For the last several months, Lisa, Shane and I (and other conference staff), plus the Kearney First UMC staff, have spent countless hours and energy planning what has become known as The Laity Summit. To me, it is also an exciting and significant opportunity for lay persons of our conference. But, alas, the elephant virus in the room has not cancelled but drastically changed the event. It will be produced from the Topeka office to anyone in the conference who would like to attend via electronics.
There are some advantages of this change. Anyone, not just those registered, can view and hear all the information. What a wonderful opportunity to reach all laity in the conference as well as clergy. The downside, of course, is the value of face-to-face networking and community building. I am thankful for conference staff and the presenters who are making last minute modifications. And of course, the paramount outcome is that we have done what we can to contain the deadly virus that has invaded our lives.
But still, I am very disappointed. The reality in my own life for containing this pandemic event has many reasons for great concern. The virus has been found in the school where my grandchildren attend. I know that if my husband contracts the disease, his chances of survival are limited. I think of the elderly and compromised persons in our church and community that could suffer great losses. I pray for the persons economically devastated from the efforts to isolate the virus.
As with all tragic events, there is always an opportunity to make a difference. I know I will feel better if I can put my faith to work and find some way to join with our neighbors to manage this crisis. We need to consider the members of our congregations, neighborhoods, and communities to realize where we can find opportunities for ministry. Are there shut-ins who depend on Meals on Wheels for nourishment? Where are the kids that participate in the Backpack Program finding food for the weekends? How about the kids that depend upon school lunches to meet the majority of their nutritional needs? Those who have self-isolated, do they need groceries and supplies delivered? Do the services for the homeless need extra help? Are there folks that are lonelier because of this crisis who just need a phone call to raise their spirits? There are families that temporarily have no income, who live paycheck to paycheck in the best of times. And don’t forget prayer. We all need to pray.
As always, God is walking with us through this difficult time. My prayer is that all of us will find comfort and peace in His loving arms and that we will discover opportunities to share His love with all of those around us.