UMCL In-Person Worship Protocols

On Sunday, September 13, we will open the sanctuary for in-person worship during our 9:30am live-stream worship service.  However, it’s important to realize that it will not be “back to normal.”  It will not look like worship did a year ago.  It will look like what you watch at home through Facebook or Youtube.  There will be no bulletins or congregational singing.  There will be no hugs or handshakes.  There will be no lingering after the worship service. 

 

The health and safety of all involved remains a high priority for us.  Therefore…

…If you don’t feel well, please stay home

…If you have been in contact with someone with COVID-like symptoms within the last 14 days, please stay home

…If you have traveled to a COVID-19 hotspot within the last 14 days, please stay home.

 

If you choose to join us in person, please…

…Plan to arrive no later than 9:25am

…Enter through the parking lot doors only

…Pause for a thermal scan

…Wear a mask

…Use hand sanitizer

…Practice Social Distancing

…Use Fellowship Hall Restrooms only

…Enter the sanctuary through the center aisle only

…Sit on a yellow dot

…Keep children with parents (there will be no nursery or in-person Sunday school)

…Exit the sanctuary through the side aisles only

…Move directly to the parking lot at the end of the service.

 

We know the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us in one way or another, so if joining together in the sanctuary will be a positive and hopeful thing for you, you are welcome to join us.  However, we also know that many people are not comfortable gathering for worship at this point.  That is perfectly alright.  On-line worship will continue.  Either way, we join in spirit together.


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Back to Church: Adjusting to a Life with COVID-19

By now, we are all aware that COVID-19 is not going to magically disappear.  We have to learn to live with it until we reach a point of “heard immunity,” most likely through the wide-spread use of a vaccine.  We have been hearing encouraging news about the development of vaccines, but even with that, there will likely be months between the approval of a vaccine, and having enough people vaccinated that the spread of the virus is slowed to a safe level.

 

At the same time, we’ve learned a lot about how to live with the vaccine since the outbreak began.  We’ve learned that masks are a crucial way to fight the virus.  We’ve learned about social distancing and sanitation protocols.  We’ve learned that the virus is most likely spread through the air.

 

Our Safety Team has been monitoring the science around COVID-19.  They continue to work with the Trustees to ensure the safety of our congregation as we learn to live with the virus. As we enter the “back to church” season, we are excited to announce:

 

  • We will welcome “a live studio audience” for worship beginning Sunday, September 13, at 9:30am. Safety protocols will be required, including the wearing of masks.
  • We will be incorporating more variety of musical groups into our worship.
  • Our sanctuary is open for private, individual prayer, twice a week – Tuesdays from 12:00pm to 3:00pm and Thursdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm.
  • Our youth are beginning to meet in-person, with social distancing and masks. See details inside this newsletter.
  • Small groups and committees can now begin meeting in the church. Space is limited, so be sure to schedule your meeting through Melinda in the church office.
  • Some groups are also able to meet outside in the Grove. Again, please schedule that with the office.

 

It’s important to realize that as we open up for “in-person” worship, that it will not be “back to normal.”  We are using the language of “a live studio audience” to reinforce the understanding that if you join us in-person on Sunday morning, it will not look like worship did a year ago.  It will look like what you watch at home through Facebook or Youtube.  There will be no bulletins or congregational singing.  There will be no hugs or handshakes.  There will be no lingering after the worship service.  There will be social distancing, with pews marked for where you can and cannot sit.  Masks will be required. 

 

In addition, we are working to bring some of our wonderful music ensembles back into worship.  The Bell Choir has already begun to rehearse.  We will also be recruiting small ensembles (duets, quartets, etc.) to provide music on a regular basis.

 

Another step toward figuring out how to live with COVID-19 will be in resuming in-person small groups within the church building.  I will be leading one of our fall all-church study groups in-person, at the church, on Sundays at 5pm, beginning September 13.  Again, masks will be worn and we will employ social distancing.  Sign up for this small group is required, so that we can be prepared for the number of participants.  See the details of our fall study inside this newsletter.

 

A small number of other groups are experimenting with returning to in-person, socially-distanced meetings at the church.  Check with your small group leader for details.

 

Each of us has a different level of comfort when it comes to meeting together during this pandemic.  The Safety Team is aware of both the physical and emotional threats of the pandemic.  We will continue to offer on-line worship and Zoom meetings.  Our goal is to provide opportunities to grow in Christ and to make Christ known in as many ways as possible, as safely as possible.

 

Jesus said, “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church” (Matt 16:18), and neither will COVID-19!

 

Jay


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UMCL and COVID-19 Guidelines

UMCL In-Person Worship Protocols

On Sunday, September 13, we will open the sanctuary for in-person worship during our 9:30am live-stream worship service.  However, it’s important to realize that it will not be “back to normal.”  It will not look like worship did a year ago.  It will look like what you watch at home through Facebook or Youtube.  There will be no bulletins or congregational singing.  There will be no hugs or handshakes.  There will be no lingering after the worship service. 

The health and safety of all involved remains a high priority for us.  Therefore…

…If you don’t feel well, please stay home

…If you have been in contact with someone with COVID-like symptoms within the last 14 days, please stay home

…If you have traveled to a COVID-19 hotspot within the last 14 days, please stay home.

 

If you choose to join us in person, please…

…Plan to arrive no later than 9:25am

…Enter through the parking lot doors only

…Pause for a thermal scan

…Wear a mask

…Use hand sanitizer

…Practice Social Distancing

…Use Fellowship Hall Restrooms only

…Enter the sanctuary through the center aisle only

…Sit on a yellow dot

…Keep children with parents (there will be no nursery or in-person Sunday school)

…Exit the sanctuary through the side aisles only

…Move directly to the parking lot at the end of the service.

 

We know the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us in one way or another, so if joining together in the sanctuary will be a positive and hopeful thing for you, you are welcome to join us.  We also know that many people are not comfortable gathering for worship at this point. That is perfectly alright. On-line worship will continue. 
Either way, we join in spirit together.
 
 
 

What Phase 4 Means for UMCL

We are all celebrating the downward trend of our local COVID-19 numbers, despite many states experiencing significant increases in infections and deaths.  It’s a good reminder that “Open does not mean over.”

 

The UMCL Safe Church Committee has been monitoring all aspects of the pandemic, including recommended protocols for preventing the spread of the disease and the emotional effects of isolation.  The good news is we will be loosening some restrictions as the State of Illinois moves into Phase 4!  Major changes include allowing outdoor events in the Grove and allowing limited Small Group meetings in the building.

 

We recognize the toll that isolation is having on many folks’ mental health.  Humans need community, and the church is made to be together.  In response, we have planned a series of outdoor prayer meetings to be held in the Grove (the field to the north of the church parking lot).  These prayer meetings have been designed to allow UMCL folks to gather together and to engage in important and current topics.  We will meet four times over the next two months.

  • July 1 – Race with Brett Saunders, Director, Lake County Young Life
  • July 15 – Changing Society and Hearts with Dr. Mark Teasdale, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
  • August 5 – Methodism – Splits, Mergers and General Conference with Dr. Barry Bryant, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
  • August 19 – Confirmation

 

Social distancing and the wearing of masks will be required at these events.  Please note that the building will be closed during these events and the restrooms will not be available. Please bring your own lawn chair or a blanket to sit on.  Families should sit together.  No childcare will be provided.

 

We will continue to explore how to return to in-person worship on Sunday mornings, but for now, Sunday morning worship will remain as an on-line experience only.  Worship in person is problematic because the State of Illinois and the Northern Illinois Conference (UMC) continue to put the following restrictions on worship:

  • No nursery or Children’s Sunday school  
  • No congregational singing 
  • No passing of the peace
  • No bulletins or hymnals 
  • No passing of the offering plate 
  • Social Distancing and masks.

 

In addition to outdoor large gatherings, the Safe Church Committee is currently determining room capacities for small groups held in the building.  Each room will have a designated maximum capacity to allow for social distancing.  Rooms will be assigned through the church office based on the size of the group (call Melinda at 847.362.2112 to reserve a room).  The Grove may be used for group meetings, but also needs to be reserved through the church office.

 

Small Group participants using the building will be required to sign in and out of the building (to allow for contract tracing if an infection is reported), wear masks, practice social distancing and wipe down all surfaces at the conclusion of their meeting.  Restrooms will be available to groups, but only one person is allowed in the restroom at a time.  No shared food is allowed, and use of the kitchen is not allowed. Reducing the use of air conditioning and opening the windows is also encouraged.

 

All spaces used within the building will be disinfected once a week through a fogging agent.  If we become aware that someone using the building has been exposed to COVID-19 we will increase the disinfecting protocol.

 

The Staff will be gradually moving back into the building over the next few weeks. But access to the building will still be limited.  Please call ahead if you need inside the building.

 

We are not all the way there yet, but we are moving in a positive direction!

 

We hope to see you all face-to-face, soon!

 

Jay Carr, Senior Pastor

 

For The Safe Church Committee

Mike Foley, Chair                                John Aten

Tom Seibert                                         Herb Spooner
Dave Aumuller                                    Steve March


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United Methodist Church of Libertyville (UMCL) COVID-19 Guidelines

 

Introduction

A UMCL Safe Church Committee (Safety Committee) has been formed to ensure that our congregation follows best practices related to gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, the Northern Illinois Conference (UMC) provided guidelines pertaining to how churches should plan for changes as the state transitions through each phase of COVID-19 precautions.   Our Safe Church Committee has studied the State of Illinois requirements and the plan distributed by the Northern Illinois Conference in determining specific guidelines for UMCL.

Today, there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19.  The only tools we have to combat the spread and effects of the virus causing the disease are separation (social distancing) and sanitation.  Most frequently, a virus spreads through very small water droplets expelled from the mouth and nose by coughs and sneezes.  These droplets are so small that they float in the air for many minutes.  Some of the droplets will fall on the surface of furniture and fixtures.  People touching these surfaces may be able to infect themselves if they immediately touch their face, their eye or the inside of their mouth.  Depending on the surface, the virus is inactivated within minutes or hours after landing.  The virus could also be transferred to door knobs, chair backs, switches, office stationary items and other places frequently touched by many people.  These surfaces should be cleaned with sanitizing wipes after every group meeting.  Other surfaces should be cleaned as part of normal, periodic cleaning[1] [2].

Given the guidelines from the CDC, the State of Illinois and the Northern Illinois Conference, our Safe Church Committee continues to discuss how the church will adapt as the State transitions from Phases II to III and III to IV.  

While Phase III is currently in effect, and it allows for gathering of groups of less than 10, we do not anticipate any changes to our current guidelines and  policies.   What does this mean?

  1. Services will continue to be virtual, with the Pastors working on recording the service from the sanctuary.
  2. The staff will slowly begin to phase back in to the building with close attention to safe distancing and overall numbers of people in the building.
  3. The Safety Committee will continue to work on updated guidance for the transition to Phase IV, which we anticipate later in June.
  4. Even at Phase IV (groups less than 50 can meet), we are considering the risks and rewards for services in the sanctuary. We are working on creative alternatives, but still need to develop plans to control social distancing and attendance limits.
  5. We have asked the Youth team to develop a plan for youth meetings. This is a difficult issue in that our youth enjoy being together, but we have to ensure the safety of the youth in these gatherings. 
  6. Masks will continue to be worn at all times in the building.
 

Until there is a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, the church will not hold or sponsor any large gatherings in the building. 

Expect an updated issue of this report in the near future.
 

UMCL FAQ FOR COVID-19 PLANNING

Q:   What phase is the state of Illinois currently in and what does that mean to our congregation?

A:   The state of Illinois is currently in Phase III (as of 5/29) and will possibly transition to Phase IV at the end of June.   For our congregation, the following applies to Phase III:

  • Virtual Services will continue indefinitely.
  • The building will remain closed for all but the staff and essential personnel.
  • Essential office spaces and areas will be disinfected on an as needed basis to ensure the safety of the staff and key personnel.
  • Planning will continue for the transition to Phase IV

Regarding Phase IV: 

  • We are still considering the risks and rewards for services in the sanctuary. We are working on creative alternatives, but have to develop plans to control social distancing and overall attendance.
  • We anticipate that the building will be available (on a scheduled basis) for small committees and groups to meet, but strict controls will be in place for entering and exiting the building and ensuring that all applicable meeting areas are properly disinfected.  

 

Q:   There has been a lot of discussion about “contact tracing.”   How will UMCL do this?

A:   As we begin to allow access to the staff in Phase III and small groups in Phase IV, we will establish an entry/exit point with a logbook that will require individuals to log in, indicating when and where they went and when they leave the building.   This will let us know with whom they were in contact should anyone contract COVID-19.

 

Q:   Can we have food or beverages with our meetings?

A:   Currently, no shared food or drink is allowed.  

 

Q:  Why is there hesitancy toward holding services in the sanctuary during Phase IV?

A:  This is a tough question.  Unfortunately, the coordination required to hold multiple services of less than 40 people (there will be at least 5-10 to run the service) is extensive and not practical.   The facility must be disinfected before and after each service, spacing has to be determined in the sanctuary and control over parking and entry/exit must be enforced. Communion, as we are accustomed to it, cannot be given, singing is strongly not recommended; there is even a recommendation for pastors to wear face shields.  Masks must continue to be worn.   Given all of these requirements and the preparation required, it simply is not effective to hold services for 40 people. 

 

Q:  Will the church provide sanitizing materials?

A:  Yes.  The church has procured sanitizer “stations” for emplacement throughout the facility. The trustees will be tasked to prepare a plan to procure either the services to disinfect rooms and facilities, or the equipment to do it internally.   Additionally, safe distancing guidelines will be posted throughout the building, and maps of hand sanitizer locations will be posted.  

 

Q:  What about the youth programs?

A:  Youth will not be able to meet in the building until Phase IV.   We are working with the youth ministry to develop a plan for them to start in Phase III.  

 

Q:  What about choir?

A:  Unfortunately, our choir cannot safely perform together anytime soon – even after Phase IV.   Singing, unfortunately, is a very prolific way that COVID-19 can spread.   We are evaluating whether the Bells can record after Phase IV, but our music will continue to be both virtual and/or solo performances. 

 

Q:   My committee would like to meet at the church.   What do we do?

A:   In the coming weeks, guidance will be provided on where and how to reserve spaces for meetings during Phase IV.   Each room in the building will be analyzed for capacity to meet safe distancing guidelines.   Dependent on your meeting size, a room may be scheduled. Participants will be required to “log in” and “log out” as they enter/exit the building and to practice social distancing and safe practices.

 

Q:  Will the restrooms be available?

A:  Yes, but they will be limited to one person at a time and signs or locks will be in place to control access.   They will be disinfected as required.

 

Safe Church Committee

Mike Foley, Chair                                     John Aten

Jay Carr, Senior Pastor                            Tom Seibert
Dave Aumuller                                          Steve March
Herb Spooner

 

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html

[2] https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2


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Sound the Alarm

If you are like me, whenever you return home from being on vacation, there is a small sense of relief when you pull up to your house and see that it is still standing.
 
A few years ago, Brenda and I came home from vacation to the sound of the smoke alarm screeching in our house. As we were pulling up the driveway and the garage door was opening, we started to hear a noise coming from the house, but we couldn’t really tell what it was. As we pulled into the garage the noise got more intense. We looked at each other and in unison said, “That’s the smoke detector!”
 
I ran to the door and felt the doorknob to see if it was hot. It was not. I slowly opened the door expecting smoke to pour out. There was no smoke. I quickly went through the house looking for a reason for the shrieking alarm. Everything looked OK – no smoke, no fire. We got a ladder and went from smoke detector to smoke detector to figure out which one had been triggered so we could silence the alarm.
 
We have no idea how long the alarm had been sounding. It was wired into the household electric current, so it was not dependent on battery power. It could have been going for days. Upon inspection, it was determined that “cobwebs” had triggered the mechanism, and all the smoke detectors got a thorough cleaning.
 
There is an urgency to the blaring of an alarm. Alarms are meant to get our attention, to wake us up, to cause us to act quickly. The image of an alarm is often part of the observance of Ash Wednesday and Lent. We often read from the prophet Joel on Ash Wednesday, as he conveys this sense of urgency and calls upon the people to sound an alarm:
 
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
Sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
For the day of the LORD is coming, it is near. (Joel 2:1)
 
The season of Lent should carry with it a sense of urgency. It is meant to be a wake-up call for our spiritual lives. Quite honestly, it is spiritually dangerous for us to ignore the Lenten call of self-examination and repentance. Complacency within our spiritual lives breeds self-righteousness.
 
This year, our time together during Lent will focus on the book, “The God We Can Know,” by Rob Fuquay. Our Sunday morning sermons and our small groups will follow the book as we explore the “I Am” sayings of Jesus. Together, we will explore what it means about Jesus, and what it means for us, when Jesus said, “I Am…the Bread of Life, the Light of the World; the Good Shepherd; the True Vine; the Way, the Truth, and the life; and the Resurrection and the Life.
 
Join us as we heed the call of the prophet to draw nearer to God this Lenten season.
 
–Jay

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10 Fascinating Facts About the United Methodist Church

With the United Methodist General Conference coming up in May, and all the talk about division and splits, I thought you might be interested in some interesting, but little known, facts about the United Methodist Church. These facts help remind us where we came from.
 
1. John Wesley wrote one of the all-time bestselling medical texts.
Wesley was deeply convicted that God is concerned about our earthly life as well as our heavenly one. To that end, he wrote a medical text for the everyday person titled Primitive Physick. Many of Wesley’s tips on healthy living remain widely accepted, including, “drink lots of water” and “eat your biggest meal in the morning.” 
 
2. John Wesley coined the term “agree to disagree.”
Over the years, Wesley had serious theological differences with another popular pastor named George Whitefield. Though they both argued passionately, Wesley reflected on these differences in a memorial sermon for Whitefield by saying: “There are many doctrines of a less essential nature. … In these, we may think and let think; we may ‘agree to disagree.’”
 
3. John Wesley rode far enough on horseback to circle the earth 10 times.
Wesley rode 250,000 miles on horseback! He was convinced that it was important for him personally to spread the gospel through relationships and continue to grow closer to God in those relationships.
 
4. Wesley taught that doubt was part of faith.
Wesley believed that having questions about one’s faith should not be disparaged. Doubts are essential to making any belief system one’s own. Having questions does not mean that you don’t believe.
 
5. “Methodist” was originally a derogatory term.
Though the origins of the term “Methodist” are in dispute, but it is clear that it was originally used by outsiders to mock John Wesley and his early societies because of their dedication to following a “method” for growing closer to God. Wesley ended up accepting the term, considering it a positive descriptor of their movement.
 
6. Wesley counseled people to “eat a little less than you desire.”
Staying slim was far from Wesley’s goal, though he did weigh in around 128 pounds. This was not the result of dieting, but rather of a practice to ensure that people were not ruled by their natural desires, but exercising control over them.
 
7. Wesley never intended to split from the Church of England.
However, when the revolution happened in the American colonies, most of the Anglican priests returned home. Faced with the fact that none of the Methodists in the colonies could receive the sacraments, Wesley ordained ministers whom he sent to do the same in America. That act was the beginning of the separation that formed the Methodist Church in America.
 
8. Wesley never said this famous quote attributed to him.
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, as long as ever you can.” Though the quote is often attributed to John Wesley and is consistent with his perspective on life, many historians have confirmed there is no record of Wesley ever saying that.
 
9. Wesley taught you could not be a Christian on your own.
He said that we needed to be involved in “social holiness.” Though some often think this term is synonymous with “social justice,” its meaning is quite different. Wesley believed we could only grow as Christians in community.
 
10. Methodism grew from four to 132,000 members in Wesley’s lifetime.
The beginning of Methodism was a group of four who called themselves the “holy club” at Oxford. When Wesley died in 1791, he left behind a movement with 72,000 members in the British Isles and 60,000 in America.
 
If you would like to know more about the history of the United Methodist Church go to:
https://www.umc.org/en/content/history
 
–Jay
 

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Advent – Waiting In Hope

Conversations about Christmas decorations start early in October at our house. We wait until Halloween is over before we start decorating, but if we wait until after Thanksgiving, it’s too late. We have to plan around trips, parties, meetings and other commitments. We’ve actually scaled back over the years, but it is still a multi-day effort; and if we don’t get started early enough, it will not get done before the trips, parties, meetings and other commitments. I pulled the first box out of the basement three weeks before Thanksgiving. By the time you read this, Brenda will have put the last ornament in place. The house will be ready for Christmas.
 
As a kid, when our family had fresh-cut Christmas trees, my dad would only allow the tree to be in the house for two weeks. When we changed to artificial trees, we would decorate on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. And we never started Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving!
 
Most often, in the church, we think of the season of Advent as a time of getting ready for Christmas; not just as a time to decorate, but as a time to prepare our hearts for the great celebration of God’s love in Jesus. Without spiritual preparation, our celebration can end up shallow and materialistic.
 
But Advent is intended to be more than getting ready for Christmas. Advent emphasizes the “already, but not yet” nature of our faith. Advent is intended to remind us that even though the Messiah has come, the Kingdom of God is not fully revealed. Even though Jesus is the Prince of Peace, we still wait for the fullness of God’s peace upon the earth. A common theme of Advent is that Christ will one day return in final victory, and the “peaceable kingdom” will finally be established.
 
Advent reminds us that God is still at work, drawing the world closer to God’s self. At the birth of Jesus, God inaugurated a whole new reality. The first Christmas was the dawn of a new day. It has already happened. But we are not fully “there” yet. Pain, injustice and war still mar the earth. But Advent reminds us that the promise of peace is still valid. Advent reminds us that God calls upon us to be instruments of peace, partners with God in bringing this world closer to what God intends it to be.
 
That’s an important reminder for us today. Our denomination, our nation and the world are all working through a time of high anxiety. God’s desires for this world have not changed. When God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, to declare that a new kingdom would be established with “justice and righteousness forever” (see Isaiah 9), it was not conditional. It was, and remains, a promise. Isaiah reminds us that the process started with King David, that now the authority rests upon Jesus, and that His kingdom will be established. God is still at work bringing this about.
 
One day, we will celebrate the “final victory” of Christ. I don’t know what that look likes, but I trust God to bring it about. The change that began at the first Christmas will one day be complete, but it’s not yet complete.
 
In the mean time, Advent reminds us to have hope, to live in love and to work for peace.
 
– – Jay

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Living Generously – Growing Together

Over the last few weeks, and continuing into November, we have engaged a sermon series titled Living Generously. These sermons include a series of films that tell the story of the Donovan family as they seek to understand what it means to live the words of Jesus. Each week, the videos have been fun and challenging. Each episode gives us a glimpse of the Donovan family’s journey as they take risks, experience suffering and joy, and find themselves transformed by the call of Christ.
 
In our first episode, we heard about giving good sheep and giving “stinky” sheep. Ray, the Donovan family gardener, explained that long ago, when God’s people would sacrifice sheep to God, some would offer their biggest, best, most valuable to sheep to God. Others would give away a sickly, stinky sheep, one they didn’t want in the first place. Giving our “good sheep” to God reflects our love for God. This is the heart of generous living: loving God with our whole hearts, souls and minds (Matt 22:34-40). As we examine our own generosity, we have to ask ourselves, “Is God our first love?”
 
Throughout this series we have also been hearing and reading testimonies from within our own congregation about the impact of living generously.
 
Living generously is a lifestyle I adopted when I ultimately realized it is more blessed to give than to receive. It involves prioritizing my money, my time. my services, and more. I learned to live generously when it became apparent that the way I personally receive love is by “time” given to me. As a Christian I now offer my time to encourage others, in sickness and despair…by notes and visits and prayers. I also contribute to my church as much as I can, more freely and joyfully. How living generously affects the outreach of the church is evident every day: providing PADS shelter in the church; the UMW Rummage Sale proceeds augmenting local and global efforts, being an election polling site to the voters in town, Christian social services providing temporary homes to families in need, etc.
 
Marilyn
 
Living Generously gives us all a chance to re-evaluate the demands upon our lives and reset our hearts toward gratitude. The series will conclude with our every member commitment campaign. We will receive pledge cards during worship on Sunday, November 17. You will receive more information about this in mail. Please have the “generosity” conversation at home before November 17, so that you will be ready to turn in your pledge card on that day.
God loves each one of us. Our best response is to love God. When God is our first love, we want to give God the best we have to offer, not our leftovers. Love moves us to give our biggest and best sheep to God.
–Jay

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Living Generously

Life is busy, and it is easy for our hearts to be distracted by the demands we face.  As the summer comes to a close we are all evaluating our calendars and gearing up for the change of pace that comes with the change of season. It is a good  time for us to re-evaluate our priorities.
 
Beginning in October we will begin a new series, titled Living Generously. This  series includes a series of short videos that tell the story of the Donovan family as they seek to understand what it means to live the words of Jesus. Each week in worship we will see  a glimpse of their journey as they take risks, experience suffering and joy, and find themselves  transformed by the call of Christ. You won’t want to miss a single Sunday! At the conclusion of the  series we will have the opportunity to make a real-life response through our every member commitment campaign.
 
Generosity is an important part of the Christian life, and an important part of the life of UMCL. The  members of this congregation are generous with their finances and with their time. Here are just two  examples of how generosity is lived out at UMCL:
 
Because of the generosity of this congregation, specifically through the Outreach Committee, I was able to help people in another country. This in turn led me to be generous with my time by serving on the Outreach Committee for a few years.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     -Becky Traut
 
Helping Hands and the Ride Sharing ministries started as needs arose in our congregation. Don & Jeris Boyce and John McNally started these ministries to help those who struggled in one way or another. Over the years, these ministries have expanded to helping folks throughout Lake and Cook counties. Our group has expanded to include folks from St. Lawrence Church and the men of UMCL. We pick up donated furniture and appliances that are distributed to people coming out of PADS, The Harbor, and San Palo Church of Waukegan. This ministry continues because there is a need, and because of the joy our people get from helping others.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             -Tom Plohr
 
We will hear more stories of generosity within our congregation as we go through the Living Generously series.
 
Each of us has so many blessings, but often the situations of our lives distract us and our attitudes are less than generous. Together, let’s work through the distractions and learn to live according to the call of Christ upon us!
 
–Jay

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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

We live in a time of great cultural anxiety. Our nation is more polarized today than at any time in my memory. We characterize people who disagree with us as villains. Our politicians consider “dialogue” and “compromise” to be dirty words. As a culture, we are quite willing to kill the killer, hate the hater, and be close-minded to the close-minded. But in the end, hatred doesn’t work. Hatred breeds hatred.
 
And yet, hatred seems to be SOP, Standard Operating Procedure, for so much of the world. We plan and plot how to overcome those with whom we disagree. We rejoice in their failures and mourn at their successes. We write letters, make phone calls, send e-mails and muster up support for “our side” among our friends. We try to get people to side with us and join the team of those who are angry with others. And then, we go to war with them.
 
There is no doubt that the polarization we are experiencing is feeding today’s culture of violence and mass shootings. We’ve even identified a whole new category of “domestic terrorism” to describe events like the Oklahoma City bombing, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Charleston church shooting, the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Congressional baseball shooting and the El Paso Wal-Mart shooting. Our willingness to hate the hater and to villainize those with whom we disagree is part of this national tragedy.
 
So, what are we to do? Is there a way to end the vicious cycle of hatred? How do we overcome the anger people experience when they feel betrayed? How can we prevent the downward spiral into self destructive patterns of depression, anger or revenge that so many individuals experience when they have suffered abuse at the hands of another?
 
Jesus answered that question nearly two thousand years ago. He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (See the Gospel of Matthew 5:43- 44.)
 
For Jesus, it is not enough to stop hating your enemy. If you want to experience the blessing of God you have to go farther than that. You have to love your enemy.
 
Jesus didn’t mean that to love our enemy means we support them in what they do. To love our enemy does not mean we have to agree with them, or even necessarily become good friends with them. Loving our enemy means that the cycle of hate, the cycle of revenge, the cycle of retaliation stops with us. You can be angry with a person for what they do, and yet still love them.
 
If the cycle of violence that has become so much a part of our culture today is going to be broken, it will take more than changing our gun laws. It will require the power of love. Join us on Sunday morning to discover how.
 
Jay

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