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Pastor shares proudest outcome of pandemic

Rev. Ali Haynes

Rev. Ali Haynes, Lead Pastor, Indian Heights United Methodist Church

Q: What positive impact(s) have you seen from the pandemic?
A: When the pandemic first started, I do not believe I thought anything positive would come of it. However, I have seen a great deal of positivity in our faith community. People coming together to ensure that everyone is taken care of; picking up prescriptions for older adults in the congregation, taking groceries and meals over to people, calling one another to just simply check in. In the broader sense, I have also seen this throughout the country, helping one another in times of need. Incredible stories of resiliency in the medical world, teachers doing everything they can to make it safe for kids to come back to school, churches offering a safe place for kids of essential workers to go. 2020 is supposed to be the year of clear vision. I believe that we will get through this and come out better than before and the prediction of clear vision will be true. 

Q: What does your faith community look like now?
A: Currently, our church is meeting online via Facebook. The music team and I pre-record during the week, I put worship together and it goes live on Sunday mornings. It’s a strange time to be in a church, but it has opened doors that we had been seeking to know how to open. More people are joining us on Sundays than before, people are joining Zoom Bible studies and book studies which is new. It has been remarkable to see how being accessible via the internet can bring more people into a faith community. 

Q: What are you proudest of as an outcome of the pandemic?
A:
At the beginning of the pandemic, Cornerstones of Care, an agency that works with children, young adults and families to improve safety and health, reached out to local churches to help provide masks for their residential facilities. Our church of 100 members, has a creative souls group that provided more than 500 handmade masks for adults and children. When this church is asked to do something, they do it. Indian Heights UMC is filled with people who truly do the work of God; helping their neighbor, caring for others and loving each other no matter what. 

Q: What do you most value now as a result of the pandemic?
A: I value my family more than I ever had. At the beginning, my mom and sister who live nearby, distanced from our family as my husband works in law enforcement and is an essential worker. I went almost two months without hugging my mom or seeing my sister. When tragedy struck on my husbands’ side of the family, my mom and sister helped take of our two kids so we could travel for a funeral. They hadn’t seen us in more than two months, but family helps one another in times such as these. Hugging my mom, I cried and cried. I did not realize how much I longed for a hug from her. God and family are the two most valuable things and it honestly took a pandemic for me to realize what I need to prioritize in my life and for that, I am forever grateful.