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And We’re on Hold

Posted by on Jul 19, 2020 in COVID-19 Updates, General | 0 comments

[This page was updated on May 21, July 20, and August 24, 2020, as new details became available.]

Pretty much everything is “on hold” right now, but I’m pretty sure “We’ll be right back” is not what we’re going to hear. The next step(s) of dealing with the division within the United Methodist Church are “on hold” as well. Some details:

Charge Conference

We’re working right now on a date for our local church Charge Conference, which will be held online via Zoom. The date will be sometime between Sept. 22 and Dec. 8, with both date and time TBD. Zoom is an interactive video conferencing service, but anyone with a telephone can join the conference using audio only. We will announce details!

District Conference (West District)

Our West District Conference will be an online event via Zoom, at 6:30 PM on Monday, September 21. Bishop Peggy Johnson to visit the virtual gathering, and will explain necessary adjustments planned for Annual Conference and also discuss the denomination’s new Dismantling Racism initiative and the importance of Discipleship. Each District Conference must vote for any needed replacement equalizing members for the 2020 Annual Conference. (Equalizing members for the next quadrennium will be voted on at next spring’s Annual Conference.) Districts will also vote on nominees for annual conference leadership, celebrate leadership transitions and thank churches that have paid 100% apportionments. We will post details on how to attend the meeting via Zoom, as soon as the information becomes available.

Annual Conference

Eastern PA Annual Conference was to have been held in June, but has been postponed until October 13-14, and will be held online via Zoom. We will post details about this as soon as we have them.

General Conference

Our quadrennial (big word meaning ‘every 4 years’) General Conference was to have been held May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis. That has been canceled, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. General Conference will now be held Aug. 29-Sept. 7, 2021, in Minneapolis. This was a decision that did not come easily. Here’s the full story.

Jurisdictional Conference

Jurisdictional Conferences were to have been held July 13-17, 2020. These present a special challenge because, as I understand it, all 5 U. S. Jurisdictional Conferences are required to meet simultaneously, following General Conference. New bishops are elected at Jurisdictional conferences. The new dates are Nov. 10-12, 2021.

People involved are largely being quiet during this time of dealing with COVID-19, although major players do continue to jockey for position and line up support. It promises to be interesting, to say the least.

So let’s add our United Methodist Church to our prayer lists, shall we?

Blessings, and be safe!

Pastor Roger

Draft Re-Opening Plan eff. 6/22/20

Posted by on Jun 18, 2020 in COVID-19 Updates, General | 3 comments

We have added some small revisions as of 6/22, in red.

5/31 Ad Board Meeting

Following were discussed during our May 31, 2020, Ad Board meeting via conference call:

  • Safe distancing (outdoor/parking lot worship when weather permits)
  • Masks required (we expect to have some masks on hand if needed)
  • No group singing (not decided – we’re talking about this)
  • Changes to our monthly Holy Communion
  • Changes to normal procedures for offerings and prayer
  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well
  • Vulnerable persons (age/health conditions) should not attend
  • Continued online worship opportunities
  • Meetings via video or telephone conference call
  • Enter/Exit only via the handicap ramp, door at the rear of the church
  • Recommend use of upstairs rest room only (the handicap restroom)
  • No monthly fellowship meals

Proposed Details

Now I’m going to make specific proposals and flesh them out a bit:

  • Do not return to in-person worship until the governor declares Lancaster County to be “green” status. Do not feel compelled to dive in the moment this happens, we can wait until we are ready (a week or two is fine). Since the governor will move Lancaster Co. to “green” status effective June 26, we can plan a date for re-opening. Pastor suggests nothing earlier than July 12.
  • As much as I like the idea of going outside, it’s a lot of Sunday morning work to make it happen. We would need a sound system (we have it, but someone must set it up and take it down), hymnals/Bibles outside (or pre-print content in bulletin/handouts). Note that we could sing if we’re outside. Bring lawn chairs, practice safe distancing. Where will we do this, what about parking? How to handle visitors/guests who were not informed about the outdoor plan and don’t bring lawn chairs?
  • Fellowship meals, etc., discontinued until future date to be determined.
  • Following supplies will be needed: Hand sanitizers, disinfectant hand soaps, spray disinfectant, disinfectant wipes. Please start purchasing these as you’re shopping, and bring them to church. We expect to receive a supply of cloth masks to give to those who do not have them.
  • General rules/requirements
    • Older persons in vulnerable age groups, especially those with certain health conditions, should not attend.
    • Do not attend if you are ill, ESPECIALLY if you have a fever, cough, sneezing, etc.
    • Note: We can obtain a “touch free” thermometer for about $65. Should we do this? I’m thinking we should, because we could then be reasonably assured that church attendees are not  actively symptomatic with Covid-19, and could sing with reasonable safety. It appears that 1 or 2 thermometers will be donated.  Settled.
  • Safe distancing
    • Single entrance/exit – handicap entrance from rear parking lot.
    • No physical contact, including handshaking, hugs, etc.
    • Rope off every other pew. Open rear doors for additional seating with safe distancing. Determine maximum number permitted in worship (CDC and PA “green” guidelines appear to set a limit of 100, but practical limit for our sanctuary is less – we must determine a number). Probably 50% of our seating capacity.
    • No weekly adult Sunday School for the time being.
    • Sit in same pew EVERY SUNDAY to minimize our need to sanitize, which includes hymnals and Bibles. Families sit together, all others practice safe distancing.
    • Do not use downstairs restrooms, only the handicap restroom. It must be sanitized frequently. Who will do this, what are procedures?
    • Masks required. We will arrange a “just in case” supply.
    • No group singing. (Studies show this is BAD, and masks don’t help.) But check the note above about the no-touch thermometer. Our District Superintendent believes singing is OK, based on our other safe distancing provisions.
  • Worship changes
    • Communion – Use only prepackaged wafer/cup. Must pick up from table when entering church/sanctuary. Remain in place, no group circle around the altar. We will need one or more trash receptacles easily available. I am ordering a package of 100, which should last 3-4 months. The shelf life is about 4 months. Pastor Roger plans to locate or produce a short video showing how to use these; it can be a little tricky.
    • Offering – No passing the offering plates, put plates near the exit from the sanctuary. Encourage online giving.
    • Children/youth message – Children must stay in place and not come forward.
    • Prayer time – Pastor Roger will not move among congregation, no “hands on”.
  • Pastor Roger will continue to provide online worship experience, but it will be somewhat shortened from what we’re doing currently.
    • Announcements
    • Prayer
    • Sermon
    • Will be pre-recorded video, uploaded to Facebook and released for viewing at 11:00 AM each Sunday (to coincide with our worship time).
  • Special events – Funerals, baptisms, Advent/Christmas (seems likely we will continue into next year)
    • Funerals must follow worship procedures above. However, note that we must sanitize the facility afterward, including pews, rest rooms, door handles, other common surfaces. NO hymnals/Bibles available. This will require volunteers, especially after a Saturday funeral!
    • Require funeral homes to observe these restrictions, and follow safe distancing procedures in the cemetery for graveside services.
    • No luncheons, etc., in Wesley Hall.
  • Fairfield July 4 Yard Sale – My thinking is that we should not participate. Reasons:
    • No air circulation in Wesley Hall, just ceiling fans.
    • Would have to limit the number of people in Wesley Hall concurrently.
    • We haven’t been receiving donations (hasn’t been practical).
    • We would have to require masks.
    • No public access to rest rooms.

Planning for Re-Opening

Posted by on May 30, 2020 in COVID-19 Updates, General | 2 comments

Pastor Roger’s thoughts and resources on re-opening our sanctuary as we recover from the Coronavirus shutdown.

  • Note that religious institutions have not been ordered to close during the pandemic; Governor Wolf has consistently classified us as Essential. That has never changed. However, it has seemed prudent to temporarily stop gathering together in our sanctuary, and move to online worship for the time being.
  • As for re-opening, Bishop Peggy Johnson is encouraging us to hold off until the Governor updates Lancaster County to “Green“. He is expected to move us from Red to Yellow effective June 5. As I understand it, under his plans, he will not change our status to Green until at least two weeks have passed under Yellow. This means the earliest possible date for Green status would be June 19, and the first possible worship service would be June 21. That is NOT a firm date!
  • Read Bishop Peggy’s statement on re-opening here.
  • Best Practices for re-opening are hard to find. Click here to read the plan outlined by our Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. Note that this is not exactly full of details.
  • Here is another document, this one from the city of Philadelphia. Click here to read it.
  • Our church Administrative Board is discussing re-opening plans. Expect our plans to include…
    • Safe distancing (outdoor/parking lot worship when weather permits)
    • Masks required (we expect to have some masks on hand if needed)
    • No group singing (not decided – we’re talking about this)
    • Changes to our monthly Holy Communion
    • Changes to normal procedures for offerings and prayer
    • Stay home if you’re not feeling well
    • Vulnerable persons (age/health conditions) should not attend
    • Continued online worship opportunities
    • Meetings via video or telephone conference call
    • Enter/Exit only via the handicap ramp, door at the rear of the church
    • Recommend use of upstairs rest room only (the handicap restroom)
    • No monthly fellowship meals

We will update this post as new information is available.

Letter from Pastor Roger

Posted by on Mar 24, 2020 in COVID-19 Updates, General | 0 comments

Dear Mt. Zion Family,

The COVID-19 epidemic has forced so many changes, as more and more people are infected and even dying. We are saddened. At times like these, we can turn to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and release our cares and our worries to him in prayer. We should do that ALL the time, not just in times of trouble. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-33,

“Don’t worry and ask yourselves, ‘Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?’ Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.” (CEV)

Government guidelines for “safe distancing” and quarantine have caused us to cancel all activities (worship, meetings, ministries) for the time being. It would not surprise me if we are forced to cancel Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter services, although we can’t say for sure yet.

Even though we are not able to gather for Sunday worship at our beautiful church, we are still able to worship together by way of the Internet as long as the present emergency lasts. And you can join us online, if you have Internet access. Here are the instructions. Hopefully you can get assistance if needed.

  1. Worship begins at 11:00 each Sunday morning. We will actually begin our Internet ‘broadcast’ at about 10:55 AM, and I will start speaking at 11:00 AM on the dot.
  2. Using a computer, a smart phone, or even an Internet-ready television, go to the following Internet address: https://facebook.com/pbmtzionumc.
  3. Look for our livestream broadcast to appear. As mentioned above, we will be online at about 10:55, and our worship time will begin at 11:00 sharp.
  4. Even if you’re not able to join us live on Sunday morning, the broadcast will be available for viewing for the entire following week, starting a few minutes after we finish the live broadcast.

Our broadcast will include announcements, a time of prayer, Scripture readings, some brief musical selections, and our weekly sermon. We hope you are able to join us in this way, especially since many of us are living in quarantine as we try to help prevent or slow the spread of this disease.

Please do not hesitate to contact me, either by phone or email. Even though we can’t visit in person, nothing stops us from being in touch with each other, and nothing stops us from prayer. Paul gave us these words in Philippians 4:6-7.

“Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” (CEV)

That’s the peace of God, which I leave with you today. Be blessed, and be safe.

With love,

Pastor Roger Kresge

Update on General Conference 2020

Posted by on Mar 23, 2020 in COVID-19 Updates, General | 0 comments

It looks like our 2020 General Conference will be postponed until 2021, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report from UMResource:

March 23, 2020

Nashville, Tenn.: Subsequent to the announcement by the Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference that the 2020 General Conference will be postponed, the full Commission met March 21, 2020 to determine next steps to take in setting a new date.

After hearing recommendations from Sara Hotchkiss, Business Manager of the General Conference, and discussion of possible alternatives, the Commission made a determination that the General Conference will not meet in 2020 as originally planned and elected to work toward setting a date in 2021.

Not much further to report at this time. This became necessary when the venue where the General Conference was to be held in Minneapolis canceled all events through at least May 10 (GC was scheduled to run May 5-15).

Since it seems certain that General Conference will not be held until sometime in 2021, the Eastern PA “Listening Sessions” that were scheduled for April 2, April 4 and April 20 have now been canceled. The conference plans to reschedule them at an appropriate time once General Conference has been rescheduled.

Blessings!

Pastor Roger

(This page was edited and revised on  March 27, 2020)

Giving in Difficult Times

Posted by on Mar 22, 2020 in General | 0 comments

Dear Friends,

Here we are, all but locked in our homes thanks to the COVID-19 epidemic. We’re not able to meet and worship together as the body of Christ. At least not in person, like we’re so used to. Part of our worship time is tithes and offerings, when we give back to God as an appropriate response to the amazing things he does for us. For his incredible love for us.

But when we’re not able to meet, we aren’t able to bring our tithes and offerings to the church. As you pastor, I believe very strongly that our giving is a critical part of our daily walk as Christ-followers. As a practical matter, our church expenses like utilities, heating oil, taxes, insurance, maintenance – all of those continue, just as they do for you.

So I urge you, as you’re able, to deliberately continue your regular giving of tithes and offerings. Here are 3 possible approaches:

  • Put your weekly offering aside, and give it in person when we are able to meet again in church.
  • Mail a regular check to the church (mailing address below).
  • Consider electronic giving. Very soon we will provide an electronic giving option that allows you to use your credit or debit card to make a gift to our church via a secure Internet connection.

Here’s the church mailing address:

Mt. Zion United Methodist Church
P. O. Box 263
1530 Slate Hill Rd.
Peach Bottom, PA 17563

Blessings, and thanks for listening!

Pastor Roger

Let’s BE the Church!

Posted by on Mar 19, 2020 in General | 0 comments

Dear Friends,

Since we have been asked to cancel events and activities that involve people gathering together for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, we have therefore canceled our live in-person worship services until further notice. In effect, our building is closed. We need to remind ourselves that many of our members, attenders and fellow worshipers are in the most vulnerable age groups, and we do NOT want to be in a position of enabling transmission of this disease in our community.

We *WILL* continue to worship together using modern online streaming technology. Until we can return to worshiping in our sanctuary, Pastor Roger will host a very basic worship service each Sunday morning at 11:00 using Facebook Live. This will be hosted at our church Facebook page, found at https://www.facebook.com/pbmtzionumc. Each week’s service will be available throughout the week for ‘delayed’ viewing as your schedule permits. We will share in announcements, prayer, Scripture, and Pastor Roger’s weekly sermon, along with some musical interludes for meditation and contemplation.

Meanwhile, we’ve been asked to stay at home as much as possible to prevent further spread of this disease. People will be lonely, shut-in persons may be in need of assistance, possibly running short of necessary supplies. How can we help? Most of us have telephones. Let’s check in with each other, and be sensitive and helpful. Churches across the country have begun a ministry called “Porch Angels”, delivering needed assistance to their neighbors while still practicing safe distancing.

Think about ways you can help others. We have always said that the church is not a building, the church is the people. Let’s find ways to be the church until this is over. And remember that God is always in control.

Blessings!

Pastor Roger

If You Missed It…

Posted by on Mar 18, 2020 in General | 0 comments

Our 2020 United Methodist General Conference has been postponed, and will not be held as scheduled from May 5-15 in Minneapolis. This means that the issues that we hoped would be decided during General Conference will be delayed. Our denominational rules require that a General Conference be held every four years, at the very least in order to adopt a budget for the next quadrennium (2021-2024).

The Commission on the General Conference will be working on rescheduling, which is no easy task. Nearly 700 delegates, plus staff, volunteers, and so on, come from literally all over the globe. This means convention and hotel facilities, travel arrangements, and all kinds of logistical stuff. It won’t be easy. Please stay tuned.

 

It Ain’t Over Until It’s Over

Posted by on Jan 7, 2020 in General | 0 comments

Dear Mt. Zion Family,

You may know that our United Methodist Church made the news on Friday, January 3, with the release of a proposal that would separate us into 2 denominations, and perhaps more. The proposal, called “A Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation”, is the result of intense negotiations among a diverse group of United Methodist leaders, representing many views of our church body. This is only a proposal; our own Bishop Peggy Johnson sent an email to pastors throughout our conference, reminding us that, in her words, “This is not a done deal!”

You may have read the headlines, most of which were inaccurate or totally misleading. You may have read the news stories, most of which were written by persons who understand very little of what has been happening in the United Methodist church.

This “protocol” is actually only the most recent of many proposals that will be submitted to our upcoming General Conference that will be held May 5-15 in Minneapolis. A lot can happen between now and then. Any or all of these proposals may be accepted, rejected, or modified once General Conference begins; there’s no way of knowing what will happen until then.

Please know that I am paying close attention to all of this, and I will make every effort to keep you informed. I will be available to answer questions about this proposal, and the overall situation, during our Jan. 26 potluck lunch, so please come ready to ask!

In the meantime, as I did last year leading up to the 2019 special General Conference, I ask you to pray constantly for our United Methodist church, including our leaders at all levels. And most especially pray for the delegates who will represent our Eastern PA conference in May.

Remember, a lot can happen until then. So let’s pray.

Blessings,

 

Pastor Roger

Pastor Roger’s 2019 Christmas Letter

Posted by on Dec 20, 2019 in General, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Dear Friends,

Merry Christmas! I wish you and yours a very happy and safe holiday season. Please join us at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church for our annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, on Tuesday evening, December 24 at 7:00 PM. Our Chrismon Tree is decorated and ready for a thrilling night of Christmas carols, reliving the story of that first Christmas so long ago, and a special musical surprise. Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without singing “Silent Night” in the glow of candlelight!

Also, my wife Sue and I invite you for a time of Christmas Eve fellowship, friendship and refreshments beginning at 6:15 PM.

Our Christmas Eve offering again this year will go to the Heating Assistance Program of Solanco Neighborhood Ministries. This important ministry provides emergency heating assistance for many families in our neighborhood each year, and we want them to be able to continue to make sure people are safe and warm this winter.

It’s been an exciting year for us at Mt. Zion, as we renewed our commitment to participate in Rawlinsville Camp Meeting. 29 young people accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and savior during this year’s camp meeting session! We reopened our church cabin at Rawlinsville for the first time in several years as well. We also began a new ministry, working with local housing ministry IMPACT! Missions to do home repairs for our friends and neighbors in need. This is not just a ministry for men, either! We continue to minister to our community through Solanco Neighborhood Ministries, with their food bank, emergency fuel fund, and clothing bank.

My personal goal for 2020 is that we as a church live up to the shared mission of the United Methodist Church, “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” We continue to join together in worship Sunday mornings at 11:00, with Holy Communion on the first Sunday of each month. Don’t miss our weekly Bible/Book Study at 10:00 Sunday morning!

Please check our church website, at www.pbmtzionumc.org. We now have a social media presence, too. Be sure to Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pbmtzionumc, and you can follow us on Twitter at PBMtZionUMC, or tag @pb_umc. You can always contact me by way of my email address listed below.

We wish you a Merry Christmas, and a happy and successful new year!

Pastor Roger Kresge
717-548-2821 (Answering machine)
Email: roger@pbmtzionumc.org