Friday March 13, 2020

Dear Sanctuary UMC Community,

With the spread of the coronavirus(COVID-19) disease, we wanted to provide some information to you regarding worship services and gatherings.

We, as United Methodists, are a people of the ‘via media,’ the middle way. We are not called to extreme panic, yet we are also not called to extreme ambivalence.

First and foremost, we want to encourage you to remain calm. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians said, “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” Our duty as Christ-followers is to be a ‘non-anxious presence’ in the midst of the confusion and chaos, and we have an opportunity to represent the peace of Christ that passes all understanding for our community. Part of that involves being informed of the facts of the virus, linked here from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

We are not panicking, but we also want to make sure we are acting in the best interest of public health, and especially in the interests of those of our church family who are vulnerable to this disease, the “least of these” as Jesus puts it. We want to be sure we are loving our neighbors. We want to be proactive instead of reactive. We are also following the example of those in the area around us, The Town of Marana and the Town of Oro Valley have suspended their community events, our Annual Conference has moved to online/video meetings, and the Mayor of Tucson has requested that people not hold group gatherings.

With that in mind, and with an overabundance of caution, we are going to change the way we worship this Sunday: worship will be live on line at this link https://www.maranachurch.com/watch-live/ at 9:30am on Sunday morning. The service will be available on our website anytime throughout the week as well as on Facebook for later viewing. Worship online will look different than if you are in person, or tune in on a Sunday, we will open in prayer, have a few announcements, read scripture, hear the word and close in prayer together. We invite you to submit prayer requests at the beginning of the Livestream so that we can share them together at the end of worship. We are encouraging everyone to stay home and join worship online as we practice the recommended “social distancing” together.

If you do not have access to reliable internet, or if you are concerned about your ability to participate in this offering in anyway, please reach out to Pastor Melissa directly and she will share with you a brief outline of a time of prayer and sermon reflection you can use in your home so that you can still be a part of our church community.

Connecting with and caring for others is, always, one of our community’s highest priorities. In the next week Pastor Melissa will be asking members of our Church Council to each take a list of people to touch base with each week, checking in, seeing if there is anything we can do to help and support the most vulnerable among us. If there is anything you need, please reach out to Pastor Melissa directly by email at [email protected].

All small group gatherings are also being suspended for this week: Sunday School, Bible studies, meetings, etc. Some groups may decided to still “meet” via video conference or conference call. If you have questions about your small group or committee meeting please contact the office.

A gentle reminder that you can still worship through your giving during these next few weeks as well, either by mail (Sanctuary UMC 7620 N. Hartman Lane Ste 100 Tucson AZ 85743) or online https://www.maranachurch.com/give/.

While we will temporarily not be meeting physically, we can still connect spiritually. Our core values will remain the same: SERVE God, CONNECT to our Community, JOURNEY together and INSPIRE love. Please make Sunday morning worship a priority, even if you are at home sipping coffee and wearing your PJs!

We will miss seeing you this weekend, and we look forward to seeing you all in person, hopefully soon, but, until then, take care of yourselves, take care of one another, take care of the vulnerable and help us to continue to be the church that Jesus calls us to be.

See you online!

Blessings,

Rev. Melissa Rynders

Rev. Rob Rynders

Kerry Powers, Chair of Church Council

Mario Sanchez, Lay Leader