Michigan Pastor Considers COVID-19 Season Packed with Potential
By Emily Kearney
For Pastor Erin Taylor, the theme of the year has definitely been the fragility of our plans. Erin has been the pastor of Alma First Church of God in Michigan for the past two years, though the church itself was founded in 1914. Erin was gracious enough to share some of what she has learned as a minister during this year’s pandemic, the challenges that her church has faced, and the ways that God has blessed and provided for her community.
In this uncertain season, Erin believes that she has been reminded on a personal level to reorient her soul to focus on what really matters, especially the fact that the church belongs to God. Even in the midst of chaos, God is still leading. “We have this incredible opportunity to follow the Lord’s leading and trust that in all of this,” she explains, “we can be reminded again and again that God’s kingdom is not in jeopardy. I can rest in his assurance and provision.” As a leader, Erin finds stability in the kingdom of God and truly believes that the church will persevere.
In the fall of 2019, Alma Church of God decided to adopt a new mission statement: “Encountering Jesus Together.” This statement may be simple, but it is core to the church’s beliefs. The church’s goal is to foster encounters with Jesus wherever they are. This revitalizing change came out of questioning why the church exists and what they were seeking to do in their community. When the quarantine came around in March, Alma knew that the church was not a building. The church was each and every one of them, taking advantage of whatever opportunities they had to help others encounter Jesus. “I love to see the way that people are intentionally caring for one another. That’s been a beautiful bright spot in all of this,” she says. From phone calls to notes, to everything in between, the congregation was living out their belief that all of life is packed with potential to encounter Jesus.
There have been challenges that Alma has dealt with during this pandemic. The church sanctuary contains beautiful architecture, but it is a structural challenge when it comes to social distancing. Erin explains, “We are in a building that was originally built as a Presbyterian church in 1895…there are some extremely narrow spaces in the sanctuary.” Thankfully, the church has access to three different buildings, one of which is a community center with a gym. Alma was able to start in-person services in June outside, along with their online streaming options. Their goal is to move their services into the gym after Labor Day where there is more room until they can worship in the sanctuary.
Erin finds her greatest ministry pleasure in cheering people on and helping them fulfill their call as a part of the body of Christ. “God is using this time to form our hearts,” she reflects. “It is awesome to witness that in the lives of the congregation.” Erin admits that many days it feels as though we are living in a swamp where nothing is normal, and everything feels much harder. However, she also knows that these are the moments that our lives are packed with potential to encounter Jesus, because we are intentionally lifting our eyes to him. Erin is joyfully moving forward with her church and looking for the ways that God is at work: “Someday we’ll be able to see with greater clarity as we look back and realize what God’s done.”
Emily Kearney is an Anderson University alumna who grew up in the Dayspring Church of God (Cincinnati, Ohio). Today the former Church of God Ministries communication intern is a middle school English teacher at Cincinnati Christian Schools. Along with teaching and writing, she loves to spend time with her husband Derek.
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.