Local Churches Continue to Minister in Deeds and Prayers During COVID-19

March 20, 2020

By JB Brayfindley
Around the California-Nevada Annual conference, churches are finding ways to meet needs of their congregations and communities.
“In all of this craziness, may love be shown, may Christ be known, and may God be praised!” said Rev. Dawn Blundell, pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Fallon, Nevada. On Sunday, Blundell asked members to commit to doing 5 acts of kindness a day, the third of five essential practices in the Christian life that she has been preaching on over the last few weeks.
“If each of us did this for just 30 days, that would be 27,000 acts of kindness—by just us, one congregation…. we can change the world!”
Epworth’s services are posted online and on local radio broadcast KVLV. Along with practical ways serve, Blundell spoke about strategies for praying five times a day as well as studying the Bible alone and with friends.
Blundell gave ideas on how to continue a Sunday morning worship experience when at home including: gathering with friends in small groups or by phone; eat ‘something good to eat’ and give thanks to God for it; follow along with the bulletin and pray the call to worship and opening prayer; pray and sing; listen to your favorite Christian music; read scripture lesson; listen to the sermon on the radio or Facebook; have a conversation with someone; pray for each other, our church and community; “…listen to some more music, and voila! You had church! Minus the technology, that’s exactly how worship was done for the first few hundred years…” finished Blundell.
“If the weather cooperates, we are still having a star gazing fundraising event,” said Rev. Ginger Foster serving Auburn United Methodist Church. The Administrative Council met after church this Sunday and decided to cancel worship service for the foreseeable future.
“We are leaving the sanctuary open for individual prayers,” noted Foster who wasn’t sure how long they will be able to continue that practice. “We’re disinfecting like crazy but we’re also taking this break as a time to take care of stuff—like a roofing project, getting our piano tuned…”
“We are still hosting a traveling homeless shelter and have a pre-school onsite,” she said. “but the pre-school is dwindling in attendance. We have a lot of ‘cancels’ on our calendar.”
“We have a ton of people not on the internet,” said Foster reporting that the church care team met in an effort to divide the church into groups and assign phone lists to team members. The team will communicate what the church is doing and find out what care that person may need. The phone check ins will continue on a regular basis.
“I am calling those individuals who are new, widowed and have health problems,” she added. Besides phone calls, the church is communicating to groups and committees through emails. The church plans to send out a letter about financial giving next.
“We’re closed down here,” said George Beckman, Lay Speaker for the Gold Country Parish from Colfax United Methodist Church. He manages the church website. “We have links on our website to the Los Altos Church and to some inspirational sites and such.”
“But we also have a prayer chain,” added Beckman explaining how people can either phone in or email special requests that the group will pray about during the week, “That is still going on.”
“We have a very small congregation here,” said Gracyne Backus, Lay Servant at McGill United Methodist Church.  The church membership is largely made up of children whose parents do not attend services. When area schools closed, church services and youth group were cancelled. “We’re staying in contact by phone,” Backus said. “I am just terribly concerned--the inconvenience of not meeting is nothing in regard to everything else. We are encouraging members to just pray...”