Dear Manteno UMC friends,
I’ve had many great opportunities to get to know people at the Meet and Greets. If you missed them, don’t worry…we’ll have more. I really want to get to know all of you.
Several common themes came out of the “Meet and Greet” gatherings when I asked you what your hopes and dreams for the church are.
1) We love how friendly Manteno UMC is.
2) We like one worship service so we all see each other.
3) We want to grow. We want missing people to come back, and we want more young people to come.
People also shared sadness and frustration how COVID has taken people and momentum out of how Manteno UMC was in the past. We know that it is difficult to get back into the rhythm of coming to church, and some still do not feel safe returning. Young people don’t always find church appealing or relevant. Some attendees also asked about the process for the larger UMC to move forward in our divisions over human sexuality. We won’t have clarity until the 2026 General Conference, and even then, it will take time for each conference and church to decide how to respond.
As one member said, we won’t ever be the same again. She is right. The church won’t be the same, and we can’t get the past back. There is much to grieve, and it is okay to grieve. Some things are better left in the past, and we do not want to resurrect them.
The best thing we can do is lift up our eyes to God and move forward in faith as the church. We still worship and praise God together. We still pray and care for each other. We study the Bible and religious books. We do service projects and fellowship together. We laugh and cry and hug. Some things we can try again, like Sunday School for kids and fellowship time with coffee and food after church. We can keep trying to find ways to do things better and differently, especially to be relevant to young people. But most importantly, we must keep loving each other, serving those who are hurting and looking for people who need to be invited to experience God’s love with us.
To those who still prefer to watch worship online, live or later, God bless you for sticking with us. You make a very conscious decision to stay connected with the church online, and we’ll try to stay connected with you too. Let us know how we can better connect with you. Please say hi and share your prayers with us during worship.
Invite old friends back. Invite new friends and neighbors. Invite family! Invite those who have given up on church. Invite total strangers! Call and write to others who are isolated and lonely and may need a caring friend. People all need the church to be the arms of God’s love and the feet going to serve those in need.
We as the Manteno UMC, far and near, must keep being the arms and feet, the grace and love of Christ to a hurting world that needs him. We are called to keep reaching out in that spirit, whether in the sanctuary on Sunday morning or out in the community the rest of the week. God bless you all.