Grace Plan for Reopening Our Building

We will take care of one another.
We will pray for one another.
We will look after our neighbors.
We will be Grace because we will live with Grace.
Above all else, I know that God is with us and we are not merely beloved, we are blessed, empowered, and trusted by God to change the world for the better.

An important announcement from Grace

At Grace, we are planning to suspend all in-person, indoor worship services for the remainder of the year.

Posted by GraceDesMoines on Monday, July 27, 2020

July 17, 2020

Dear Grace family,

I miss you. Every week I preach to an empty room and try to imagine you in the pews, not laughing at my bad jokes. When I preach into the camera every Sunday, I see our congregation on the other side of it, with our hearts and minds united in grace and peace. While COVID-19 has not closed our church, it has significantly shifted our mission and ministry, and I thank you for your patience, understanding, prayers, and generosity during this time.

The Administrative Council, in consultation with the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church and our church staff, have decided to continue worshiping online at Grace. I invite you to join us in worship every Sunday on our website, www.gracedesmoines.org, or on Facebook or YouTube. If you do not have internet access and would like to be mailed sermons, bulletins, and devotionals, please contact the church office and we will add you to our mailing list. We are also trying to add a call-in number on Sundays so you can listen to our live services even if you do not have an internet connection. If all goes well, you can listen to our Sunday service by calling 1.888.958.7272 and then entering the access code 513965085. This number will only be accessible during the Sunday morning livestream at 10:15 am.

While we are not resuming in-person worship, our Administrative Council has approved a cautious re-opening of our facility for groups and mission opportunities. Starting now, with the understanding that all plans are subject to change due to public health measures, we will allow one group per day, Monday through Thursday, between 10 am and 4 pm, to meet in the building. Groups will be limited to 10 people, with priority given to church classes, missions, and groups. All events and meetings must be first scheduled and approved by the church office. Groups must record names and contact information for all who attend and provide this information to the church office. Groups in the building will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing, and will be asked to help clean as they leave the building following their gathering. Should someone with a positive COVID-19 test attend a meeting in the church, the church building will be closed for 3 days after the meeting to allow for deep cleaning.

Our monthly shelter meal was able to take place in July with these precautions in place. The shelter, in order to best protect their residents and staff, is still limiting access to their facility. Thanks to our volunteers, meeting at the church, wearing masks and gloves, Grace was able to prepare and deliver a meal to those in need.

The health and safety or our members is one of our top priorities, and even with these small steps towards reopening, I do not want you to feel as if you are being rushed back to church. As the New York Times noted in their July 8 article, ‘Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They are Confronting Coronavirus Cases’, “More than 650 coronavirus cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches and religious events across the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, with many of them erupting over the last month as Americans resumed their pre-pandemic activities.” Our initial cautious reopening of the church facility is being undertaken to ensure that aspects of our mission and ministry can continue in this vital time. For the foreseeable future, we will provide ways to connect online or through the mail. If you need help scheduling an event or meeting for your church Sunday school class or group on Zoom, please let us know how we can help.

While we have been away from our church facility, a lot of work has been completed thanks to your generosity and support. Our new elevator has been installed, carpets have been steam cleaned, floors have been polished, and fresh coats of paint have spruced up our church. I can’t wait for you to see how great our facility looks, and when the time is right, we will come together and celebrate. Until then, please:

  1. Keep our church and community in your prayers.
  2. Reach out to members of your Sunday School class, people you sat by in church, and folks that you shared a snack with after services. If you need help finding a phone number or address, please contact the church office.
  3. Continue your financial support. Thankfully, in the first half of the year, pledges towards our general budget have come in higher than expected and some of our expenses have been down. At the same time, work and expenses for our capital campaign continued. As you may recall, our church took out a construction loan with the Iowa United Methodist Foundation to cover expenses as pledges for the capital campaign came in and as we await state historical tax credit funds. This construction loan, if not paid by the end of the year, will become a mortgage. At this time, it looks like we will have a mortgage next year, but, if we can cover the expenses of our construction loan by the end of the year we won’t! If you have supported our capital campaign, your continued support is vital. If you have not supported our capital campaign, now is a great time to start. Many of our members financial realities have shifted dramatically this year. If you need to adjust your pledge for 2020, please let the church know. Every gift to Grace continues to support our mission and ministry in the community, thanks to your generosity and support.
  4. Invite your friends and family to join us at Grace online. It has never been easier to invite people to join you at Grace because Grace is everywhere! Every Sunday you have a chance to share our church with the community, and even if your friends and family can’t be with our church when we livestream, they can always catch up with our archived services on Youtube, Facebook, and at gracedesmoines.org.

 

Thank you for your continued support and prayers during this time. Even though we have been physically apart, I know how close our hearts have come. Every time I hear about a phone call or letter that changed someone’s day, I know that you are a people of grace and peace. Every time I see a new picture of children and families enjoying our virtual VBS, I know that you are a people of grace and peace. Every Sunday as we come together to sing, worship, and pray, I feel your presence with me and thank God that you are a people of grace and peace. Thank you for continuing to be the church, for our community and one another.

grace and peace,

Nate Nims

 

P.S.

Our church makes a difference in the community in a variety of ways and one of the easiest ways that you can continue to make a difference in the community is by voting. Absentee ballot request forms are now available, and if you would like an application to vote by mail but don’t have a printer to complete the ballot request, please contact the church office at 515.255.2131 and we will mail you a ballot request for you to complete and send into your county auditor.

June - Three Rules

As of May 1, some businesses, churches, and organizations in 77 counties will began reopening in Iowa. Throughout our nation, states are moving forward at different speeds to relax and adjust social distancing requirements. At this time, Grace is unable to open due to the community spread of COVID-19 that continues to be a concern in the Des Moines metro area as well as the surrounding counties. It is expected that cases of COVID-19 will peak in Iowa sometime mid-month.

Due to this, Bishop Laurie Haller has asked all Iowa United Methodist Congregations to refrain from meeting in person until, at least, June 1, at which time that decision will be reassessed in light of community spread. While we would all like to get back to our normal lives, we cannot assume that things will simply return to how they used to be. Our world has changed, and if we are to care for one another, especially if we are to care for the most vulnerable among us, then we must carefully consider our next steps.

You may know 1 Corinthians 13 as the chapter of love in the Bible. Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice but is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” As Paul continues to write in 1 Corinthians 14, we are told to use our gifts, skills, and abilities, with love, for the sake of one another and the church. As we care for one another, with love, as the church community, Paul ends 1 Corinthians 14 by saying, “Everything should be done with dignity and in proper order.”

When the time is right, we will celebrate our return to Grace. As we prepare to return to our church, dignity and proper order will guide us.

Pastors are often considered to be ‘shepherds’ of God’s people. As a shepherd, one of my primary roles is that of protector. Shepherds in biblical times had to be prepared to defend the flock against any number of dangers. As a church leader, a large part of my role is to protect, to anticipate, and to act on behalf of everyone entrusted to me by God.

To move forward with dignity and proper order, I am anticipating that we will reopen Grace in multiple phases, all guided by the three simple rules of our Methodist Tradition: do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.

I have not put dates with each phase because of the continual changes that are taking place due to COVID-19. One phase will prepare the way for the next, and each will continue to build on previous phases. As community spread may ebb and flow, our church will take appropriate steps to ensure your safety at Grace.

We will be together again, and we will succeed in returning to our church. When we do, I believe we will be a better church. We’re already reaching more people throughout our community with our online efforts, and we are learning new ways to care for and connect with one another. In these difficult days, being the church with and for one another has meant so much more than sharing a cup of coffee after worship. Thanks to your prayers and support, our church has found new ways to stay connected. You’ve reached out to one another, sent postcards, made phone calls, and delivered masks. Because of you, we are still a church together and a people worthy of being called Grace.

Phase 1: Restarting Worship at Grace and Continuing to Worship Online

  • Worship at Grace will begin with one in-person service, and will continue to stream online.
  • Social Distancing and Event Guidelines will be closely monitored and followed.
  • The church bus will not be available during Phase 1.
  • Masks may be required to attend worship in person.
  • Hearing devices will not be available during Phase 1.
  • As needed, sections of the sanctuary will be off-limits to ensure proper distancing.
  • The nursery will be closed during this phase so children can be in worship with their parents.
  • Hospitality (coffee and treats) will not be provided after worship
  • Doors to the church may be propped open to avoid contact with handles.
  • Restrooms may be closed depending on state and federal guidelines.
  • Bulletins will not be distributed in the sanctuary, but will be available online.
  • The sanctuary will be sanitized after worship.
  • Different ways of collecting the offering will be considered, as we will not pass the offering plates.
  • Sacraments, such as communion, will be modified to accommodate our needs and our safety.
  • Live broadcasts to Facebook Live and our website will continue in order to accommodate those who are not yet able or willing to return.
  • Groups will continue to grow in their use of Zoom or other online meeting tools until they can return in the next phase.

Phase 2: Welcoming Groups back to Grace

  • Social distancing may necessitate the starting of new groups and/or multiplying existing groups due to limitations so we can allow for distancing in smaller spaces.
  • If multiple groups are meeting in the same hallway of the education wing, classrooms may be dismissed room by room to allow for distancing.
  • Classrooms will be sanitized after every gathering.
  • Teachers, volunteers, and staff will need to determine the best practices for each group and gathering. For example, distancing for our choirs, due to the nature of singing, may be different from the distancing for Sunday School classes, which may be different from the distancing for Youth Group.
  • As we are able, rooms will receive tech upgrades. Televisions and appropriate cables will allow groups to use Zoom technology to provide a live experience for group members who are not yet able or willing to return to the church building.
  • With social distancing regulations in mind, schedules will be adjusted so that an appropriate number of persons are in the church building at one time.
  • Grace Preschool will reopen following state and federal guidelines.

Phase 3: Ministries, Special Events, and Larger Gatherings

  • As social distancing and gathering guidelines are adjusted and monitored, decisions will be made about special events such as Red Door Concert Series, Rally Day, Community Meals and Free Clinic, etc.
  • Needs in the community and the church will shape our ministry and mission focus.
  • Groups will continue to meet and attendance limitations may be lifted unless flareups of COVID-19 occur.
  • Worship will continue and spacing limitations may be relaxed unless flareups of COVID-19 take occur.
  • Depending on state and federal guidelines, our nursery will reopen. If/when it does, it will be cleaned and sanitized after every service.
  • Depending on state and federal guidelines, decisions may be made to offer additional Christmas services to accommodate our congregation and social distancing needs.

Phase 4: Celebration

  • As we come together in celebration, we will also take the time to grieve all that was lost due to COVID-19.
  • Together we will look back and celebrate the victories and progress we made as a church.
  • We will remain flexible and open to new ways of doing and being church.

These phases, and the points within them, are not exhaustive but are representative of what we need to keep in mind as we move forward together and begin to reopen Grace in person when the time comes.

This summer, necessary and potentially difficult decisions will be made about Vacation Bible School and the Youth Wesley Heritage Tour. Coreen, the education committee, and I are exploring numerous options for Vacation Bible School this summer. Nathan and Patty are in communication with our youth and their families, as well as our travel agent, all while closely monitoring guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

What You Can Do Now:

In the spirit of the three simple rules, do no harm, do good, stay in love with God, consider the following as ways that we can be the church together during this time:

  • Do No Harm
    • Follow social distancing guidelines. For many, COVID-19 is asymptomatic, and the best way to stop the spread is to assume that you are contagious and could contribute to the spread. As difficult as it is, it is also necessary for us to follow the guidelines put out by the state and federal authorities, especially Dr. Fauci.
  • Do Good
    • Financially support our church. Many of our financial circumstances have changed and if what you pledged in the fall of 2019 cannot be fulfilled in 2020, don’t worry. The world has changed, and we will all change with it. Every financial contribution to Grace makes our ministry possible.
    • If you have not yet, please consider switching to online giving through our website (gracedesmoines.org). Your bank may also be able to help you to set up automated donations to Grace through your checking or savings account. You can also mail in your offering to Grace at 3700 Cottage Grove, Des Moines, IA 50311. Your continued support ensures that Grace is able to make a difference in our community even in times like this. Without your continued support we cannot make plans to reopen Grace in person as soon as we are able to.
    • Continue to reach out to one another with phone calls, emails, and letters. I know how uplifting it is when someone tells me about a note or a phone call they received, so I can only imagine how uplifting it felt to receive it.
  • Stay in Love with God
    • If you do not have access to the internet and would like to stay connected with Grace, please let us know so that we can add you to our weekly mailing list.
    • Connect with Grace online. You can join us for worship very Sunday morning at 10:15 on our Facebook page (GraceDesMoines) and website (gracedesmoines.org). Even if you can’t catch us live, you can always watch our videos at another time.
    • In addition to Sunday Mornings, videos are posted Monday to Thursday to keep our church community connected online.
    • Be in prayer for our community and world. COVID-19 has affected us all in ways we couldn’t imagine. Pray for those who have lost their jobs. Pray for those who work in hospitals and care facilities. Pray for every essential employee, from delivery drivers, to garbage people, to grocery store custodians. Pray for our church staff.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. If you have any questions, please let me know. It is because of your prayers and support, both financial and relational, that we have been able to make a difference in our community. Thanks to you, we are a people worthy of being called Grace, and I look forward to the future that we will find. Just as God is with us, we will be with one another.

Grace and Peace,

Nate Nims

3/20 We Are the Church

This weekly email is titled “Beyond the Red Doors” and that’s an apt description of our church for the moment. Grace is living and moving and making a difference beyond the red doors. As a kid, one of my favorite hymns, because it had hand motions, was “We are the Church.”

I am the church! You are the church!
We are the church together!
All who follow Jesus, all around the world!
Yes, we’re the church together!

The church is not a building,
the church is not a steeple,
the church is not a resting place,
the church is a people.

We all know that Grace is not a building, it’s the people. How we stay connected with one another in the days and weeks to come will be different, but we will still be the church together. In the weeks to come, I will continue to provide online worship opportunities and conversations online. All the videos that we have can be found at www.gracedesmoines.org and www.facebook.com/desmoinesgrace. Many of the videos that we have will be recorded live so we can interact with one another, but even if you can’t be with us live, you can enjoy the recorded videos at any time.

As we continue to be the church together, remember that I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together, let’s remember the ways we can continue to be Grace beyond the red doors.

Supporting each other:
To help bridge the gap in the social distance between us, we will start forming community groups. The early Methodist movement began with weekly meetings where people would talk to respond to the question, “How is it with your soul?”. Essentially they would say to each other, how are you, really? Through these communities of care, concern, and mutual support, the Methodist movement was born. At a time such as this, we must reclaim this tradition as we seek to intentionally connect with one another. If you would like to be a part of a bridge the gap community group, please click here.

We have a growing list of volunteers that are willing to help members that are unable to get out and pick up groceries, medication, etc. If you would like to help, or need help, please let us know.

Even if you are in a bridge the gap group, think to the people that would sit nearby you in the sanctuary, who are the people that you caught up with over coffee after services, think of the folks that might not have an email or computer access, who are the people that God needs you to reach out to? Phone calls and cards can make a world of difference at times like this.

Supporting Grace:
Your prayers and support are vitality needed during. While we are reducing some costs related to our church facility in the weeks to come, many of the expenses of the church will continue even if no meeting or event is held in the building for two weeks. For those of you already giving to Grace online regularly, thank you for your support. To everyone that has mailed in their offering, thank you for your support. To everyone that has kept our church and community in your prayers, thank you for your support.

If you are not already giving to Grace online, I would encourage you to mail your offerings or visit https://gracedesmoines.org/giving/ to start giving online.

Church Committees and Organizations:
Church Committees will need to reschedule their meetings, communicate via email, or schedule an online or phone meeting. Zoom and Google Hangouts may be used for online meetings and we will help to facilitate these kinds of meetings as best as we can.

Church Office Closed and Staff Will Primarily Work from Home:
Our staff will work from home as much as possible, though some of our work can only be done at the church. With this in mind, please do not anticipate calls to the church being answered immediately. If you have a pastoral emergency, call or email Pastor Nate. Nate’s email is natenims@gracedesmoines.org. If you do not have Nate’s cell phone number and need it, please email him.

Grace Preschool Closed:
Grace Preschool is closed for the time being and we had hoped to reopen on March 30. Classes will likely resume at a later date.

In times such as this, we know that all plans are subject to change and at this moment we don’t know how long Grace will be a church beyond the red doors either. And yet, we do know that Grace will be a church that comes together again within the red doors. Beyond the red doors or within them, Grace is still welcoming and reaching out to all. May we be people of uncommon hospitality and care in all that we can do for and with one another. Thank you for everything you are doing to help, reach out, and care for one another and yourself.

My goal is to keep you as informed and connected as possible in the weeks to come. Please continue to keep our church and world in your prayers as we support one another in the weeks to come.

grace and peace,
Nate Nims

3/17 In-person Worship, Meetings, Events, and Activities at Grace Cancelled through the End of March

When I wrote the first draft of this letter, Bishop Laurie Haller had requested that all Iowa United Methodist congregations cancel in-person worship for the remainder of March. Between writing the first draft and preparing to have this letter sent on Monday, March 16, the Centers for Disease Control has recommended groups of 50 or more not meeting for eight weeks and the governor of Iowa has recommended that schools postpone classes for four weeks.

To be honest, I don’t know when we will be able to gather again in worship, I don’t know when our Tuesday free clinic and meal will resume, and I don’t know when Grace Preschool will resume classes. And yet, I know we will worship together, I know our free clinic and meal will restart, and I know Grace Preschool will resume and make a difference in our community.

More than that, I know:
We will take care of one another.
We will pray for one another.
We will look after our neighbors.
We will be Grace because we will live with Grace.
Above all else, I know that God is with us and we are not merely beloved, we are blessed, empowered, and trusted by God to change the world for the better.

For the rest of this month, if not longer, worship at Grace will be online only. Today, in our first live-streamed service, over 1200 people from the Des Moines area, along with persons from Texas, New York, Washington D.C., Oregon, and more, joined us in worship by watching some or all of our live-stream. I know this is not a perfect solution, but at the same time, I am grateful for the connections that we can create and maintain. Live-streamed services can be watched, even without a Facebook account, at www.gracedesmoines.org and www.facebook.com/desmoinesgrace.

In the weeks to come, I will work to provide online worship opportunities for these weeks during the coming weeks. This Wednesday (3/18) at 12:10 we will have a lunch Bible study. Additional opportunities to connect are being considered at this time.

Supporting each other:
To help bridge the gap in the social distance between us, we will start forming community groups. The early Methodist movement began with weekly meetings where people would talk to respond to the question, “How is it with your soul?”. Essentially they would say to each other, how are you, really? Through these communities of care, concern, and mutual support, the Methodist movement was born. At a time such as this, we must reclaim this tradition as we seek to intentionally connect with one another. If you would like to be a part of a bridge the gap community group, please click here.

We have a growing list of volunteers that are willing to help members that are unable to get out and pick up groceries, medication, etc. If you would like to help, or need help, please let us know.

Church Committees and Organizations:
Church Committees will need to reschedule their meetings, communicate via email, or schedule an online or phone meeting. Zoom and Google Hangouts may be used for online meetings and we will help to facilitate these kinds of meetings as best as we can.

Church Office Closed and Staff Will Primarily Work from Home:
Our staff will work from home as much as possible, though some of our work can only be done at the church. With this in mind, please do not anticipate calls to the church being answered immediately. If you have a pastoral emergency, call or email Pastor Nate. Nate’s email is natenims@gracedesmoines.org. If you do not have Nate’s cell phone number and need it, please email him.

Grace Preschool Closed:
Grace Preschool is closed for the time being and we had hoped to reopen on March 30. Classes will likely resume at a later date.

Your Support:
Your prayers and support are vitality needed during this crisis. Thanks to you, no one came to Grace on Sunday, March 15th. It is odd to thank you for not coming to Grace in person, but your understanding, support, and help in spreading the news makes all the difference. We are a people of uncommon hospitality because you truly take care of one another. Thank you for everything you have done to support our church so far.

While we are reducing some costs related to our church facility in the weeks to come, many of the expenses of the church will continue even if no meeting or event is held in the building for two weeks. For those of you already giving to Grace online regularly, thank you for your support. To everyone that has mailed in their offering, thank you for your support. To everyone that has kept our church and community in your prayers, thank you for your support.

If you are not already giving to Grace online, I would encourage you to mail your offerings or visit https://gracedesmoines.org/giving/ to start giving online.

In times such as this, we know that all plans are subject to change. My goal is to keep you as informed and connected as possible in the weeks to come. Please continue to keep our church and world in your prayers as we support one another in the weeks to come.

grace and peace,
Nate Nims

3/14 Please help us spread the news – Grace will worship online only this weekend

Throughout the week, I have been in communication with Dr. Larry Severidt of Broadlawns who assists with our free medical clinic, as well as following news and developments from the Center for Disease Control, Iowa Department of Health, and leadership within The United Methodist Church. Earlier this week, even up to this morning, my hope and prayer was that we would be able to gather as a community together in worship. I wanted us to have a moment to come together to seek grace and peace, let alone a moment of normalcy, but these are not normal times. After concluding that, for the sake of our community, we need to cancel our free medical clinic and meal for the time being, I have come to the difficult, but necessary decision that Grace will cancel worship, small group gatherings, and community meetings at Grace effective Sunday, March 15th.

While worship, small group gatherings, and community meetings will be canceled until further notice, one of Grace’s most important ministries will continue next week. At the moment, Grace Preschool is planning to be open next week, March 16-20th for families enrolled that have no alternative care available and/or cannot work from home. The Grace Preschool leadership has already determined that programming will be canceled March 23-27th. On March 25th, Grace Preschool leadership will reassess recommendations and make further decisions.

To ensure that the children in our preschool can receive safe and healthy care next week, we have to ensure that access to our facility is limited. As the virus continues to spread, we are taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of our congregation, community, and children. Canceling worship, small group gatherings, and community meetings will enable us to be in mission and ministry with those that need our outreach and assistance.

I did not come to this decision lightly and have wrestled with it all week. Like Jacob in Genesis (32:22-32), I feel like I may walk away from this experience with a limp. And yet, like Jacob, in time such as this I know that we have experienced and felt God in our midst and in our care for one another.

As we continue to journey through this season of Lent we will gather together online. Our service for Sunday, March 15th is posted on our Facebook page as a note and we will have worship live-streamed on our Facebook page and website Sunday morning at 10:15 am. If you have not yet signed up for our email, Beyond the Red Doors, I would encourage you to do so. Through that, in addition to the website and Facebook page, we will be posting devotions, prayers, and planning times to meet together, albeit digitally. Together we will pray for each other and this world in need of grace and peace. It is oddly apt that in this season of Lent when we are asked to transform our lives into the likeness of Christ, we have this necessary and vital opportunity to do so. There are reasons to fear, there are reasons to prepare, but above all, we are called to love.As a church, called to love, we will continue to take measures to care for the vulnerable around us:

  • If you are isolated, for any reason, and need assistance with getting food or personal items, please let me know. Volunteers have already come forward to assist those that are at risk, feeling ill, single parents, or otherwise unable to leave their home.
  • If you would like to be on call as a volunteer to assist members in need, please let me know.
  • If you feel sick, contact your health care provider. You may also call the Iowa Department of Public Health (515) 281-7689), especially if you are in the at-risk category.
  • A small group will be meeting at the church on Monday to continue our deep cleaning.

While I did not imagine that our Lent journey would bring us to a fork in the road such as this, I am still looking forward to the ways that we can be, and are, Grace for one another and in our community. We will continue to engage with one another online and will support each other to the best of our abilities. We will get through this, together, with the love of God guiding every step we take.

Please do not hesitate to email me with concerns or questions at natenims@gracedesmoines.org

Grace and peace,
Nate Nims

3/12 At this time, the following steps are being taken at Grace:

Christians have always sought to care for “the least of these” (Matthew 23:31-46). Throughout church history, healing and bringing comfort to the sick has been of vital importance. Our faith is defined by how we extend the love, grace, and care of Christ that we have first received from God. At Grace, we take the health and well-being of our congregation, staff, and community seriously. Our staff is closely monitoring the updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). In addition to the multitude of ways we seek to maintain a safe and healthy environment, Grace is also implementing temporary measures at this time. Depending on the advice of the CDC and IDPH, further actions will be taken. 

At this time, the following steps are being taken at Grace:

  1. As we are avoiding handshakes and hugs at this time, we are also not printing bulletins. The weekend bulletin may be found online at www.gracedesmoines.org and more time will be given in worship to lift up announcements so we can all be aware of what is happening in our church.
  2. Since we are not printing bulletins to cut back on casual contact, we will also not pass the offering. Offerings will still be taken at services, but we will have baskets by the doors for individuals to make their offering. Offerings can also be given online through our website at www.gracedesmoines.org
  3. Transportation in the church van is temporally suspended to ensure the safety of our regular passengers and drivers.T
  4. Those with vulnerable immune systems and those who have close contact with persons that have vulnerable immune systems should stay home this weekend. Worship will online, on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/DesMoinesGrace/ and will be linked to the website. You do not need a Facebook account to watch the live-stream.
  5. Please regularly check back with the church website www.gracedesmoines.org and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DesMoinesGrace/ to learn more information. In addition to what is posted online, emails will be sent out through Beyond the Red Doors. If you do not already receive that email, you can sign up on our website. 

As you personally respond to the spread of this virus, please consider the following:

  1. Pray for all those affected by COVID-19, including the health professionals working to contain the virus and treat to those impacted.
  2. If you or a family member is sick, may have been directly exposed to the virus or have traveled to a high-alert area (currently South Korea, Iran, Italy, Japan), please follow the CDC guidelines and refrain from attending church services during the 14-day incubation period and instead worship with us online.
  3. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. The soap breaks down the virus.  Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  4. Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands.
  5. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider in advance to tell them about your symptoms before arriving at a doctor’s office or hospital.
  6. Make sure you check in with your family, friends, and neighbors. Social distancing does not mean that we stop interacting with one another, but it does mean that we have to be more thoughtful and intentional with how we care for one another. 

The continued spread and concern around COVID-19 invites us to consider, in a new way, what it means to care for one another, as Jesus said in Matthew 7:12, “treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you”.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers that the ethic to define their lives by is love. Our goal, as people of faith, should be to spread love in all that we do, which means we should take necessary and tangible steps to avoid spreading a virus. We will continue to ensure that our facilities are as clean as possible with soap and hand sanitizer available. As stated above, if necessary, we will take further steps to ensure the safety of our community.

Call your friends and family, check-in on your neighbors. If you’ve overstocked on toilet paper or soap, share with a friend in need. Many persons in our community do not have the luxury or ability to prepare or stockpile supplies.

As a person of faith, I cannot believe in a god that would create a virus to punish their creation. The poetry of Genesis 1 tells us that God created a blessed and beloved world. The scope of scripture and much of the Christian tradition, has pointed to a world that is beloved, even when it feels broken. God is not punishing us, God is not angry, God is not vindictive, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Through Christ, we meet God in the flesh and see how this love, this God, reaches out to the margins, blesses the sick, and cares for those who are not in a position to care for themselves. This is the same love that we are invited and called to live out.

There are reasons to fear, there are reasons to prepare, but above all, we are called to love.

May we love another enough to stay safe, for our sake, for the sake of our neighbors, and especially for those that are most vulnerable. May we love one another, may we love our neighbors, enough to reach out, to share what we have, to not only be but tangibly offer grace and peace to one another. You never know when you’ll be the one that runs out of toilet paper. As a community of faithful followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to love one another as we love ourselves, to treat one another as we would like to be treated. May it be so, now and always.

Pastor Nate

3 Simple Rules Videos

Bridging the Gap

The early Methodist movement began with weekly meetings where people would talk to respond to the question, “How is it with your soul?”. Essentially they would say to each other, how are you, really? Through these communities of care, concern, and mutual support, the Methodist movement was born. At a time such as this, it is critical for us to reclaim this tradition as we seek to intentionally connect with one another.

Grace Preschool Update

This year has held many challenges and many positives. We have missed many important moments but have been thankful for the Grace Preschool and GUMC community that has been supporting all of us during the challenges. Thank you for the kind messages, words of encouragement, and monetary donations.

As you know Grace Preschool is a mission of Grace United Methodist Church and the Iowa UMC Conference. The conference has recently shared a red, yellow, and green system to helps guide us in our transitional return. You can find that information here.

Safety is the first priority for everyone in the transitioning process of reopening. Grace Preschool will
be able to start a reopening plan somewhere in between the yellow and green indicators. At this moment we are at the red level as indicated by the IA UMC. We will be given additional guidance that we will share once we have reached a yellow safety level.

The red, yellow, and green system will also be a guiding indicator for both our summer and fall programming planning. You may sign up for updates and notifications on the https://www.iaumc.org website.

We value and miss all of our Grace Preschool and GUMC community and will be updating information as it is provided.

Thank you,

Grace Preschool

Free Clinic & Meal Postponed

After being in communication with Dr. Larry Severidt at Broadlawns who assists with our free medical clinic, the decision has been made to postpone the free clinic and meal until further notice.