We have two new study groups starting in up in July and all are welcome to join us. Please feel free to share this information with your friends and family. These groups will meet virtually. There will be both video call and audio call in options for both.
On Sunday, July 12, Pastor Charissa will begin a sermon series on the book of Revelation. To give you an opportunity to dig deeper into the text, the Thursday afternoon Bible study will also focus on the book of Revelation. All are welcome to join us. You don't have to be a regular to our study groups or even a regular at our church to join us in this discussion. Feel free to spread the word! Revelation is a fascinating and frequently misinterpreted book of the Bible, so this is a great study to invite folks to.
Bible study will remain at 2pm on Thursdays and we will start studying Revelation on July 9.
It is not required, but it is recommended that attendees purchase a copy of N. T. Wright's commentary, "Revelation for Everyone". This can be purchased at Amazon. If you are unable to place an online order, contact the church and we will arrange with you to have one sent to your house. Make sure you are purchasing the full commentary and not the Bible study guide. The link for the full commentary is: Revelation for Everyone (The New Testament for Everyone)
The link to join Bible study via Zoom is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/847908421
To call in, use any phone to dial +16465588656 and enter Meeting ID: 847 908 421
If you would like to add to your digital calendar, just download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZAqfumgqjkrafWkPO_IdxHkd6_mUUwCqg/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGsqTIqEtCXsV3tc7cvA4Hqb_HqkHBInahtsyDMBzh7aQegCe93B6VcAd-B
For more in depth discussion, you can follow along with Pastor Charissa and her friends, Pastor Alan and Pastor Rebecca, on a weekly podcast at https://www.softidolatry.com/podcast.html
In May, we sent out a plan for moving toward reopening the church buildings as the world begins to slowly creep out of lockdown and quarantine.
After watching reports in our county and the next door counties, we have selected a date to move into the next phase of our plan. We will be moving from red to yellow on Friday, July 10. If you look at the updated plan we have attached, you'll see one addition from the first edition of this plan - outdoor worship during the yellow phase. We have attached the updated guidelines at the bottom of this post so that you can download a full copy.
Did you know that being in a group of people outdoors is 19 times less likely to spread Covid-19 than being indoors? We learned that recently ourselves, and knowing that, we believe that by adding outdoor worship two evenings per month, we can still keep everyone reasonably safe from infection while still gathering together for corporate worship.
Here's what this will look like:
Saturday, July 11th at 6PM, we will gather for a worship service on the lawn at St. Andrew’s. We are asking that in order to save on disinfecting costs and effort, everyone bring with them their own lawn chair or folding chair. If you do not have access to such a chair or are unable to transport one for some reason, please email me at email@example.com and we will work something out. Households will be required to sit at least 6 feet apart from one another. Masks are recommended, and if you don’t have one, we will have a washable, reusable one available for you to use and take home for future use. While we know you’ve missed one another and this will be a joyful reunion, please refrain at all cost from hugging, shaking hands, or otherwise coming in physical contact with anyone from outside your household. We have many people in our community who are at risk for major complications from Covid-19 and we have already seen firsthand how dangerous it can be. Air hugs, jazz hands, shouting “yay! I missed you!”, and complimenting everyone’s crazy quarantine hair are all acceptable greetings. The building will not be open for restrooms, so please plan accordingly. Restrooms are the most difficult part of the building to keep appropriately sanitized. There is no rain plan. If there is a little bit of rain, grab an umbrella and come anyway. If there is alot of rain, we will cancel. Keep an eye out for a weather alert via our usual winter weather system if you are unsure.
On Saturday, July 25th at 6PM, we will gather at Emsworth on the lawn with the same directions for community safety. Please park on the far end of the large parking lot, the small lower lot, or the street, and we will gather on the half of the large lot closest to the building.
On both of these weekends, we will still have Sunday morning virtual worship just as we’ve been doing. This will allow those who are still uncomfortable gathering in person to worship from the comfort and safety of their homes. In other words, Sunday morning worship will continue exactly the way it’s been continuing over the past few months online, but we’ll be adding the Saturday evening in person worship twice a month.
We will also use both of these evenings to gather used laptops, tablets, and smartphones to begin putting together our new mobile technology education lab. This program will include a mobile technology lab, classes on technology use in day to day life, a tech lending library, and improved live-streaming abilities moving forward when we are back in the sanctuary again. For every working devise donated (please remember to bring the charging cables if you still have them), you will receive a receipt for the in kind donation and we will receive credit toward the matching grant we have been given. We receive $4 from the Presbytery for every $1 worth of donated items and cash donations, up to $4000 total of matching. If you have non- working tablets, laptops, or smart phones, we will recycle them for you for a recommended cash donation of at least $5. Those cash donations will count toward the matching grant. Anything we collect (in-kind or cash) over $1000 enables us to do even more with this new program. We cannot accept desktops, monitors, non-smart phones, or other electronics/accessories. Feel free to ask around to your friends and family for donations of items and cash for this project as well. The more we collect, the more we can do to help connect to our community and help our community connect as use of technology is becoming increasingly important in day to day life. Stay tuned for information on online fundraising for this project, as well as additional drop off dates that you can share on social media.
I can’t wait to see all your faces in person on July 11!
Stay safe and healthy, friends.
For a few weeks now, we have been getting together a couple times a week for a 15 minute morning prayer service.
Word on the street is that people really enjoy getting together virtually for morning prayer. At least for a time, we're going to continue doing morning prayer three days a week. Once we get back into the buildings, we might offer in person morning prayer, as well as the zoom option. Your answers to a few quick questions will be helpful in our planning moving forward.
All answers are anonymous. You do no have to be a regular of the congregation to answer this - we're asking all of our friends and community contacts as well.
The elders and staff of both Emsworth and St. Andrew’s have spent no small amount of time lately discussing how to best keep everyone in our church family and community safe from Covid-19 while remaining connected to one another. We lament with you the loss of public worship these past few months and want to share with you how we are proceeding in the weeks and months to come.
In Greek, the language of the new testament, there are actually two words for “time”. There is “chronos” time, which means a specific time on the clock and calendar. For example, your favorite TV show is on air at 8pm on Tuesday. That’s chronos time. There is also, however, “kairos” time. Kairos time is a time God has appointed and we’ll know when it’s there. An expectant mother might have a “due date” given by a doctor that expresses a moment of chronos time, but as most of us know, babies aren’t usually born on their due date. The baby will be born at the appointed moment. They operate on kairos time.
We know most of you would like to know the chronos time we will be back in our sanctuaries. As of right now, the leadership of the congregations do not feel comfortable assigning such a date. There are too many unknowns. But we also know that it’s helpful to have some information about the way we are proceeding. So we’d like to tell you a bit about the kairos time on which we’re currently operating.
At this time, we still do not plan on resuming Sunday morning in person public worship until we have a clearer idea of the dangers of gathering in person and the measures necessary to keep everyone safe. We have been reading research items, consulting what other congregations are doing at this time, and keeping a close eye on the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. You can rest safe and confident that your church is taking every effort possible to help curb the spread of this dangerous disease.
These are difficult times and there is a great deal for all of us to learn about the technology we’re using to keep connected these days. We are aware that there are gaps in access for some. Therefore, we have formed a task force to help make technological access to online church events and services more available for everyone, as well as providing instruction as to how these events and services work and planning for long term livestreaming and conference call options. Stay tuned for more exciting details about this program. It is our hope that Emsworth and St. Andrew’s can be pioneers of a program like this and can blaze the trail for other congregations struggling with the same questions and hurdles during this time. There is precedent for our congregations setting the tone for new things to come: here is our chance to do it again! If you would like to be a part of that team, please contact us.
Attached is the session’s current plan for phasing the reopening of the church buildings. You will see that we have used a similar color coded system to that which the state of Pennsylvania is using for opening counties. We will not, however, be exactly following the timing of county openings. We will let you know in weeks ahead when the church moves from red to yellow or green and when all restrictions are lifted. Even though Allegheny County has been moved to “yellow” by the state, the current plan for our churches is to wait some additional (kairos) time to assess danger and outbreaks before moving the church to yellow. We are currently in the red phase. Because of the high risk status of the vast majority of our congregations, we plan to make our decisions with an abundance of caution.
Since the information on Covid-19 is constantly changing, please know that these recommendations will probably change some in the weeks and months ahead before we get to the “green” stage and it’s possible that we could go up and down along this scale a few times before all restrictions are lifted. We will keep you informed as to the changes that might affect you and will keep an updated copy of the plan on the church website. If at any time you would like or need an updated hard copy, just let the church office know and we will provide you with one.
Please know that while we are making every effort to keep you as safe as possible, as we begin to gather again, even in small groups, we cannot guarantee everyone’s safety 100%. If at any point you are uncomfortable participating in person, there will continue to be options for you to participate online and by calling in as we have been doing over the past two months.
The staff and elders thank you for all your prayers and participation, as well as your grace in these difficult weeks. St. Andrew’s and Emsworth have, thus far, weathered this crisis as shining examples of how God’s people can adapt and change to continue sharing the Gospel message in the most surprising and difficult of circumstances. It is this pioneering spirit of creativity and joy that will help to keep the ministries of these congregations active and vital as we move forward into the unknown.
I (Pastor Charissa) would like to take a moment of personal privilege to express to you how deeply humbled I am to be walking through this with such extraordinary people and how very proud I am of you all.
Stay safe and healthy, friends.
Rev. Charissa Howe
Leslie Linko, SAUPC Caretaker
Paul Zende, EUPC Caretaker
Emsworth Session 2020
St. Andrew’s Session 2020
Mask Making for mens' shelter
A few weeks back when Sue and Paul dropped off a meal at Northside Common Ministries, they noticed that the residents and volunteers there didn't seem to have masks. We reached out to them and found out that they are in need of washable fabric masks for their clients and volunteers. If you have a sewing machine and basic sewing skills, we could use some help making these for them. It's a great way to support the neighborhood from the safety of your home. We can get you supplies if needed (plastic, fabrics, etc) and Pastor Charissa can give you a tutorial on how to do it. She's taught both Gloria and Levi how to make them. Please email or call Pastor Charissa to help out with this project. If you know of another local organization that needs fabric masks, let us know. We can connect with them once we've outfitted the shelter.
Food Bank donations
North Boros Food Bank just told us that they will be having another pick-up of donations this month at the following locations
from 10AM to 12N:
May 21: Sacred Heart lower parking lot
May 22: Assumption School parking lot
You can also make financial donations by mailing them directly to the Food Bank at:
North Hills Community Outreach
1975 Ferguson Rd.
Allison Park, PA 15101
Or online at: https://nhco.org/donate/
Beginning this coming Monday, May 11, we will be having morning prayer services every Monday and Friday morning at 9. These will be live services held via Zoom and live-streamed on Youtube. In other words, you have two options for participating. You can dial in via phone or video conference on Zoom, or watch the service on the YouTube channel just like you watch church on Sunday morning. This will be just a simple prayer time to open and close our week. All are welcome. Feel free to invite friends and family.
Have you thought about how your star word speaks to you in the midst of the crazy times we're living in right now?
Here are some other ways to study your star word in May this year.
North Hills Community Outreach is having a food drive on Thursday and Friday, April 30/May 1. Local food banks are having a very difficult time keeping up with demand right now. If you are in a place to give a little extra right now, please help out this week. You can make in kind donations of food items to the outreach directly, or make financial donations instead. If you would prefer to drop off items at Emsworth UP, please contact Pastor Charissa or Janet Shaffer.
Please remember that any time you're in a public place (like shopping for the food bank, dropping off food at the food bank. church, etc.), wearing a mask is of the utmost importance. If you do not already have one, let us know and we will make sure you get one.
Here are the details for making donations:
Virtual lunch with the pastor has been a ton of fun and is one of the highlights of my week these days! All are welcome to join us for this casual gathering. Grab your lunch and your laptop and dial in to see your loved ones from church. We meet from 12pm-1 on Tuesday each week. The link and dial in information for this event stay the same every week.
We also have weekly book club and Bible study on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This are also video conference gatherings for the time being and you can find details at the link below. It's never too late to jump in!
We'd also love for you to help out with Sunday morning worship! It's been great getting all the videos and photos from everyone for Witnessing God at work and for the pieces of the worship service! You can text your photos or videos of God at work in the world around you to 412.219.2503 OR email them directly to Pastor Charissa. If you send a photo, make sure to include a short description of it. If you need help walking through how to make a video with your computer, tablet, or smart phone, let me know and we'll talk through it together. I promise you it's easier than it sounds.
We're also still looking for people to help with prayers and readings for Sunday worship. You let us know what you want to read and we'll send you the reading. Just send back a video of you doing that reading and that's it! You can sign up to be a virtual worship assistant at the link below.
Need some FaceTime (or Zoom time or Skype time or phone time. . . ) with Pastor Charissa? You can sign up for specific meeting times at the link below. If it's an emergency, just call. You're never a bother. Even if it's not an emergency, you can call or text any time and I'll answer as I'm available. But if you want to just check in, vent, brainstorm, etc, and are wondering when I will definitely be available, you're welcome to sign up for virtual office hours.
If there is one "command center" or "FAQ" page that you should save or bookmark for now to keep up with church news and happenings, it's the one below. We have one page on the website that is dedicated to keeping track of links and events for you.
Friends, it was a difficult, but important decision that the elders and I made at our session meeting this week. The church buildings will both remain closed at least through the end of May. While we dearly miss gathering together for worship and fellowship, recent events have made it clear that it will be at least 5-6 more weeks before it is safe for our congregations to gather in person. Many in our community are medically vulnerable and their safety is our utmost concern at this time. Please continue to join us for online worship and events and check in with us for new opportunities for community during this strange wilderness time.