First United Methodist Church of Rockport, Texas
Monday, September 25, 2017
Growing Families in Christ

After Harvey Updates and Notices!!!

FUMC Post - Harvey Update #5

FUMC Post -Harvey Update #4

FUMC Post - Harvey Update #3

FUMC Post-Harvey Update #2

 FUMC Post-Harvey Update #1

 

From Pastor Laura: 9/22/17:

Words won't come.   Actions seem small.   And the enormity of the work looms as large as the mound of debris moved from one place to another.   We are promised in scripture that the faith of a mustard seed has power to move a mountain.   Lord, move the fatigue, the frustrations, the lack of gratitude from our hearts and let the faith grow as we call out to the mountains 'MOVE'.   MOVE Bitterness.  MOVE Entitled pride.  MOVE Overwhelmed ego.  MOVE Skepticism.   MOVE Criticism.   MOVE Mountains MOVE.   

“Because you have little faith,” he said. “I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do.”  -Matthew 17:20

From Pastor Laura: 9/10/17               Word for the Day - Psalm 84: 3-5

Yes, the sparrow too has found a home there;
     the swallow has found herself a nest where she can lay her young beside your altars,
         Lord of heavenly forces, my king, my God!
 
Stories are being shared everywhere in the aftermath of 'Harvey'.   The questions, "Where are you staying and How is your home?", are on every tongue.   There is even concern in our birding community as we hear news of  how Harvey has impacted our Hummerbird Festival.   "Will we need to hang more feeders?", we pondered.   I have a hunch that the hummers will find a home and are in the care of God, Creator Almighty.   As we took flight on our evacuation route, we landed in several homes of friends and family that provided the exact thing we needed for the exact moment at hand.  Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs were met each day and brought us to the next transformative moment.   Praise be to God, from whom all blessings flow.

Those who live in your house are truly happy; they praise you constantly.  
Those who put their strength in you are truly happy;  pilgrimage is in their hearts.  (Common English Version)
 

Where exactly is God's house?   If we seek to be truly happy and have an attitude of constant thankfulness, then how do we get to this house so we can live?   I believe it has everything to do with our need to rely on the strength and gifts of others.   The strength of God is often revealed through the work and vocation of first responders, infrastructure teams, contractors, community leaders, postal delivers, charitable volunteers, non-profit organizations, local agencies and churches; and, so many others.   The spirit of Christ can see these strong ones and truly sing out in happy praise.   We pass all of these folks everyday and we do not see their significance so clearly as when their presence is vitally needed to restore our comforts.   So often I take for granted the gifts of others that work behind the scenes and uphold so many of the systems and resources.   I actually found myself cheering outloud the line-men as we drove past on our way back to evacuated safety.   I hope that is my disposition in general, but as scripture says, we all fall short of the glory of God.   We trip up when our hearts are hardened by entitlement, pride, greed, and a dozen other failings.   All of which brings unhappy destruction and pain to ourselves and others.   

The last part of the text says 'pilgrimage is in their hearts'.    For me, this means that Life is the pilgrimage/journey and location nor circumstance has the ability to disempower the Lord of heavenly forces.     God's power and presence is incarnate in the hearts of those who seek Christ.    May we truly seek Christ as we recover and rebuild our lives in this aftermath of a disaster that has come to us all.   

From Pastor Laura:   9/3/17              Word for the Day – Psalm 84: 1-2   

 

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    
Lord of heavenly forces!

God is the dwelling; God is the lovely in which we reside; God is fully present no matter the forces that blow, flood, disperse, or surround us, regardless of how we choose to define those forces.   God is LORD of it all.  Sovereign.  Alpha, Omega.   Point of Origin and Point of End – Infinite.  

My very being longs, even yearns,
    for the Lord’s courtyards.
My heart and my body
    will rejoice out loud to the living God!   (CEB)

Earlier in the week I wondered about having worship in the parking lot, maybe a drive-by communion, or a much needed ‘Sunday-service project instead of on-site worship’, all fabulous creative ideas with practical logistics and a thousand moving parts and many safety and health concerns.  Getting to the ‘courtyard’ seemed a holy thought until God directed me to worship at John Wesley UMC in Victoria, another holy thought.  The Spirit refreshed and continues to do so as I make my way back to Rockport.   I pray that you are listening to what God leads you to do next.   As much as I wanted to be in charge of setting worship for others, God offered permission to allow others to provide it to me.   The work ahead of us will be extensive as we address our family situations, damages, and adjust ministry plans accordingly.   All will be made new.   Praise be to God.  

 

From Pastor Laura:9/2/17

Love, Truth, Perspective, Breathe   - Words for the day

Dear Church Family,  

We awoke today as displaced people once again.   We have experienced a natural disaster of massive scale firsthand and honestly we feel anxious, overwhelmed, and scattered in our particular version of this larger story that unfolds around us.   It will demand a continual effort on our part to make decisions in real time that keep us safe, nourished, and grounded in God’s grace.  

In spite of my intense desire to gather us all for worship tomorrow, it simply is not feasible for us to do so in our usual way at First United Methodist Church in Rockport.  Our beloved building has suffered extensive damage and roads in the area still have powerlines across them that would keep us from utilizing our facility safely at the present time.  The sanctuary is not usable because of water damage and other parts of the building would not accommodate our gathering;   I do believe that worship is still a basic essential for life therefore I encourage you to either find a place of worship that you enjoy with family and friends in the place where you are temporarily re-located. 

I spoke with a church member who prayed and held her little dog all night long in her bathtub while the eye of hurricane Harvey passed over her small apartment.   I have witnessed praise singing break out in shelters.   I have sorted through the many pictures and stories on social media where people have been encouraged and held up by the mighty Spirit of God.  

Be encouraged.  God’s grace is sufficient to all our needs.   Our new reality demands from us obedience to receive the manna that is offered, remain willing to receive it, and trust that it is enough for today.   I have been in contact with the church staff, conference and district leaders of UMC, some of our congregation, and many communications from outside churches and resources that want to help us as a response to this disaster.  And we are certainly going to need them to address the needs of our mission field. 

I am strengthened by the way God is showing up as we overcome the obstacles that hurricane Harvey has put before us.    When we experience life-altering losses, acts of gratitude and kindness will further strengthen us for the journey ahead.   Take deep breaths and ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit.  It will sustain us and direct us with a daily portion of sustenance, in bites that are small enough to chew, wherever we are.    For those who still have sustenance to share, First United Methodist Church needs you.  

My family and I are safe and sound in Victoria for a couple of days and I am working on communication logistics that have been disrupted by the storm.  I hope that you have followed the news and communications from City and County Officials about infrastructure progress.   My desire is to have some kind of working office by Tuesday, September 5th.    Please let us know where you are and help us know your needs so that we can address our needs as a congregation  and community.   For now, I am directing everyone to first get their families settled and get ready to address the new mission field.   If you have no place to settle, we need to know. 

The best contact for me is through my church email: pastor@fumcrockport.org for now.   I am checking in on social media such as Messenger through Facebook and my voice mail/messages at church office number 361-729-1659 ext. 2248.    In addition, the more people we have talking to one another (even through one), the better able we will be to minister to the needs that are so in evidence.  Please do not think for one moment that you are going through these times by yourself.    You are not without a church or Pastor and quite frankly I am grateful for my United Methodist connections and every other connection that has made themselves known through this crisis.   Not only is GOD our constant companion but God chooses to reveal his presence in us by the power of the Holy Spirit working through us in the body of Christ.   We do have each other and we can use this time to grow in faith and action.      

This will be a birthday and anniversary week for the family album to record.  It will be a time of healing of relationships or the thing that moves us closer to health.  It will be a time when you will see Christ in the loving kind help of a neighbor, friend, or complete stranger.   It will be a time when you are challenged to grow in faith and deal with your own sin.   It will be a time like any other time where you must choose to walk with Christ in faithful obedience.    

I am trying to listen to One Voice – it comes with might and calm but always sounds like reason, love, truth, gratitude, and compassion for self and for others.  

We have church families and staff who have lost entire homes.  We have families who will be cleaning yards for weeks.  The struggle was, is, and will be real; and definitely has a new dimension because of a storm we will call Harvey for years to come.  Last time I checked Harvey has nothing that compares to the power of Christ holding people together.

Yesterday, I made my way to Rockport for the first time to survey and assess damages to the parsonage.   It looks to be livable as soon as power is restored.   Hopefully, clean up and repair of church building and First Learning Tree will begin soon after the Insurance Adjuster reviews it Monday, September 4th.   

My operational orders for now have been:   be safe, give staff and families time to settle, and continue to focus on contacting entire church family in order to assess Harvey related needs so that all the helping hands that want to arrive to clean up will know where to go.   Finally, my heart and action will be focused on staying in the work of ministry to Rockport and our church family. 

Please check out the church website for daily updates if you haven’t already.   www.fumcrockport.org     And by all means, don’t hesitate to call, text, email, or post on social media. 

I am praying for you.  Please pray for my family as well.   May God’s grace and peace be with you now and in the days ahead. 

In Christ’s Service, Pastor Laura

 

 From Pastor Laura 8/31/17

Thank you to all the folks who are sending messages of support, financial gifts, care packages and teams of all kinds to our community.   I'm grateful for everyone making an effort to reach out in love.   The disruption to normal habits of work and responding weighs heavy on all.  Access to our normal tools and resources are splintered on the ground. The myth of self-sufficiency is dsipelled by the truth of communal reliance.  Neighbors who didn't even know each other's name serve the other without reserve.   Neighbors who knew their brother and sister have used their networks of relationships and resources to share in expansive response to  the community needs.     There are no fences and walls when the loving heart of Christ shows up in the world.   It is accessible daily, close as breath.  In my Wesleyean tradition of Christianity, the love of Christ looks like doing good, doing no harm, and tending to how you will grow and show your love to God.     My scripture verse for the day came from Galatians 6: 9, "Let's not get tired of doing good, because in time we'll have a harvest if we don't give up."    Keep holding on to that which screams Goodness and Love, in this time of disaster; it is the grace of God that holds us all.      God, You alone are good.  Forgive us for whatever brings us guilt and shame today so that we wake in the morning refreshed to follow where you lead our hearts.   Give everyone the rest they need.   Have mercy, Lord.  Amen.

From Pastor Laura 8/30/17:

Wow.   So many efforts to take care of family, friends, property, community needs.   I'm so appreciative to the churches who are reaching out to extend friendship and partnership for recovery.   The Holy Spirit continues to move in mighty ways connecting people with a heart to serve and embodying the body of Christ in the world.   The best description I can give for myself and the congregation is that we are operating like a massive family that is in the first week of an unexpected death of a loved one.   Emotions and responses are as varied as the individual bodies our spirit inhabits.   It is a beautiful and stressful thing to behold.   We are strong not because of any individual gift but because hard things amplify our weaknesses and vulnerablities for which only the body of Christ, the community of God's love, can truly bear.    Please continue to keep us in your prayers and send whatever resources that God places on your heart to give.  We are so grateful for the outpouring of help in the community and the help that will continue to follow.   We are still assessing church and individual needs and they are extensive in our area of the world, no greater and no less than many who live in survival mode daily everywhere.    My heart will be listening for how God will lead us to give and receive in this demographically redefined mission field. And, I look hopeful toward the future of building new relationships of care.    For now, I'm encouraging everyone to do what is within their ability to do, rest when they need to rest, move when they are able, and by all means trust that God's Grace is reigning.  Contarary to popular opinion, if we breathe, we are in this together.   May the Maker and Giver of Life, sustain us, lead us, hold us, and equip us to work together and truly rise to the height of our full humanity.  Be with all who mourn.  May we entrust into your care, O God,  those who have taken their last breath so that we may find comfort and peace during this stormy season.   So be it. Amen.    

 

From Pastor Laura 8/29/17:

Helpful links to local efforts and information

 

From Pastor Laura 8/28/17:

Word keeps coming in from members and friends about their situations.   UMCOR is getting into position and First Responders are making the paths back home safe.  I am receiving messages from many people who desire to help and meeting with clergy friends who are partnering to assist in keeping our church family together and supporting us through the coming weeks and months.    Right now the most critical assistance can be funneled through Emergency Response Teams.  Please check out www.riotexas.org/harvey for the best ways to help during the RESCUE PHASE (left to designated FIRST Responders).   The RELIEF PHASE will begin shortly and getting supplies to Disaster Response Centers in affected areas becomes prioriity.   Also remember those churches who are already acting as shelters;  it doesn't hurt to call and ask what they need most for immediate needs.   RECOVERY will begin much later and is the longest lasting.   This is where I imagine on-going work teams from churches will be of most effectiveness.    We certainly will be poised to help facilitate groups who can rebuild with us.      For now, I'm hoping to continue hearing from the FUMC Rockport family members who are spread everywhere across the state and many who fled East toward family in the Houston area.    For now let us walk in faith and take each step wisely and graciously.   In Christ's Service, Pastor Laura

From Pastor Laura 8/27/17:

Brothers and sisters in Christ,   It looks to be a couple of weeks before it will be safe in Rockport for residents to go in and check on property.   Please follow the guidelines of Emergency Management Center,   and do everything cautiously and thoughtfully for the safety of all.    Anxiety is high and our decision making is critical for fruitful steps forward. I expect that along with me, you are navigating the urge to get eyes on things and people.  So, not that it needs to be said, but get with friends, talk through worries, potential plans, what you can do TODAY, and who might need a phone call (insurance companies, banks, creditors, health professionals, pharmacies, FRIENDS and FAMILY).    In regards to the church, let us know if you need to adjust or put hold on Electronic Fund Transfers.   My desire is to keep as much of regular habits in place wherever we are planted.    However, the reality is that cash flow for all of us can prove a critical part of our recovery together.   Many will essentially be homeless and jobless for at least several weeks.   We will need to be creative in our sharing and support of one another.   Don't be afraid or too proud to ask for help.   The need is REAL and comparison with others will only bring paralysis.   Pray for God to guide you in what you can do today for your families and trust it is enough.   Please use the website and emails to send info to the church staff.   We will not be doing 'business as usual' but we are certainly ready to serve God's usual work of ministry.   In Christ's Service,   Pastor Laura

Until further notice Sunday Worship Service will be held at the Aquarium Education Center

(not Rockport Aquarium - the building next to it).  

If you are not in Rockport area, please find a congregation to worship with wherever you have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey.  

Weekly update for Worship Plan:  

7am Sunrise Prayers at Bay Wall next to damaged Aquarium.  

9am worship will be held in Aquarium Education Center.  

 

 

Come Grow with Us in Christ!

    First United Methodist Church 801 E. Main  
Rockport, TX 78382 
361-729-1659
 
Attention Guests:  Please be careful with GPS location!!!   
We are still trying to fix an issue of directions that lead guests to Lamar (north of Copano Bay) rather than into Historic District of Rockport.   Hope this helps you get your bearings.  We don't want to miss your visit.
 

 

 Regular Sunday Schedule

 8:00 a.m. Traditional Worship Service (Holy Communion every Sunday) 
 
9:15 a.m. Sunday School Classes (Coffee Bistro on First Sundays in the Fellowship Hall)
 
 
 
 
 
 
10:30 a.m. Traditional Worship Service (Holy Communion monthly on first Sundays)
 
Church office hours: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Thursday (closed for lunch 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.)
 
 

 
     Mrs. Kimberly Head,
         New Director
     First Learning Tree