A Note from Our Pastor 3-24-20

Please let me offer this update about what’s happening around church and what we know (and don’t know) about our future schedule.

Forest Lake has four priorities for ministry: Mission, Spiritual Formation, Worship, and Age-Level Ministries. All four areas are still active!

Mission is at the heart of who we are at FLUM, and we are still engaged! Those agencies in the area who depend on our support are still receiving it. Additionally, our members or helping out in meaningful ways during the pandemic. Our people are making masks to help out with the shortage of equipment in the medical community. People are running errands for at-risk individuals including delivering groceries and medicines. FLUM is providing a portable wheelchair ramp for Amanda Kuhl’s son so that he will be able to get into Andy and Amanda’s house when he’s discharged from rehab. When he no longer needs the ramp, it will be available for others who might need it. These outreach efforts are just a few of the things we continue to do as a church in addition to all the phone calls, letters, texts, and emails that you are sending. Even when we are scattered, we are the church! There are other ways we’re making differences of which I may not even be aware. Please feel free to share your mission moments with me so that I can pass them on to the congregation. Those stories will help us encourage one another to good works! 

Spiritual Formation
COVID19 is creating innovation in the church. Sunday School Classes and Bible Studies are learning to use technology to continue to “gather” for discipleship. At least two of our classes met Sunday morning over Zoom. Zoom is a video conferencing platform that allows participants to see one another and talk to one another over their computers, tablets, or smartphones. Wednesday night, Disciple Fast Track will meet via Zoom. If you’d like to explore this alternative, check it out at Zoom.com. There is a $15/month fee to host groups up to 100. If you need help setting it up, please contact Zac at zhead@forestlakeumc.org or me at kthomas@forestlakeumc.org, and we’ll talk you through it.

We’ve received positive feedback on our first attempt at video worship. Thank you for your responses! We will release another service this weekend based on John 11 (Lazarus’ resurrection).  I will also record and share the sermon in an audio format on podcast. I will send links to the video and the podcast, and we’ll post them on Facebook. Please feel free to share the links with your friends. What an easy way to invite people to church!

If in-person worship services continue to be suspended in April, we are exploring some other opportunities for worship, including the possibility of “Drive-in Church.” We’re looking at the feasibility of setting up a stage in the parking lot and broadcasting worship over an FM micro transmitter (checking on the legality, too). If the plan works, you will be able to sit safely in your car and watch worship while you listen on your car’s stereo. This plan is still in the “dream phase,” and I’m reluctant to get hopes up, but, I want you to know that we are working on innovative worship opportunities.

Age-Level Ministries
We’re working to keep youth and children connected while we’re separated. Our Children’s Department is working to resource families with church activities that can be done at home and is maintaining connections with parents and kids. Youth will continue to “meet” for Sunday School and Bible Study online through Zoom. Scouting ministry continues, as well. One of our troops met last night via Zoom, and the Black Warrior Council is offering opportunities for scouts to work on merit badges at home.

The Big Question
When will life get back to normal? I simply don’t know. We will not have in-person worship this Sunday, March 29. I’m trying to stay current with the latest information, but, as you know, it’ difficult to fully understand our current situation. I hope to receive guidance from state officials as well as from our bishop’s office. I will be in communication with our church leadership, and I invite your response as well. We will let you know by all available means when we know anything about resuming regular activities.

Thank you for your patience and your support! You’re continuing to be a generous church with your financial gifts. Thank you for sending your gifts by mail and through online giving at https://forestlakeumc.org/online-giving/. Most of our expenses continue, and you’re helping us to meet them. Please receive my heart-felt gratitude. Thank you for the way you’re caring for one another and serving our community. Thank you for loving our community by staying at home and creating safe distances in an effort to limit the effects of COVID19. Thank you for continuing to be the church Christ calls us to be in all circumstances at all times.

Yours in Christ,
Dr. Kevin Thomas
Senior Pastor
Forest Lake United Methodist Church