Reopening St. Paul's
(May 14, 2020)
As the Psalmist writes, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1). Two months have passed since we last gathered for worship at St. Paul’s. And we still don’t know for sure when we will be able to gather again. But the time is getting closer and, with the Psalmist, the prospect of returning to the Lord’s house brings some much needed gladness to us.
Plans are being made for the resumption of worship services in the church building by our leadership team. I’d like to share those plans with you and to also ask some questions of you. But first please know that:
we anticipate resuming worship at the church during the yellow phase of Governor Wolf’s reopening plan for the state, but no specific Sunday has yet been identified, and we are continually adjusting and refining plans according to information received from the state, the county, our national church, and area
congregations, and we are committed to having and maintaining a clean, healthy environment for worship and all activities at our Lord’s house.
So what will worship be like when we return to our church building? Here are ten things you can expect to find.
1. Building use will be limited to the sanctuary, hallway (by the fellowship hall), narthex, and restrooms. This will allow worship space on Sundays to be largely kept separate from child care center space being used on
2. The outside hallway door (between the church building and fellowship hall) will serve as the entry point for worship. This provides greater opportunity to maintain social distancing when inside. Worshipers can
then proceed to the sanctuary by either using the stairway adjoining the hallway (20 steps just like in the narthex) or the elevator. The narthex doors will then be used to exit the building after worship.
3. Worship services will be limited to a maximum of 25 people if we reopen during the yellow phase, two of whom will need to be the Pastor and Music Director. Reservations to attend specific services will need to be
made (by signup genius or calling the church office).
4. More than two services may be scheduled for Sundays (with times to be announced), depending on people’s plans to return to worship (see survey question #1 below).
5. The length of worship services will be shorter, probably between 30-40 minutes, allowing for cleaning in between services. Cleaning teams will be employed (see survey question #2 below).
6. Social distancing will be observed inside and outside of the building. Six foot markings will be placed on the sidewalk and hallways. Pews in the sanctuary will either be marked off at six foot intervals or roped off. There will be no seating in the balcony.
7. Face masks will be required. Hand sanitizer stations will be positioned in the hallway upon entering and in the sanctuary. Bulletins will be available for worshipers to individually pick up or download to their
8. Worship services will primarily include Bible readings, prayers, a children’s message, the sermon, instrumental music, and spoken parts of the liturgy. Holy Communion will not be offered for the first few services, nor will there be any sharing of the Peace. Singing will be minimal. Worshipers may place their offerings in a secure, stationary offering box upon entering or leaving the sanctuary.
9. Children will stay with their families in the sanctuary for worship. Sunday School will resume in the autumn.
10. Our virtual, online worship service will continue to be fashioned and placed on our church website and Facebook page, e-mailed via constant contact, and put on YouTube.
As you can see, worship will be different as we are now in different times. And we will all have to adjust to these new conditions. In doing so, please remember the joy that comes from being together again and the responsibility we all share in making this a healthy and positive return to worship for one and all. As the author of Psalm 122 declares his intention, let us also endeavor to do the same. “For the sake of my relatives
and friends I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good” (Psalm 122:8-9). We look forward to claiming that Peace of God that comes to us in worship. And, as we do, let us be mindful of the needs of our brothers and sisters and
strive for the good of all.4
Please feel free to contact me with your questions. And please now turn your attention to the survey at the bottom of this page, completing it and returning it to our church office via the mail or emailing or phoning in your responses. Thank you!
With my appreciation,
Reopening Church for Worship at St. Paul’s Survey
Please answer the following three questions and return your responses to the church office via the mail (P.O. Box 47, Red Hill, PA 18076), email (email@example.com), or calling (215-679-5553).
Thank you! Pastor
1) When worship services resume at the church building, I plan to.... (circle)
A)return the first Sundays
B)wait a few Sundays before attending
C)share in online worship and return at a later date
D)other (please specify)....
2) Would you be willing to be part of a cleaning team that cleans the sanctuary and hallway (wiping down door knobs, handles, pews, etc.) in between worship services? (circle)
3) What questions do you have concerning the reopening of our church
building for worship services?
Name - _____________________________________
Phone # - ___________________________________
Email address - _______________________________
Update from Pastor Moritz
(March 24, 2020)
Our journey of faith entails both times of celebration and challenge. In recent weeks the latter road has stretched before us in ways we have never seen or traveled before. Yet no matter where we are in our journey, the Promise of Christ to always be with us remains our great assurance.
Our church building is very quiet these days as we stay home to overcome the coronavirus. But our ministry goes on in new and creative ways as we learn to share God’s Love in the changed environment in which we are now living. Here are some of the things we’re presently doing.
* We’ve taken to the internet to provide worship services every weekend. If we can’t meet in person, we’ll meet online. The services which include Scripture readings, a children’s message, a sermon, and prayers are posted on our church website and Facebook page, as well as placed on YouTube. My thanks to Brian and Thomas Uber for filming and editing each production! I’m happy to note that St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Pennsburg is also participating in our new worship ministry.
* Daily devotional messages are being shared via constant contact mailings Monday through Friday of each week. Last week’s theme was coping with the fear we’re all experiencing. This week we’re meeting some Bible friends who can keep us company during these days of staying home. If you don’t have computer access to these devotions, please let me know and we will mail them to you.
* We, likewise, continue to care for our friends at Pennsburg Manor. Since we can’t be there in person for our monthly worship service, we’re making sure residents, as they wish, have access to our weekly online worship service, daily devotionals, and worship bulletin.
* Even though our child care services have been suspended due to Gov. Wolf’s closing of schools and gathering places, we are every day monitoring developments to see how we can best care for our 90+ families who send their children to our child care center and our 30+ teachers and staff. Through the leadership of our Executive Committee and our UPCCC Director, Carla Allen, we are exploring options for how we can best guide our child care ministry through these unprecedented times.
* We continue to provide pastoral care for our church family by staying in touch through phone, email, and social media. We might not be able to be there in person, but we will be there in prayer and heartfelt conversation. During these times of having to stay at home, let’s also reach out to each other with cards and letters - remembering birthdays and anniversaries, lifting each other’s spirits on gray days, and offering encouragement to one another when facing health concerns.
* Our church staff continues to go about their ministries, largely from home - keeping track of our finances, sending out communications, maintaining our building, and envisioning worship possibilities. Please keep them in your prayers.
* Security cameras have been installed in our building during these quiet days. A new drinking fountain has been placed in the hallway near the kitchen. Thorough cleanings of the building have continued on.
Life and ministry go on at St. Paul’s in new and innovative ways. And they will continue to go on, into the weeks and months ahead, as we slowly and surely defeat this horrible coronavirus. As Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). And we have His words to share. That is our blessing and our responsibility.
To keep our ministry going, though, your continued financial support is needed. Not having the opportunity to meet for worship on Sundays, we can’t place our offering in the offering plates. But there are other ways to give. And I encourage you to use them. Now, more than ever, we need to bring the ministry of God’s Word to our community.
* Mail your weekly offering to the church. Do it every week. Or send it altogether at the start of the month. One of our staff or myself are at the church every week, receiving and opening the mail.
* Move to online giving. Our church offers an electronic giving service that allows you a convenient and consistent way of directing your offering to our church. To find out how you can take advantage of this opportunity, please go to www.stpaulredhill.org/electronic-giving or call our church office and leave a message for our Financial Bookkeeper, Laura Foreman (215-679-5553 ext 126).
* Consider making a special contribution, above and beyond your weekly offering, to help our church through these unprecedented times. Even though classes aren’t presently meeting, we have a child care center ministry to run. Even though we can’t gather together for a while, we have a building to maintain. As St. Paul reminds us, “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Sharing our faith and spreading God’s Love. That’s our mission. And neither the presence of the coronavirus nor the suspension of worship gatherings at our church building has changed that mission. If anything, it’s only made it a grander and more important calling. Together we’ve been making a difference in our community. Please join me in continuing to do so by actively supporting our church’s ministry with your offerings.
With my appreciation,
Concerning the Closure of Gathering Places in Montgomery County -
A Note from Pastor Wayne
(March 13, 2020)
Good morning everyone! We are awakening to a new day on this Friday the 13th and to a new chapter in our lives. Hopefully, it will be a brief sojourn. But it certainly is one we can travel together and will travel together in hope and confidence.
As you know, Governor Wolf has ordered a two week closing of all gathering places and schools in Montgomery County to combat the spread of the coronavirus. In compliance with his directive, and wanting to do everything we can to promote the health and well-being of our community, our Upper Perkiomen Child Care Center is closed for two weeks, starting today, March 13.
Upon action of our Church Council, at last night’s monthly meeting, no worship services will be held at the church for the next two Sundays, March 15 & 22. We hope to have an online worship devotion ready for this Sunday, March 15, so that we might still worship together gathered in spirit and prayer, if not physically together. More details will soon be provided you about how you can tune into the online service. During these two weeks ahead, kindly remember the importance of your offering and how your gifts support our ministry. Since we will not be gathering at the church (and if you do not use vanco), you may wish to send your offerings into the church office via the mail or set them aside to bring with you the next time we gather.
In consultation with other area churches, the community Midweek Lenten Worship Services scheduled for Wednesdays, March 18 & 25 have also been cancelled.
Starting today all gatherings at the church building are also suspended for two weeks. This includes all planned church activities and meetings of community organizations. During this time, cleaning of the church and child care center will continue on its regular schedule to ensure that a clean, healthy environment is maintained.
We will continually be gathering more information in the days ahead to share with you concerning changes in our ministry. Please be attentive to notes being sent via constant contact, placed on Facebook, posted on our website, or noted on WFMZ.
May the Lord bless you and keep you through the days ahead. We continue on our Lenten journey, although in an unexpected fashion, making our way to the Cross and, ultimately, to the Glory of Easter Day and the gift of New Life. Through Christ we have the promise of conquering all things. And so we shall.