Special Announcement

Greetings Blackman family!

I imagine that all of you have seen the news over the last several days that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued to spread and been designated by the World Health Organization a global pandemic.  So far it has infected 26 people in Tennessee (at least one in Rutherford County) with only minimal amounts of testing done to this point. 

I don’t really know any other way to put this: this is a weird time to be alive. I am not a germaphobe, I generally practice a “5-10 second” rule when food drops on the floor. Therefore, everything going on right now feels very unusual to me. So, I am asking for compassion, grace and mercy to abound as we find our way through these unprecedented times. 

I want to share with you something that has echoed in my spirit this week. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is giving his last instructions to his disciples, and near the end of chapter 16, he says this, in verse 33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus doesn’t say to his followers, “you might have trouble,” or “occasionally, something might be difficult,” he says, “you WILL have trouble.” Trouble is real. Fear is real. Problems are real. Uncertainty is real. Jesus never says we won’t face these things. But he doesn’t leave it at that. He continues by saying, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

My prayer over the past 10 days or so has been that in the middle of the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding us with tornados and diseases, on top of everything else, that you and I feel the real peace that Jesus offers and that peace, which passes all understanding, in turn inspires hope!  Hope doesn’t dismiss challenge, but it empowers us to persevere in challenging situations. 

I am also coming to you to share that due to rising concerns we have decided to make some temporary alterations to our operations at church.  We acknowledge that this is an ever-changing situation and decisions are being made with the best information we have at any given time. 

With that said, we WILL NOT gather for worship and Sunday School THIS Sunday at our normal times. It was originally decided that we would worship together, but under the advisement of our Bishop, after he consulted with medical professionals at Vanderbilt and other medical institutions, it has been decided we will cancel worship for this week. 

Since we are postponing our normal public worship services we will provide alternative worship resources for you online or make other arrangements for you to access them so that you stay connected to Blackman UMC.  In that same vein, if there are individuals or families who do not receive our email communications please share this information with them. 

Furthermore, we will also postpone ALL groups and gatherings at the church until April 1st.  This will include all groups/meetings from outside the church and groups within the church (i.e. Bible studies, Wonderful Wednesdays, choir practice, business meetings, small groups and such).  Information has shown that limiting our personal interactions and observing social distancing greatly diminishes the spread of the virus.  Coupled with the continued cleaning and sanitizing of our facility we believe these measures will diminish the spread of this virus. 

This will impact our Stepping Stones Homeless ministry on March 22nd, but we will be working with them to make separate arrangements to continue serving them.  If other groups from outside the church would like, we will work with them to find an alternate time and space to meet. We want to do our part to continue the great partnerships we have with community groups. 

As for groups within the church, we will leave meeting times and places to your group’s discretion.  As a safety precaution you may choose not to meet and we will support that, but you may choose to continue meeting on your own in a different location.  If you would like to talk about options please contact me.

I mentioned earlier that this is a weird time in which we are living.  And I know that this has caused uncertainty, anxiety, difficult conversations, financial burdens and a lot of fear.  I want you to know that I am praying for you and our community, but I am also asking you to please join me in praying for those who are affected by this virus and for those working so diligently to minimize the impact of this virus. 

If there is anything in particular in your life for which I can be praying, please let me know. If you have a pastoral need during this time, please let me know.  If there is some way the church can assist you during this time, please let me know.  If you have questions or concerns, please let me know. 

When we baptize someone or receive someone into membership in the United Methodist Church we ask if they will support the church with their “prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.”  Now, as always, the church needs your commitment to these ideals.  We need your prayers, your presence (even in spirit), your gifts (financial, material and spiritual), your service (to continue building connection with one another and expanding God’s Kingdom), and your witness (to the power of God to bring peace, hope and love in uncertain times). You all have consistently shown what an amazing church you are and I have no doubt you will continue!  

Please be on the lookout for further communications from us in regards to our next steps.

Thank you and God bless!

Bro. David