Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - May 20, 2020

 Last week I received word from my supervisor that it was likely our area (Greater Northwest—Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon) churches would be limited from in-person singing.  I shared an article on the risks of singing in the midst of the pandemic in last week’s e-spire.  This week, the conference put out guidelines to help churches create a safe and intentional re-opening process and included was that we are not allowed to sing in worship together, or even do vocal or woodwind recordings in the church.  (We can sing at home and we can record from home and we will work on those options). 

I’ll be honest, the news of these restrictions felt like a gut-punch.  Singing is so much a part of my faith life that I can hardly imagine worship without it.  No singing does not mean no music, but it does mean no singing.  As I thought about this I felt a lot of grief.  I didn’t want to lose another thing in this pandemic, let alone this thing.  And I’ve been needing to give myself permission to grieve.  

And I want to give you that permission too.  You may have immense grief over the loss of singing in worship.  That’s ok.  You may not, and that's ok too.  You may have grief over the countless other losses you’re facing. Loss of “normal”. Loss of routine. Loss of choices. Loss of hugs and time with people you care about.  Loss of vacation time. Loss of family time.  Loss after loss could be named for each of us.  And it’s important that we grieve.  

And it remains true that grief takes many forms. There are phases of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  We will each grieve differently. And there is no set way or order to grieve.  Grief will also manifest in us in different ways. Some of us will have trouble concentrating, some will be tired, some may be angry or irritable.  

Be gracious with yourself.  And try and do some active grieving.  That means, talk about it, journal about it, create art, go for a walk. 

We will get through this. And worship will still be beautiful and meaningful. And, it's ok to grieve. 


May God bless you,
Pastor Debbie


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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - May 13, 2020

Greetings in the name of Christ,
As Idaho begins their stages of opening, our church leadership has started to imagine what that might mean for our congregation. At the same time, our Bishop extended our church closure through May 30th, with the hope that we might be able to gather for Pentecost on May 31st. Today, she issued a new order that we will remain closed until at least June 15th. (To read that email, click here). Then later in the morning, she hosted a webinar with various pastors from her episcopal area to discuss what values have been part of the discussions on re-opening. In that time she said that she chose June 15 with a hope that maybe those pastors who are retiring or moving this year might be able to say goodbye in person to their congregations before they go. She followed that by saying she was doubtful it would actually happen.

As part of the webinar, she shared various factors that she takes into account when she is making her decisions on behalf of all the churches in her area. I want you to know that the decisions to re-open are complex, and the opinions are varied. Our church council has been reviewing perspectives and information to help us work on a plan to protect the health and safety of our congregation and community while continuing to engage in meaningful ministries.

It feels as though there are a 1000 things to think about before coming back. (This article suggests at least 24) I thought it would be helpful for you to know some of the things we are considering:

• Knowing that re-opening will probably be done in phases (both at the state level and in terms of those who choose to isolate to protect themselves or others due to vulnerabilities), how do we offer in-person ministry and online options?
o If not all people can gather because of health and vulnerabilities, is it fair for some to be invited while others are discouraged from attending?
• One requirement for gatherings is to follow CDC guidelines including 6’ distancing, face masks, and sanitizing. With those things in mind, how do we create intentional space in the sanctuary for 6’ distancing? How do we make or collect sufficient masks for all who attend? How do we ensure sanitizing efforts between groups or services?
• There is research suggesting that singing is more likely to share infection than regular speech, how will we worship if we are prohibited from singing hymns or limited in shared spoken liturgy? (additional article re: singing herere:additional article re: singing here)
• Without data on how wide-spread the infection is in our area, how do we work to prevent the spread of infection in our building or at our ministries? Once data is available, at what level of total population infection (on our way to "herd immunity") is it safe to gather? How many can gather safely?
• Recognizing that isolation has left many lonely and depressed, how do we care for the whole person—emotionally, physically, and spiritually while also seeking to keep people safe from COVID-19?
• Some places (churches, annual conferences, etc) are allowing for gatherings, but not children’s ministries specifically—we know our kids are struggling too, how do we support and love them in the midst of this?
-if we were to do an outdoor worship service, how do we arrange for sound and record for our Livestream service? How do we work with city permits and avoid noise pollution (even a breeze can cause challenges for microphones and recording)?
There are other concerns and questions too. As I said before, these decisions are not simple. We want to be intentional, supportive, loving, and faithful in all of this and we may discern and want to decide how that is done in different ways. So we will engage in compassionate listening and seek God’s wisdom in our decision making.

Honestly, I wish this were easier and more straightforward. Life, including church, is not the same these days. And it is hard. I continue to believe God is good and you all are loved, and we are better in a relationship together (even as we navigate foreign waters of physical distancing). If you have ideas about how we can *do* church (fellowship, mission, worship, small groups, etc) together yet separate, please share with us!

I’m always happy to answer questions and if you would like to share your thoughts about re-opening with the church council as a whole, please email Jason Johnston, church council chair. His email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Peace and health,
Pastor Debbie

p.s. we have various opportunities for an online connection. In case you missed any:
Sunday worship posts at 10:30 at
Adult Sunday school is at 9:00 on Zoom. To join, contact Rose Prather or Rebecca Haley
Kids & Youth Sunday school 10:00 on Zoom. To join contact pastor Debbie or Crystal Tibbals
Thursday prayer time on Facebook live at 9:00 am

**for Facebook live events, you do NOT need a Facebook account to access them.


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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - May 6, 2020

I read this post by clergy colleague Rev. Heather Riggs, who serves Oak Grove UMC in Oregon. I thought her perspective and powerful. This pandemic has caused a wave of emotions for all of us, but some of us may be triggered differently by the feelings of powerlessness and uncertainty.

Whoever you are, please be gentle with yourself. And maybe use some of the perspectives here to be gentle with others.

If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or triggered and want to talk, please know I'm here to listen. We also have some wonderful mental health professionals in our community and I'd be glad to help you connect.

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie


There was pie involved...
I know this feeling in my body. Mostly OK and always a little on edge. It's hard to sleep, but I'm always tired. Every little bit of comfort or pleasure feels infinitely worth it... because we're just not sure what's coming next.
For 5 years of my life, I lived in an unpredictable situation that I could not escape because I was a victim of child abuse.
This isn't that. I'm safe from both violence and intimidation. But I do recognize the low hum of unpredictability and possibly impending harm. It's like a dripping faucet that you can't even hear most of the day, and yet when it's quiet, it cannot be ignored.
The reason so many of us feel so "off" is the unpredictability and the real possibility of threat that we don't really know how to protect ourselves and our loved ones from.
You're not crazy, you're just in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, which is turning into a long term traumatic experience.
So we bought a pie on our way home from delivering masks to Aurora. Because knowing that we were able to help gave me hope and knowing that the needs of this crisis are continuing to grow is overwhelming...and we like pie.
When things are uncertain it's important to do the right thing as much as you can and to allow yourself to experience joy in harmless ways when you can.
So yes, there was good Marion berry pie involved and we tipped our server.


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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - May 1, 2020

When I was in seminary, a professor shared "If there are still babies being born, God has not given upon us." Things are hardly that bleak, though I know many struggles wondering "How could God do this to us?!" I'm not one who sees God as punitive or harsh, so that's not where my mind goes. I think illness and disease are simply part of the brokenness of humanity and God journeys with us in the hard parts. But, it is nice to be reassured of God's love.

As I've been out walking and bike riding this week I've seen so much spring beauty. Flowers blooming, the green of trees leafing out, the sound of frogs, the music of the birds. It's been glorious. And each sign of new life reminds me, God has not given upon us. As long as there are new beginnings...from bees to flowers to calves, and then to babies, then there is still a future and a hope for all of us.

I know many folks are struggling. Living through a pandemic is hard and not anything any of us ever really imagined. And many of us thought we would be free to get back to "normal" after the month of restrictions and now we are restricted further and so we're dealing with a new wave of loss and grief.

If you're struggling, know you are not alone. And there are folks around to help...with listening, with tangible things like meals, or bills, or small gifts. And there are signs of God's promise all around and newness to remind you, "God hasn't given up."

I hope you revel in the beauty of creation simply because it's lovely, and that you find whispers of God's love for you as well.

As always, if we can be of help or support in the midst of this, please let us know.

Peace and health,
Pastor Debbie


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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - April 23, 2020

Good day!
I have missed gathering with you all and seeing you in person. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers regularly and if I can be of help or support at this time, I am here. If you need someone to talk to, someone to get groceries or other items, or help to work through a situation, please feel free to contact me.

The vision team had been working on some possible actions for our church as a follow up to your answers on the Next Steps Survey we did in the Fall. Some of those actions have been delayed as we have tried to work on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One-piece that was in the works was sharing a banner in our sanctuary to help people who visit us be aware of our congregation's desire to be more visible as open and affirming. (As a reminder,76% of those who responded indicated they were interested or very interested in doing more to welcome LGBTQ individuals within our church).

We shared a picture of the banner in an espire (also seen here) and then had it in the conference room for a couple of weeks. We planned to display it in the sanctuary starting on March 22. We have changed that date, to "when we return". As part of our sharing, we invited you to share questions or comments and one thing that came up multiple times was the use of the word "queer" on the banner.

The Vision Team has discussed your concern and we recognize that the use of the word "queer" (or avoidance of it) has strong generational/cultural differences. In some generations, queer was a negative slur and was to be avoided. In younger generations, queer has been reclaimed as a more universal term describing the LGBTQIA community. Its use and acceptability will differ from person to person (some may use it and claim it for themselves and others may avoid it altogether). In seeking to be an ally, a safe step would be to let someone who self identifies tell you how they want to be described (gay, lesbian, queer, or otherwise). In all cases, please know it is with this understanding and intent that we have used it on our banner.

For some outside perspective on the use of the word, you might read this or this or this.

Related to that, the General Conference of the UMC that was scheduled to meet in May in Minneapolis has been postponed (meeting and voting virtually would have been far too much to do for roughly 850 voting delegates from around the world). The Council of Bishops has set tentative dates for Aug/September of 2021.

Locally, the shared gathering of the Greater Northwest for the annual conference in June has been canceled. Local voting and decisions are tentatively scheduled to be handled by the annual conference in the Fall.

Peace and health,
Pastor Debbie


P.S. Two new things are starting. 1) The 9 am Sunday school class will meet virtually. Please contact Rebecca Haley or Rose Prather if you want to join them. 2) We will be offering a "virtual coffee hour" after our Sunday morning worship. This will happen via zoom. Fred and Sonya Meyer are the hosts for 4/26. The zoom link is: If you are new to zoom, please see the attached page for how to get started, or reach out to me (951-966-6161) or Sonya (307-761-0027) for assistance.


May God bless you,
Pastor Debbie


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Current Church News

  • Time of Prayer - Thursdays at 9 am

    On Thursday mornings at 9 am Pastor Debbie will host a live stream for prayer on Facebook (find us at Moscow UMC). 

  • Services Suspended

    To protect our community Worship Services are suspended through June 15th! We are offering online worship through our Facebook page. Live worship will be Sundays at 10:30 am on our Facebook page.

    For updates and more information please check in here at our website or Facebook page Moscow UMC.

Get Directions

Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary. William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

322 East Third Street
Moscow, ID 83843


Church Mission

The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...