Letter from Bishop Hope Morgan Ward

"I urge you to cease public worship and other gatherings in your church through the next two weeks in order to protect your church family and the community in which you live and serve. Bishop Paul Leeland makes today this same request to the churches in Western North Carolina. 


Public health leaders help us realize that we are on the cusp of a significant increase in the contagious virus. Social distancing is the most effective means of slowing the spread of the disease.


“For social distancing to be effective, it must begin early—so early that it may feel unneeded and silly. If we wait until its need is obvious, it is too late. The faith community has an important role to play in slowing the speed of disease transmission. Large gatherings of people are a petri dish for spreading the infection. For a period of time, I strongly urge our religious communities to suspend traditional services and gatherings and find other ways to practice and sustain our faith. Our witness and our example may save many lives, especially the lives of those at risk in our own congregations.” – Dr. Wes Wallace*

Where small groups or classes are essential to wellbeing, be vigilant as such groups meet in cleansed spaces, seated with distance between participants, with particular care for those who are older or who have health vulnerabilities.


Thank you for your creativity as we continue to strengthen the church through our prayers, our presence in expanded ways with one another, our gifts, our service, and our witness. We will share radiant examples of your ministry in this new and challenging time in order to foster creativity and to encourage one another.


May the Church of Jesus Christ rise anew with courage and creativity in this time of challenge, shining as light in a wounded, fearful world."


Bishop Hope Morgan Ward

Letter From pastor Claire

UPDATED 03/23/2020 5:00 PM


Dear FUMC church family, 

On March 12th I spoke with our DS, Mike Frese, and received the following email from our Bishop, Hope Ward. (see below).


Out of a deep desire for us to love each other well, especially those who are most vulnerable, we are suspending worship and other small group meetings and gatherings.  We will follow the guidelines from CDC and other officials about when we can safely gather again in our large groups.


Our United Methodist understanding of the Sacraments does not allow us to offer online communion.  This is because we believe the real presence of Christ is with us through the elements when we are gathered as the Body of Christ.  We will not offer drive-through communion either for the same reason.  Know that, as your pastor and as one whose life is shaped by the Eucharist, I miss the opportunity to celebrate this Sacrament in a spiritually painful way.  How rich and joyous it will be when we are present together to celebrate! 


We WILL have livestream worship on our website and we encourage you to join us at 9 or 11am in that way on Sunday. Simply go to www.fumcgraham-nc.org and join the livestream from your computer. The livestream is also available on our Facebook page.


We will offer an online video-conferencing platform for needed meetings (using Zoom.us and/or Google meets).  


Refraining from hosting large gatherings right now is painful. We are mindful of the Apostle Paul's admonition, "do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some." We long to be together to worship and nurture one another in faith. It is our fervent prayer that by suspending worship right now we enable more people in our community to stay healthy, avoid the possibility of being the cause of Coronavirus in our community, and allow our hospital and health care systems to treat patients by not increasing their case loads beyond capacity.


Those of us in the demographics less likely to contract the virus or to have mild cases if contracted are asked to be mindful of the most vulnerable among us, to make the sacrifice of public gatherings as the way we show our love for others right now.


If you are in a small group or SS class, please contact others in your group to make sure they are ok. If you are used to visiting homebound persons, please call and check on them; their isolation is especially hard right now. In other words, find ways to continue encouraging one another in faith and hope.


Prayerfully,

Pastor Claire



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