I really hate that I am writing this message, but here we are. The covid-19 pandemic is changing life daily.
I just finished watching Gvr. Wolf's press conference in which he stated there are 2 confirmed cases of covid-19 and more pending test results in Allegheny County. It is almost certain that within the next few days, we will see a large uptick in the numbers of cases in our area. Our state and county governments urge all "non-essential" businesses and organizations to consider closing for the time being.
Church family is essential, but meeting in person every Sunday morning is not, especially in light of an emergency situation like this. The elders, the staff, and I, as church leaders, are tasked with caring for the well-being of our church family - this includes physical and emotional well-being, along with spiritual well being. We have a great number of medically vulnerable people in our midst and want to do everything in our power to keep them, as well as other vulnerable people around us, as safe as possible.
Therefore, it is in everyone's best interest that we move to online services only for the remainder of March. Here is how we are working to help keep everyone connected and keep things running.
Please email me with questions about any of the technology. I’m happy to help.
Thanks for being flexible and rolling with it as we go. If you are struggling in some way because of closures, the emotional stress/toll of the situation, or social distancing, please do not hesitate to call or text the pastoral care line at 412.219.2503. We will do our best to connect you to the best help possible.
In light of Governor Wolf’s mandatory closure of all Pennsylvania schools for the next 2 weeks, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all midweek activities at Emsworth & St. Andrew’s until April 1. At that time, we will reevaluate the situation and make a decision moving forward.
Necessary group meetings will be held via conference/video call. If you are in a meeting that will proceed this way, you will be contacted individually about said meeting.
Please remember that the Sunday evening potluck dinners/community prayer services have also been canceled.
At this time, we will still be holding Sunday morning services as usual, with the following precautions:
If you are struggling in some way because of closures, the emotional stress/toll of the situation, or social distancing, please do not hesitate to call or text the pastoral care line at 412.219.2503. We will do our best to connect you to the best help possible.
Thank you all for being patient with us and for being flexible.
As promised, I have been keeping an eye on the coronavirus situation. Yesterday, the World Health Organization officially labeled this a pandemic, which means it's spread to enough of the world that it's a global problem. Several countries in Europe have locked down - Ireland is the most recent - and the US has stopped all air travel between the US and Europe. This afternoon, Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania strongly urged cancelation of group gatherings over 250 people, and encouraged faith communities to proceed with caution for all gatherings.
As of right now, there are still no confirmed cases of it in our county, but other organizations are starting to limit group gatherings. Our church family includes a very vulnerable population of people. We have many people who fall into the high risk age category, as well as members with cardiovascular concerns. Therefore, I want to assure you, my beloved church family, that I am taking this seriously. If you are in one of those high risk categories, please exercise caution.
The ministerium has unanimously decided it's in the best interest of our congregants to cancel the remaining Sunday evening Lent dinners and prayer services. We do not do this lightly, but the risks involved with that number of people sharing a kitchen and food together in close proximity are too great to ignore.
I am keeping an eye on the situation and will let you know if we decide to cancel any other activities. As of right now, there are no other cancelations. We may choose to cancel mid-week activities like yoga, so please keep an eye on the church website and on your email for further updates.
Should group gathering restrictions/recommendations continue into April, we will be using an online meeting format for our book study. This will be accessible online or by calling in by phone. I understand that not everyone is tech savvy/has internet access, but this is a free way to try to maintain as much community as possible in case of quarantines/isolation policies, etc. I am happy to help people work through any technological difficulties they may have with this set up.
We are fast tracking getting live-streaming available for Sunday worship. We hope that it will be ready by this Sunday morning. For now, that will be as a back up so that those who choose to stay home can still have an option for participation. Again, I know that not everyone has access to or knows how to navigate YouTube or the church website, but a large portion of our folks do. If restrictions are put into place for group gatherings, Rebecca and I will still lead worship from the sanctuary with online streaming.
As of now, I do not plan to cancel in-person worship - including our Holy Week services - unless there is a serious escalation in the current situation. I trust that we are all adults who can decide to stay home if sick or compromised in some way. We will continue our no handshakes policy. Also, I'm not afraid to gently ask someone to go home and rest if they show up for church with a cough or fever. I will not play around when it comes to the health and safety of our church family.
I am putting together a pastoral care action team to assist if there are restrictions and/or an outbreak in our area. Rebecca and I plan to make phone calls and visits during any movement restrictions to check in on people we normally get to see weekly. We are looking into ways to make sure our more limited members have access to groceries, etc. If you are interested in helping grocery shop for someone, visit members, make calls, or other pastoral help, please let me know ASAP so I can have you on that list. Now, more than ever, we need to be checking in on one another and making sure everyone's needs are met. If you know of a friend or neighbor who needs help at this time, please let us know so we can reach out to them.
I will keep you all posted if anything changes and I plan on sending out at least weekly updates to help alleviate worry and operate with as much transparency as possible.
Thank you each for all you do!
I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening) by Sarah Stewart Holland & Beth Silvers
“A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations”
Wednesdays, April 22-June 24 (10 weeks)
We will meet on Wednesday mornings at 11 and Wednesday evenings at 7. Choose the time that works best for you. We will choose location based on numbers from each congregation for each time. Please fill out the form below to note your interest and preferences. book is $10 if the church orders for you. It is also available on Amazon and Audible.
About the book
From Amazon: More than ever, politics seems driven by conflict and anger. People sitting together in pews every Sunday have started to feel like strangers, loved ones at the dinner table like enemies. Toxic political dialogue, hate-filled rants on social media, and agenda-driven news stories have become the new norm. It’s exhausting, and it’s too much.
In I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening), two working moms from opposite ends of the political spectrum contend that there is a better way. They believe that we can
Sarah from the left and Beth from the right invite those looking for something better than the status quo to pull up a chair and listen to the principles, insights, and practical tools they have learned hosting their fast-growing podcast Pantsuit Politics. As impossible as it might seem, people from opposing political perspectives truly can have calm, grace-filled conversations with one another—by putting relationship before policy and understanding before argument.
Here are some ways you can dig deeper with your star word this month.
As the fears about the spread of Covid 19 grow, it's important to know what we as a church are doing to help keep everyone as healthy as possible. It's also still cold and flu season, so these are good reminders regardless of other outbreaks. The flu kills at least 12,000 Americans every year. Here are some tips for staying healthy and some assurances about what we are doing to help keep things that way.