On our altar this week we have a lovely string crochet tablecloth made by Sara Chambers' mother in the 1950s. She says it started out to be a bedspread. She worked on it off and on and when it was tablecloth size, called it done. The pineapple design is a symbol of welcome. We also have more of Sandy Myers handiwork: hat and scarf. The paintings were done by John and Janet Bohs' granddaughters a few years ago The turtle is by Brooklyn and the other three by Gabriella. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed items so far. We have two more Sundays to go.
We still welcome your art for the altar, especially from children. Artwork and photos do not need to be framed, just large enough to see on the altar.
If you have any creative objects to share for one Sunday on the altar such as pottery, baskets, weaving, sewing, knitting, painting, drawing, wood working, stained glass and the like, please contact Pam email@example.com. We would love children's art and any stories that go along with these creations.
Mason and mom and dad, Mandy and Josh, say thank you for the cute hat, burp cloth and prayers. - From Pam Breniser
Mission Shares 2022
Well done Granite District! Thanks to your combined giving, our mission share payments were up 2.7% compared to 2020. Thanks to all who were intentional about increasing their giving, and to those who made valiant last minute efforts.
52 churches paid 100% (50 in 2020)
3 churches gave more than 100%
74 churches paid SOMETHING (out of 82)
13 churches increased their percentage of giving compared to 2020
As a district we gave $732,770 - 74.1% of the $988,986 tasked
As a whole, the seven districts were tasked to raise $7,389,145. The Granite District share is 13% of that total.
Upcoming Adult Groups for Lent:
Sunday Mornings at 9:00 - Listen: Praying In a Noisy World (Beginning March 6th)
Have you ever felt like a fish out of water when trying to pray? Are you feeling overwhelmed and having trouble getting quiet? In this very simple curriculum, participants will be invited to participate in relaxed, daily prayer exercises on their own time, gathering on Sundays (likely still on Zoom) to reflect on the week and view a video. Participants will need books for this class, which are currently available at a discount at Cokesbury.com: https://www.cokesbury.com/Listen-2The digital version is reported to be badly converted from paperback and is not recommended. Please reach out to Pastor Kristy soon if you need help ordering the book for any reason.
Mondays at 1:00, starting March 7th - Still Standing
Join in this Lenten study, based on the Elton John biography movie Rocketman (rated R). Exploring major themes of identity, friendship, temptation, repentance, and starting over, this course will intersperse film clips with lively discussion. Meetings may be on Zoom or in person, depending on pandemic conditions and class preferences. Please firstname.lastname@example.org sign up and plan for the first meeting format.
United Methodist Women's News Next Meeting Feb. 16, 2022 7 PM via Zoom
We will dedicate part of the February meeting to planning an outline of meetings and events through June. Some time will be spent in learning self-care gleaned from our study of Amy Oden's book Right Here Right Now. Thanks to Maggie Dechene for leading the study. Since this is Black History Month, we will also watch and discuss a couple of short TEDx talks by young women about Black History.
All are welcome. The Zoom link will be sent via email closer to the meeting. If you would like to be added to the UMW email list, please let the office know email@example.com.
March Fundraiser for UMW Sat. the 12th from 9-2 Nashua Sr. Center
We have a table reserved to sell items at the Nashua Senior Center Indoor Flea Market, so save the date for that. We will mostly focus on new handmade items. As we only have one table, we will not be able to put out nearly as much as we do at our fall fairs. But this is your chance to sell those cute Easter and spring items, no baked goods allowed. Future blasts and the March Mainstreeter Newsletter will have information about where and when to drop off items and how to volunteer.
Report from the New England Conference COVID Response Team - Pastor Kristy
On February 2nd, I attended the conference-wide COVID Response Team meeting to get the most up-to-date recommendations from the conference with regard to the pandemic. Two physicians, Drs. Ted Marcy and Kevin Fickenscher, presented and were available for questions. Two district superintendents and three pastors who are leading innovative ministries in this challenging season of ministry also presented, along with Rick McKinley of Congregational Development. Overall, I was encouraged by the improvements being seen in the latest Omicron surge, by how well our church improvements, policies, priorities, and reasoning aligned with conference recommendations, and by how well we have done using technology for worship, meetings, and classes.
In the physician presentation, Dr. Fickenscher noted that the pandemic is still "bad," but it's "better," pointing to decreasing levels of Covid-19 in our wastewater streams and decreasing loads on hospitals (which are still severe). He and Dr. Marcy agreed that we are still in "pandemic" mode and not yet to "endemic" mode, though signs are hopeful that conditions are improving. Dr. Marcy recalled that he initially expected the pandemic to be over by September 2020, emphasizing that predictions about a changing virus should be made with humility. Dr. Fickenscher noted that he is as concerned about the effects of "Long Covid" as he is about the current acute Covid crisis. They applauded research and public health efforts that are slowly bringing the pandemic under control through better medical technology. They repeatedly stressed the importance of full vaccination, including boosters. Presenters repeatedly noted that the virus is extremely contagious right now and made five recommendations for behavior at this time:
Get vaccinated and boosted
Wear high quality masks in public, especially indoors, regardless of vaccination status. KN94 and N95 masks are significantly better than fabric.
Stay home when experiencing symptoms of illness, even when it's inconvenient.
Keep practicing physical distancing.
If you are over 65, have pre-existing conditions or are immunocompromised, exercise extra caution.
For worship, the presenters suggested that areas with higher infection rates require more caution. In-person worship and meetings can be resumed with full masking and physical distancing. In addition to the recommendations listed above, they urged continued caution with singing. Presenters recommended that only folks who are 1) fully vaccinated and boosted and 2) tested (negative) immediately before the service be permitted to sing.
Pastors focused on the importance of living the way of Jesus by loving our neighbors--especially the most vulnerable ones--during this time. They discussed the importance of balancing the physical and mental health needs of the congregation and community, as well as considering how we can support community healthcare providers and others who have been overwhelmed by slowing the spread of COVID. One pastor discussed the pain experienced when they relaxed their COVID protocols too soon, subsequently dealing with a severe illness in the congregation. Others talked of nurturing small group ministries, developing innovative programs around instrumental music (strings), creating a 15 minute cyber-church school for children, and even installing a drive-through window for their (formerly in-person) food ministry. Rick McKinley of Congregational Development, spoke about best practices for technology and online ministries. It is clear that the creative spirit of our conference is alive and well.
When asked, "When will things go back to normal?" Dr. Fickenscher noted that churches need to be focused on moving forward in a new reality. He predicted that hybrid (online and in-person) worship and meetings will be a new, permanent part of church operations. (Other presenters emphasized investing in good technology to do this well.) He highlighted the importance of improving air exchange and filtration in meeting spaces. He also stressed the importance of maintaining civil discussion, especially around fully vaccinating our congregations, noting that getting 80% or more of our community members vaccinated with boosters will go a very long way toward ending the pandemic phase faster. The physicians discouraged people from relying on immunity from prior COVID infections, noting that clinical data has not proven that immunity from infection is nearly as reliable as immunity from vaccination.
During the Q&A period at the end, churches asked for resources to ventilation and occupancy limits for their unique spaces. I was pleased to recommend the MIT Occupancy Calculator we've been using as one way of looking at airflow and space usage. Rick McKinley expressed appreciation for that offering.
After the webinar, I was thankful to hear from our leaders in the conference and to know that the dedicated, hard work of the Main Street Safety/COVID Response Team has been so thoughtful, thorough, and courageous. Thanks to all of them for their continuing hard work!
FOUNDATION FORUM EDUCATIONAL SERIES
MONEY FOR MINISTRY How to Utilize the Foundation's Grant Ministry Program
During this webinar we will cover all the necessary information, from start to finish, to help you discern if a Foundation grant may help your vision for mission become a ministry reality.PRESENTED BY:
DAVID ABBOTT / Director of Stewardship
Looking for Money for Ministry?
Through its Grant Ministry Program, the Foundation is partnering with local churches, agencies, and other organizations for vital, creative, and transforming projects. During this webinar we will cover all the necessary information, from start to finish, to help you discern if a Foundation grant can help your vision for mission become a ministry reality.
Wednesday / FEBRUARY 23rd 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm or Thursday / FEBRUARY 24th 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
You will receive an email on Tuesday, February 22nd with the ZOOM links. As always, you can attend either meeting (regardless of what you registered for) from our website under WEBINARS/Current Webinars.
All youth and young adults between the ages of 16 and 35 are invited to join a life-changing pilgrimage to Taizé, France, a place which is filled with deep Christian spirituality and broad ecumenism. This week-long experience will be led by Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar. The 2022 Pilgrimage is July 22 to Aug. 1. Deadline to register is Feb. 15, 2022. Learn more and register https://www.neumc.org/taize
Save the date!!!
We are looking forward to our 2nd Annual MSUMC at the Silver Knights evening!!
Tickets are $7/each (under 3 yr are free). Spread the news, plan a night out with the family or date night. Grab a bite to eat downtown before the game, or munch on game snacks! It is sure to be a fabulous time with Emily Adams singing the National Anthem.
Be sure to include "Silver Knights Game" in the memo line.
The New England Conference Sessions Team, in consultation with Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, has determined that the 2022 Annual Conference will be a hybrid session – offering members the opportunity to participate in person or online (via Zoom) as they choose.
The session will be Thursday to Saturday, June 9-11, 2022. The clergy session and laity session have not yet been scheduled. Members should note that one or both events may take place on Wednesday, June 8.
Our theme for 2022 is "Envisioning the Beloved Community" and our guiding scripture is Philippians 3:12-14, The Message:
"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward — to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back."
For more information please use the following link: