errands are taken care of.
We have also found ways to continue and expand mercy ministries. Hundreds of masks have been made for healthcare workers and first responders. Food banks have made the necessary adjustments to safely continue to feed the hungry. Meal ministries have adapted to take-out. Personal items were sent to nursing and retirement home residents. Prayer blankets were made for local police cars. When the school year began, church spaces became wifi stations for students’ virtual learning and funding support for Family Resource and Youth Service Centers continued. And we can raise a lot of those funds because we are selling crafts, baked goods, pumpkins, mums and even lasagna online!
The United Methodists of the South Central District have shown in all these ways that they know that the gospel of Jesus Christ can find ways to thrive during times that seem totally inhospitable. Souls have been won and new members have joined. We remember that we are all in this together. But even in quarantine, when we practice those gifts of grace that take us closer to God, we are not meant be lone disciples. We must always continue to watch over each other in love. When normal becomes whatever it is going to become, I pray that we all have people in our faith families who know how it is with our souls.