Dear Church Family,

The Church Elders Team has made the prayerful and painful decision to cancel all in-person, on-campus church events from now until after January 4th, 2021.

So that means no on-campus worship gatherings for the next four Sundays (December 13, 20, 27, or January 3) and no on-campus prayer meetings on Wednesday nights until January 6th. It also means that we are canceling the Candles and Carols outdoor worship gathering that we were in the process of planning for Christmas Eve.

This was not an easy decision to make because we all want to continue to gather in fellowship and worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially at Christmastime. But the Elders met twice this week to pray and plan together, and this is how the Lord led us.

Because COVID-19 cases are at an all time high, the Governor of Pennsylvania has put temporary mitigation measures into effect from December 12th to January 4th including limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to no more than 50. While the Governor has specifically indicated that churches are exempt from these limitations, he has also strongly recommended that churches follow them as well because “in person gatherings pose a significant risk to participants at this time.” It seemed wise to us to follow this guidance and continue to do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Obviously, the virus is now here among us in our area. Many in our own church family have been affected either by infection or exposure. We’re hoping that this temporary pause in gathering will  help us to keep each other safe, especially the most vulnerable among us.

This does not mean, of course, that our mission is on hold. We continue to exist to glorify God by bringing people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ through worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service. The main thing is still to keep the main thing the main thing, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We will continue to send out the Worship at Home resources we’ve been making, including a Guide to Worship at Home and recorded video messages. And we’re still online every Sunday evening at 6:30 for a Church Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom. Right now, we’re focusing on interviewing and praying for the medical professionals in our church family who are working in health care during this difficult time.

We’re also going to continue to post videos of families in the church lighting the Advent Candles. Christmas is not canceled. It’s just different this year.

Here’s an idea the Elders had for Christmas Eve: Instead of all of our families all gathering together in one place, maybe a few families coordinate and go caroling at the homes of some of our older folks in the church? Pull out your directory and drive over to someone’s front yard, ring the doorbell and sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.” That would be very safe and might mean the world to someone who needs the encouragement. That church directory is our friend for ministry to one another during this hardest point in the pandemic. Let’s continue to stay connected.

By the way, thank you for your continued giving during this time. The deaconesses have begun helping families who have lost income due to quarantines using the relief funds that you have donated these last several months. And the church is still doing well financially. Thank you for your faithfulness and generosity!

If you have any questions or needs, please do not hesitate to contact me, Marilynn in the church office, or any of the Elders. We are here for you.

We are all sad that this is where we are at today and we are praying for an end to COVID-19 and full resumption of in-person ministry. I’m sure we’re going to get through this as the Lord is leading us every step of the way.

I will miss being with you for the next four Sunday mornings, but I am looking forward to gathering the six of us in our family in our living room and worshiping together there. I encourage you to do the same with your household because Jesus Christ is worthy.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:23-26, NIV84).

In His Grip,
-Pastor Matt