Outdoor Worship – July 26th, 2020

Posted on July 2nd, 2020

Hello friends! I’m excited to share with you our plan for an outdoor worship gathering on Sunday, July 26th!

We plan on holding several, small services of 10 people or less that will last about 30 minutes. We will sit outside, practice good physical distancing, sing some hymns, and take pre-packaged communion together. If this goes well we plan on doing another outdoor worship in August, and maybe even September if it’s warm enough!

To see our update guidelines for worship you can check out our Facebook or our website at gum.church to see how we plan on tackling worship during a pandemic. Stay safe and I can’t wait to see you all on July 26th!

Pastor David Hodd

Ask the Pastor – June 18th, 2020

Does God have a plan? What about free will? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Catch our FIRST EVER Ask the Pastor video!

Pastor David explores the question: Does God have a plan?

You can submit questions for future videos at gum.church/ask

On Reopening the Church – June 12th, 2020

On Reopening the Church

June 12th, 2020

Grace and peace friends,

“Do no harm. Do only good. Stay in love with God. Those three rules from the late 1700s have guided the people called Methodists for centuries, and they continue to guide us now as we navigate what being the church looks like in a COVID-19 world.” We’ve been seeing a lot of things reopen lately. It is a welcome feeling to return to a semblance of normalcy! But even as things start to feel normal again, the sight of masks and smell of hand sanitizer reminds me that we are in anything but normalcy. With the reality of a global pandemic and Minnesota’s current trend of an increase and decrease of cases with a looming spike post-protest, I do not feel it is a safe time to reopen Gethsemane UMC for Sunday worship.

I am following the guidelines set by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Re-Gathering Plan created by the MN Annual Conference. Currently in the UMC’s Re-Gathering plan, “High-risk individuals (those over age 60 and/or with underlying health conditions) are highly encouraged to stay home and should be given options to participate in the life of the church through virtual means.” Since a majority of our congregation falls in that high-risk category, it does not seem safe to begin gathering again. We will continue watching what these guidelines say and will be flexible about reopening, with a safety plan in place.

There are still opportunities to connect! Next week I will be posting my first Ask the Pastor video, you can check it out on our Facebook page. You can also catch Jake’s hymns every Sunday morning at 10:30a and request songs for him to play on our website. I am also considering a special outdoor worship service on a Sunday during the summer, more information will come on that in the future.

Friends, I too lament and miss gathering with you all on Sunday mornings. We, the staff at Gethsemane UMC, are working hard to create a worship experience that can still speak into your life as a United Methodist and as a member of our church. If you are in need of anything; supplies, a pastoral visit, toilet paper, please do not hesitate to ask! Never forget that you are not alone and you are missed. And that being cautious, safe, and following guidelines is the quickest way to for our world to begin to recover and heal from this pandemic.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns you have on reopening the church. I am happy to discuss it with you.

Pastor David Hodd

Music Corner – June 7th, 2020

Catch some catchy songs, hymns, and a classic that Jake snuck in this week. Sunday morning at 10:30a!

Your Grace Is Enough by Matt Maher
All People that On Earth Do Dwell UMH 75
We Believe in One True God UMH 85


May 31st, 2020

Special Note:
Like many of you, I have been struggling to cope with the events we’ve seen in the last week. As I sat at my desk the last few days trying to type any sort of constructive sentence, the only thing that came to me was grief and heaviness. It is okay to not have the words when witnessing such blatant injustice. Take the time to process, and then articulate your feelings.

Grace and peace friends,

Early last week I was perusing the internet trying to pass time in quarantine. I stumbled upon a video of a white woman sitting in her car, shaking a surgical mask at the camera as if it was a used tissue. Tears streamed down her face as she listed the reasons why she should not have to wear a mask to go shopping. (1) It hurts her face. (2) It was uncomfortable. (3) It gives her a headache. (4) She cannot breathe. This woman was moved to tears because of the discomfort of a mask that would help protect the people around her from spreading a deadly disease. The top comment I saw was along the lines of, “she really won’t be able to breathe when she catches coronavirus.”

Not long after, I watched a video of a white police officer placing his knee on a black man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds while investigating the possible use of a counterfeit $20 bill. George Floyd gasps for air, cries out for his mother, and pleads with the cops to let him breathe. “I can’t breathe, they are going to kill me,” says George, hoarsely. This is not the first time a black American cried these words out to an officer who killed them. If you’ve seen the video, you probably felt the shock and rage of a community who has suffered this violence for decades. A community that was segregated, impoverished, and built to live in systematic oppression. A community that immediately is demonized after they lash out in grief at a system that does not value their lives more than a building or a $20 bill.

The world that the woman who was upset about the mask lives in, and the world that George Floyd died in are two separate worlds.

I am sitting in my office on Pentecost Sunday as I write this. I’m thinking about how Jesus was a person of color in a marginalized community. And how he must have struggled for every breath as he was nailed upon the cross by a police state.

I’m thinking about Christ overturning tables in the temple. Vandalizing property and disrupting commerce because the money changers in the temple valued the profit they made off of impoverished people more than the people.

I’m thinking about the Holy Spirit which has been called the breath of God, which we celebrate today, on Pentecost Sunday. In an instant, the world was different. Suddenly God’s breath was with the disciples, and they were immediately called into the streets to preach about the unjust murder of a black man by the hands of the state, and how in that injustice there is salvation.

My emotions and mind struggle to keep up with the many new realities we face every week. The call to be a Christian does not feel as clear as it did for the disciples in the upper room experiencing Pentecost. If you watched the video of George Floyd and immediately thought, “How can I help? What can I do?” You are not alone. The urge to do something sits deep in my stomach. The call to be a white Christian in this moment is a call to the back of the line. Instead of pontificating from the pedestal of privilege into a community and world that I do not understand, Christ is calling me to support and elevate the voices of the people who have been marginalized their entire lives.

I pray you will join me in the effort of centering the conversation of change around those whom the change affects. That the reforms or dismantling of the Minneapolis Police Departments is led by the communities who live in Minneapolis. That the restoration and rebuilding of the system that has been burned down be built to serve those who have had their necks crushed by the system, unable to breath.

This summer I plan on leading several small groups around the conversation of anti-racism. If you are interested in joining or hosting a group centered around dismantling the world of systemic racism and white supremacy through Tori Williams Douglass’ White Homework and a study of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, go to gum.church/connect and send me an email. This is uncomfortable work, but it is work that needs to be done if we want to love our neighbors as Christ loves every person.

If you need to connect, process, vent, question, or need help understanding what is happening to our state, do not hesitate to reach out.

Pastor David Hodd

Helpful Resources:

Do Not Look Away by Rev. Dr. Ron Bell
The Theology of Riot by Jim Coppoc
New City Church Online Vigil by Rev. Sit, Rev. Brown, Mayyadda, Rox, Chavvon Shen, and Rev. Malachi
The Daily Social Distancing Show by Trevor Noah (Video)
Where to Donate by NYU Local

COVID-19 Update – May 11th, 2020

Update on COVID-19 Response

May 11th, 2020

Grace and peace friends,

I pray you are all staying safe in the midst of quarantining and sheltering in place. I wanted to update you all on how our response to the COVID-19 is progressing as time keeps moving forward. In accordance with the Minnesota state government, the Minnesota Annual Conference, and the guidance of Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota; we are working on a plan of what in-person worship will look like at Gethsemane UMC in the future.

Although, it is unclear the next time we will be able to gather together in the same room and worship. We will not be having in-person worship for the foreseeable future. Potentially until 2021. A lot of research and tragedies have enlightened doctors, researchers, and clergy on how COVID-19 spreads in closed spaces through the air. There is a story in Washington in which 45 of 61 people became ill from one asymptomatic person at a choir rehearsal.

In an article written by Dr. Erin Bromage, he shows how the disease can spread in a community:

“Just to see how simple infection-chains can be, this is a real story from Chicago. The name is fake. Bob was infected but didn’t know. Bob shared a takeout meal, served from common serving dishes, with 2 family members. The dinner lasted 3 hours. The next day, Bob attended a funeral, hugging family members and others in attendance to express condolences. Within 4 days, both family members who shared the meal are sick. A third family member, who hugged Bob at the funeral became sick. But Bob wasn’t done. Bob attended a birthday party with 9 other people. They hugged and shared food at the 3 hour party. Seven of those people became ill. Over the next few days Bob became sick, he was hospitalized, ventilated, and died.

But Bob’s legacy lived on. Three of the people Bob infected at the birthday went to church, where they sang, passed the tithing dish etc. Members of that church became sick. In all, Bob was directly responsible for infecting 16 people between the ages of 5 and 86. Three of those 16 died. 

The spread of the virus within the household and back out into the community through funerals, birthdays, and church gatherings is believed to be responsible for the broader transmission of COVID-19 in Chicago. (ref)”

It is unclear what the future holds. Dr. Osterholm outlines three possible trajectories:

  • (1) It could start to level off in the summer and we’d see very few cases for several months, which would give some the false impression that the virus is behind us. Then we’d have a major outbreak later, likely in the fall, that far surpasses anything we’ve seen to date.
  • (2) There could be “foothill bumps” with periodic flare-ups or waves; each time there is a new wave, we’d be asked to social distance until we can once again flatten the curve.
  • (3) There could be a “slow burn” with consistent cases every day until we get to the point where 60 to 70 percent of people have contracted the virus.

It pains me to see the impatience of our country as many places have yet to peak or deal with the backside of the peak that we’ve seen in places like China and Italy. Yet there are calls and protests to “reopen the economy.” When a person suffers a wound, if instead of performing the painful process of cleaning it out they keep putting band-aids on, the infection will only worsen. I feel it is my ministerial call to advocate for the deep cleansing of the wound this pandemic is causing. The cost of remaining closed, offering different ways to engage online, and enjoying Jake’s hymns from our computer screens on Sunday morning is much lower than if we open our doors too early and cost the lives of those among us whom we love dearly. Your life is more important than worshiping together on Sunday morning. If you feel differently, please, do not hesitate to call me and talk about it. I am happy to continue this conversation with anyone.

Here are some resources that I have found helpful in the last few weeks that directly influenced my decisions to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

In the coming weeks, before May 31st, you will receive a letter with our plan for returning to in-person worship and what that will look like. Again, if you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Pastor David Hodd