Glory sightings from our New Faith Communities

June 15, 2020
In the midst of the COVID-19 social distancing the past few months, the Kentucky Annual Conference’s New Church Development team has identified some glory sightings: Even in the midst of the storm, the church has left the church building to be the church! We wanted to share some of these encouraging stories with the Conference:

Rev. Taylor Evans, Wesley Hilltop House (Elizabethtown Memorial UMC): This has been an insane first quarter. Not only has COVID-19 struck, but we have experienced so much growth that we have had to alter our space.

I am pretty new to pastoral ministry, wrapping up only my third year, so I am calling this my first capital campaign. We wanted to do as much of the renovation as possible using funds raised only through Wesley Hilltop. We started fundraising at the beginning of March, and by the time we had to shut the doors in late March, we had raised about 20 percent of our goal only from Dinner Church giving.

One of the reasons we did this was to see how we were earning trust from our people and how attainable sustainability for us is, and I was overwhelmed by how generous our people have been! We have continued to bring in money since we have closed for social distancing and are creeping up closer to 50 percent of our goal of $5,000.

I knew this was of God when I had a gentleman on a fixed income because of some major health problems call me and tell me that he couldn't give any money right now, but as soon as he got paid he was going to call me and contribute toward our renovation. It was the coolest phone call I have ever gotten as a pastor.
Rev. Derek Robinette, River City campus (St. Matthews UMC): When COVID-19 hit, we reconnected with The Pointe Apartment Complex, which is a Section 8 housing complex one mile from our church in the Jeffersontown area. Since the week of March 8 we have been providing 20-30 meals a day for kids in the apartment complex. We also were able to provide a bag of produce vegetables for each of the 130 apartment units.

We have partnered with F3 Louisville and St. Raphael Catholic Church to make this happen as well as area businesses. We hope to continue ministry at The Pointe after social distancing.

Rebeca Cardoso, Maranatha Hispanic ministry (Watkins UMC): God bless you and keep you in the midst of this situation we are going through. At Maranatha we have been transmitting live every Sunday the preaching, and during the weekdays I send people postcards and text encouragement and also make calls. I have also called relatives in Mexico of the brothers of the church, and I have been aware if any brother has any specific needs. We continue to pray for each other and we hope that soon we can return to normal.

Rev. Kevin Parido, First Fire (Winchester UMC): Wow, so much has been changed for all of us by COVID-19. I am encouraged by the willingness of folks to step up in major ways who have not served in years. Everyone is starting to live into their gifts.

Zoom is great for technical work, but adaptive work is hard to do, I am finding. It has been hard to connect in deep ways since COVID-19 hit. I am trying to connect more individually with folks. Strange times, for sure.

Rev. Aaron Mansfield, 801 Community campus (Morehead UMC): We launched our weekly service in the fall of 2019 and were trending up until the pandemic hit, averaging about 80 each service. In the meantime we have been doing a service on YouTube, and that has been successful.

The team has been doing great with contacts – most of the attendance for 801 Community has been friend/group-driven. The word is that everyone knows this is a temporary shutdown and they are going to come back. The kids are all wondering when we come back –-the youth in the community are really jazzed about it.

The launch team is ready to do it again, and they are asking what went well and what could be done better. The goal will be to launch with 150 people a second time around!

Rev. Katie Lloyd, Senior Pastor, Buechel UMC: We were preparing for the best summer ever. We already had a bunch of applications done for Camp Loucon and we were planning for our first in-person Loucon camp for our younger children. We were so excited to have something for children and youth this summer. Our children and youth are understandably disappointed, but we look forward to next summer.

In light of all the changes, I have been most proud of how we're still Buechel. Our sermons are still in three languages, and we have songs in Swahili, English, Spanish, and French on our YouTube videos. We've done special videos for Palm Sunday and Easter, and we had folks participate in all languages.

Rev. Corey Nelson, Grace Kids: A Church for Children: As we transitioned into the new year, Grace Kids had more momentum than ever before, which is saying something. Giving was at a record pace, our volunteer base had grown exponentially, we raised $25,000 in two weeks for a nearly new van, attendance was growing, we had just put together a new and very exciting board, and the kids were taking more ownership/leadership of the church ... and then corona.

We have continued feeding the community during the pandemic, serving thousands of meals first out of our own food pantry/donations and then in partnership with UMC Food Ministry. We have also maintained regular contact with almost all of our kids.

It’s been the toughest six months of my life, with my wife Rickelle’s health issues. Sitting still is hard for me, real hard. I love to work and I love what I do. However, I have used this time to begin to appreciate the little things that were lost in the blur that is my life. Just sitting on the porch with Rickelle listening to music, and watching the birds, clouds, and the plants come back to life has been a real blessing. It’s also been a blessing to be able to be home with Rickelle while she undergoes chemotherapy.

Like everyone else, I’m not happy about the current state of affairs, but I also recognize that I am immensely blessed and loved by our God. With all of the “storms” in my life right now, I have deep peace.
  • Compiled by Alan Wild, New Church Development Ministry Assistant