Being the Church
Email update from the Pastor
I saw a picture on Facebook that captured my reality these days. A children’s minister knew her Lead Pastor was preaching his Sunday sermon that evening, and she went through the children’s area finding every large, stuffed animal puppet, and creature she could. Then she placed them in the pews throughout the sanctuary, so he wouldn’t be lonely. I love it!
It is a strange feeling to walk into an empty sanctuary, and preach. As Linda played our opening hymn this afternoon for Palm Sunday, I could see the choir ready to process. I miss the faces and the shared testimonies. The smiles and the singing. The prayers and so many things. But the one thing I don’t miss is your witness. For that remains constant in the multiple ways you continue to bless others. Thank you.
I think this pandemic tells a lot about who we are as a church. I know that many of you have taken it upon yourselves to reach out and check on each other. Make soup or offer to run errands for those who need to stay in. Have come in to bring offerings, or served in the community food ministry. Have sent your children’s pictures they drew in worship, or responded to the sermon or worship with some word of encouragement. I know it is a difficult season, but it is a joy for me to watch the countless ways you are looking to give back, serve, and help us be stronger as a church.
I am so grateful for your willingness not to give up, or to sit this out, but actively find ways to be the church. But most of all, we do miss you. And look forward to being with you soon.
Our community food ministry continues to meet a very real need in our community. Wanting to limit the exposure of both our servants and our guests, we now are open only on Thursdays from 9 am to 1 p.m., and then again for grab and go dinner from 5-6 p.m. This evening we shared 145 dinners until we ran out. On Sunday, through a generous donation, we again will partner with Molly’s to serve grab and go breakfast from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. And every week, we hear much gratitude for staying open in the midst of the storm.
Being Good Neighbors to Our Healthcare Professionals
We now have a growing team of members sewing masks. We learned that homemade masks can now be used to cover and protect N95 masks. If you want to help, send an email to and we’ll be sure to get you the pattern.
John Hostetler and Ray Kauffman have also teamed up to help FUMC adopt a unit in the Chambersburg Hospital. With a donation of $50/week, juice and donuts from Windy Knoll will bless a unit in the hospital for our health care workers. We are also hoping to offer notes/pictures of encouragement. First UMC has 3 weeks still available. If your Sunday School class, choir, or small group would like to partner with us, please contact John Hostetler at . This would be a great project for a family, group of families, or anyone wanting to give back to our frontline champions in the war with Corona.
Many of First UMC also placed luminaries on their front porch on Wednesday, April 1st, to show support for our healthcare workers. Let your light shine!
Small Groups/Sunday School classes
We now have several groups meeting online. This week our Chancel Choir met through a Zoom chat. If you would like to reconnect with your buddies in your class, choir, or other, let us help you! Also, all men, there is a men’s bible study at 6:30 a.m. in Zoom on Wednesdays. To join in, contact Dr. Jim Hurley at . For help getting your group online (it’s easy!), contact Pastor Cathy at pastor4fumc@gmail.
Holy Week Schedule
For families, Brianna Renshaw has prepared a Holy Week box of activities for you and your family. Or, simply download the activities. Contact Brianna to access directions for this meaningful way to celebrate Holy Week as a family. Look for her resource on the First Lights page, or in the email to parents.
Holy Week Prayer Time – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 7 p.m. Facebook live on the First United Methodist facebook page with Pastor Cathy. Come as we pray and read reflections on the last week of Christ.
Maundy Thursday – our beloved Dianne Salter has prepared a service for you and your household to do together on Maundy Thursday. As communion is not possible while we are separated, this service will help restore meaning and worship to your remembrance at home. (There is no online service this night). The link to the resource is here.
Good Friday Tenebrae Service – Tenebrae service will be posted by 3 p.m. Tenebrae, meaning shadows, remembers the descent of earth into darkness during the passion of Christ. Scriptures, songs, the extinguishing of candles offer a powerful remembrance of the death of Christ.
Easter Sunday – 6:30 a.m. Online Sunrise Service on Facebook Live. Come join Pastor Cathy and Caleb Schelander as we wake up early to celebrate Christ’s resurrection! He is Risen! Indeed!
Easter Sunday Online Service – will be posted by Sunday morning. .
Our giving increased significantly over the last week. Thank you for the way in which you have responded so quickly and been so proactive in reconnecting with your offering. This week our Endowment Fund authorized a transfer of $20,000 from available interest to our FUMC general fund. This was a precautionary measure, to make sure we were able to meet payroll and other commitments, but our giving this past week moved a lot closer to our usual level. Thanks so much for moving into action First UMC! Thanks to the Endowment Fund Team for partnering with us.
It has been a joy to receive so many encouraging emails, pictures, and responses to worship. A special thank you to Dan Renshaw and Collin Moyer, as well as musicians and other staff, who have kept us worshipping online. It is a very labor-intensive endeavor, so when we hear back from you, it is a great encouragement.
I want to share on reflection from long time member, Joyce Horst:
As we have needed to find other ways to experience worship, it makes me think about places and times when folks had to worship secretly in small groups or obscure places. Some may need to do that today. I am reminded of my Mennonite ancestry from Germany and Switzerland that had to worship in secret.
I don’t know of another time in our country when we were not allowed to go to our church building. Maybe now we will appreciate our freedom of worship which we take for granted.
One good thing about this happening at this time in our history is the fact that we can put our most recent technology to good use by providing another means for us to worship somewhat jointly. I appreciate greatly the efforts of my pastor and other staff that are making this happen for our congregation and others with whom we are sharing.
Also, the fact that we are advised not to leave our homes unless necessary, makes me think about what many have faced in war-torn areas when it was not safe to go outside their doors. We have never experienced that situation. Well, again our ancestors experienced that too when Civil War battles were on their doorsteps. Guess I sound like a historian and genealogist!
I believe we will all learn something from this experience. I pray that we all will be brought to a spiritual awakening. May God’s peace be upon us.
Love to All,
March 31, 2020
Also, if you are in need of a hard copy of the sermon, or know someone who is not online, just let us know.
Keep connecting. Keep igniting. Keep shining.