A Letter to the Wellspring Congregation Family
Rev. Ashley Crowder Stanley
October 14, 2020
Grace and peace to each of you during these challenging days. You are in my prayers each day even though I have not met many of you “in person.” Yet, I already feel the bond between us and look so forward to the time we can safely and non-anxiously be together. I am writing to share some thoughts about Wellspring and update you on our plans for the next few months.
Over a year ago, Wellspring Congregation was started to be an inclusive United Methodist congregation in the Asheville area. Many of you attended information sessions and shared your hopes for a safe, welcoming place to worship and serve. We heard you and enthusiastically began to form a leadership team, plans programs, secure and renovate a building and do fundraising. There was such enthusiastic momentum!
Our opening date was scheduled to be April 5th, 2020-Palm Sunday-and we were beyond excited to have our first, in-person, worship service on that day! Our leadership team, along with countless others, invested significant time and resources to be ready to offer warm hospitality .
And then, COVID-19 happened…and it is still happening. Of course, the most tragic and pressing concern we share are for the 217,000 people who have lost their lives to this virus as well as for the grieving family members left behind. It is difficult to conceptualize the seismic impact this virus has caused on our world and its citizenry. In order to do our part to stop the spread, we chose to indefinitely postpone the opening of our building and instead, move our worship and small group offerings online.
Since April, we have offered a worship service each week which features music, prayer and a sermon. Several times a month, I film a children’s message so that the children in our Wellspring family can feel connected and spiritually fed. As with every church I’ve served, I find that the adults like the children’s messages as much as the kids do!
Additionally, we offer a weekly “Sermon Talk Back” zoom gathering during which participants can explore ideas and questions raised in that week’s sermon. And, we have done a few, small scale mission projects. We have also become a full member of the Reconciling Ministries Network, “an organization seeking the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in both the policy and practices of United Methodist Church.”
What is on the horizon for Wellspring over the next few months? Here are a few highlights:
- First of all, we will continue to worship online each week. Because our “sanctuary” space is not large, we do not feel safe having more than a handful of people inside at the same time. We believe this is the most faithful, responsible approach for now. Our services can be found on our website and our Facebook page and are archived from week to week.
- On Sunday, October 25th at 9am, there will be a zoom information session for people who are interested in joining Wellspring. The zoom invitation will be sent out closer to the date. Please join in on an informative conversation about what membership in Wellspring means and how to make it happen! Let me know if you’d like more information about this opportunity.
- Sunday, November 1st is All Saints Sunday. During our worship service, we will light candles for those people near and dear to us who have passed away during the last year as we say their names. If you have lost a family member or a friend during the last year and would like to have a candle lit in their memory on November 1st, please send me an email with their name (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please send me this information no later than OCTOBER 25th. You are also encouraged to have a candle with you at home which you can light as you watch the worship service.
- Advent Study: during December, we will offer an Advent study over zoom. This will help us prepare our hearts for Christmas and hopefully give us a good opportunity to meet one another. Stay tuned for more information!
- \Outdoor Christmas Candlelight Service: we hope to have a beautiful outdoor candlelight and carol service during the week before Christmas unless new COVID restrictions take effect before then. We will be confirming the place and date soon!
Wellspring is alive and growing! We appreciate your prayers, virtual presence, financial contributions and ideas! Let me know how I can pray for you! And, if you have ideas that could enrich and deepen our ministry, please let me know.
May God bless you and hold you close, always.
Ashley Crowder Stanley
Pastor, Wellspring Congregation