I pray this week has treated you well and you are finding Christ’s love in each moment of your life. This week I am writing to keep us connected and informed about our church, our community and the missional work we are doing in the world around us. This week I have been meeting with several members of our church and growing in my understanding of who and what we are as Billings First United. It has been a joy learning about the history of the church and the work we have done leading us to this point in our life. I have been blessed to meet with our staff, UMW leadership, members of council and volunteers. I am beginning to gather us together to recognize where we are and begin planning on where we can move to. What have I learned so far? I have affirmed we are an important part of Billings and Montana. I too have found that we have been and are actively engaged in missional and service work to meet the needs of our community. I have learned too that we are greatly missing being together in relationship through worship at church and many of us are weary of this time of fear and indecision. Thank you to those I have spoken with for being vulnerable and open in discussing your feelings, experiences and hopes for our church. It is good to figure out where you are when you are someplace new. We all are someplace new these days though, aren’t we? The good news is as we figure out where we are and can find where we want to go and what is needed to get there.
So, where do we want to go? Well, we want to get to know our new pastor and to have him know us and we want to be back in worship with community. So, let’s talk about the second first…
Yellowstone county continues to have increased cases of Covid-19. With numbers so high, I have heard from several people that they are not ready to come back to church yet as a result of the health of the community and would rather worship online and in their own homes. With that in mind, we are refining worship and working to make your online and at home experience as good as we can. We are working to produce better worship online each week. Please let us know how we are doing as it can help us to work out the bugs as well as get better at meeting your needs. Additionally, we are providing resources for those who do not have computer access or rely on printed materials for their information resources. We will be producing services live on Sunday mornings and providing video on our Billings First http://billingsfirst.umcchurches.org/, YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCddZ4vs-cTv9KqnxPcq_aEw/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BillingsFirstUM/ resources. When we begin to see the number of cases fall below 8 cases each week, we will resume worship in person.
As for meeting the new pastor, I have an idea! I think we should meet our pastor in the park! Pastor Pat’s Park Parade will begin next week. I will be touring the parks of Billings in the bus and meeting with you all through the next few weeks. Bring your folding chairs, masks and practice social distancing with me as I tour Billings and attempt to meet each of you and have conversation. I will publish my schedule Monday of each week on our website and we will have opportunities to gather in a safe way and meet. It is my goal to visit 4 parks per week and allow times for each of you to meet me. Check our website http://billingsfirst.umcchurches.org/ for details.
This week our sermon is about beginning our new journey together. I hope to see you and look forward to getting to know you. Bless you in all you are doing. –