5/6/2020 Desert Southwest Conference update on COVID-19


Video from Pastor Rick about the Arizona “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” order

Letter from the Senior Pastor about COVID-19
In-Person Activites Cancelled

Hello First Gilbert,

Wow! Who knew, right? Who would have guessed a month ago that we would be having to make such hard decisions about gathering together in worship, mission, and ministry? I sure didn’t see this coming. However, what this has revealed is just how fragile and vulnerable we are as humans. We take so much for granted as Americans. This should take us down a notch or two on the humility scale.

So what is a person to do in this time of uncertainty? The first thing for Christians is to STAY CONNECTED TO YOUR CHURCH. This really is the best advice I can offer. At a time where we can no longer count on all of the things we take for granted, your faith is the one thing you possess that will do you the most good. God is Sovereign. God is faithful. God will provide. Let these truths be the basis for the ways we conduct ourselves especially where we find ourselves today.

The question you might rightfully ask is how. How can we stay connected to our church when it is cancelling worship services and meetings? The answer is you must find new methods to do the same things. Therefore, we are asking for your help. What we know is that worshiping God, participating in ministries that connect people with their faith, and engaging in mission work is the purpose of the church and it is ongoing and never ending.

So, consider this. This Sunday is UMCOR Sunday. UMCOR stands for United Methodist Council on Relief. It literally is the mission and missionary arm of the United Methodist Church. If you are concerned about relieving some of the pain and suffering in this world, you might want to consider giving a special offering to UMCOR at this time. UMCOR sends volunteers into impoverished areas to drill wells which provide clean water access where it is needed. UMCOR also constructs housing when tornadoes, storm surge, or other tragedies occur along with performing hundreds more acts of charity and church mission.

Also, you may want to find creative ways to volunteer as a way of witnessing to your faith. Evangelizing is more often what you do rather than what you say. Find ways to serve community. Find ways to fill a need. Do what Christ would tell you to do in this situation. Then you will be the church and activate your faith.

And worship! How you might ask? We are planning on livestreaming our worship service at 9:30 on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/FUMCofgilbert/. I know it is not the same as being there but we think that what we are preparing will be a blessing to you. Give us a try. Learn our website: http://gilbertumc.org. Bookmark it to make it handy. Join our Facebook page. If you don’t know how, ask for help from our webmaster by emailing webmaster@gilbertumc.org.

I told you last week during the message that Jesus told disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me.” He was talking about his pending death and departure. Talk about a reason to worry. Therefore, let us allow these words to guide us in our troubled times.

Below you will find another letter from the leadership of our church. Please read it carefully. Some of it is redundant but all of it is relevant. I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to stay connected with us and practice the promises of our membership covenant—prayers (we really need this), presence (via the internet), gifts (more now than ever), service (find a way) and witness (demonstrate to the world what you profess).

God’s peace to each one of you.

Pastor Rick

Your church leadership has met and based on a recommendation from our Bishop we have made the difficult decision to cancel in-person worship until further notice.
We are also following directions from our local, state and federal guidelines and are monitoring the information closely.
1. Effective 3.17.20 all Bible studies, small groups, midweek services, fellowship meals, community groups, scouting, support groups, and music practices will not be allowed to meet on campus until further notice.
2. The church office will remain open, but please call for an appointment because staff are working limited hours.
3. We ARE still the church and we are still gathering together, but in different ways. We will be livestreaming worship services on Facebook live at 9:30 am on Sunday mornings. To view this video, “like” the church’s Facebook page to be notified when we go live. We will also post a video of the service on the website and email a video of the sermon through the E-News later in the day. Offering can be received online and through mail.
4. Also, we will be posting videos and other news on the website and Facebook throughout the week to keep the community together and in prayer.
If you need help technological help please contact the office and we will see what we can do to get you help (even send a young person to your house to sign you up for Facebook!).
5. Effective Sunday 3.22.2020:
* No Sunday Worship services
* No Adult Sunday School Classes
* No Children’s or Youth Ministry activities or classes * No Family Ministries events
6. In coordination with the Town of Gilbert there will be volunteer opportunities to help our vulnerable neighbors. If you are interested in volunteering please email Pastor Diamond for more information.
7. More than anything else, WE ARE STILL THE CHURCH! We are the Body of Christ. May we live into that reality in profound ways during these difficult times.

Letter from the Senior Pastor about COVID-19

Hello First Gilbert,

These are scary times.  Fear usually rises when uncertainty about what is going on impacts our daily lives in such a profound way. Who would have imagined all the changes to our way of life due to the COVID-19 virus?

Gatherings larger than 250 people are being asked to consider canceling or postponing. Spring Training, March Madness, College classes, theater productions, Disney World, and many other events have all been impacted. These are times that try men’s and women’s souls and who knows how long it will last with more and more confirmed cases each day.  

I am a pastor and not a medical professional or a scientist of any kind. I can only report what I hear and read. Although I did major in medical science as an undergrad, at this point in my life, I can honestly say that I know more about God than viral infections and transmission mechanisms. This week, I thought about the words of Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” So, as for me, I will trust God to bring us through this turbulent time. However, I will also take health precautions, use common sense about hygiene, and be careful. Precautions are being made by sports organizations, schools, and local, state, and federal governments. Precautions are being taken by the church, too.

The Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church has updated information for the COVID-19 response here: https://dscumc.org/disaster-response-resources/. The precautions and guidelines that have been recommended are here: https://dscumc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-Local-Church-Guidelines.pdf. On that page, there is a link to the CDC page with updated information.
According to the risk assessment by the CDC: “For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States.”
We will continue to follow all guidelines and best practices, such as not shaking hands or hugging and increasing (even since last Sunday) our communion precautions. Hand sanitizer, tissues, soap, water, and disinfecting wipes are part of the décor now at First Gilbert. Your church leaders will monitor our state health department’s communications, and advice from our bishop and the conference office and do our best to pass along pertinent information.  
 If closure is recommended, a note like this will be the first line of communication, and all information will also be posted on the church website and Facebook page. Those who we cannot contact via email, we will attempt to communicate by phone.


PLEASE CHECK ON EACH OTHER. your family members, friends, neighbors, and church friends. Also, please share this letter and future communications with those in your circle who do not communicate electronically. Call our church office during business hours @ 480-892-9166 if you have questions or concerns. It is for such a time as this that you have a church family. 
BE FAITHFUL WITH YOUR GIVING. On a practical note, we really can’t afford to miss our weekly offering. That’s just a reality. The utilities, salaries, etc. will still need to be paid. In fact, if it is possible, we need you now more than ever. However, that will not influence any decision to close or cancel services if that becomes necessary. You can give even when you cannot attend by using our online contribution system. This system is secure, easy to use, and works quite well. Simply follow this link to our “Online Giving”: http://gilbertumc.org/giving/. The website will walk you through the process, and if you have any questions, just call the church office at 480-892-9166.
STAY HOME IF NEEDED. If you feel unwell, please stay home. If you are afraid to come to church, don’t let guilt make you attend. Stay home. If you are in one of the groups with elevated risk, stay home. You may always listen to sermons on our website here and we are working to provide streaming options. Interested in homebound communion? Call or email us to be added to the list!
Unless you hear differently, we will be here Sunday morning, ready to worship!

Pastor Rick