Dear Beloved United Methodists of Indiana,

On Sunday, March 15, I shared devotions at home with my wife and we read from Psalm 95.

“Come let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”

Kara Larsen Oliver, a writer for the Disciplines Daily Devotion (The Upper Room), suggests readers can do something today that will contribute to our future happiness. What can I do in this season that will cause me to give thanks to the Rock of our Salvation at a later time?

We know that the Coronavirus pandemic is a global health crisis that has implications for our health, the health of our loved ones, and the ministry of our churches and community institutions. We have Annual Conference scheduled for June and plans for hosting the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Fort Wayne in July 2020. All of these meetings are subject to adjustments based on the suggested protocols and directives from our government and church leaders in the weeks to come. While important decisions loom for our Church, none are more important than the health of those who would be in attendance of these meetings. The disruptions we will experience are a result of the abundance of caution and the wisdom of experts who are addressing the global pandemic.

This is a season of prayer and preparation like none we have experienced before. In the words of Kara Larsen Oliver, “We dare to look forward with hope. Your future self will thank you.” Social distancing which is being recommended and in some cases mandated means fewer gatherings and more cancellations are ahead. Social distancing need not result in “social isolation” which means we need to continue to care for one another doing all the good we can. Please share creative ways and old and newly-tried practices for the Church to continue to be an instrument of God’s grace.

I am requesting that all churches suspend their regular worship services where we gather in close quarters at least for the next four weeks paying attention to updates. Let’s join together in our districts with other churches and do live streaming of worship and provide ways for our members to continue to share in prayers and liturgy. How can this best happen in your community? This is a great time to collaborate with ecumenical partners and for pastors to send mailings and online communication with our members. This is a time to continue to support our churches with our gifts, talents, and prayers, even if our attendance may take a hit for the upcoming weeks.

After 2000 years of regular worship, what happens if church attendance drastically drops for several months? I believe we will get through this pandemic and a revival that many have been praying for will take place in our lifetime. We will get through this and become a stronger witness for Jesus Christ. The God who has brought us this far will not leave us. The God called by many names is worthy to be praised today and the days ahead.

El Shaddai: God Almighty.
Jehovah Jireh: God will provide.
Jehovah Rapha: God is my healer.
Jehovah Nissi: The Lord is my banner.

Stay connected daring to look forward with hope.

Be encouraged,

Bishop Julius C. Trimble