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COVID compassion campaign: Be the Light, Live Hope!

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Thanks to the creative efforts of clergy and worship teams, worshippers are gathering around computer screens, mobile phones and tablets, televisions, radios, and parking lots. “More than ever before, we now understand that nothing can separate us from God,” says Bishop Ough.

The sharing of ideas, resources and encouragement amongst clergy and congregations across our congregation has fueled this spirit of collaboration and possibility in these uncharted waters. But we know ministry goes beyond worship. Examples of United Methodists across the Dakotas who are seeking to be the hands and feet of Christ are being shared across our connection. So to help us rally that spirit of compassion and impact, we invite you now to help us launch the COVID Compassion Campaign: Be the Light, Live Hope! “Let us consider how we might spur one another on to love and good deeds!” (Hebrews 10:24) We are better together!

Here are just a few examples of ways you might respond to the vital needs of people in your community:

Making masks

Caring for our neighbors is taking on many forms right now, but one thing that every person and every community has in common is a need to be vigilant in slowing the spread of coronavirus. Many hospital systems are short on masks and calling for donations. At the same time, as the illness continues to spread, and knowing that many who have the illness lack symptoms, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending that everyone wear a cloth face mask when out in public. For those who don’t sew or have the necessary materials to make one, this directive can be difficult to follow. Sewers/quilters in our congregations can be a great resource! Here are some ways they can use their gifts:
· Call your local hospitals and health care facilities to see if they are accepting donations.
· Call your local homeless shelters and food shelves to see if they need masks.
· Call your local grocery stores to see if they need masks for workers.
· Give masks to church members who don’t have them.
· Invite church members to offer masks to their friends and neighbors.
· Put masks in individual bags in a basket outside of your church, and have members help spread the word that they are there and available to for anyone who needs them.

Feeding our neighbors

It is estimated that 1 out 9 persons in North and South Dakota experience food insecurity and there has been an increase of food deserts— places where people live without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. During COVID-19 the need to reach people who are hungry is growing and complex. Read about how three Dakotas Conference ministries are adjusting or adapting to feed the hungry.

How might you meet this real and present need in your community? Consider one of these ideas:
· Continue your church's food ministry in a safe manner, keep the doors open, be creative.
· Reach out to your local food pantry and see if you can donate, volunteer to deliver, or distribute food in a safe manner.
· Start a take-out meal effort to support local businesses and feed the hungry.
· Start an emergency food pantry that delivers.

Acts of compassion

Weeks of isolation and social distancing create an increasing need to connect with the lost and lonely. Acts of compassion, connecting with our neighbors, are needed now more than ever. Consider:
· Displays of compassion, hearts, crosses, teddy bears, or other stuff animals.
· Parades of celebration for birthdays, graduations, and other milestones.
· Card and phone campaigns; no one goes unconnected when they receive a call or card.
· Protecting the vulnerable by running errands, delivering a meal, or another vital service.
· Develop a creative connection activity like a QR code scavenger hunt

This conference-wide “COVID Compassion Campaign” initiative is a continuation of our commitment to heal a broken world and a tangible way to share God’s love by keeping people in our mission fields healthy and safe.  A variety of graphics are vailable in a Dropbox folder to help you promote this opportunity to your congregation.

We urge you to encourage and challenge your congregation to participate in this effort to collectively make a difference. We ask you to share these stories, examples, and images with us through texting, 605-770-8540,  email: dakumcom@dakotasumc.org,  or share with us on Facbook, https://www.facebook.com/dakotasumc/. Click here for a form to share your stories or measurements of impact. As we celebrate the light of resurrection and a hope that the grave could not contain, we look forward to lifting up and celebrating how we as Dakotas United Methodists have made a difference in the lives of our neighbors.

UMC

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