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Michigan’s COVID Heroes in action

Some heroes play the guitar.

Some heroes play the bagpipes. Others make face shields for healthcare workers. Many heroes humble themselves by wearing a mask. Meet some Michigan United Methodist heroes and tell us of some you know.


Senior Content Editor

Recently, the Rev. Dr. Charles Boayue, Jr. reminded Michigan United Methodists of an important truth. The Superintendent of the Greater Detroit District said, “I reflect upon our current situation and the anxiety among nations, and I read through the Apostle’s letter to the Romans. It seems that Paul would encourage us to do our best while acknowledging that God is also at work among us, working things out for good!” (Romans 8:28)

Boayue went on to describe what he sees happening at the center of the global health crisis. “God is at work, and God’s work is to bring good out of tragedy, hope out of fear, healing out of sickness, rainbow out of cloudy gloom, and life out of death.” He then issued an invitation, “Our work should be organized around God’s saving action to heal the nations and to establish a Kindom that shall never end.”  

Amidst the jokes and memes and political haranguing on Facebook, one can find examples of persons organizing their work to partner with God in these stressful times. Here are a few examples of those we might call “COVID Heroes.” We ask readers to email accounts of additional heroic actions for future publication in MIconnect or mifaith.

Heroes feed souls and make shields

Like other United Methodist churches across Michigan, Central Church in Detroit is not meeting for worship these days.

But, reports Senior Pastor Jill Hardt Zundel, “We are feeding 200 souls a day through the NOAH Project and turning our Peace Center into a factory making face shields.”

Heroes making face shields
Detroit Central United Methodist Church has become a COVID-fighting factory.  Currently, 22,000 face shields are being manufactured in Central UMC’s Peace Center for Beaumont Memorial Health Center. ~ Facebook photo/Jill Hardt Zundel

Pingree Manufacturing has shifted operations from sneakers and handbags to fight COVID-19. Partnering with Detroit Denim Company, they are making face shields for use at Beaumont Covenant Memorial Health Center and Henry Ford Health System. This assembly line is in operation at Central United Methodist Church.

Learn more about the story from Fox 2 Detroit.

Heroes create Extraordinary Connection 

Six clergypersons in southeast Michigan have come together to create Extraordinary Connection. They introduce their effort this way: “We started Extraordinary Connection with a simple premise; many people from our churches are looking for ways to receive daily encouragement and be immersed in God’s word during these most unusual times we currently find ourselves in.”

The pastors further describe their collaboration. “We hope this content can bless those we serve in our congregations and anyone who may come across our daily reflections and devotions.”

COVID heroes include Devin Smith
Devin Smith is the organizer of Extraordinary Connection, daily video devotionals produced by six pastors in southeastern Michigan. Here he shares the screen with pages of a special book and talks about “the Pool of Life.” ~ Extraordinary Connection/video image

These are the pastors posting on Extraordinary Connection and the ten congregations they serve:

  • Devin Smith, Blissfield Emmanuel and Lambertville UMCs
  • Dillon Burns, Manchester UMC
  • Matthew Chapman, Bayport and Hayes UMCs
  • Scott Sherrill, Vassar First UMC
  • Sari Brown, Harbor Beach and Port Hope UMCs
  • Heather Nowak, Pinconning and Garfield UMCs

Devin Smith had the idea. He notes, A couple of weeks ago, when I realized that this social distancing thing was going to be around for some time, I reached out to several other colleagues across the state. My question was if they would be interested in putting together a devotion for one day a week that we could all share among our congregations. The response was very positive.”

Smith got a domain and created the website. On March 25, 2020, Extraordinary Connection posted its first devotion. The daily videos have been made available Monday-Saturday ever since. On Sunday, viewers are provided information about online worship hosted by the ten churches.

Extraordinary Connection will offer a special worship experience on April 10. “We have collaborated on a ‘Stations of the Cross’ service that we will be posting on Good Friday for our churches (and anyone else who would like to participate),” Smith says.

Heroes play bagpipes
The sound of the bagpipe brings a Marysville resident to her front door. Music has been a comfort to many during the stay-at-home season. ~ photo courtesy Curtis Clarke

Heroes share love through music

Wyatt Clarke is the oldest son of the Rev. Curtis Clarke, pastor of Marysville United Methodist Church. The proud father reports, “For the last few weeks Wyatt has been taking his love and gift of music throughout our neighborhood here in Marysville.”

Wyatt, a high school freshman, is a member of the local Youth For Christ. He learned to play the bagpipes when his father served the Armada UMC. A member there was Scottish, and her son gave lessons.  

Wyatt got his first full set of bagpipes this year, just in time to don his kilt and bonnet and spread cheer to his stay-at-home-to-stay-safe neighbors. He is receiving requests for additional appearances around town. He has also played at the Senior Assisted Living Center in nearby Fort Gratiot.

Click here for a video of the young Highlander of Marysville, Michigan.

Heroes cover their faces for goodness’ sake

One of many masked heroes
The Masked D.S. Scott Harmon looks out for the wellbeing of others. In the correct liturgical colors, too! ~ Facebook/Northern Skies District

Who’s that masked man? Sometimes heroism is as simple as donning a mask for the safety of self and others. Pastor Scott Harmon, Superintendent of the Northern Skies District demonstrates. Harmon says, “We enter Holy Week, and I’m still wearing purple anticipating all the creative celebrations of Easter to come.”

Happy masks make happy heroes
A member of the care staff at Clark Retirement Community makes good hygiene fun. ~ Facebook/Clark Retirement Community

Harmon allows that “masks aren’t particularly comfortable, and I feel great, but I would never want to unknowingly spread COVID-19 to those who provide the services — groceries, mail, gas, carry-outs — my family essentially needs.” Harmon says he will be happy if wearing a mask “keeps  just one patient out of the hospital and enables the many medical care workers to be able to make it home safely.” He adds a prayer, “Lord, have mercy as we go through this together.”

The care staff of Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids knows that residents love to see smiling faces. So, their masks strike a balance between safe and cheerful. These heroes mix a sense of humor with compassion. 

~ Do you know some United Methodist heroes? Email a few short paragraphs for consideration in upcoming COVID Heroes features. And don’t forget to send a good photograph (a jpg attachment, please). 

Last Updated on September 20, 2022

The Michigan Conference