Simpson United Methodist Church Adapts to the Virtual World
Our lives have been transformed in a variety of ways as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Few knew that a year after the virus made its way to the US, we would still be huddling in our homes, binging more and more TV (and food!), and relying so heavily on virtual gatherings to meet our community and spiritual needs.
Early in 2020, the leadership and congregants of Simpson United Methodist Church (Simpson) quickly became familiar with virtual gatherings, as did most churches, temples, offices, schools, etc. Simpson, which is deeply rooted in the Japanese American culture and experience, is located in Arvada, CO and was established 113 years ago. At Simp- son, “We strive to reach out to all people in the belief that diversity is a strength. As such, today, our membership is a rainbow of ages, genders, cultures, and experiences.”
At the onset of the pandemic Pastor Leah Coleman recalls, “Simpson demonstrated resiliency as we developed and implemented plans to keep our members and community safe.
Seemingly overnight, the church shifted to worshiping virtually and socially-distanced in our parking lot when weather permit- ted, requiring flexibility as we learned new technologies.” A positive outcome of moving online has been the participation of people from other states who have joined the Sunday services held at 10am on Zoom.
Simpson had to cancel many of its events for the safety of others: the Asian Food Bazaar, Arts and Craft Fair, Peach Sale, etc. This significantly reduced the income to the church. On the bright side, Simpson connected with its community and neighbors by inviting them to see the light of love on Christmas Eve through luminaries which volunteers placed around the church lawn. A caravan of congregants drove to the homes of four young members this summer to celebrate their graduation from high school. Other Simpson volunteers crocheted hats for those receiving chemo- therapy and offered food for those with- out permanent shelter. A “Blessing Box” holding nonperishable food items and toiletries was installed at the front of the church a few years ago. It continues to be stocked for anyone needing support during these trying times.
Charlotte Namba is a dedicated, longtime member of Simpson: “Our Outreach, Nurture, and Evangelism Committee has reached out to our congregation and community to find out what is needed during this time of social isolation. We have a team of telephone callers who check in a few times a month with members and friends to make sure they are doing well, ask if they need any- thing, or just chat. We also have a card ministry for those who are homebound, have health issues, experienced the passing of a loved one, or are celebrating a special occasion. We have received many notes and telephone calls with expressions of appreciation for the personal contacts they have received.
（A caravan of congregants celebrate the
graduation of high school seniors. ）
Charlotte adds: “I have been a member of Simpson for over 50 years and can remember feeling safe and welcomed back in the early 60’s when I first attend- ed worship services. This feeling is still felt. Simpson is an important part of our community and I hope that we can be around for many more years. We have much to offer and much to share.”
In January 2020, Simpson leadership interviewed Kyle Snyder, the choir teach- er at Everitt Middle School in Wheat Ridge, to replace Debbie Willeford who had retired as Simpson’s Choir Director. Kyle had the opportunity to meet with the choir before the pandemic changed life as we knew it.
Said Kyle, “I had been raised in a Methodist church so this seemed like a perfect fit. Thankfully the choir and church body decided to welcome me to their family. I was very happy for our few outdoor worship services this summer as they allowed me to come face-to- face, socially distanced and masked of course, with more of the congregation. Even with few opportunities to meet, the congregation has done an amazing job of making me feel at home.”
Kyle and the Simpson choir prepared a song called “Peace, Peace” for the Christmas Eve service. They are now working on a song for Easter Sunday. In addition, Kyle sings in videos which beautifully enhance the Sunday services.
“No matter what happens and how far apart we are we will always find a way to come together in music. It shows the faith and resilience of the choir and congregation as they work with me to dis- cover new ways to worship. I wait with baited breath for the first time that the choir will be able to perform in front of the congregation in the Simpson Sanc- tuary,” says Kyle.
Simpson United Methodist Church invites you to join them in worship and community. Sunday services are held via Zoom at 10am.