Updates on COVID Protocols and Visioning Process

Emily Penfield Featured, From the Pastor

At our August Church Council meeting, Chairperson Kenny Keith gave a report from her connection with the Jefferson County Health Department.  They are projecting that COVID cases with the delta variant will rise in September, especially after Labor Day.  The advice we’ve been given is that we can safely stay in-person for worship, but to not have congregational singing, even with masks.  So, hopefully, just for a few weeks, we won’t sing hymns.  However, our small but mighty choir will lead us with music so that we can still make a joyful noise to the Lord.  We will also continue …

Being Nimble

Emily Penfield From the Pastor

Until this past year, I had really only used the word “nimble” when reciting the nursery rhyme, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick.”  I’m not sure why Jack needed to jump over the candlestick, but I guess being nimble kept him from getting burned.  We have needed to be nimble during the COVID-19 pandemic so we cause the least amount of harm in gathering for worship and participating in other activities.  The dramatic rise in COVID cases caused by the Delta variant calls for being nimble and changing some of our protocols. Starting this Sunday, …

Quad W

Emily Penfield From the Pastor

One of the initiatives of the North Alabama Annual Conference is Ministry with the Poor.  I have served on the conference’s Ministry with the Poor Team for two years, and last year I stepped up my commitment by working with Quad W. Quad W is a national organization that our conference partners with to put college students in ministry with the Poor internships.  This summer, 8 college interns, who I’ve recruited, will come to Birmingham and live at Avondale Samaritan Place (at AUMC).  They each have 1 or 2 placements that they’ll serve which puts them in relationship and mission …

Greeting and Vision

Emily Penfield From the Pastor

No matter who you are, where you’ve come from or where you’re going;No matter what you believe or doubt:No matter who you love;God loves you and you are welcome in this place. Each Sunday we begin with that greeting. This was the greeting before I was the pastor here, so we’ve been using it for over 9 years.  To me it communicates that we are welcoming and accepting of people who have different backgrounds, different ways of thinking and different ways of loving.  In that way, it describes our congregation and how we understand God.  It says a lot.  But …

Accountability From Your Pastor

Emily Penfield From the Pastor

A friend was telling me they got an Apple Watch for Christmas.  Besides answering phone calls on your watch you can also set activity goals for the day. The goals are represented by rings, and when you complete your goal for the day, then the ring closes.  This friend was saying how helpful it was to have accountability for their physical activity and exercise, “got to make the rings close.”  There are lots of ways we can find accountability for the goals and behaviors we want to practice.  Apple is appealing to those who want an accountability tool for their …

Jesus Will Still Come

Emily Penfield From the Pastor

A couple of years ago, on an Advent Sunday morning, before the worship service, I was in the choir room.  Choir members were getting on their robes and starting to practice.  I too was putting on my robe and preparing for worship.  Something hadn’t gone quite right for the morning – I can’t remember what.  Maybe the sound system was broken or we’d had a last minute change with something or other.  I was feeling anxious and I knew there were a few other choir members with full plates or difficult family situations.  We were all lamenting the stress of the …

New Traditions

Emily Penfield From the Pastor

By this point in 2020, you most likely have learned a new way to do something that used to be routine. Maybe it’s the way you shop for groceries, how you keep your friendship going or remembering to grab a mask when you’re leaving home.  Worship would be on this list.  We’ve worshiped in a variety of ways in the past few months, through a podcast, on Facebook Live, outdoors and spread out.  During November, we will continue to worship outside.  When the weather isn’t favorable, we’ll go online.  Right now this means a Facebook Live service at 11:05 on …

Losses and Gains

Emily Penfield From the Pastor

Since the first three months of the year, when the world changed dramatically because of COVID-19, there has been a lot of loss.  As of this week 822,000 have died from the virus worldwide, 122,000 of those in our own country and 2000 in Alabama.  People have lost jobs, lost income, lost freedoms and, in some cases, their way of life.   Grief is the natural expression of loss, and it occurs not only when we have experienced the death of a person, but the death or removal of anything important.  During September, we will explore grief, healthy grief, and share …

Being the Church While Not at Church

Emily Penfield From the Pastor

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot gather at the church building; however we can still be the CHURCH, following Jesus Christ and sharing God’s love with others.  Here are ways you can BE THE CHURCH.  *Reach out to friends, family, church members. You can do this by phone or letter.  Call the church office if you need a particular phone number or address.  Leave a message if we don’t answer. Especially remember those who are alone where they are (home, retirement or nursing facility). *Worship God  You can do this ANYWHERE!  Pray, Sing, Dance, Read Scripture in your home, outside …

More Than Thoughts and Prayers

Emily Penfield From the Pastor

Last Sunday morning, a robbery and shooting happened a block from the church. A Birmingham police officer was shot trying to stop the robbery suspects.  Officer Finke remains in the hospital today; but we rejoice that he is on the road to recovery.  I had just arrived in the parking lot when the shooting occurred, but by the time much of our congregation were on the way to the church, many of Woodlawn’s streets, including ours had been barricaded. The investigation was in full force.  It can be very disconcerting to drive towards your church and see blue lights flashing …