Greetings to my church family!
We are on the threshold of Thanksgiving and the entry to the joyous season of Advent and Christmas. To me there is no better season of the year! But nothing about 2020 has been normal and today all Americans are being strongly urged by state and national scientists, doctors, and leaders to suspend usual holiday and family gatherings this year in order that as many as possible of us will be here to celebrate future holidays with loved ones.
Short-term disappointment maximizes longer-term blessing for all of us. We can do this! We are familiar with personal sacrifice for the sake of others—it is the foundation of our faith.
PA just increased its security at our state borders by requiring virtually all out-of-state visitors to produce evidence of a negative Covid-19 test within the 72 hours prior to entry, or submit to a self-imposed 14-day quarantine.
Our local hospitals and health care system are now experiencing an unprecedented surge in numbers of patients (and staff!) under hospital care—greater than last April. Every Covid case exposes essential workers to greater risk and danger.
Your church leaders have been weighing our responsibilities and options in this trying time. Like our community and our nation, we do not have unanimity in what risks to take, but in the interest of greatest safety, your Deacons and I have decided to discontinue until further notice our in-person, inside worship services, beginning with this coming Sunday, November 22.
We will still continue to video and audio record a worship service each Saturday with a skeleton crew, to be posted Sunday on YouTube (accessible through our FaceBook page and church website) and to be broadcast over WHLM radio.
I realize this will come as a great disappointment to those who have enjoyed the recent inside worship services. I also want to thank Thelma Lowthert and Karen Yerges who preached and led worship on two of those Sundays while I was away. This is a very difficult decision but we have decided to err on the side of greater caution to maximize safety and minimize risk and infection.
We make this decision knowing we have observed all recommended safety precautions at every previous service but also knowing that no gathering is the best way to maximize safety for the entire community—just as state and national experts are telling all Americans.
Your Deacons and I are planning an OUTSIDE Christmas Eve service; we will keep you posted as plans are made.
We will continue to care for and keep in touch with one another through all the technology at our disposal. Annie and I will continue “drive-by” visits (outside with masks and social distance) for any who wish them. Feel free to contact me or any Deacons about needs you may have.
Thank you for your patience, faithfulness, and flexibility! We will persevere and endure as we work together. God is always faithful and good. Blessings upon you today!
Michele Kashner, Chair
Anne Van Houten