In-person worship option starts September 20th
Hello friends, this year has so far been a confusing, frustrating one, hasn’t it? And changes will continue to be coming at us. As the saying goes, the only constant is change.
Throughout the summer, the clarity of the science of the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to develop, and given the current situation, the Gift Team Board and I feel we are ready now to thoughtfully move toward in person worship and gathering again.
While this is comforting for some who are really feeling the lack of connection, it can also feel concerning to others and I want to make space in our community for both of those emotions to be heard. The Board has decided that we will begin to hold services in the building once again starting September 20th.
NOT READY TO RETURN? For those who do not feel comfortable returning at this point due to increased personal or family risk, please note that our current Facebook Live worship will continue. We will continue to stream our services for the foreseeable future, and encourage you to continue to share them with family and friends in several different formats. Check out the Digital Worship Page included here for more information.
READY TO GATHER? For those who are excited by the opportunity to be in the building, read on to the next few pages to read more about the changes implemented to worship so that when we gather in person, we do our best to limit everyone’s risk of exposure.
We have a responsibility to care for the health and well-being of all in our community, including our most vulnerable populations. As we embark upon this process, we ask you to focus on this commitment to all disciples and friends of the congregation by following through, and helping others to do the same.
Remember what Jesus said when asked about the Greatest Commandment, “Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself”. Let us show our love for all.
As we start to see more news stories about parts of our state reopening, we know that many of you are curious about how that will impact Hummelstown United Church of Christ. Pastor Beth and the members of the Gift Team Board are together working closely to review the most up-to-date information, relying on guidance from the Penn Central Conference of the UCC, the phased plan for reopening set forth by Pennsylvania’s Governor, and the CDC’s recommendations. We have not yet finalized the details of our church re-opening, or the date on which it may open, but we assure you that we will move forward carefully and thoughtfully with the health and safety of our church community as our first priority.
Currently, our county is in the Red Phase, which means that a stay at home order is in effect, and there is a ban on large gatherings. The next phase is Yellow, which lifts some restrictions on businesses and social gatherings. During this phase, gatherings cannot be larger than 25 people, and can only occur if strict cleaning protocols, social distancing, and mask rules are followed. The green phase represents a return to a “new normal”, with most restrictions lifted and a requirement to follow all CDC guidelines.
We will not resume church activities in person until we are sure we can do so safely. When in-person small groups and worship services do eventually start again (and they will), it’s important to realize that they may not be exactly as they were before. This situation has caused things to change, and it will continue to challenge our flexibility and resilience. You can expect to continue to hear from us as our path to re-opening becomes clearer.
Many of us are finding that we are approaching our limits of social isolation, changing expectations, and the stress caused by this pandemic. It’s hard. We all want it to be over, and we find ourselves questioning just how much more we can take. We don’t have easy answers to offer you, but what we can offer is our sincere love and concern for the people of Hummelstown UCC. Whether you have been a part of this church community for a lifetime or a short while, there is a circle of support here for you when you need it. Please reach out to the church office, check in on each other, and be a reflection of God’s love in the world. We love you, God loves you, and we will get through this together.
The Gift Team Board & Pastor Beth
Rev. Beth Rogers
On April 1, 2020, Governor Wolf extended the Stay at Home Order to include the entire state until at least April 30th. This means that our current online worship, blended with the mailing of weekly bulletins will continue until at least the end of April. Though we don’t know the exact timing of our return to in person worship, we will continue to monitor the situation and ask that you do the same. Please remain at home as much as possible so we can continue to slow the spread of this virus.
Carin & Pastor Beth will continue to offer online worship streamed from the Sanctuary until such a time as that is no longer feasible. We are grateful to offer the continuity of our regular worship space for everyone viewing from home.
If you are feeling a need for engagement, see below for some ideas…
Pray and be thankful for everyone engaged in the necessary public employment to keep our society functioning. If you are engaged in the essential jobs, we thank you for all you are doing.
Take a selfie of yourself and send it to the church or post on the Facebook page. I’d love to be able to share with everyone a few pages of all of our smiling faces. If you don’t have a camera or need help in taking a photo, contact Pastor Beth to come out and take a photo of you, from a distance, to share. If you are feeling especially creative, take a photo of yourself with your palm frond from the Palm Sunday worship, included in the Palm Sunday Bulletin, or available for download here. https://tinyurl.com/wavingpalm
Record yourself passing the peace. If we can get enough of the congregation to send in short videos of peace, we can knit them together to send out to homebound members.
Take time outside. Bring a favorite devotional, or an online bulletin with you and sit in the garden or walk along a trail to hear God’s breath around you in the stirring of the trees, the rustling of the grass and the still small voice of the church beside you. It is spring, and time to celebrate all that springs forth from the earth each year. What are you thankful for?
In Hope and Peace,
As we are all aware, our nation and world are facing the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the Corona virus. We have been closely monitoring the situation including recommendations from our UCC leadership, the CDC, and medical professionals within our local community. The critical thing for our communities to do is to slow the rate of the epidemic so medical facilities are not overwhelmed. The most effective way to slow the spread of the virus is social distancing, or in other words, minimizing contact with others.
At this time, The Gift Team Board and leadership of the United Church of Christ of Hummelstown has suspended all worship and church based gatherings effective immediately through March 29th. We are in the process of setting up plans for continuing to celebrate Sunday worship online, with materials available in our regular weekly email. This suspension of activities includes Sunday worship, Faith Formation, Bible Study and Choir Rehearsals.
Plans are coming in for worship gathering online, and will be communicated this Thursday by our regular weekly email. I will be setting up an online meeting for Bible Study this week, where you can call in from your phone at home, or use
the video chat feature to join in as well.
Pastor Beth and Mary Lou will continue to work from the office, but are limiting public contact to minimum, and working as individually as possible. At this time, we both feel confident in this action, however, if this shifts, we will move to working at home. If you need to get a hold of anyone, or aren’t sure if anyone is in the office, please feel free to contact Pastor Beth on her cell phone at any time. Text, video chat and phone calls are all welcome.
What is being cancelled or postponed?
How long will this last?
We are currently planning a two week cancelation time and then will make another assessment as to the timing of a return to in person gatherings. We will continue to follow CDC and medical recommendations in the coming weeks.How can we continue to engage with the church when we aren’t meeting in person?
The number one thing to think about is to stay connected, but to find new ways to do it! Pray for those affected by illness and for who this time of intentional isolation is hardest, as well as those who are still working in “essential” industries who are continuing to be exposed to large numbers of the public and are therefore at risk.
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In this time of fear, share the heart of who we are with the world, that the God we worship, and the life we celebrate is centered on love. God is present with us even when we are lonely. So I invite you to find the ways that will calm your own anxieties, and find your center there. We must resist the urge to contributeto the xenophobia that has been sparked by the fear of this virus, and the anger of isolation. Speak up when you can to share a vision of unity with those who would sow divisiveness.
If you need a way to center yourself, you can even do it while contributing to health, by washing your hands with prayer on your mind. As we wash our hands, pick a favorite hymn, doxology, prayer, or scripture to sing or say (once or twice). Let’s join in a spiritual practice to relieve some anxiety. The verse that pops up for me right now is, “I look to the hills, from where does my help come, it comes from God.”
May you feel the presence and peace of love as we move into uncertainty and
walk with one another in grace.
Pastor Beth Rogers
For more information about the Coronavirus and how to keep safe visit: