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April 28, 2020

Dear friends,

This coming Sunday is a special Sunday in the life of our congregation. It’s Youth Sunday! Every spring we invite the students in our Youth Ministry to lead worship. They chose and lead music. They read scripture. They greet you as you enter the Sanctuary. They receive your offering. They lead Time on the Steps. And they preach! I have come to look forward to hearing from our seniors on this special day as they share their faith stories with us. Many of you have known many of them since they were very small. I’m still catching up on their formative years, so I really enjoy learning about how you have been touching their lives, teaching them faith, and learning from them over the years they have been involved in the ministry of Embry Hills UMC.

We have the chance again this week to celebrate our youth as they lead virtual worship this Sunday. It makes all the sense in the world to do it this way; they know far more about the digital world than most of us do (with the obvious exception of Dottie Hunt who is making our digital/virtual/online presence possible). And they are ready to lead. Their theological insights, their ideas, their questions, and their response to the world from a faith perspective all help to shape us into the kind of church we want to be: the kind that welcomes, nurtures, serves, and grows.

There are four graduating seniors in our youth ministry this year. Normally, they would be experiencing all kind of celebrations of their growth and achievement right now. They would be spending time dreaming with their friends about what life will bring next. There is much they are missing, and there is much they will not regain. They will look back on this time for the rest of their lives as critical to how they figure out who they are and who God is asking them to be in the world. We can play a role in that. The following request comes from Julie Guarnizo, Youth Ministries Coordinator:

Dear EHUMC Congregation,

As we continue to shelter in place and pray for the health of everyone, I would like to ask all of us to extend those prayers to our 4 high school seniors - Maddy Cora, Rachael Dunbar, Ashleigh Lawson, and Lauren Robb.

Many of us have kept these girls on our minds and in our hearts. This is a difficult time for them as they will miss the last few months of their high school career as well as the precious milestones and memories that go along with that time – proms, banquets, trips, and potentially graduations.

We are hoping all of you could help us do something special for these seniors from their church family. They will not be able to walk the halls to have their yearbooks signed by their friends and teachers. This is where you all come in – We would like to create a special “2020 EHUMC Yearbook” for them. We would like to collect yearbook entries from the entire congregation. You can send advice, special memories, or just let them know they are loved. If your entry is meant for a specific senior, please note that, otherwise we will plan to use the entry for all 4 yearbooks. All entries can be sent via email to Julie Guarnizo (JTGUARNIZO@GMAIL.COM), if possible, no later than Monday, May 4.

Thank you,

Julie Guarnizo, EHUMC Youth Coordinator

Through the years, you may have taught these students in Sunday school or Vacation Bible school. You may have shared a table with one or more of them in the Family Life Center or a hymnal in the Sanctuary. Now is our time to give them a proper and meaningful send off into the next phase of their lives. I hope you will participate in this project and let these students know how much you love and appreciate them and share some wisdom for what is to come in their lives.

In the meantime, I know you will enjoy worship this Sunday, May 3. Pray for all our students. They have questions and doubts and fears and hopes that are important, and we can learn from them and their perspective on what we are all experiencing right now. I am excited for them to lead.

And let me say one more time how much I miss each of you and look forward to being in worship with you again as soon as it is safe! In the meantime, keep track of what you are learning about yourself, your faith, and the community and world while we are separated. We will probably not go back to life exactly as it was after this. What will we retain from this strange time? What will we do better because of it? I look forward to the future with you.

And speaking of the future, we received word from our Bishop late last night that our churches should remained closed through June 22. You can read about it and the helpful plans she suggests for re-opening here: The church staff and leadership will be working specific plans for re-opening Embry Hills UMC as safely as possible and will communicate those plans to you as soon as they are in place. In the meantime, as much as we want to start gathering again, please continue to follow best practices for personal and communal safety!

A brief update on our finances:

Year-to-date (YTD) through April 27:

- Total revenue: $236, 400

- Total budgeted: $217,800

It is worth noting that one of our revenue sources is rental income:

- YTD received: $3,200

- YTD budgeted: $8,100

These rounded numbers help to give us a snapshot of how we are weathering this difficult time financially. The news is good! Thank you for the extraordinary generosity you are showing, and please help us stay in this good place as we head into summer.



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