Dear Followers of Christ:

May this letter find you doing well and finding the blessings of God in your day-to-day life. Last week was a unique experience for me between preparing service and a COVID-19 visit from Karen’s daughter and two adorable young ladies, one who is three, and one who is about to turn six. It was a joyous occasion to see them, and a sad occasion that the visit was not like any other visit we have ever had.

Several people have asked about the prayer which closed last Sunday’s service. I had been thinking a lot about feelings, and the somewhat common belief that the followers of Christ are “above” feelings. I spoke about “tired”. Anger? Paul says: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26). Despair? Psalm 44 is David’s cry of despair as it appears his armies are defeated? Sorrow? There’s an entire book of the Bible called Lamentations. We don’t read from it often, but it is the prophet Jeremiah expressing sorrow over the fall and ruin of Jerusalem.

There are feelings all throughout the Bible, but the recommendation is the same. And it came to me through a phrase in our closing hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”. The phrase: “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…”. Bringing our tiredness, our anger, our despair, our sorrow, our stress to the Lord in prayer helps us to gain a bigger perspective. These are times of great emotion. What we need to do, in the words of Lee Milligan, a blessed follower of (and now co-dweller with) Christ, is to “keep on keeping on.” Lord, give us strength. For those who asked, here’s that closing prayer:

For those who are weary and tired and losing hope, we ask for strength for the body and refreshment for the spirit. Lord, hear our prayer.
For those who seethe with anger towards the circumstances they find themselves, show them comfort and help them to steer away from sin. Lord, hear our prayer.
For those who despair give them a renewed sense of hope, lead people to them who will help alleviate the circumstances causing their despair. Lord, hear our prayer.
For those who lament the times in which we live, comfort them in their laments. Lord, hear our prayer.
For those who are ill, who are struggling with disease, whether it be COVID-19, the after-effects of COVID-19, cancer, or any other illness, touch their bodies, minds, and hearts. Lord, hear our prayer.
For those who work in the medical professions and put themselves at risk to work as agents of healing, give them strength, give them protection, and ease their minds. Lord, hear our prayer.
For all of us, Lord, you know our struggles, you know our concerns, you know our weaknesses, you know our hopes and dreams. Lord, pour out your Spirit on us, your people so that we may grow in wisdom and strength and knowledge of the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.
Thank you, Father God. Thank you Jesus Christ, Son of God. Thank you Holy Spirit. Thank you for your love, your kindness, your mercy, your gifts unto us. We praise you and worship you for you are worthy of our praise and worship. And all God’s people said, AMEN.

The Lord Bless You and Keep You. Take care. Stay safe. Be healthy.
Joe Kwiatkowski


Chiavetta's Chicken BBQ

Join Fredonia First United Methodist Church for a Chiavetta's Chicken BBQ dinner on Saturday, August 22 from 11:30 am until 3:00 pm. Dinners are $12.00 and include 1/2 of chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, roll and butter, cookie, and a beverage. Proceeds will go to support UMCOR disaster kits for children.  Purchase tickets online through Eventbrite or contact the office at 716-679-1513.

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UNY Conference Office Closure & Recommendations For Local Churches

In accordance with the continued response to COVID-19 pandemic, the Upper New York (UNY) Conference Office, the Episcopal Office, and the Crossroads District Office at the United Methodist Center in Liverpool, NY will remain closed through the end of May. All employees will continue telecommuting.

In addition, UNY Conference local churches are strongly encouraged to continue to refrain from having in-person worship services through the end of May. Recognizing that the New York Governor has placed drive-in theatres as a part of businesses that can open within Phase 1 of the states re-opening guidelines, we support any churches that desire to offer drive-in worship experiences within regions that are in Phase 1 of New York’s reopening guidelines until in-person worship within our buildings can resume. It is vital that guidelines be followed closely if a church decides to offer drive-in worship and that the building not be opened or available for access in any way. You can find guidelines, as well as resources, for drive-in worship experiences here.

As the state begins to reopen, decisions about in-person worship services within church buildings will be made regionally and locally in compliance with local authorities. By next week, detailed guidelines for church reopening procedures will be shared by UNY leadership, along with FAQs, and best practices. Continue watching Conference Communications channels for more information.

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