Making a Way
Two years ago, ministry cohorts at Green Street UMC in Winston-Salem, extended an invitation to join them on an excursion to the National African American History Museum. The coveted tickets to experience the newest Smithsonian addition was an opportunity not to miss. As a former Smithsonian fellow, I was especially excited to return to the place where my career began as I worked on requirements towards a new path with the church. I was particularly interested in exhibits about the church. In my role with the Mission Engagement Team serving as Chair of Congregations 4 Children, I was captivated by the Making A Way Out of No Way exhibit that features the story of Mary McLeod Bethune and the National Council of Negro Women. A floor to ceiling illustration of Bethune’s’ vision to connect groups and clubs for African American women to advance and improve conditions for all African Americans was Methodist Connectionalism 101 in action. At a time when separate but equal was law, and strange fruit hung from southern poplar trees, Bethune used the foundations of her faith to bring hope in the midst of hopelessness.
The onset of COVID-19 brought to mind Jeremiah 29:4-14 and the work of Bethune. The prophet’s instructions from God for the Israelites to live life in captivity is followed by God’s promise of hope and prosperity. During this time of uncertainty, the gravity of educational challenges experienced by families challenges our senses. Our Methodist heritage, exemplified by Bethune’s legacy, guides a process of Christian conferencing that extends the hospitality of the church in meeting community needs.
Prayer is our foundation, Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything (Philippians 4:6-7). The leadership has provided guidelines for ministry that centers our prayers.
- Be aware of infection and hospitalization rates in your county and neighborhoods. These rates should be known and considered before engaging in ministry. Until there is a 2-week rate decline, the WNCC Cabinet strongly recommends to not meet for in person ministry activity.
- The following procedures should be in place before beginning ministry due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19.
- Maintain strict attendance records in the event contact tracing is needed.
- Develop a strict accounting of any disinfecting process.
- Have a clear plan of action and communication in the event of exposure.
To date, C4C leadership and the Conference Mission Engagement staff have met with pastors and laity revealing a depth of creativity navigating the hurdles of ministry with the virus. The hospitality of church spaces and volunteers has spurred ideas which include: remote reading buddies, online tutoring, university and community college partnerships, teacher support and hosting families in existing groups or pods established by local schools. The following links also provide suggestions and tips for ministry:
We will continue having these discussions as needed and share ideas and stories from our Districts on the C4C website https://www.wnccumc.org/c4cresources. We invite you to share what is taking place in your community through District resources. Feel free to email thoughts, questions or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org or Brian Mateer at email@example.com. Through our connection, we can encourage and strengthen outreach as a means of grace to plant gardens giving hope to parents, educators and children in our communities. Our faith says we can make a way out no way, our legacy shows us how.