Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor E-Letter 5/22/20

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In May of 2015, I graduated from Indiana University with my bachelor's degree. To be honest, I graduated from Indiana University South East in New Albany, IN not the Bloomington Campus. Either way, I get to say I graduated from Indiana University and have claimed to be a Hoosier for life. I thought with the degree they would officially give me the backstory to what a Hoosier is, and they didn't. Mary who lived in South Bend, IN for 20 years doesn't have the official story. So I still don't know what it is.
 
What I can tell you is how much I loved going to IU schools. I attended the South Bend, IN campus first and that is where I met Mary when we were in the theatre department together. I have a lot of pride in IU and the work that they do between their MBA program and amazing teaching hospital in Indianapolis. I have spent time at IU Hospital in downtown Indy with my family over the years as they received care. IU Hospital has an amazing heart center and cancer research team. The care that my family has received has been so loving and full of amazing work by the people there. It is a teaching hospital and they have plenty of wonderful students learning from this great team.
 
What struck me as I walked through the main entrance one day were these pictures at the main entrance:
 


You see, IU Hospital in Indianapolis is the IU Methodist Hospital. Founded 121 years ago to serve the sick, wounded and injured. I was awestruck how many people would pass through this metro-downtown hospital and read these words from John Wesley, known as "John Wesley's Rule." How many people have been served, and cared for in the name of God by the people known as Methodist?
 
I was talking to Annette this week about UM Hospitals and we talked about Emory Hospital in Atlanta, another Methodist hospital. Emory was at the front of the line in caring for Ebola patients and developing a vaccine for that outbreak and today they are working diligently to research and develop a vaccine for the coronavirus. The Methodist church has a long history of showing up when there are people in need. This work is no stranger to Suntree UMC people. During hurricane season we are known for handing out coolers of ice and helping our neighbor. We fill trucks and buckets and send them to disaster areas all over the country. Suntree UMC seeks to live into our mission statement of "Loving Our Neighbors in Extraordinary ways".

The question for us now is how do we live into the heritage of being Methodist people? Wesley was clear about doing good. Wesley did not count acts of service as more important than faith, however, he claimed that it is because of our faith we will be compelled to care for the poor, the sick, the needy. We would do it by this rule "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."
 
Some have begun that work in our community:
We have partnered with Daily Bread, The Evans Center, Interfaith Alliance of Brevard, and others to help during this extraordinary time. There are many ways to serve in accordance with your comfort level and ability. All sites that we have partnered with take social distancing very seriously and seek to make sure our volunteers are safe and well cared for while also respecting the dignity and need of our neighbors.
 
While we understand that there is a real concern for many to not engage any "in-person" activities, even with social distancing measures, there is still a great need for supplies and supplemental food. We care for you deeply and want you to be safe. We also want you to know that there are ways for you to support our partners during this time. Our foster parents still need diapers and wipes. Daily Bread needs supplies for the hygiene program that provides clean undergarments and socks. The food programs in the area need supplemental food. And all our partners need financial support.

One thing I'd like to keep at the front of our minds: this is not a one-time need. We will continue to engage our partners as the lasting effects of this virus will be felt for a long time. The financial stability of so many families will continue to struggle and many who have little to no savings will find themselves in a serious financial crisis in the coming months. We will continue to engage the needs of our neighbors and we hope you will join us.
 
How can we live into this amazing heritage of the people known as Methodists? How can we live into the heritage of Suntree UMC that loves their neighbors in extraordinary ways? I hope you'll ask that question with me and I hope we can find ways for you to engage the many layers of the needs in our community. No matter your abilities, we have all been blessed by God and because of that, we seek to do all the good that we can, as much as we can, to as many people as we can, for as long as we can.
 
With Grace & Peace on this journey together,
 
Augie
Posted by Augie Allen with

Pastor E-Letter 5/15/20

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

One of our members that I have seen the most since the coronavirus quarantine is Ernie Allen, pictured above. I took this picture of Ernie and his buddy, with their new “Ernie’s Army” shirts last week. For 20 years, Ernie and his army have been doing volunteer labor in the yards of their Spanish Cove neighbors. Since my gym has been closed during the quarantine, I’ve been forced back out on the streets for my exercise, and pretty much every day I’ve seen Ernie and his “army” out working somewhere. Now I know you are probably concerned that Ernie and his friend are close to one another. This gentleman and others are part of what I call, Ernie’s “quarantine family” – the close circle of folks that many of us share (for me it is the worship team and my immediate family) that we do see even as we shelter in place beyond that small group. These are the folks that work alongside us and continue to make life manageable during this time.

Seeing Ernie with his “army” shirt last week caused me to reflect on and give thanks for all of the ordinary folks in our church and community that continue to find ways to love and serve their neighbors during this crisis. I’ve talked to several folks who are still faithfully delivering meals on wheels to seniors who depend on this service for their daily hot nutrition. I know many of our folks have been busy making masks to share with individuals and organizations in need during this time. Many of you are checking on your neighbors or fellow church members and bringing them their groceries and other necessities during this time. Others are simply calling, texting, emailing, zooming to check in on one another to help alleviate the loneliness.

You will see information below that describes how those of us who are not in the high-risk category for the virus can help to meet the growing food insufficiency needs in our community due to unemployment. I hope if you feel able, you will consider signing up to serve at either Daily Bread or the Evans Center in Palm Bay. Both organizations use safe social distancing practices while still seeking to meet the needs of hungry folks right here in Melbourne.

My point in sharing all this is to say that these are just a few of the ways that we can continue to love and serve our neighbors and they are also the kinds of things that Paul in Philippians invites us to focus our thoughts and attention on. Things that are just, true, commendable, and worthy of praise. It the midst of so much fear and uncertainty, it is good to take Paul’s advice and look for the goodness, or as Allee mentioned in her E-Letter last week, quoting Mr. Rogers, “look for the helpers.” Today, I invite you to spend some time in prayer, giving thanks to God for the ordinary goodness of ordinary people all around us. And give thanks for the ways that God has been present and at work in you to help you stay focused on what God is doing in the world. If we stop and look, there is always something for which to give thanks!

This Sunday in worship we will continue to think about what it means to “Be the Church” by exploring Acts 10 and thinking about the ways that the Holy Spirit works in us to empower us to change course, think in new ways, and continue to welcome new people into the family of God. One of the characteristics of the early church was its ability to be flexible and constantly adapt, grow, and change in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, there is a word here for us in these challenging days about how we must continue to change and adapt and grow in the ways we share in ministry. So, I encourage you to read all of Acts 10 in preparation for worship.

In the meantime, be safe, wash your hands, and know you are missed and loved!

Grace and Peace,
Annette

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