Monday Night Prayer

As another way for us to pray together as a church we are reviving Monday nights this fall. Over the last several years we have used Monday night for both worship and prayer services and we’re returning to Monday night during this difficult Pandemic season. May it be a time of prayer and coming together.

St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine monastic movement of the church talked about prayer as the most important thing you will do all day. He called it the work of a Christian. It’s something God has asked us to do, is it any wonder that the practice of daily prayer in that tradition is called the daily office?

In prayer we deepen our relationship with God by offering praise and thanksgiving, by bringing petitions and requests, and by sitting silently in the presence of God.

How is that going to work on Monday night? We’ll we will begin by making Monday night a time of continuous prayer. We’re beginning by setting aside 3 hours, from 5-8 PM where we hope to be praying together as a church without a break. Below, you can find a link to a sign-up genius where you can take a 20 minute shift during that time. We’re asking everyone who signs up to be intentional about those 20 minutes and pray in your way and at your home. We’ll supply you with a copy of the church prayer list, and a second list provided by our church staff (specific to the ministries of the church and the concerns of our town, state, and nation). This “prayer sheet” will be updated every week.

Sign up here to help us stay in continuous prayer from 5-8

Sign Up!

You can have prayer requests added to the prayer list and prayer chain by contacting the church office at 378-2651 or by emailing office@downsumc.org

Thanks for making prayer a priority and please know your church is praying for you.

Building Update 7/20/20

Members of the building committee visited the site this morning to take a look at siding and windows, and while we were there we took some great new shots of the exterior.

Here is the front of the building, the side that faces SR 150, you can see that it is prepped for siding and the framing of the entryway is coming together nicely.
Here you can see the south-facing side of the building. If you see something that looks like a little mini-roof peak on the left-center side that’s our new CHAPEL! We have vaulted the ceiling in that room to give it a sacred feel and those two big holes are for a set of beautifully tall windows. The bit coming off to the right is our stage.
Now moving to the NORTH facing side you can see the worship space in the center standing above a side hallway that leads to a nice sized youth room on the left. On the right is where our nursery will enter into an attached outdoor playground for our smallest members. That area is also connected to the fellowship hall.
One more fun shot, just because the clouds were beautiful today. You can see the front and the south facing sides of the building here.

Phase 4 on-site Worship Services

Are you considering joining us for on-site worship during phase 4 of Illinois re-opening plan? This post is designed to give you a clear picture of what worship at the church on Sunday morning will look like, so that you can make your own best decision about whether to join us or to wait. Whichever you choose, we have a worship service for you! The online service will continue, as normal, all throughout phase four. God is with you, and you’re important part of our church. Please make safe and responsible decisions about when to join us in person. Below is a video explaining worship during phase four, or if you would like to read the main-points just scroll past the video.

During Illinois Phase 4

  • If you are sick, showing symptoms, or have been exposed to someone who is ill, it is your Christian duty to stay at home and join us online instead of in person. Our church is here to help support you though, please call the office if you have needs we can assist with, have prayer requests, or are low on supplies.
  • We are strongly encouraging any and all who are in the high-risk categories for Covid-19 to stay home during Phase 4. We’re working hard to provide you with high quality online worship and alternative ways to connect with the church.
  • Worship attendance will be capped at 50 people in the sanctuary
  • Worship attendance will be capped at 25 people in the fellowship hall
  • Masks will be expected no exceptions made. This one of is the best ways we can care for one another at this time.
  • Seating will be every-other pew, those who live in the same house can sit together as a group, all individuals or family-units are asked to keep the 6 feet social distance guidelines.
  • We will dismiss by rows after the service to avoid dense crowds in the entry/exit area.
  • There will be no fellowship meal, no Sunday school on-site, just the one worship event.
  • The doors will open at 9 AM and the service will start at 9:30.
  • There will be music, but there won’t be singing, we have been asked to discourage singing.
  • No attendance pads or offering plates will be passed, and the bibles are temporarily out of the pews (but you are welcome to bring your own Bible) – this is just to try and reduce common contact surfaces.
  • Hand sanitizer will be abundant and available.

Online Worship Services

The link for the worship service is below, as is a chance for you to download the church bulletin. We put the song lyrics in the bulletin in the hopes that you’d sing along. Thanks so much for joining us for worship this morning. Our church is praying for you and we look forward to the opportunity to gather together again.

  1. March 22, 2020 Worship Service

List of Downs UMC Program Updates 4/1/2020

All church programming is postponed until further notice.

Adult Sunday School: Will return when we begin to have worship in the building again. We pray that will be soon.

Confirmation Class: Is going to offer an at-home lesson as a trial, watch your email in the upcoming week.

Coffee with the Pastor: Is postponed until further notice.

Cub Scout Pack 53: March pack meeting cancelled. Boxcar derby postponed. Spring camp-out is still on. Den meetings will be decided individually by each den leader.

Griefshare: Is working on at-home curriculum, please watch your email this week.

Journey Group (Wednesday Night 4 PM): Will be meeting via Zoom.

Sanctuary Hours: Will not be occurring. While we had looked forward to offering this service, with the new restrictions we are asked to keep, sanctuary hours have had to be postponed.

Senior’s Bible Study (Tuesday 10 AM): Has temporarily switched to an at-home reading program. Find the updates here.

Sewing Group: Will have its next meeting on April 14th.

Swap Room: Will be closed for all of March. Individual requests and questions can still be sent to swaproom@downsumc.org

United Methodist Women: Their next meeting will be in August

Wednesday Night Children’s Choir: This ministry will not meet until school is back in session

Wednesday Night Children’s Ministry: This ministry will not meet until school is back in session.

If the ministry you are looking for is not on this list, please contact the ministry leader, or the church office. 378-2651 office@downsumc.org

A Healthy Church

With the large amounts of fear and worry surrounding the rough flu season, and the reports of corona virus this year, we thought we would take a few moments to let you know what Downs UMC is doing in response. 

Short Version: We are still having church on Sunday, but absolutely understand and respect you if your decision is to stay home. We’ll be working next week to provide you with some at-home resources.

We Value Our Time Together:  We really do believe that 50% of what makes church awesome is are the people.  Time together is profoundly important to our spiritual growth as Christians and some things (like praying and singing together) just cannot be replicated without Sunday Morning.  We will always remain a church that values and finds ways to spend time together.  All that said, Christ does ask us to be wise, and the entire book of Proverbs is all about wisdom.  It only makes sense to be wise amid today’s concerns of flu and Corona, so here is how we are going about that at Downs UMC. 

Small Changes in Sunday Morning:  You may notice, there’s a lot more hand sanitizer around, we have placed some at every entrance.  We are also de-emphasizing (just for flu season) portions of the service involving handshaking and hand-holding.  Those parts were always optional, but we may do a little less of them for a while.  We’ve also made a few changes to serving communion to make sure It is even more sanitary than it already was.  You can also find a United Methodist article about responding to Corona here.  Our conference (Illinois Great Rivers) has a site with Corona information here. Some of the social-distancing that is being talked about in the media can also be practiced at church (if you want to leave some more space between you and your neighbor in the pews, that’s no problem). 

A Note From Our Custodian:  Our fantastic Custodian Leigh wants to let you know that she is being extra diligent with all the contact surfaces in the church.  This is not just tables and counters but it’s also railings, knobs, handles, and more.  If it gets touched by hands, it gets cleaned at our church.  Our cleaning schedule is such that the church gets a good once-over after each high-traffic event in the building.  Additionally, we have always asked individual groups and ministries to be diligent in cleaning their area when they are finished. 

Should you Find Yourself Staying Home:  We thank you in advance for staying home if you’ve got a fever, or any major symptoms of the flu.  We miss you and look forward to seeing you when you’re feeling better.  We also understand if you’re holding back from attendance because of concerns over crowed places.  If that’s you, please know that your church is with you, you’re a part of what’s going on here, and we understand if you hold back for a bit.  We also look forward to seeing you soon, when you can make it, you’re an important part of our church.  If you do find yourself at home for a season, the next section of the article is all for you. 

  • A New Page on the Website (Coming Next Week):  Starting next week we’re going to create a new tab on the website, called “Faith at Home”.  While it will have some great “on your own” faith formation techniques, we don’t intend this in any way to be a permanent substitute for church attendance.  You’re just too cool to be away forever and we would miss you.  If, however, you are home for a few weeks check that Tab and you’ll find the following:
    • PDF’s of the church bulletin to keep you up to date
    • A fun article about designing a worship experience at home
    • A conversation about spiritual disciplines that you can do on your own
    • A Devotional from the Pastor (connected to the weekly Sunday Morning Theme)
    • Information on Tithing and Pledging online

New Ministry: Grief Share

UPDATE: The start date for this ministry has been moved back one week, it is now Sunday March 1st, at the same time (4:00 PM)

Downs United Methodist is adding a new dimension to pastoral care for those experiencing grief and loss. Beginning on Sunday March 1st we will be offering a grief recovery program called Grief Share. It will meet on Sunday afternoons at 4:00 at in the church basement. This is a well respected program used by many different churches, and we are glad to be one of them.

Grief Share is a special weekly seminar and support group designed to help you rebuild your life. We know it hurts, and we want to help.

The program uses a work book, so we do ask that you please let us know that you are coming. We want to have enough supplies for everyone. Contact the church office at 309-378-2651 to register, or send an email to office@downsumc.org

Evangelica great Success!

Sunday evening January 26th we had a fantastic night of Fellowship and learning of the behind the scene activities taking place as well as the areas we will be working on this year. The teams are listed below and there is still time to join a group. Just contact the office at 378-2651 and you will be directed to the contact person for that group.

The teams are listed below:

Construction Team: There will be several mini-projects this year where we are pitching in with our own hands and skill to help build the new building. Members of this team will assist with those projects.

Publicity/Hospitality Team: We want to share the good news of Jesus Christ, and the possibilities and joys of the ministries of the church! This team will look for new ways to share that good word, and they will help us plan our grand opening.

Legacy Team: Downs UMC has been in existence since 1833. There is a fantastic story of faith here in our congregation and our village. The members of the Legacy team will create our church’s first historical archive, and find fun and creative ways to display that history in the new building’s chapel and library.

Worship Team: We have set a goal of having a second worship team by the end of 2020. We already have one fantastic worship team at Downs UMC, all volunteer, who bring some great band-led music once a month. This will give us the opportunity to do that twice as often, if you’re musical, we’ve got a spot for you.

Weather Reminder

Just a reminder that if the weather is rough and you cannot make it, we absolutely understand and will look forward to seeing you next week. The church will be open for all who can attend worship, but please make safe choices on the roads and in the cold.

If you are snowed or iced in, we recommend that you still take some time to worship on Sunday morning. Choose a few selections from the book of Psalms, and a reading from the gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) to accompany your prayer time. Incorporate music, include other members of the family. Worship does not only occur at the church.

Remember that we do post the sermons on the website, so if we are in a series and you want to hear the Sunday you missed, we try to have it online by Monday/Tuesday of the next week.

United Methodism in 2020

You may have noticed we’ve been featured in a few of the major news outlets recently. As the pastor of Downs UMC I have read several of the articles and found them to be a bit incomplete. I wanted to make sure you have access to all of the information from a United Methodist Perspective. Most of the recent articles have been about a new proposal put forward by a group of United Methodist leaders. You can read about it from our own church’s news service (and read an FAQ) here. The proposal suggests “a restructuring of the remaining global United Methodist Church into regions, with flexibility to adapt church policies, including on LGBTQ inclusion” as well as the formation of a traditionalist denomination which “could continue what they see as Bible-supported restrictions on same-sex marriage and ordination of gay persons as clergy.” This new denomination would be informed/assisted by a group of United Methodists called the Wesleyan Covenant Association or the WCA. You can find their website here.

A note from your Pastor: I know that we have people on both sides of the aisle in our congregation and one of the great things about our church is that we have remained together throughout this denominational argument with good-hearted and passionate people on both sides, yet still holding Christ in common. Please remember that this is just a proposal and that nothing can be finally voted on or decided until May of this year when our governing body (called General Conference) meets again. That said, as far as proposals go, this one is very interesting to me for the following reasons: 1) It looks like they succeeded in getting everyone to the table. I see all the major groups in the conversation represented in the signatories. 2) it was a mediated discussion run by a talented and well known mediator. That means something to me, I’m a fan of mediation when two sides have reached an impasse.

I encourage you to read it on your own, and I am absolutely available to answer any questions you might have. We can chat in person or you can email me at pastor@downsumc.org. Our current Bishop is an avid fisherman and has given some words of wisdom in fishing terms for us and I would like to echo those words. This always has been and always will be God’s church. Your personal relationship with Jesus Christ should be first and foremost. As we prayerfully consider the questions before us let us make sure that we always keep God first, and always offer our neighbors the love of Jesus Christ. Let’s be in prayer for our leaders, and show the world and our village our very best in how we choose to have these necessary conversations in this upcoming year.