ASBURY UMC’S COVID-19 RESPONSE AND UPDATES

Updated 07/13/2020 @7:48PM
 
Hello church!

Well, I’ve got to say, I hate this. We had been planning on being together again for in-person worship on June 21st. Then the trends started shifting, and now we’re under a Stay at Home advisory. Moreover, I’ve had conversations with many church families who have been in contact with people who have tested positive, and many others who have asked us to postpone opening in-person worship. I’ve also had several families request that we begin it again immediately. 

This past week, Marc Boom, the president of Methodist hospital, conducted a webinar with area pastors. In it, he requested churches not to begin meeting in person, and said, “Now is not the time to make plans to move forward.” Several churches had plans to restart in-person worship on June 21st, went forward with it, and have now stopped again. Other churches, like Sagemont and South Main Baptist, had been in-person for sometime and have closed again. Still other churches, like Life Community Church, have restarted and are continuing. The churches I have been speaking to who have offered in-person worship are seeing between 4-30% of their congregations in-person. 

While these sorts of decisions have become laced with political overtones for many, I am loath to make decisions during a pandemic due to those concerns. I am much more comfortable making recommendations based on information from medical leaders, and our local medical professionals are asking us not to. We do have the freedom to worship in our country, a freedom I am grateful for everyday. And we are exercising that freedom- by safely worshiping online. 

The Leadership Council has decided to put a pause on resuming in-person worship (unanimously from all those who responded). I imagine that when we begin to see the trends go back down for a couple weeks, perhaps when the advisory is lifted, that’s the moment when we will schedule in-person worship again. I wish this is not the moment we were in, but I agree that our continued sacrifice and selflessness as a congregation is the right step for right now.

I ask you to join me in praying for local small business owners, for medical professionals, and for those who are dealing with medical struggles right now, Covid or otherwise. 

We will emerge from this, friends. There is a bright light shining. God has cared for us every day of our lives, and still is, even now. May the joy of the Lord be your strength. 

Blessings,
Lindsay 
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Updated 06/18/2020 @4:00PM
 
Hello church!

As you know, our original plan was to restart in-person worship this coming Sunday.  Please review the video clip below to hear how our leadership council and I came to the decision to delay it at least two more weeks. The graphs I mention in the video clip are shown below.
 


I know this is not what many of us were hoping for, and I personally can’t wait to be together again soon. I do believe our hiatus will soon be over, and ask for you to continue to hold on with us just a little longer. I’m sure you’re joining me in praying that folks continue to practice social distancing and that the bump in cases we’re seeing in Houston right now recedes. I’m going to be meeting with Confirmation parents on a zoom call this evening to talk about a couple options we have for Confirmation Sunday. 

Last night, those who signed up to usher, greet, and serve on sanitation teams, as well as members of our Leadership Council gathered in the sanctuary and did a practice-run of worship in the age of corona, and came up with solutions that will make our time together in person both enjoyable and safe. I will be sending out info as we get closer to meeting in person so that you can know what to expect. 

One exciting development to share: if we have Life Groups who meet the following criteria, then we are now ready to open the church for those groups. I will ask each group leader to lead this discussion for their group. Please contact Diana in the church office to arrange details. 
– If the leader(s) feels comfortable with it
– If a majority of group participants want it
– If your group will commit to continue making zoom attendance a possibility for group members who can’t yet attend in person
– If your group is willing to sanitize your room at the church after use 

If you’re not part of a Life Group but would like to give one a try, please contact us and we’d be happy to hook you up. 

Always remember, friends: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5

Keep looking up! And please know- you can always reach out to me if you’d like to talk. 


Blessings,
Lindsay
 
 
 
 
 
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Updated 03/19/2020 @7:30PM
 
Welcome Church & Community
We have been working extra hard the last few days to prayerfully discern and prepare for how we can best serve the church and our community. I am excited and proud to lay out for you below the menu of options that we are putting into action. This time, I ask that you read the full email, as pretty much everything is brand new. My hope is that you will be even more connected to Asbury in the coming weeks than before. God once said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9). I have been amazed at how our leaders and staff have innovated over the last several days, and we are once again seeing testimony of the truth of this verse.  

I also want to share with you our expectations. We are planning as of now to be ONLINE ONLY for 8 weeks. This plan will shift based on recommendations by the CDC. We will not risk health; we will be leaders of doing the right thing, and not reluctant followers.

Once again, I ask that you be more faithful in your attendance and giving over the next few weeks than you have been before. We have many members whose livelihoods are and will be affected by this, and their ability to give will diminish- we are praying for you. If you are able to increase your giving, even $50 a week or month, it will make a difference. I will be sharing weekly financial updates so we are all on the same page. 

See below for all the new ministry and missions (serve) opportunities available through Asbury!
 
FACEBOOK
The church has several Facebook pages.The public page can be found by searching @AsburyUMChurch in the Facebook search bar after you login. This is the page we recommend you like and follow. Also, if it applies to you, please also join the Asbury Children’s Ministry page and the Asbury Encounter Youth page.
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ZOOM SMALL GROUP ONLINE MEETINGS
Please download the free Zoom Cloud Meetings app. Once it’s on your device, you will NOT need to sign in or sign up. You will get an email link from your small group leader before your group is scheduled to meet, and you’ll just click that link (it’ll automatically open your app when you do). It will work easiest on a smart phone or tablet.  You can also access Zoom via your computer by going to zoom.us and clicking on “Join a meeting” (though you will need a microphone and camera or better yet headset; some computers and laptops already have these, others you need to purchase ones that connect to your computer through USB). Check with your small group leader to confirm that your group will be continuing to meet weekly through this app. Our leaders will be accessing training in the next couple of days, and will be able to give you some tips the first time you try it out together. Our hope is that our small groups will begin using this on Sunday morning for Sunday School, and for all of our small groups thereafter. It will take all of us a couple weeks to get used to this- please give you and your leader grace and be patient with yourselves!
 
SHARE
There are many people in our community who will not have a church providing them with a sense of connection over the coming weeks. We encourage you to share the church’s posts to your own personal Facebook pages so your friends and acquaintances can be helped by Asbury as well. If you are one of those people looking to connect during this time, please reach out to the church by phone (281-484-4814), by email office@asbury.cc, or through Facebook Messenger. We would love to support you and your family during this difficult and unusual time. We are all in this together!
CONNECTION POINTS
Paula and Jaye Lynne are producing 4 points of connection with our kids EVERY WEEK!   Sunday mornings, they’ll have Sunday School at 10am online via Zoom.   They will have a Sunday School introduction.  The rest of the lesson will be a PDF online for the families to do at home.  As well, the kids will be given a photo challenge each week that goes with the lesson.  Each Wednesday morning at 10am, Paula will be doing an interactive word of the day devotional online video session with the kids on Facebook. (This may move to Zoom over the next few weeks.)  Every Tuesday, our directors will be mailing kids a packet of activities for them to get in the mail (please reply and let us know if you would prefer not to receive these). On Friday they will post on the Children’s Ministry Facebook page a family fun game devotion.   All of this info and more will be available through the Children’s Ministry Facebook page
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CONFIRMATION FOR YOUTH
Our youth director Jonathan Pena will be conducting confirmation online on Sundays at 4pm through Zoom. A UMYF games, Bible study, and worship time will be Wednesday nights at 7pm through Zoom. Also, there will be DAILY devotionals and video check-ins.  Jonathan will reach out to the kids via Snap chat, Text, REMIND 101 and Facebook.  Please don’t hesitate to let Jonathan know if you have any questions. 
 
ASBURY DAY SCHOOL
The Day School will be following the PISD schedule. In the meantime, this Monday, teachers will begin to offer daily lesson plans and videos for their classes on the Asbury Day School Facebook page and on YouTube. Families will not be paying tuition for the next several weeks, so we are inviting them to contribute to a Compensation Fund to provide some income for the teachers during this time. To give toward this fund please visit our Online Giving Portal by clicking HERE. Choose Teacher Compensation Fund from the drop down menu.
ONLINE WORSHIP
Worship Services will be available on Facebook by visiting our page located at @AsburyUMChurch and on our YouTube channel at 8:45 every Sunday morning. We have worked out the kinks to avoid the stops and starts that we experienced last Sunday. I encourage you to continue worshiping at the time of day you are used to, to keep up that holy habit.
 
You can watch it by yourself, or we will be hosting a Watch Party on Facebook at 11am every Sunday morning for those who would like to interact with other church members online during the service.
As mentioned above, we are inviting each small group to continue meeting through Zoom. See above for details about this program.
 
LIVE PRAYER MOMENT 
Every evening at 6pm on our public Facebook page we will have a prayer moment led by a different staff member. This prayer moment will only last for about 5 minutes, and each day we’ll be praying for a different group of people, and saying the Lord’s Prayer together. I hope you’ll share it with your friends and join us each day!

WHAT CAN YOU DO? HERE YA GO!

  •  Grocery Connection – Next week, on Monday and Thursday from 10am-12pm, folks will be on the phones at Asbury ready to help people make online orders at the grocery store. If you should not be in public right now, but you don’t know how to order online, call the church at 281-484-4814.
  • Supplies Station – We are collecting items needed by The Bridge Shelter and PCM Food Pantry.  There will be collection boxes inside the doors of the main hall. Please drop off donations from 8am-3:30pm or on Tuesday nights from 6:30-8pm. The items of greatest need are: dish soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, hand soap, toilet paper, thermometers, fever, cough, and allergy medicines, bleach, Lysol, antibacterial wipes, and food.
  • Serve Spotlight – Let us know of any area business helping those in need.  We want to feature these on our website and Facebook page to shine a light on neighborhood partners who are joining us in serving our community!
  • Blessings Box – I hope you’re ready for a cool story. The leaders and staff came up with an idea to serve those who are in need of food (with several food pantries shutting down temporarily and more people out of work, we anticipate an increased need). Asbury will have a Blessing Box that looks like a small outdoor shed with shelves on a sidewalk on our property by Monday. Bring by any NON-PERISHABLE foods, place them inside, and whoever from the community needs them will take them. We will invite our neighbors to both stock the blessing box with us and take from it, providing food for folks without increasing person to person contact. Asbury invited other Methodist churches in the area to participate, and so far, 5 other UMC’s in the area will be joining us in offering their own Blessing Boxes! Once again, Asbury is taking the lead in serving the community.
  • Instead of an in-person Easter Egg Hunt, on March 28th from 9-11am, we will be offering kids Easter kits as a drive thru at our church. Drive by, get some Easter crafts and egg hunt supplies, and enjoy them at home! How cool is that?!
  • Stay tuned for an upcoming weekly Asbury podcast, Holy Land info session on Zoom, and Drive In Movies in the church parking lot!
  • Also be on the lookout for a weekly discipleship photo challenge on Facebook.


Folks, this is the time for more engagement, not less. Jesus sent the disciples out into the world to share the good news, not expecting people to come to them and ask. In this day and time we are doing the same; going out into the virtual world to bring church to people, rather than expecting folks to come to 5354 Space Center Blvd. share any and all of these opportunities with your friends- you don’t have to be a member at Asbury to be a part of our body of Christ online!

Blessings!
Pastor Lindsay