I was recently introduced to a new medical term, or maybe, it’d be more appropriate to call it a “quasi-medical” term. I was told about ODTAA Syndrome. “What’s ODTAA Syndrome?” I asked. I’ve never heard of it. The person telling me this shook his head and said, you know, it’s just “One Darn Thing After Another.”

Sometimes, especially as we age, we don’t bounce back from an illness, an injury, or a treatment as quickly as we’d like. Rehabilitation stretches out from weeks into months. Doctors’ restrictions may prohibit driving. Or there’s pain or discomfort which makes it difficult to get out and do the things one regularly does. And one of those things might be— coming to church.

This past year, it seems we’ve had a number of folks who have undergone long seasons of rehabilitation or have been battling medical conditions which have proven difficult to overcome. Sometimes their season of absence from church lasts only a few weeks, but often, though the person is expected to fully return to church soon, the health challenge has proven more intractable and lasts a period of months.

While South Main’s ministry to members who, due to health concerns, are permanently unable to physically come to church is called MainTies, as noted, there is a whole other and different contingent of folks in our congregation, who fully intend to return to church, but are only temporarily unable to attend.

Because we don’t want to forget the folks in this latter group, we are starting a new ministry called MainTether. MainTether is designed to pair individuals who are absent from church for a season due to medical issues to willing church members and Sunday School communities to reach out to and keep up with them via notes of encouragement during their absence. Those participating will maintain the crucial bonds of friendship with those who are temporarily away, keeping them tethered to the ongoing life of the church.

A number of Sunday School communities have already agreed to help, but individual members of the church are also sought to join in this new ministry in order to more robustly connect those in this situation to the church while they are unable to attend.

The way this ministry would work is that each Sunday School community or individual participating would be assigned an individual who is perhaps in rehab after a fall, going through chemotherapy for a season, or the like. Then, it would be the responsibility of the class or individual to reach out to the person at least once a month with a note or a phone call to check on them, and let them know their church is thinking about them and praying for them.

There is no requirement to visit the person, or give them a ride to church or to doctor appointments, or to bring them food or anything like that, although if a friendship develops and some of that organically flows from the contact that would not be discouraged.

If you are a Service Leader of your Sunday School community or an individual who would like to participate in this ministry, simply email Greg Funderburk and you’ll be assigned a fellow South Mainer who is currently in the circumstances described. Greg will give you contact information and inform you about the person’s current circumstances so you can make contact. When the person you are assigned returns to church after their recovery, we’d then give you a new name to connect with for as long as you’d like to participate. 

Your willingness to help is much appreciated as we try to continue to weave social fabric through the congregation and meet the needs of those who are temporarily absent, unable to attend, as well as those who temporarily can’t quite overcome that pesky ODTAA Syndrome.

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