How is Heritage Holding Up During the Pandemic? · Heritage UMC

How is Heritage Holding Up During the Pandemic?

Monday, May 4 2020 by Matt Horan

I shared many of these updates in my recent thank-you letter accompanying our first-quarter giving statements, but I can’t help but share what Heritage is doing with anyone who will listen and who might want to be a part of a group connected by their love of God, love of people, and love of our neighborhoods!  If you can’t help it either, please share it wherever you can!  

There are plenty of churches who have seen dramatic drops in giving, some to the point where they are receiving 30-40% of the income that they usually do in the first quarter of the year.  However, despite the challenges that have been presented by the Coronavirus pandemic, Heritage is at 80% of our usual giving compared with past first quarters.  Below average income is never good news, and will require some hard decisions, but considering the challenges many churches, businesses, and families are facing, I cannot help but give thanks for the generosity of our congregation and their commitment to answering God’s call to serve in a terribly challenging time! 

It is no overstatement to say that we are walking through an unprecedented season.  Our congregation and lay and staff leaders have had to make it up as we go, learning along the way.  Yet it has been a complete privilege to be the pastor at Heritage and watch what you’ve made up, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve done.  For example:

A team of church members have been producing surgical masks for medical professionals on the front lines of the effort to combat the pandemic

A parade of 38 cars drove by a member’s house to welcome her home from a distance after a long hospitalization.

173 people have joined the Heritage Helps group to share news, information, and assistance with the needs of the neighborhood from job opportunities to tax preparation to applying for unemployment to offering support to overwhelmed medical professionals.

177 people have joined together in our Heritage Prays group to lift each other, our neighborhood, and our world up in prayer.

You are providing care and connection for college students across Florida who are having to finish their school year off-campus and away from friends through our sponsorship of United Methodist Wesley Foundations at Florida State University, the University of Florida, the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, Flagler College, the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida, Rollins College, the University of West Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of Miami, Florida International University, and others.

You are providing similar care for students at our United Methodist universities in Florida, Bethune-Cookman University and Florida Southern University.

Packets full of fun crafts and activities for children were sent in the mail as a part of our socially distanced Easter celebration to 110 families.

Over 100 people per week are continuing to meet in small groups that have moved to an online only format.

A drive-thru parade to celebrate our Class of 2020 high school seniors is happening in our parking lot Wednesday evening, May 13th.  (Come join in–we’ll start lining up around 6pm!)

A team of staff and members have been checking in on a list of 87 of our most at-risk members who are homebound or in assisted living facilities.

Our Divorce Care and Grief Sharing groups have shifted online, and have actually increased in attendance.  Our formerly local groups have now been joined by people from as far away as Alaska!

You’ve donated an overflowing collection of food for local food pantries, and are preparing to continue the overflow when we come together to donate at the church on May 9th!

Our online worship services have been viewed by an average of 644 people per week.

You are helping to provide hospital, police, fire, and military chaplains around the world serving professionals on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

We’re now offering a variety of online opportunities for our congregation to connect with God and each other throughout the week, mostly on the Heritage Facebook page (you do not need an account to watch the videos!).  Tell a friend about each one!

Sunday:

  • Worship online at 9 and 10:30am
  • Online youth group for middle schoolers and high schoolers
    Please contact peggyi@heritageumc.com if you’re a student, or have a student that would like to participate!

Monday

  • Advanced Biblical Studies Class with Director of Adult Discipleship Eric Johnson
    Please contact ericj@heritageumc.com if you’re interested in joining in on this Bible study

Tuesday

  • Mid-Day Prayer with Assistant Pastor John Silkauskas

Wednesday

  • Traditional Service of Holy Communion with Pastor Matt Horan and music with Rob Knabel

Thursday:

  • Modern Service of Music and Bible Reflection with Assistant Pastor John Silkauskas, and Modern Music Team Leader Lyza Rutkowski
  • Heritage UMC Trivia Contest with Pastor Matt

Friday:

Do you see why I’m so proud to be your pastor, Heritage? 

If you feel inspired to help make all of this happen and more, please sign up to serve, and/or use our various options to become a generous financial contributor.  This is how we make a difference together!

With thanksgiving for what God has invited us to do, we press on now knowing that there is more to do.  There are still hundreds of thousands of sick people, and medical personnel helping them.  There are other essential businesses whose employees go to work every day in danger, but they keep showing up.  There are millions of people who are newly unemployed, students missing their friends, and families struggling to get through the various challenges of quarantine life, as we all are.  You have risen to the challenges brought by this virus to our neighborhood over and over, so please remain close to the Lord, and close to each other!  Remember the power of prayer, Bible reflection, small group study, worship, generosity, service, and evangelism.  Look for ways to pitch in, have fun together, resist isolation, and remain the church together.  Our neighbors need us, and I have a feeling our best work is yet to come.

Sincerely,

Matt Horan
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who is Heritage?

Heritage is a United Methodist Church in Clearwater, FL with the goal of loving those around us, equipping leaders with roles that require their unique abilities, and inviting everyone into a life changing relationship with Jesus.

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