Letter from the Pastor
Dear members and friends of First United Methodist Church – Ponchatoula,

We are living in unprecedented times. The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues, and our state is being greatly impacted. This week, Louisiana’s Governor banned gatherings of 50 people or more until April 13th, and President Trump has recommended gatherings be limited to no more than 10 people for the next two weeks. These limitations are all being done in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, so that our hospitals and medical facilities are not overwhelmed.
 
Your safety is our top priority, and we want to be mindful of these guidelines in order to protect the most vulnerable among us and within our community. Therefore, we will be canceling all church gatherings for the foreseeable future. This includes Sunday morning worship, Wednesday Lenten Lunches, and all meetings/classes. With how rapidly the situation is developing, it is impossible for us to say with any certainty a date by which we will be able to gather in person again. However, at this point, there is a high likelihood that we will not be back in our Sanctuary for Easter Sunday.
 
Though I know this news is disheartening, I want to reassure you that, though we may not be able to gather for worship together, we are still God’s people, and God is still present in the midst of this crisis.
 
We are exploring different new ways for us to continue to connect and be “together” during this difficult time. We have created a new page on our church website (www.fumcponchatoula.org) called, “Virtual Church” which has links for you to continue submitting prayer requests, and for you to connect with us through Facebook, where I will be conducting a brief worship service each Sunday morning, live, at 10:00AM.
 
We are also launching Care Teams, which will be a way for us to check in with you by phone on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. We have split the congregation into 7 different Care Groups, and have various lay leaders who have volunteered to contact those individuals and families on a regular basis to see if there are any needs we can help meet.
 
We have also mailed a copy of this letter to you via postal mail. In that letter you will find a post card asking you about your preferred methods of contact/communication. Please fill this out and send it back to us right away so that we can better assess our congregation’s needs during this time.

We are looking into starting some new small groups digitally, using Zoom (a tele-conferencing website). Check our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PonchatoulaMethodist) often for updates about this and other creative ways for us to remain engaged with one another during this time of social distancing and isolation.
 
During this time, I also ask that you continue your giving to the church if possible. We are continuing to check the mail daily, and are depositing checks regularly. Please mail checks to:
 
First United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 545
Ponchatoula, LA 70454
 
We have also set up online giving that will allow you to deposit money electronically or through a bank transfer. You can find information on this on our website or through our Facebook page.
 
During this time of anxiety and fear, I encourage you to continue to pray for one another – to pray for our community here in Ponchatoula, for our state of Louisiana, for our country, and for our world. Though we may be unsure of what exactly the future holds, we can rest assured that God will continue to be present with us as we continue to journey together through this.
 
I leave you with this text from Philippians 4:6-7:

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Grace and Peace,
-Rev. Jessica Lowe