Coronavirus Update 3/18/20

Follow latest details about BUMC’s response to COVID-19 here.

Dear Brooklyn UMC,
           As I write to you we are in the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Minnesota is under a state of emergency, as well as our entire nation and most of our planet, and now all of our local schools are shut down 2 to 3 weeks to prepare for possibly shutting down longer or move to on-line learning.  Yesterday restaurants and other public gathering places moved to a “take-out” only or just shutting their doors. I guess your pastor will be doing drive-thru only at his favorite McD’s!! We are all being asked to “social distance” ourselves, work from home, shut down our travel plans, and no group meetings over 10 people… in order to lower the rate of transmission so that we do not overwhelm our health care system, but that does not mean we “social distance” ourselves from God, the community of God, or our neighbors. We will continue to love God and Neighbor, Heal a Broken World, Reach New People and become a Church for everyone. In our Bishop’s message, he states this is a time for the church to use it’s Holy Imagination. It is time for us to make some changes, sacrifices, and then engage the Holy Spirit and our Holy Imagination to come of up with new and creative ways to be the heart of the Brooklyns.
     This is a time for us to remember our 3 Simple Rules of being a United Methodist, we will…
  Do no harm: that we refuse to show prejudice targeting people of Asian heritage and non-US citizens; We will refuse to take unnecessary risks that jeopardize the health of others; We will refuse to exacerbate hysteria in others while only looking out for ourselves; We will not hoard…
  Do good: We will conduct our own personal vulnerability assessments and act accordingly; We will hold ourselves accountable to expectations of hygiene and cleanliness; We will maintain an attitude of faithful diligence with urgency; we will share with our neighbors and perform acts of kindness…
  Stay in love with God: We will pray for one another and all who are impacted by Covid-19, near and far; We will work with each other side by side in times of desperation and challenge; We will be mindful and intentional about how we practice being church communally.
     All this helps us Love God and Neighbor. In times like this it is good to remember two things about our God: First and foremost is our God is with us always!  Second, our God can use anything, as a tool to do good. God will use this time for us to learn to love God and love neighbor!  Let’s continue to do no harm, do good and stay in love with God through this time.  Here is our plan to do just that …
With the state of emergency being declared, with the recommendation of the CDC and our Bishop (no interactions of over 10 people), Brooklyn UMC is closed to the public through Easter Sunday and we will use this time under the advice of the State of Minnesota to evaluate when it is prudent to re-open. 
     Our staff as of today will be on a work from home protocol. There will be some activities at the church with some strict conditions as far as size of the group and disinfecting of the areas used. Loaves & Fishes, our West African Ministry Center, and Pastor Henry’s newly organized Community team will do drive-by services for the community.
     Please do not plan on coming to the church unless you have set up a time with a staff member. And please make sure the reason you want to come to the church is absolutely essential, the health and safety of our staff, their families, and the community depends on our ability to socially distance ourselves.
Though we are planning on this shut down lasting until Easter, note that the Federal Government and the State of Minnesota is planning for the shut-down to last at least 8 weeks which takes us to mid-May. 
     We did worship this past Sunday but with Governor Walz closing all schools and now most all public places in Minnesota and a directive from Bishop Bruce Ough we are suspending worship until Easter Sunday. We are doing this as an act of doing good and doing no harm. We are doing this over an abundance of caution, and now federal law.  Our hope is that this suspension will only last a few weeks and we can gather back together for the first time on Easter Sunday.
     Our staff is working on how we will provide a worship experience for you on Sunday mornings. Check Facebook and our website ( for virtual sermons during this time.
     *As we Walk through this challenging time, I encourage you all to order a copy of the book The Walk by Adam Hamilton or by e-reader if possible, and read the intro through Chapter 3 this week. Then continue with a chapter a week. I also encourage you to look in your inbox for a copy of Grab Gather Grow.  It is a study resource that I produce each week to grow our faith. The idea is that you grab it, gather a group of people together and grow your faith. During this time of social distancing I would recommend no outside small groups, just your household or yourself. It is based on our weekly worship theme and follows The Walk up until Easter.  For families, on the back page is a section we call the Faith5 and that is to be used each night for a HomeHuddle. This resource, along with some brief announcements, will be in your inbox every Friday as they have always been.  
     *Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, I strongly encourage you to call, video call, Facetime … your grandchildren or nieces and nephews once a day and Huddle Up with them using our Faith5 resource.
     *Continue The Walk Lenten Challenge:
Pray 5 times each day and worship weekly (even if this means virtually for awhile)
Read at least 5 verses of Scripture a day.
Perform 5 acts of intentional kindness a week.
Extend 5 acts of generosity toward others each month, and give generously to God through the church. Let others know you are a Christian and invite 5 people to church each year.
     *Pastor Henry or I will also post a daily devotion on our Facebook and website.

Parents, guardians and grandparents, our children are stressed with all the talk of the pandemic.  And with schools closing I want to share with you an article about how to talk to our kids about the Coronavirus. You can read it here.
     At BUMC our education staff is working on a take home kit to help you continue your children’s faith development.  You should have this kit in your inbox on Friday and it will have activities for your children for every day next week. The number one thing I am recommending is that your family use this time to practice the Faith5 and begin a daily HomeHuddle. 
     If you are in need of any supplies to help keep your children active reply to this email and we will put a kit together for you and get one of our volunteers to deliver it to your home.  We have craft kits, supplies, Bibles … you just let us know your need and we will put a kit together. 
     All visitations have been suspended.  All local hospitals, homes, care facilities, and even Assisted Living facilities are now shut down to visitors including pastors.  And we will not be doing home visits as well. Contact the church office if you could help our Care Team reach out to those on our care list and you can make some calls to our most vulnerable and those that have to be very “socially distanced.”  If you would also reply to this email and let us know if there are some attendees of the church, especially those you sit around during your worship experience, and tell us whom you would be willing to call at least once a week to remain in contact. 
     Funerals: we have no funeral services scheduled in March and I am in contact with the April funeral families on postponing or adjusting the Celebration of Life service.  As of today we can not hold any events over 10 people. 
     We also ask that if you notify us at BUMC of any care issues you may be facing.  We will do our best with “social distancing” to minister with you. One of our Care Staff will be talking with every critical care need we are aware of on a daily if needed or weekly basis to pray and keep in touch. 
  *We all are still in need of giving, one because we are called to do so by God and two, we would like to not lay off any of our staff during this crisis.  So please mail in your offering, on your cell phone text “give” to 651-240-2862, or online at our website.
  *Delay the start of our Financial Peace Ministry until May. 
  *Change4Change has also been adjusted to a fund we are calling Good Samaritan Pandemic Fund.  We are going to give to our Good Samaritan fund for awhile and help some of our members, families, friends and neighbors with issues they face because of this pandemic.  We will reschedule CEAP and their important ministry down the road. You can give to our Change4Change through the same means as listed above.
Two Important things in closing…
*We are forming a list of people who can serve by running errands, cleaning, cooking and delivering some meals or other emergencies as they arise.  We are putting a list together of people that can take the heart of the Brooklyns to the Heart of the Brooklyn.  If you would like to be on that list please reply to this email and we will get you signed up.  As needs arise we will contact people on this list to help out and remain socially distant.
*If you are in need of anything from food and supplies, an errand run, a prayer partner, a phone call buddy, help of any kind would you please contact us and someone will respond as soon as possible.  Folks we mean this, the only way we are all going to get through this is to help each other. I even have some people who have a few extra rolls of toilet paper and they will deliver if needed!  We have some rice or a box of food we can deliver.  But we can not help if we do not know so please contact us if you need some help. This last Sunday our Spiritual Practice on our WALK was to answer the call to service, and at BUMC we have those who can say yes Lord, send me.
To stay in the know go to any of these sites.
Everyone, be the heart of the Brooklyns.  Reach out as best you can to help each other and our neighbors and together we will get through this crisis.  And one more thing, God is with us, Jesus promised!  God is with us so if we can answer the call in the book of Jeremiah to “Love our City” we will all get through this.
Pastor Rich