Worship Highlights for June

June 7: Trinity Sunday  On this day, we are exploring the Triune nature of our God: God the Creator, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. We begin this journey of understanding by looking at the creation story found in Genesis 1:1-2:4a: and God declared all creation good! Psalm 8 will also be used in worship on this morning, and will be shared by a member from our larger Winona community. This morning we will be proudly recognizing our High School Graduates and announcing the Agape Scholarship recipients. In addition, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper this Sunday. The liturgy will be included in our on-line worship service. Then, everyone who would like to share in the bread and cup is invited to come to the back parking lot of the church between 11:30-12:30 for our “drive-thru” Communion Distribution. (Your pastors will be wearing masks and gloves, and we will use individual cups. You will be handed both bread and cup. You may remove your masks to receive the elements.) Pretty sure this week we won’t be serving Communion standing in rain/sleet/snow!

June 14: 2nd Sunday after Pentecost  We are continuing our time in Genesis by spending the next few weeks exploring the story of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac. Today we hear again how Sarah laughed when she heard they were going to have a child. How easy it can be to dismiss the possibilities of God! In line with Wesley’s vision to be a church that serves all of Winona, scripture this morning, Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7, will again be shared by someone in the larger community. June 21: 3rd Sunday after Pentecost  Abraham, Sarah and Isaac’s story continues this week as we look at the uncomfortable story of Sarah’s jealousy that sent Hagar and her son out into the desert. This part of the story is found in Genesis 21:8-21. June 28:  4th Sunday after Pentecost Another difficult chapter in our Abraham, Sarah and Isaac story faces us today as we reflect on Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  Is this a story of Abraham’s incredible faith, or is it a story that shows God’s faithfulness to us?  Or maybe it is supposed to be story of trust?  And where is Sarah in all of this?  Let’s explore that together as we look at Genesis 22:1-14.

Congratulations, Confirmands!

A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to our Confirmands: Miranda Lindaman, Emma Mann and Clarice Potter, and to their families on their Confirmation Sunday, May 21.  Each Confirmand put in hours in class, time in prayer, created and shared public statements of faith, and determined that they were ready to step forward and claim their faith as their own.  Because of the pandemic, both Confirmands and their families showed incredible flexibility and grace as we figured out how to bring their Confirmation together in community. It was very moving, and a tribute to how we are still the church, as we saw the families standing together while each Confirmand took her vows and affirmed her faith. The congregation was able to share the moment, via video, with their vows of support and nurture.

Miranda, Emma and Clarice, we are so proud of you, impressed by your journey, and inspired by your courage to be a person of faith in an increasingly secular world.  May you go through your days aware of God’s loving presence and strength, always available to you.

Wesley's Weekly Worship Thank Yous

First, a thank you for the suggestion from Jim and Mary Faircloth about including an order of worship in the weekly email with the worship link.  (I totally forgot to do that for Pentecost, but promise to try to remember from now on!)

Thank you to all the incredible Pentecost scripture readers:  Ariunaa from Mongolia, Svetlana from Ukraine, Eric Brisson’s French, Matt Lindaman’s German, Nancy Dunbar’s Umbundu, Robert Hicks’ Biblical Greek, Kari Yearous’s Norwegian and German, Edie Davis’ sign language, Jenna Admunson’s Spanish and Sierra Hicks’ English.  You all helped create a sense of that first Pentecost and, through all the languages shared, gave an illustration of how far God’s Good News has spread by those willing to communicate the Gospel in ways that we all can understand.  Thank you!!

To our VIRTUAL CHOIR:  it is hard to sit by yourself, record yourself singing into a screen, (then possibly listen to yourself and discover you sound way worse than you realized) and then just trust that somehow it will all come together.  Thank you to our choir for your courage for trying something new, thank you to Norma Duden for the selection, thank you to Jonelle Moore who played all four hands of the accompaniment, and thank you to our Musical Director, Eric Brisson, who took all those videos and recordings and lined them up into one piece of music. Thank you to our Video Tech, Isaac Hicks, who put all the videos together to create our on-screen virtual choir.

A special thank you to our District Superintendent Cynthia Williams for her words of encouragement for our Confirmands and to Bishop Bruce Ough who found the time in an incredibly chaotic week in Minneapolis, to record personal words of encouragement for our Confirmands and a pastoral prayer for our Congregation.

Thank you to Isaac, who had so much thrown at him for this service, and managed to put it all together and still make some great puns!

And THANK YOU to our church, for continuing to be church.  Even while we may be missing how things used to be, you are willing to lean into what currently is.  And to our on-line community, thank you for joining us for worship each week!

Drive for Peace & Justice

Upwards of 300 participants gathered on Sunday, May 31, to express solidarity with peaceful protests seeking justice for George Floyd and an end to systemic racism in the "Drive for Justice and Peace" sponsored by Winona Interfaith Council.  It was heart-warming to see members of Wesley UMC participating.  Some drove cars with signs; others rode bicycles, also with signs.  The caravan was greeted by Winona residents who came out to stand in front of their homes clapping, waving the peace sign, and giving affirmations for the message and the positive, non-violent approach to showing support. 

Future events are being planned to begin the process of "deep listening" to all who are affected by racism in Winona.  Through deep listening leading to constructive change, we hope to be a part of a positive movement toward the kind of community where all feel welcome, safe, and have no obstruction put in their way toward their American Dream.

Above: Photo courtesy of Heather Carpenter
Listen to Pastor Robert's message that he gave in conjunction with the Drive for Peace and Justice.

Thank you, Carol Girard, for twelve years of nurturing our children!

After twelve years of serving Wesley UMC as volunteer nursery coordinator, Carol Girard will be stepping down from that position.  Carol has loved working with our children and has given to them all a safe, fun, and nurturing experience of church.  This is so important to how a child feels about church and their faith as they grow into adulthood. 

Carol writes, "I have loved every minute I've shared with all the children over the years, but it is time for me to move on now."

Chris Jordan wrote this note of gratitude: "Thank you so much for going above and beyond, taking so much of the work of the nursery (and the bigger kids too) and doing it with such selfless concern for all the kids. You've been a big part of what church means to our kids, and I am so grateful for that!"

And Nancy Nelson (Christian Education Chair) added, "Thank you so much, Carol, for all those years of dedication to children. Everyone will miss you so much and all the love you gave to the children, families and our church."

Thank you, Bonnie Thurley!

A while back, people were expressing concern that they were not getting information about what was happening in the church.  Bonnie Thurley stepped up to edit and produce our E-Zine.  Bonnie has done a fantastic job improving our communications through the E-Zine format.  Under her leadership, we went from a (sporadic) once-a-month publication to a weekly format, and we often hear gratitude from members of our church community who appreciate the improved communication.

We wish to thank Bonnie for this vital ministry and for the hours of love and creativity she put into it!  Going forward, Kari Yearous, Office Coordinator, will be producing a bi-monthly version of the E-Zine.  All articles will be short and to the point and will need to be approved by office staff for inclusion. 

Thank you, Bonnie, from the entire congregation and staff of Wesley UMC, for volunteering your time and skill!

Pastor Robert's Online Bible Study 

All are welcome to join our online discussion group focusing upon the main Bible text for Sunday worship. There is no sign-up required.  Our meeting times are Tuesdays, 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.  You will find your experience of worship richer after spending time looking deep into the Scripture of the week and we will have fun connecting with each other.  You will need to have a computer/tablet/cell phone with a camera and microphone.  Here is the Zoom link to enter the conversation:
Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.:  https://zoom.us/j/452130804

Pastor's Ponderings

By Pastor Tori
Lord, it seems there has been way too much lately,
too much tragedy and destruction.
Pandemics and protests,
rebellions and riots,
businesses reduced to rubble,
church buildings empty,
lives ended alone,
families weeping.
Pictures of a man dying in the street,
broken windows, burning buildings, and crowds waving signs,
tear gas and rubber bullets,
while still COVID-19 continues to take lives,
over 105,000 in the U.S.
a dark contrast to images of spring blossoms
and brilliant sunshine,
to the joyous outpouring of the Holy Spirit
we celebrate on Pentecost.
Remind us again, O Lord,
Pentecost isn’t just a single day,
a rushing wind or tongues of flame,
the long ago cacophony of languages proclaiming Good News.
Pentecost gives us strength today,
the strength of the Holy Spirit,
for these days in our lives,
strength so that, even when our tears may blind us,
when “normal” is in the past,
when cities are burning and accusations are made,
we can know you are there,
sending us forth, with your Spirit, into it all
proclaiming a new hope.
Help us to live as people of Pentecost,
with tears and fears and struggles and hopes,
still standing as a calm center in the swirl of each day,
still standing with courage and trust in your presence,
still standing with the strength of your Holy Spirit,
to dream dreams and see visions
and prophesy of a new day
where we will all be saved.
May it be so.

Same Storm -- Different Boats

For expanding our empathy during this pandemic, we wish to share the following reflection from an unknown author:

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it's not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.

Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, taking it easy in flip-flops, with a cocktail or coffee.  For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.

For some that live alone they're facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment, some are bringing in more money to their households than when they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts, or loss in sales. 

Some families of 4 just received $3400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter, while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don't qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling, while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, and others have already lost someone from it, and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don't believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.  Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, but actually seeing. We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey. 

Realize that and be kind.

Staying Connected During COVID

We now have a "Stay Connected" page on the website which summarizes the various ways to stay connected with Wesley. We intend to keep this page updated so that there is one place where all information is summarized and kept current.

Visit Stay Connected Page

Volunteer for Prayer or Scripture Reading

During the time of COVID, worship helpers are just as important as ever, if not more so! We appreciate our volunteers who help out with each week's virtual worship service, including those who read scripture and prayer. If you would like to sign up, click to visit the online signup form.

Visit Signup Form

Wesley's YouTube Channel

Have you visited our YouTube channel? Sunday services are broadcast (virtually) live at 10 a.m. Sundays. Also, all previous worship videos are available to view any time. If you have a YouTube or Google account, you can click "Subscribe."

Wesley YouTube Channel
Facebook Page
WUMC Youtube Channel
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