Family of God,

            I am so grateful for your flexibility over the past 7 months when all of our lives have been so drastically changed by things beyond our control. We have stayed connected as a faith family in prayer, worship, Bible study, mission, outreach, and fellowship in a multitude of new and innovative ways. Our Worship & Music Committee has been working hard to reimagine what it looks like to safely worship together. Our Session has been diligently planning and shifting as needed to best serve our congregation. Our staff have pivoted time after time for the necessary adjustments to serve our ministry. Each one of you have also with wonderful hope and faithfulness continued to partner with our congregation in amazing ways. Thank you for your continued discipleship in this difficult time.

            The Worship & Music Committee made several recommendations to the Session which were discussed and acted upon at our meeting on Oct. 12. We discussed that current CDC and state guidelines place limits on our ability to worship indoors currently by capping our capacity at 40 individuals in the sanctuary, requiring face coverings, physical distancing, no singing indoors, and the need for air circulation requiring us to open the windows while running the heat. As a result, here is what we envision as our plan through the remainder of 2020, acknowledging that guidelines from state and local officials do change frequently. We will revise our plans as necessary when guidelines change. We will continue to:

·         monitor the recommendations of health officials
·         respond to your feedback
·         worship every Sunday
·         hold weekly online Bible study
·         support our missionaries, staff, and facilities
·         have Cedar Tree Child Care use our facilities
·         support you in prayer
·         be good stewards of all our gifts – finances, staff, volunteers, facilities, time, talents, and other resources
·         keep our church members and friends connected with one another and with our church as the Family of God

As a result of our discussions and decisions as church leaders serving our ministry and community, we have made the following plans for our worship life through the end of 2020:

Worship from the safety of our homes and view worship online

Oct. 18, Nov. 1, Nov. 15, Nov. 29 - 1st Sunday of Advent, Dec. 13, Dec. 27

Option of attending worship outdoors in our church parking lot or participating from home by viewing the live broadcast on Facebook

Oct. 25, Nov. 8 Communion and Congregation Meeting, Nov. 22, Dec. 6 Communion, Dec. 20, Dec. 24  Christmas Eve

Those who are members in attendance at the church on Nov. 8 will also have the opportunity to have voice and vote at our congregational meeting where we will make decisions regarding nominees for leadership roles in 2021 and changes to our church By-laws to allow for online voting.  On Thursday, Dec. 24 we will celebrate Christmas Eve in a new and unique way. You have the option of joining us, weather permitting, outdoors for lessons and carols by candlelight in the church parking lot at 7:30 pm or join us for worship by viewing the live broadcast on Facebook. If you come to church on Christmas Eve, please dress appropriately for the evening’s weather and RSVP by noon on Dec. 23rd.

            On any date when worship is available outdoors, if the weather is below freezing or it is raining or snowing, worship will still be broadcast live at 10:30 am on Facebook but we ask everyone to remain at home where you are safe and comfortable. Pastor Cynthia and our Music Director Therese Korman will come to the church those mornings when the weather is inclement and provide worship leadership through the live broadcast. If you intend to attend any of the outdoor services, please RSVP to the church office by noon on the Friday before each Sunday service so we can plan appropriately.

            Please take note that outdoor services are not held every weekend so as to allow for at least 14 days in between our in-person contact. This follows local guidelines for the prevention of the spread of Coronavirus. Also, all those in attendance at the outdoor worship services must continue to practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet between individuals and wear a face covering at all times, even when speaking or singing. Please dress appropriately for the outdoor temperatures. You may remain in your vehicle and roll down the windows or bring a chair to sit beside your vehicle. We will provide sealed prepackaged communion elements to those in the church parking lot for worship. Those worshipping with us at home are asked to be prepared on Nov. 8 and Dec. 6 with your own bread and juice.

These decisions were made after careful review of local guidelines for health and safety, several meetings with lots of ideas and discussion, and, most importantly, prayer. We know our congregation has made decisions that may be different from other local congregations. Through discernment we came to this plan for worship for the remainder of 2020 based on feedback from our own worshippers, guidance from local officials, and consideration of capacity limits, sanitation of our facilities, respect for the day care’s use of our property, and the desire to make everyone feel comfortable and not forced to return or stay away. In the end, the result of this plan is we are all still worshipping together every Sunday. We have options. We have opportunities for liturgy, prayer, song, sacrament, fellowship, and innovation. We are respecting everyone’s safety and health. We are giving you options. We are continuing to be the church and to serve Christ and one another with neighborly love.

            I know this is a lot of information. I know this changes our usual Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas celebrations. I know we miss each other. I miss you too! Please share this information with friends, family, and neighbors who may desire to participate with us from home or outdoors. Please reach out with any questions or concerns. We will continue to update you through the weekly announcement mailings and emails, our church newsletter, Facebook announcements, website updates, and please do not hesitate to reach out to the church office for more information too. We will also continue to respond with appropriate changes based on the recommendations from state officials, the Presbytery of Philadelphia, and input from our worshippers.

            Thank you again for your amazing resilience, patience, and love during this unprecedented time. We are reinventing the way we worship. This is a historic time. The world will look back on 2020 and what the church did and be amazed at our innovation, consideration of our neighbors, and love of Christ shown in new ways thanks to your imagination, creativity, love, and of course technology! Stay connected, stay well, and thank you for being the Family of God together!

                                                                                    In Christ’s love,
                                                                                    Pastor Cynthia