This has been announced in worship and via email.
During this pandemic, so much of our regular programming, our regular fellowship, our regular fellowship (not to mention our regular worship) has changed. In summer we are used to light programming as we busy ourselves with work, our guests, and enjoying the Alaskan summer. But in the Fall we usually "kick off" our Sunday school and make our plans for more educational opportunities.
However, of course, this year is going to have to be different. And, this year, our churches are different—because those engaged with us now include people who have never lived in Seward or Moose Pass or who have moved away. Even though we find ourselves disconnected in so many ways, God is finding new avenues for us to be in relationship.
So, how do we approach this Fall?
United Methodist Bishop Elaine Stanovsky wrote a week ago:
Our faith must have deeper roots. We must not settle for a faith that lets us down when times are tough. The Christian church must strive to be a beacon of hope in the very darkest of times.
And so Bishop Stanovsky calls us:
to return to the deep well of God’s love and grace, revealed in Jesus Christ, as we remember, refresh and reclaim and the spiritual strength and courage of our faith preserved in the scriptures, hymns, prayers, teachings, and practices of our Church.
Pastor Jim says this reminded him of something an old friend, Native Alaskan Pastor Della Waghiyi, said several years ago. In speaking to the Alaska United Methodist Conference, she said, “You white people wonder what we do all winter; if we just sit around waiting for the sun to come. No! Winter is a time of great activity, of mending nets, of sewing clothes, of repairing boats, of telling stories. We go deep into winter to be ready for the summer.”
So, what if we didn’t just sit around waiting for that time when we could all gather together? What if we "went deep" into this Fall and Winter? What if we tried to nurture community with those who have found a connection to our church during this time of isolation? What if we could include family and friends, with whom we journey in faith even if they are not part of our immediate communities?
Seward UMC has purchased a subscription to "The Work of the People" with thousands of films and hundreds of studies to choose from. They are all video focussed (perfect for online studies) and can be used in a Zoom format or even in our online worship. And, when we're able to gather together again, they could be shown on TV screens in classrooms while having folks "tune in" from other places.
Just to begin, here are some ways you could GO DEEPER this Fall and Winter
Starting this Thursday, our “Online Communion” will have a study to go along with it. We’ll be exploring a series called “Called to Community,” a reflection on the role of the church. https://www.theworkofthepeople.com/film_series/called-to-community
We will be finding a time for a Weekday devotional series on Contemplative prayer and spiritual practice (trying to reach out to those who are not “evening people” and those who might live on the East Coast)
Pastor Jim would like to facilitate a discussion on race, using a series called “Covenantal Restoration” from The Work of the People (https://www.theworkofthepeople.com/film_series/covenantal-restoration). This would be a 12-session study but is very appropriate in this time.
We'd like to get a women's study going for our "Women's Bible Study" again on an evening.
And there are lots of other options?
WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED (PERHAPS) IN ANY OF THESE?
WILL YOU "GO DEEPER" THIS FALL AND WINTER?
WILL YOU FIND WAYS TO CONNECT AND GROW SPIRITUALLY?
WILL WE, TOGETHER, FIND WAYS TO BE COMMUNITY WITH THOSE WHO HAVE ONLY JUST BEGUN TO BE CONNECTED TO OUR CHURCH?
Please reach out to Pastor Jim if these sound interesting to you or if you’d really like to take this fall and winter as a time to go deeper into your faith. We don't intend on sitting around, waiting for the sun to come.
Jim Doepken, Pastor