Dear Ohio Region,
As we prepared to write this letter and update, we were reminded of the many openings of the epistles often attributed to Paul. In 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 we read:
3 Grace to you and peace from God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by God you were called into fellowship of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Truly, we wish peace and grace upon all of you. Clergy and lay leaders. Family and friends. We pray for you every day and give thanks to God for you all. We pray that you will be enriched through God and that you may use your gifts to glorify the Spirit of God that flows among you. We may all be staying at home, but the Spirit moves in and through us all, connecting us as we continue to engage in faithful and loving ministry in service to Jesus Christ.
This past week, we have endeavored to pay attention to where the Spirit is moving in the life of the Ohio Region. We have had ongoing conversations with the Camp Christian Committee and the Regional Moderator Candis Wilson. We have been sharing and lifting up congregational resources for alternative worship services and ideas for ways to stay connected even in a time of social distancing. At the end of this message, there is a list of links to resources and videos.
At this point, while we wait and see how this situation unfolds before plans are finalized, it’s important that you know that the regional staff remains in constant contact with one another and with other leaders in the region to help prepare ourselves for possible alternatives for how we can engage in our ministry. Conversations are being had. Emails are being exchanged. Conference and video calls are being held. Contingencies are being worked out. Just as you are exploring virtual worship services, board meetings via Zoom, and blogs from members of your church, we also are looking into ways we can use our resources to engage in regional ministry within the current and future landscape.
Although many gatherings at Camp Christian have been postponed, we are offering our Zoom services to District Clergy Groups, Commissions, and other ministries so that important conversations and trainings can still take place. Additionally, we have shifted some of the Free Store services at Camp to drive-thru or delivery services to accommodate the new norms of social distancing. We can and will still do the faithful ministry that we are called to do by God. We encourage everyone to join in thinking outside-the-box so that we may be able to support one another in those callings.
Lastly, we wanted to offer a word of thanks for the churches who made the tough but faithful decision to cancel in-person worship services for the foreseeable future. Even with virtual alternatives, we know this decision was not made lightly and we know it is a painful time to be isolated and not come together for worship. Luckily, we also know that love knows no bounds. We know that the power of prayer was never confined to a sanctuary. We know even if our buildings are closed and empty, the mission of the church continues and extends beyond those walls and into our communities. We are happy to share the below resource links, including information for churches who are interested in learning about how to conduct online services, so we can all continue our valuable ministries.
As we find ways to move forward together while faithfully serving our communities, one another, and most importantly our God, we take strength in knowing that we are not alone. We are a network of congregations in covenant with one another. Together we learn, we share, we adapt, and we pray.
God of Hope and Healing,
We give you thanks today for all of the faithful servants of your church. We are grateful for their leadership, their humility, and their dedication to your word and your work in this world. We are grateful as well for your Holy Spirit, God. When we feel so distanced from one another, help us to feel the closeness of your Spirit and the way that your presence blesses us at this time. May we draw strength from one another, find comfort in your grace, and know peace and healing by the power of the name of your Son Jesus. It is in that name we pray, Amen.
Peace and Blessings,
Ohio Regional Staff
We will continue to work to serve the church, to serve the most vulnerable in our communities, and to serve God in Christ. Here are some links and ways to stay connected at this time:
ALSO – For up to date information from the State of Ohio:
If your Ohio Disciples Congregation has some links and resources you would like to share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion.