10-19-20 FUMC Update

This Sunday I was supposed to be flying to London for a few days then boarding a cruise ship for a 12-day Atlantic cruise back to Miami. Needless to say, I canceled that trip and, compared to the thousands of people who have died and been sick from COVID-19, canceling my travel plans is NOTHING! 

But I am really sad to know that just a year ago, 350 cruise ships served a record 30 million passengers in a booming $150 billion global business! The global airline industry flew 4.5 billion people and generated nearly $885 billion in revenue! Today though, with the coronavirus outbreak, consumer concern for public health has led to a drastic decline in bookings and profitability in both industries. By some estimates, airlines’ overall revenue may fall by 50% in 2020, since air travel in the Asia Pacific region has fallen 97.5%  during the pandemic.

Now I must admit, I just don’t GET the article I read recently about “TRIPS TO NOWHERE.” Apparently, as some countries ease travel restrictions, several airlines and cruise ship companies have been marketing scenic sightseeing “trips to nowhere.” These circular trips have no destination and bring passengers back to where they started and they’re designed for people who have been cooped up for months and just want to get out – somewhere!

When the Australian airline company Qantas announced a seven-hour “special scenic joy flight” on their Boeing 787 Dreamliner “for those who just want to spread their wings — no passport or quarantine required” that would begin and end in Sydney, it sold out in 10 minutes to the tune of $575 to $2,765 per ticket. Other airline companies are adding a range of amenities, such as local cuisine and low-level flybys of iconic landmarks to the “moving staycation” model hoping to entice people to book a flight.

Personally, I agree with critics who wonder whether traveling in close proximity with other passengers on a plane or cruise ship can be done safely in the middle of a pandemic, even when extra precautions but airlines have been flying — with precautions — for months now and apparently have not seen significant sources of new cases.

So you might be wondering where does GOD fit into any of this? Well, I found this lovely scripture from Psalm 55 …  

And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; truly, I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter for myself from the raging wind and tempest . . . Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” ~ Psalm 55:6-8, 22

In this psalm, the writer asks God to hear his prayer, because he is distraught by enemies, violence, strife, oppression, and fraud, that troubles, terrorizes, and horrifies him. Worse than that is his feeling of being betrayed by his most intimate friend with whom he had worshiped in the house of God! While he curses his enemies, he continues to call upon God and trust the Lord to save him and punish the treacherous.

What, if anything, has the power to distress you so much that you feel like flying away to find a safe shelter where you can rest from the turmoil swirling about? When have you cast your burden on the Lord and found that he has sustained you?

We all remember that, in a way, Moses led the Israelites’ on a 40-year TRIP TO NOWHERE in the wilderness. Oh, they had the opportunity to cross over into the Promised Land, but they refused to listen to the voice of God. As a result, members of that generation, except for Joshua and Caleb (Dt. 1:34-40), all died off leaving the next generation to  enter into the land God had sworn to give them (Joshua 5:6-7).

Sometimes individuals take “trips to nowhere” while other times, an entire community, ethnic or racial group, nation, or even the world, may seem to be going in circles together, never making any apparent progress toward a particular destination, but stuck in the same wilderness for what seems like an eternity. During this pandemic, as isolated and separated from one another as we may feel, we are still experiencing similar trauma together.

Moses said that at one point: “The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything” (DT. 2:7).

Even though the Israelites experienced many hardships as they wandered through the wilderness, Moses said that God had blessed them, watched over them, stayed with them, and provided for them. He’s still doing that for us today!

Someday, we WILL be able to travel safely again. And maybe YOU’LL want to visit a place you think of as “nowhere” — perhaps a small town or one of the smaller states – maybe you’ll discover why people who live there think of it as “somewhere,” a place they love. Or maybe you’ll invite others to the “nowhere” in Winnsboro, TX, and show them how fabulous NOWHERE can be!!


OUR ACCESSIBLE BATHROOM CONSTRUCTION WILL BE GETTING UNDERWAY ~ We still need about ______ to meet the bid but my heart is so happy to see how many of you have given from your heart to take care of the people we love! The choir hall will be shut down when the work begins but it will be done as quickly as possible! 

WINNSBORO PRAYER WALK ~ Monday, October 15, Meet at First Baptist on Elm at 5:30 p.m. and walk to Martin Luther King Park, seven short blocks. This is ALL people coming together to pray for peace, unity, respect and, love!

WEDNESDAY MORNING ZOOM CLASS, 10-11 AM ~ This Wednesday, we’re looking at the death of Christ. And then we’ll take a break in November and start back up for an ADVENT study for Christmas in December. Want to join us?  CLICK HERE for the ZOOM link.

ALL SAINTS DAY, November 8 ~ If you have family members you would like to remember, please let me know!

YEAR-END GIVING FROM TEXAS METHODIST FOUNDATION ~  At the end of this email is a great article from the Texas Methodist Foundation about special tax benefits for year-end giving ONLY available this year as a result of the COVID government CARES ACT. Talk to your CPA or accountant about how you can benefit your CHURCH at the same time-saving money for yourself, a win-win only in the 2020 tax year.

RADA CATALOG SPECIAL SHIPPING ONLY AVAILABLE THROUGH OCTOBER ~ But you can order anytime to support MISSIONS, do some Christmas shopping or get a little something to make YOUR kitchen more efficient anytime by ordering ONLINE HERE.

THIS SUNDAY ~ our last message about DROPLETS of GRACE ~ don’t miss it!

Pastor Debbie

CDC COVID 19 Symptoms and Testing: CLICK HERE

(903) 342-6172  (PASTOR EMERGENCY or TEXT 972-896-5254)


In the midst of a turbulent year, we at Texas Methodist Foundation have been inspired by the impact of organizations like El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, the youngest food bank in America. As we enter the final quarter of 2020, I’d like to highlight the charitable provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in late March.

Included in this legislation are three significant charitable provisions, only available in 2020:

  1. You may deduct gifts of cash to public charities to offset as much as 100% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
  2. If you take the standard deduction, an above-the-line deductible charitable contribution is available for gifts of cash up to $300.00 per each tax filing unit
  3. Corporate giving limits have also been modified by the CARES Act. Typically, corporations can’t deduct more than 10% of their pretax income in a given year for charitable contributions. The CARES Act increases this limit to 25% for cash contributions made to public charities. 

In addition to the charitable provisions included in CARES, Congress also made temporary changes to retirement accounts, waiving the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) in 2020. However, a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) may still be an excellent way to make a gift this year.

To learn more, the following two articles are recommended:

Finally, I invite you to share these articles with your church or favorite not-for-profit to stimulate year-end giving strategies that provide for critical ministries across Texas and New Mexico.

Because of the tax law complexities associated with the rules surrounding the deductibility of charitable contributions, we recommend seeking professional advice when considering new philanthropic opportunities. The Foundation Relations team welcomes the opportunity to explore with you and your advisor(s) whether these opportunities can, and should, be part of your philanthropic plan in 2020. We can be reached by phone at 1(800) 933-5502 or by email at jgould@tmf-fdn.org.

With gratitude,

Justin Gould
VP of Foundation Relations


10-13-20 FUMC Update

DEVOTIONAL:  Does Faith matter in the Supreme Court Hearings?

Confirmation hearings began yesterday for Amy Coney Barrett who has been chosen by President Donald Trump to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Barrett has been described as a Constitutional ORIGINALIST which favors the interpretation of the Constitution through the original understanding of the authors. This is preferred by many on the right but feared by many on the left who predict that she will vote to modify or reverse some laws, including the Roe v. Wade, the decision that created a constitutional right to abortion, and Obamacare.  

Barrett is a Catholic and has been under scrutiny for being connected with People of Praise, an ecumenical charismatic Christian group. On their website, they say: “We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and ‘there were no needy persons among them.’ Jesus desires unity for all people. We live out this unity the best we can, in spite of the divisions within Christianity. We are Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians and other denominational and nondenominational Christians. Despite our differences, we are bound together by our Christian baptism. Despite our differences, we worship together. While remaining faithful members of our own churches, we have found a way to live our daily lives together.”

How Barrett’s religious beliefs might influence her legal views became a focus for some Democrats during her 2017 confirmation hearings for her nomination to become a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Today, Republicans fear that imposing a “religious test” on Barrett’s fitness for the position will become controversial but let’s not forget … there are five current justices on the Supreme Court who are Catholic. And let’s not forget, Joe Biden, one of the nominees for PRESIDENT this year is Catholic too!

Early in her career, Judge Barrett often included God in articles and speeches, and in a 2006 address she urged graduating law students at Notre Dame to see their careers as part of “building the kingdom of God.” While not everyone agrees with some of her  opinions about marriage and abortion, she has said “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions — whether they derive from faith or anywhere else — on the law.”

In our God, Church & Politics recent worship series I spoke quite a bit about how we must put GOD FIRST in the ballot box because no matter who is elected, if they don’t rely on direction from the Lord Himself, how could we trust any man or woman to make such important decisions!

A lifetime appointment to Supreme Court is a huge responsibility. There have only been 113 who have served an average of 16 years. The Supreme Court website says: “As the final arbiter of the law, the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby, also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution.” We need laws in our country and how those laws are interpreted is what the Supreme Court does, and faith DOES matter!

What does this mean to us as Christians? At the beginning of Deuteronomy 6, we learn that decrees and commandments are given for our benefit, to structure our lives in life-giving ways. A game of football would be chaotic without umpires, defined lines on the field, and rules. Our lives, too, would become chaotic without the ordering of God’s laws. Commandments are meant to be helpful to us, not oppressive.

Moses spoke of a commandment that began with reviewing God’s goodness, urging  people to behave like God’s chosen people, keeping all of His commandments so that their “days may be long.” If the people DO observe the commandments diligently, it will “go well” with them, and they will multiply greatly. Next in the text comes the commandment to “love the LORD your God” (Dt. 6: 5) which introduced here for the first time. This bold new command went on to become central to both Judaism and Christianity, one that Jesus later referenced in His Great Commandment!

As you think about whether a Supreme Court justice should be influenced by his or her faith, does it matter to you what the faith of that justice is? Why or why not? How would you feel about a new justice being a committed Jew, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or a Hindu or Muslim, as opposed to a Catholic? How would you feel about a Justice being a progressive Christian while you are a conservative Christian — or vice versa?  Just remember – whatever happens, GOD IS WORKING FOR GOOD  (You can watch the devotional on Facebook or listen to it on the website also.)

SHORT NOTICE BUT IMPORTANT ~ As you may know, the Library Memorial Fund for KATIE PARK raised over $10,000 Deonna Bishopp, library Director, just told me that the City Council will vote on this tonight! The details are on Facebook also, please share on your page so we spread the word. You can call in tonight or email the City!

THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU! It will be three years on November 1 that I have served you as the Pastor of this incredible Church and community and I cannot begin to tell you how richly and deeply blessed I am that God sent me here! I wake up every morning with GRATITUDE at the droplets of grace God pours out all around me! I was surprised and so wonderfully humbled on Sunday to receive your recognition for Pastor Appreciation Sunday! Wow, what a blessing you are! I will enjoy sitting on the outside patio overlooking the beautiful vineyards of Los Pino having my FAVORITE hamburger, a brie burger with caramelized onions, and today and tomorrow are PRIME days on Amazon so the gift card is perfect timing! I cannot begin to thank you for thinking of me!

IF GOD CAN TALK ABOUT BATHROOMS, SO CAN WE! I must admit, talking about a $13,000 mini-capital campaign to build a bathroom during a pandemic was a bit daunting, but one again the Holy Spirit has OVERWHELMED me with JOY! During this time, the church has been faced with all kinds of challenges, the most important of which is doing no harm. But when someone came to me with a $5,000 check toward constructing a much needed accessible bathroom, I KNEW God would provide! If you missed the service yesterday, you can watch it on FACEBOOK, and I thank those of you who have told me how important it is to have a facility that families can take their children to or change their baby’s diaper in, a facility where people with wheelchairs or walkers can get to easily without traveling past Asbury, through the courtyard and over to Wesley Hall to go to the bathroom! Sacrificial giving, in addition to general fund giving, has an extra feeling of JOY and I hope you feel that JOY as I do! If you want to send a check, mark BATHROOM in the memo, or, you can give online on our website and when you click any of the giving links, you will see a Bathroom account. Just go HERE. Many thanks!

UNITED METHODIST WOMEN ARE MAKING COOKING EASY and SHOPPING EVEN EASIER! Attached is a great letter from Janat Erwin explaining why UMW chooses RADA as their fundraising partner for MISSIONS. With RADA, you’re not only get great products at reasonable prices, but you’re also benefiting others! Catalogs will be in church on Sunday or in the red bin by our office door, but you can browse a catalog, shop and ship online HERE! If you don’t want to order online you can email Janat your order and she’ll take care of you.

THANK YOU COFFEE AND CONVERSATION SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS! Today they delivered 60 SNACK PACKS to all the adults, teachers, custodians, aides, admins, etc. at the elementary school! How GREAT to see our church serving the community! Maybe some other classes would like to help us finish the rest of the schools!!??

“SEE” YOU SUNDAY EVERYONE ~ We’ll be looking at how SEEING God’s droplets of grace can be life-changing!! Isaiah 6

Grace and peace,

Pastor Debbie