Prosser UMC

Prosser UMC
Please Join us for Sunday Morning Worship, 10:00 AM at 824 6th St, Prosser, WA 99350

Saturday, April 25, 2020

From Bo 4/25/20

It seems like we’ve been in this “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” mode of living forever, but as I write this note it is just approaching one month since we began it.  April 26 is the seventh Sunday we have not gathered together for worship.  It will be several more weeks before we are able to gather together again.  Although plans are being discussed and made for “re-opening,” as we have heard, it will be a gradual process.
The data for our state at shows we reached the peak number of deaths from the virus on April 6, which means the infection rate peaked in mid to late March.  Projections show we will still have over 100 more deaths during the next 3 to 5 weeks.  We still need to be cautious.  As we re-open our state, it will be done in phases.  Group gatherings will be among the last restrictions to be lifted.  Consequently, our bishop has asked all United Methodist churches in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska to continue to suspend in-person worship services through the month of May (although she does express hope that we might be able to get together May 31 for Pentecost; see below).
This is disappointing, I know.  I’ve heard many of you say how much you miss being together on Sundays.  But even though this tends to be the primary way we think about church, I’ve noticed ways in which you all are adapting to our situation:
·         You are calling and talking with each other.  I’ve heard many times in my conversations with folks how they were talking to someone else from church earlier that day.  Although we’ve certainly talked with each other over the phone before COVID-19, I get the sense we’re doing more of that now.  (I know my phone needs recharging more frequently these days.)  We remain in “touch” with each other through these conversations.
·         You continue to support your church.  The March financial report you’ll see in the May newsletter will show that we again received more than enough income to cover our budgeted expenses, even though we didn’t meet for 3 of the 5 Sundays that month.  This consistent support through the year affirmed the trust expressed by our Finance Committee in our ability to pay our own bills, as they voted to postpone applying for the small business Payroll Protection Program loan, so that other small businesses in greater need could receive that money now.  Our Church Council was also encouraged by our income, and voted to pay staff whose hours were reduced or eliminated by the church closure their full contracted pay.
·         You are caring for your community by donating to the “Community Needs” fund we established.  We sent our first check—over $3,000.00—to Mustangs4Mustangs to help people in need in Prosser.  We would like to hear about programs helping people in need in the Grandview and Sunnyside areas as well, for future donations.  Please call the church office if you know of any such programs.
·         You are helping those you know are in need.  I’ve heard stories about toilet paper, groceries, or baked goods being delivered to a friend or neighbor’s house.
·         You are coming by the church to do a little weeding, gardening, lawn mowing, or re-supplying the custodian’s closet.  This helps keep the building and grounds ready for when we do come back together there.
I know there are many other things you all are doing that I haven’t seen or heard about.  These are ways in which you are living out your faith, being the church.  We are showing, to ourselves, to each other, and to others around us, that although we tend to think in terms of what church we go to, as Jesus’ disciples we also carry it with us every day of our life.

Bishop's COVID-19 Notice #5, April 24, 2020

Faces across the Greater NW
United Methodist Clergy and Laity of the Greater Northwest Area,
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
guide our feet into the way of peace.    Luke 1:78-79


As bishop of the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church, I am extending the suspension of in-person worship in United Methodist Churches and other ministries and the closure of church facilities to all but essential services throughout the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences through May 30, 2020, until and unless state government and health officials lift restrictions based upon their published criteria for re-opening. This date may be reconsidered as circumstances change.

How did I come to this decision, and what does it mean?
MARCH 24: Suspension of In-Person Worship and Closure of Buildings.
On March 24 I directed that in-person worship and other gatherings be postponed in United Methodist Churches and other ministries through April 30, 2020. At the same time, I directed that all Church facilities were to be closed except for essential services. These actions were taken to protect the health of vulnerable people, to slow the spread of the disease, and to prevent health care systems from becoming overwhelmed by a sudden surge of cases needing hospital beds and equipment.
You helped keep people HEALTHY!
You did it! You made adjustments and found ways to be church without gathering for worship. Your actions, and the general populations’ compliance with the orders of the governors appear to have slowed the spread, flattened the curve of the crisis, and averted a crisis in our health care systems. I thank God for the incredible ways you have contributed to these outcomes. At the same time, we grieve over people who have contracted COVID-19, some of whom have been hospitalized and even died. And we continue to hold in our hearts and prayers all who are at risk for this disease because they render essential services, or have compromising health conditions, or who, because of systemic inequities in our society live with little or no social safety net.
EASTER: You celebrated Resurrection in the Shadow of Death. Alleluia!
You found ways to overcome all kinds of obstacles to celebrating Easter. Your clergy and lay leaders have demonstrated an adventuresome spirit, as you learned how to care for one another, conduct worship and support vulnerable people in your neighborhoods, while maintaining physical distancing and suspending all gatherings. Christ the Lord was Risen again this Easter, with shouts of Hosannah!, prayers for strength and healing, and acts of generosity. Well done, good and faithful servants.
We are now approaching the end of the directives I gave on March 24 and many of you are eager to know whether the restrictions will be lifted or extended. I am closely monitoring the guidance and criteria for loosening restrictions in each of our four Greater Northwest states, as well as the daily reports of new cases, deaths and health system capacity. As you know, the disease has unfolded at different rates across the area. And the cultural and political climates across our region are varied, leading to different assessments of the risks involved. I find myself leading in the midst of continued uncertainty and significant controversy about the best course of action. Three value-based priorities inform my leadership as your bishop.
  1. Do No Harm: Protect the public health
  2. Do Good: Share the financial burden with persons most vulnerable to economic impacts
  3. Stay in Love with God: Promote the life-giving ministries of the Church
DO GOOD. Protect Public Health
Following the leadership of four very different governors, our four states are all weathering the pandemic better than expected. I am pre-disposed to trust the governors of each state to listen to their health care advisors, to know their region and its people and to give prudent guidance. While all four governors have laid out their criteria for incremental loosening restrictions within their states, at present none of these governors has taken specific action to lift restrictions that would affect our Churches. When they do, Churches will need to be especially cautious about re-opening and gathering, taking into account that among our members and friends are many participants who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19, due to age or compromising health conditions.
DO GOOD. Share the Burdens of Most Vulnerable Persons
During this season of closed buildings and postponed in-person worship, I hope that every congregation will re-engage its neighbors, by partnering with community organizations that are directly involved with people who are most vulnerable to the economic impacts of the pandemic. How this neighborhood engagement looks will be specific to your congregation, its context, and the partnerships you are able to form to serve people most at risk during this crisis. I heard the other day of a church in a small town that set up a “tab” with the local grocer so that people who needed food could “shop” for what they needed and charge it to a tab that the Church paid. In this win-win-win arrangement, people get food, the church serves people in need, whom they may not even know, and the grocer’s business is supported in the process. There is no recipe for this kind of innovative response. It’s all based on local relationships that can become networks of care.
STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD. Promote the Life-Giving Ministries of the Church.
While I know that the effectiveness of ministry and health of congregational life suffer when people are not able to gather for worship, this hardship does not justify taking the risk of spreading the disease through church gatherings, or exposing older and health-compromised people to infection and possible death by re-opening our church gatherings too soon. I trust and know that the leaders and people in each church are finding creative ways to continue to serve God’s promise of abundant life for all people and the whole of creation despite these extreme circumstances. When the time is right, we will gather again and re-build and renew our ministries.
As we enter another month of some level of physical separation, let’s hope that we will be able to gather in our churches on Pentecost, May 31. Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church, when people from many nations gathered in Jerusalem to hear Peter preach. The book of Acts describes how the people understood what he said, even though they spoke many different languages. I hope that we will be able to gather in worship that day – maybe sooner. Let’s hold it as a date to hope for, to pray for, to work for. And if it can’t be May 31 – if it comes sooner, or later – then, we’ll adjust, just as we have been adjusting for these many weeks.
I don’t need to remind you that God is with us and at work. I don’t need to remind you that miracles happen every day, even in the midst of disease and death, as people of generous hearts pour their life out in love and service where there is need. We are blessed to be a blessing. Thanks be to God, who opens the way of life before us.
May God bless you and keep you today and through the days ahead.
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
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The Greater Northwest Episcopal Area provides leadership for the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho, and the Pacific Northwest Conferences of The United Methodist Church. |
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Sunday, April 19, 2020

Holy Hilarity, Batman!

For centuries, the Sunday after Easter has been celebrated in a lighter, more humorous, vein.  After the seriousness and intensity of Lent, particularly for those participating in fasts and study in preparation for joining the church on Easter Sunday, the church recognized that people needed a little lightening of their spirits.  We, too, as a congregation, for the past two decades or so, have developed the tradition of celebrating Holy Hilarity Sunday the week after Easter.
This may seem like an awkward time for humor.  We live in a time where we are surrounded by a hidden killer called Coronavirus, and each day we see the death and infection tallies on the news.  We are sheltering in our homes, physically shut off from the rest of the world, and when we do go out, we are advised to wear masks and keep six feet or more distance from other people.  People are losing their jobs in unimaginable numbers.  Businesses are closed.  People are running out of money and can’t pay their rent, mortgage, loans, bills.  There are fears the world is heading for an economic depression worse than the Great Depression of 90 years ago.  How could humor possibly be appropriate now?
Actually, humor is not only appropriate, but necessary, now more than ever.  Psychology and studies of the brain have shown that laughter helps us relax.  It eases stress and anxiety.  It releases chemicals in our brain that are healthy for it.  Humor breaks us out of our obsessing about the negative things in our lives.  It can give us a healthier perspective on the events going on around us, and increases our capacity to deal with it.  It does not dismiss the seriousness of life, but it helps us to not take life, and ourselves, too seriously.  Too much worry is physically unhealthy for us, and for that, laughter really is the best medicine.
So break out the old Calvin & Hobbes books.  Watch a Pink Panther movie.  See if you can binge-watch Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, M*A*S*H*, or Monty Python.  Google “Church Jokes,” or call up Bob White and have him tell you a few.  Look for ways to laugh.  God created laughter to help get us through times like these.
Ho, Ho, Ho,

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Together 2020

Pastoral Leaders serving across the Greater Northwest Area!

A video of the entire worship service, and the component elements, are available to download right now on Vimeo. Please note that while most of the materials are original or in the public domain, two elements – "An Easter Psalm for Children" and "Thanksgiving" – may require additional licensing if used separately within your local church's worship service.

We've also created two additional resources for those who plan to encourage members to participate in the full service online this Sunday! 
As with the video resources, please use whichever is helpful to you.
Finally, remember that the complete worship service will also be available as a Premiere on Easter morning at 7 am Mountain Time, 6 am Pacific Time, and 5 am Alaska Time on the following Facebook pages:
  • Greater Northwest Area Facebook – Visit
  • Alaska Conference Facebook Page – Visit
  • Oregon-Idaho Facebook Page – Visit
  • Pacific Northwest Facebook Page – Visit
Local churches on Facebook are encouraged to consider using the Watch Party feature to participate in this service offering alongside other members of their local church.

Directions for Downloading Videos on Vimeo

  1. First click on the name of the video you wish to download to be taken to its page.
  2. To download a video, click the "Download" button that appears below the video player.
  3. Once you’ve clicked it, a little menu will appear, and you’ll see links for several different versions of the video, including a mobile, SD, and/or HD file. Decide which version of the video you’d like to download, and click to begin the download.
Depending on your browser, clicking the link may result in the video playing in a new tab instead of downloading the file to your computer. Don’t panic! If this occurs:
  • For Windows users: Right-click on the link and choose “Save as” or “Save target as.”
  • For Mac users: Hold down the Control key on your keyboard and click the link, then choose “Save link as” or “Download linked file."

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Holy Week

It is Holy Week.  Jesus has ridden into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, while people laid branches of trees and their own cloaks on the ground in front of him, calling out “Hosanna!,” which means “Save us!”  Jesus has spent time at the temple, teaching, and knocking over the tables of the money-lenders.  Judas Iscariot has become disillusioned with Jesus, and has agreed to lead the religious authorities to him.  Events lead inexorably to Thursday night—the Passover meal, a last supper together, questions, confusion, anguished prayer, betrayal, fear, the disciples scattered, denial, Friday’s trial, execution, death, burial in a tomb.
I don’t know about you, but my home is beginning to feel a bit like a tomb.  Sure, I get out in the yard to do some cleanup on these beautiful sunny days, and I take Buddy for rides to the Post Office or the church, and I talk to people on the phone.  But it feels different, because right now I’m not choosing to stay at home.  I’m doing so because it’s what I’ve been asked to do.  I am practicing obedience to authority.
I wonder if Jesus didn’t feel a bit like this at the beginning of his week.  He knew what was coming at the end of this trip to Jerusalem.  He had already warned his disciples about it, and even at the end, in the garden, he asked if this had to be the way.  I wonder if he felt this hemmed-in feeling as people were asking him to save them, knowing he would be doing that, but not in the way they were thinking he would.  Knowing his disciples would be confused, scared, and scattered.  Knowing that he would die a painful death.  But he was also practicing obedience to authority.
This has been a disturbing season of Lent.  We are used to being able to choose what we do in Lent—giving up ice cream, chocolate, or meat on Fridays, adding a new spiritual practice like journaling or using The Upper Room, or doing nothing for Lent.  But this year we’ve all been given a task that makes us uncomfortable—not being able to be, or worship, together.  We’ve become further hemmed in, entombed, by the “Stay at Home” order.  The experience of denial in Lent has been enforced upon us, in some ways making it a more conscious part of our daily life.  We have joined with Jesus in the loneliness, the apart-ness, of Holy Week.  We are practicing obedience to authority.  We may dislike it, but it is probably good to be experiencing it. 
This is not to say that God created the coronavirus so that we could have a more meaningful Lent.  A virus is a virus.  There is no “intention” behind it.  However, all of our experiences in life affect us at the spiritual level, as well as the physical, mental, and emotional levels.  It makes me wonder if this Lent, and our reflections upon it, will affect how we experience Lent for the rest of our lives.