The city of Memphis, and the Methodist family suffered a tremendous loss in the early morning hours of October 6. The national press has picked up the story of the fires and the scar left on downtown's historic legacy.
But as beautiful as that church building was, and it was a beauty - you just watch the character of the people, who actually are the church, and, the connection of "the people called Methodists," show what we're really made of.
I'm offering updates on Saint John's response to our sisters and brothers via email, and they are posted here.
Friday, October 6, 11:00 a.m.
Saint John's Family,
We join with our sisters and brothers at First United Methodist Church to grieve the loss of their historic building, but we stand firm with them, as a connectional entity, that the "people called Methodists" who worship on that corner in Memphis, will, by faith, persevere.
Let me give you an update on where things stand at the moment - We have communicated with Martha Wagley an offer for use of our facilities in any way we can be of help.
Their strong preference, however, is that they remain in downtown, and, if I were their pastor, I'd be much of the same mind. I have spoken with Rev'd John Holt, Asbury D.S., who is on the scene and informs me that the Cannon Center has offered their space for worship, and that is the most likely scenario for their gathering this Sunday. Bishop Wills is in route, and will be worshipping with the congregation this Sunday.
The official word from the connection is this - it is too early to know exactly what needs to be done, and in what sequence. However, in a few Sundays from now, the call to Conference is to hold a special offering for First Church, and we will abide.
The realities of their ministries, and now, those ministries' displacement, especially their food pantry and soup kitchen, will impact what we do on our corner, and that may be a challenge for us to meet. I believe, however, we will respond well.
In the meantime, let us be constant in prayer for our sisters and brothers, for those who are served by that community, and for the city of Memphis - all have suffered significant loss today. And as we have learned in our recent past, our response must be measured for the long term.
I'll update more when I receive more info.
Saturday, October 7, 12 noon
I've received a contact from First UMC, and, as you may have heard by now, they will be worshipping at Cannon Center tomorrow.
They have called Saint John's, and requested some items to offer them help for tomorrow's service, and I have consented.
1. Offering Plates
2. Our Processional Cross
3. Paper Products for a reception following their worship
They have asked me to contact my membership to see if any would be willing to provide 1. Cookies, 2. Punch, 3. Muffins, 4. Fruit
This message is also going via phone to some of you. If you are willing to offer any of these things, they need to be at church tomorrow no later than 8:30 a.m., because they are coming by in the morning at 8:45 to pick them up.
In addition, they are inviting any and all Saint John's members to join them in the reception following the worship at Cannon Center.
I plan to go by there, and hope you will, too.
Let me also encourage you to be in our worship tomorrow at Saint John's as we celebrate the baptism of Herb and Marjorie's son, Vincent.
They are not thinking beyond Sunday - and I feel sure there will be continuing needs that we can help with - but, for now, let's help them with tomorrow's service.