May 18, 2020
Dear Epworth Church,
On May 11th our leadership team met online to discuss what “re-opening” looks like during the coronavirus pandemic at Epworth. Our highest priority is the health and well-being of our church family and staff. We have utilized the Governor’s color coded reopening guide along with the following guidelines issued by Bishop Peggy Johnson of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the UMC:
We are currently in Pennsylvania’s red phase with stay at home orders extended until June 4th. Until we move to the yellow phase we will continue to worship online through Zoom and Facebook and hold all meetings on Zoom. If you have trouble getting connected to any of our online meetings please contact Brian Wonderly (610-864-7758) who is willing to offer technology assistance to anyone in need. Our office has had limited office hours and we continue to have our cleaning service in as they pay particular attention to sanitizing the high touch areas throughout the church building.
Whenever we move to the Governor’s yellow phase we will continue to hold worship on-line. With the size of our congregation there is no way we can safely limit 25 or less people in the sanctuary for worship. Currently, Pastor Nina along with Bob Shadle (on sound board) and various musical guests have been pre-recording services on Saturday mornings (due to our limited internet connection) to post on Sunday through Facebook and Zoom. Pastor Nina has been recording on her cell phone. We are currently working to move our worship to live stream where we will go live from the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. Our trustees are taking the steps to add internet connection to our sanctuary and also looking to invest in recording equipment for live streaming. We have also updated our license to include streaming of music for worship. Music, liturgy, even scripture are all items that require a paid license once we stream online and so Pastor Nina has had to take particular care in coordinating worship online with those legal ramifications in mind. Streaming worship online is something that we will continue to offer indefinitely as many folks will not feel comfortable going back to worship even when we get to the green phase. At this yellow phase we will also begin to include more volunteers in worship such as worship assistants and more musical guests.
While we still will hold worship online in the yellow phase, we will begin to offer small group activities (under 25 people) at the church for those who are comfortable. We will need to practice social distancing by being six feet apart, wearing masks, and sanitizing surfaces after use each time. We also are ordering hand sanitizing stations to offer throughout our building. Group leaders who organize any gathering will need to ensure they are practicing social distancing guidelines. We encourage creativity in finding ways to connect this summer as we move into the yellow phase in these small group activities. Small group meetings are the way the earliest church began back when Jesus gathered with his disciples in homes. They are particularly meaningful for our Methodist history as our denomination was created out of John Wesley’s (our founder) desire to create small accountability groups for people of faith. Zoom has been a wonderful way to provide connections for many of our small groups and our Epworth Zoom account is available for small group leaders to schedule meetings.
We hope to resume in-person worship when our county moves to the green phase but with continued live stream for those unable to attend.
Thank you for your grace and patience as we all navigate through this difficult period of history. Obviously these guidelines are fluid and ever changing. If there is an outbreak in our area, or in our congregation, we will need to close the church building again. Please stay connected to your email, our website, and Facebook page for current updates.
Thank you for your continued support of our mission and ministry here at Epworth. Our church is sustained by the prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness of EVERY member of our body. We will get through this season as a church family and our witness will continue to grow. Here are some special ways you can help during this time:
- Continue to pray for the mission and ministry of Epworth – we are sustained by your prayers!
- Stay connected to our church family by checking in with one another through cards, phone calls, emails, and text messages.
- Continue to financially support the ministries of our church by signing up for online giving or by mailing your check to our church office.
- Continue to drop off food donations to our mission partners located in the bin at our front door. Contact Karen Shadle for questions about those donations.
- Schedule an online fellowship meeting with church members who are interested in gathering online. Contact Pastor Nina for assistance.
- As we move to streaming online, volunteers will be needed to coordinate these efforts. If you are interested in being part of this ministry or are gifted in these areas please contact Bob Shadle at 484-553-1346 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Volunteers with expertise in web design or social media are also needed. Please contact Pastor Nina if you could assist in these areas.
- As we move to the yellow phase please be creative in creating opportunities for small groups at the church. Contact Pastor Nina or our lay leader, Heidi Landis, to coordinate or brainstorm these opportunities.
Pastor Nina Patton-Semerod