By Teri Tobey
*Weekly Meeting time changed to 11AM 4/1/2020
In a matter of weeks, what an average week of ministry and life for many of us has changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined. I pray that you are healthy and exploring new ideas of what ministry looks like. I am sure you have all heard, Bishop Stanovsky has directed local churches of any size and other ministries in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to suspend in-person worship and other gatherings of more than 10 people for the next two weeks starting last Friday.
Across our region, we are experiencing school closures. Some schools are closed for a couple of weeks, some for many weeks, and some don’t know if tomorrow will bring school or a closure announcement. Our youth and children are home, away from their friends and their schools. Some of our young adults are being sent home and seeing their schooling change to distance learning or those working are having hours at jobs disappear.
What does this mean for those of us working with teens and/or young adults?
- If you haven’t already, reach out (via text or social media) to your students and check in on them. They may be anxious, mad, or celebrating the time off. Especially think of your seniors/athletes/musicians who are missing out on special events, trips, or competitions.
- Find out the needs of the families in your faith community and those around your community. Make sure everyone has childcare, food, and medication. See if there are teens, college students or adults who are available to help with childcare for those who may need it. (Of course, only those who are healthy!) Offer resources for parents about talking to teens about Coronavirus. Here are a handful of helpful articles. 5 Ways to Help Teens Manage Anxiety About the Coronavirus, Talking to Kids About Virus? Experts Say Be Calm and Honest, Showing Up for Our Kids During the Outbreak
- Contact your schools, health department, or other community organizations to see how they are preparing and planning ways to help the vulnerable and coordinate together. Leaders in disaster relief across the Greater Northwest Area have been adapting resources to assist at this moment as well. (Connecting Neighbors)
- We work with a generation that is comfortable communicating virtually. Take advantage of it! Do Facebook Live, Zoom or Google hangout. Ask your teens! Or contact me, I’m here to help. The Conferences of the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church are sponsoring a special initiative offering access to a Zoom Business account at a heavily subsidized rate of $50 for our churches. Click here for more info if that would be helpful for your church.
- Don’t get caught up in rumors. Make sure you are informed and inform those who you are in ministry with. (Greater Northwest Coronavirus Resource for Faith Communities, CDC Website)
The church is not the building it is the people. The community needs us to love on them, show compassion, pray and be the hands and feet of Jesus. We might not be able to gather in worship, but we can still DO church. Think outside the box about ministry and be smart while doing it.
Praying for you all as you live out the gospel with young people and their families, especially during this time. I am here for whatever your needs may be. For the next couple of Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to noon, I will host a drop-in Zoom meeting for anyone who wants to chat and connect with others working in Young People’s Ministries to share ideas and support each other. Contact Teri Tobey if you would like the link to join in.
2 Thessalonians 3:16, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you..”
Teri Tobey serves as the Program Associate for Young People’s Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church. She is lay person with a passion for helping young people grow in faith.