March 24, 2020

 by Brian Mateer          

We are living in uncertain and unprecedented times.  The Covid-19 virus and pandemic have left us scrambling to establish a "new normal" in our homes, work spaces and places of worship.  With so much uncertainty, what remains constant is God' s work in the world (missio dei) continues.  The question for us is, how to best engage appropriately and safely with our neighbors while adhering to recommended social distancing practices? 

Below are five helpful tips to consider to serving your neighbor while social distancing:  

  1. Do good!  Do no harm!   

    Founder of Methodism, John Wesley,  asks us to reflect that sometimes when we do good for others ,there is the possibility we could do harm.  Before you do anything, consider the risk to you and others you may be interacting with. Make sure to have proper safety measures and sanitation while following ALL guidelines provided by the CDC and other health professionals. 

  2. Think small, think local! 

    As Jesus makes us all consider the question "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29), now more than ever, we need to be checking up on our physical neighbors around our homes.  If we can meet the needs of our physical neighbors, we can make a big impact in our communities.  Consider those who are vulnerable around you, the elderly, single parents, those out of work or with lost wages, health care professionals.  You know…feed the hungry, clothe the naked…. ***Tip***Consider opening a Nextdoor social media account to find out what is happening in your neighborhood. 

  3. Don’t recreate the wheel! 

    Likely, there are other groups already working to meet needs of the community in various spaces.  Partner with nonprofits, community groups and churches.  Collaboration is essential during this time.  You don't have to be everything to everyone.  Pick one or two things and do it well. 

  4. Think beyond physical needs! 

    Of course we should be responding to physical needs, but don't forget to tend to the needs of the soul of others.  I sense right now some of the greatest gifts we can give people is connection and hope.  As the days of isolation turn in to weeks and eventually to months, we are going to need to create avenues for people to connect with others.  There are great digital tools to stay connected but don’t forget to call and/or write. 

  5. Use what you've got! 

    Think about the resources you already have that could be utilized to help your neighbors.  Do you have a special skill or talent? Perhaps you are located in the perfect spot in your neighborhood so your physical space can be an asset to the community.  Do you have a capable kitchen where meals can be prepared for takeout?  Is your property such that is could be utilized for "drive thru" services?  Do you have or know smart finance people that could host virtual meetings to help people though an economic hardship? 

Although this is a difficult time, I have been inspired by the stories of humanity working for the greater good.  As we settle in to life as it will be for the foreseeable future, let us not collapse into ourselves but continually seek ways to help and support each other. 

Do you have an inspiring story of how people are helping their neighbors?   We want to hear about it.            Please e-mail Brian at

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A Summons to Witness, Protest, and Promise

We give thanks for this Summons to Witness, Protest and Promise written by the cabinet of the North Carolina Conference.  In our ongoing collaboration, we affirm these words alongside them.  Across our state, we invite all United Methodists to be a part of building “the new world God promises as heaven in time descends to earth.” (Revelation 21)

A Summons to Witness, Protest, & Promise

We, United Methodists in The Western North Carolina Conference, join our voices with The North Carolina Conference in witness, protest and promise in these times of violence against our Black brothers and sisters.

We believe. . .

We believe that the Holy Spirit is indeed poured out upon all people.
We believe that in baptism, we are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation, and commissioned to resist evil, injustice and oppression, in whatever forms they present themselves.
We believe that God’s intent for humanity is community, compassion, and holiness, and that justice has been marred by the history of enslavement and racism.
We believe that repentance is urgent for the historic and ongoing violence against Black girls and boys, men and women.
We believe that in the wounding of Black bodies we see Christ crucified.
We believe that those who have been steeped in white privilege, through repentance, can be transformed into humble servants of the living God.
We believe we are called to work for the day when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

We protest. . .
We protest violent murders of Black men and women, most recently Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
We protest the narratives of fear and suspicion that divide people from one another.
We protest our historic failure to ensure all our churches are places of hospitality, welcome, and belonging for our Black brothers and sisters.
We protest the historic and continuing suppression of voting and other basic rights.
We protest all incendiary public leadership in this time of crisis and turmoil.
We protest the lack of will in our communities, our state and our country to protect the lives of our Black brothers and sisters, and especially the most vulnerable, the young and the old.

We promise. . .
We promise to use our voices, resources and power to dismantle white privilege and racist systems, especially within our own United Methodist Church.
We promise to read the Scripture with ear and eye attentive to the continued call toward God’s will for all people.
We promise to exercise the right to vote and to work against voter suppression.
We promise to create around ourselves at all times hospitable space for all people.
We promise to name prejudice when we see it and to receive the correction of others who see prejudice in us.
We promise to be life-long learners, to constantly make adjustments in the way we use our power and influence, to be active participants in the building of the beloved community, and ultimately growing always in holiness toward the perfection we see in Christ.


Bishop Paul Leeland
Laura Auten
Carl Arrington
Michael Bailey
David Christy
Amy Coles
Bev Coppley
Beth Crissman
Otto Harris
David Hockett
Kim Ingram
Linda Kelly
Mark King
Melissa McGill
Samuel Moore, Jr.
Dan Pezet
Mark Ralls
David Snipes
Caroline Wood
Jane Wood

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward
Tim Russell
Edie Gleaves
Ray Broadwell
Gil Wise
Gray Southern
Mike Frese
Kenneth Locklear
Randy Innes
Linda Taylor
Dena White
Tara Lain
Ismael Ruiz-Millan
Jon Strother
Beth Hood
Lisa Yebuah
Greg Moore
Steve Taylor

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