Thinking About You
May 11, 2021
Some of the first words of comfort we hope to hear during a crisis are simple phrases that convey how others are thinking of us, rooting for us, and supporting us in challenging times. Those words can bring incredible relief, because we are reassured that we are not walking alone. If those words are paired with action, our hope is buoyed to an even great extent.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic started, we were just trying to get our feet under us, and it felt like we were scrambling to navigate how to be a church in the early days and weeks of this crisis. While that was happening, TMF reached out to us in a very proactive manner to tell us they were thinking of us and to let us know they had thought through some strategies they believed would take some of the pressure off of our church,” Senior Pastor Scott Heare shared.
Soon after that conversation, Lake Travis UMC in Austin, Texas took advantage of the Loan Assistance Program TMF opened to churches during the pandemic. The three-month deferral of their loan payments meant the church could do everything they needed to transition to online worship and make other church activities digital as well.
Moreover, it gave the church the flexibility they needed to extend the same sentiment of hope that TMF had offered them to their own preschool teachers. Almost as soon as the pandemic began schools and preschools started closing their doors. The teachers in their preschool would be out of work for an indefinite period of time, but the Loan Assistance Program allowed the church to continue paying their teachers. In moments that could have financially devastated families, the church reminded their preschool teachers that they were thinking of them and would walk with them during this unprecedented crisis.
With the weight of financial worries lifted during the beginning of the pandemic, church leaders could not only secure their staff and take their worship online, but they could focus on what their ministries and community outreach would look like during the pandemic and beyond. They made decades worth of transitions with their online capabilities for worship and meetings in the span of months. Additionally, they made strides in congregational care in a time of isolation, utilized their Wesley nurse to ensure unreached community members had important information and resources to fight the spread of COVID, amplified their ability to deliver food to those in need, and began to discuss how their church would look after the pandemic ended.
“COVID really forced us to look at things we did not want to look at and determine how we would move forward,” Scott said with a pause. “I think it has also showed us that everything is not just on hold until we can come back together fully. That is not realistic. The world has changed. There has been a real shift.”
For Lake Travis UMC, that means the hybrid model of worship with infrastructure for online services will remain intact post-COVID. Even as the worst of the pandemic seems to be waning, the exceptional transitions in ministry that are still to be made in the wake of a changed world are great. Along this new journey, TMF will continue doing what it does best, offering words of support paired with action to bring the world of God’s imagination to life.