May 1, 2020

Email Update May 1, 2020

From Pastor Cathy

Greetings, beloved of God.

This week we will be hosting a FB Watch party for worship at 10:00 am. Come watch with us online through Facebook and be able to share comments, pictures, and worship with each other via text. At First UMC Facebook page.

We know that some of you have been having difficulty viewing worship on Youtube. We check and double-check our videos on Saturday, so the links are definitely working. We've added additional links to try and if you still have difficulty, it most likely is the internet, which is greatly overtaxed with all churches worshipping online. You can: try again in a few minutes, sign off the internet and log back on, clear your browser history and try again. I’ve hit that grey screen and was able to get back into the worship videos just a few minutes later.

Ring Those Bells!

On Sunday, May 3rd, at 7 p.m. the Mayors Association of Pennsylvania invites all residents and houses of worship in the commonwealth to ring bells for 3 minutes. The first minute is intended to honor all hometown heroes; those working in health care, pharmacies, grocery stores, first responders, medical teams, and all who are putting their lives on the line to offering lifesaving services in the COVID19 pandemic. The second minute is to support all local, state, and national leaders who are laboring to help guide the nation through these difficult times. The third minute is to rally as citizens of the commonwealth and work together to defeat the COVID19 virus. First UMC’s bells will be ringing! Step outside, and if you have a bell, ring it!

Watch for another email coming out early next week!

Stay well!

Pastor Cathy

Covid 19 Building Protocol for FUMC

Updated April 14, 2020

1) The only persons who are allowed access into the building will be those working in designated areas deemed essential by the Governor (Food Ministry, Worship, Operations)

2) Face masks need to be worn at all times in the building.

3) At a minimum, hands should be cleansed with hand sanitizer provided at the entrances upon entering the building and leaving the building. Gloves are required of all in any food ministry while onsite. Please sanitize any areas before and after working in your area. Gloves are optional in non food activities done while in the building.

4) Everyone should maintain a distance of 6-10 feet from each other at all times.

5) If anyone from your household is hospitalized or ill for any reason, please refrain from entering the building for 14 days. As much as we love your servant heart, please do not come to serve if you or a household member are having any symptoms.

6) At this point, we ask that until the Governor lifts the stay at home order, that you would mail your offering in or use electronic giving. Access to the building will be joyfully restored as soon as we deem it safe to do so. What a day of rejoicing that will be! Let's overcome CoronaVirus.....together!

April 3, 2020

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.

God Sightings

Hungry Hearts 

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.

Palm Sunday – Worship will be posted online by Sunday morning. Please go to our website at and click on the service for the date you wish to watch. You can also see past services posted as well.

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,

Joyce Horst

March 31, 2020

Families with children and youth, don’t forget to visit First Lights (kidmin) and Illuminate (youth)! They have fun and exciting opportunities to connect online.

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.


Pastor Cathy

Sermon Notes March 22, 2020

Make It Personal!

Questions for Reflection on the Sermon.


How has life changed for you this week?
What has been a blessing?
What has been difficult?

They Leaned into God Acts 16:1-10

How can you lean into God this week?
What specific time will you set apart to spend with God this week?


They Sought to Bless Others Acts 16:11-15 FLC


How will you make your offering to God each week?
Whom can you bless this week?
How will you do it?

They Worshipped Where They Were Acts 16:16- 26 (Gail’s office)



What space can you create in your household for an altar?
How can focusing on God calm your worries and fears?

They Offered Christ (Sanctuary) Acts 16:27-34


With whom will you share Christ this week?


March 21, 2020

First United Updates

March 21, 2020

Grace and peace to you through God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

As one can imagine, the parameters are changing daily for our ministry at First United and we want you to have the latest information.

Worship for March 22, 2020 will be online at 10 am. It will be recorded so you may access it any time after 10 am.  This week, you will see the music is separate from the sermon. You may click on any of the additional songs/testimony to enhance your worship. You can find the worship links on our Facebook page or on our website here.

For updated procedures in our Hungry Hearts Ministry please click here. We fervently continue to pray for our neighbors in the downtown community and all impacted by economic hardship.  If you feel called to help in the Hungry Hearts Ministry, please email

Our children and youth ministries are maintaining activity via Facebook, Youtube and their websites. If you have any questions for our children and youth leaders, email

If you meet as a group at First United and are interested in connecting online, please email for suggestions and help in facilitation.

We continue to communicate with our neighbors by sending out printed notices in both English and Spanish offering assistance in the downtown community.

For daily prayers and encouragement, follow us on Facebook.

We are connecting with our members through a card ministry. If you would like to send cards to members at this time, please email

Some of you have been asking about how to send in your offering. We appreciate so very much the fact that many of you are determined to care for the church during this difficult season of separation. We have had a healthy start to our giving in 2020, and it would be sad if we allowed that to slip due to COVID19 limitations.  There are a few options:

First, you can participate through Vanco, our electronic website for giving. Or you can email for assistance in getting enrolled.

Second, you can mail your offering in. Our mailing address is 225 S. Second Street Chambersburg, PA 17201. Staff will be in to collect mail during the week.

Third, you may bring your offering in to the church and place it in the box in the office door. Please remember though, our governor and bishop are urging minimal social contact. If you decide to drop into church to pick up something for a ministry, or drop off your offering, we ask that you not visit with any staff who may be present. Staff are continuing to work both at home and in the office, so when they are in we are trying to minimize their contact for their sake and the sake of their families.

If you have a question or need, the staff are working either at home or in the office, but please reach out by phone or by email. We want to protect your health as well as staff member's health during this time. 

There are many new ways of doing ministry emerging at First United, and we continue to want to connect, ignite and shine even though we cannot physically meet together.

If you have a need, become ill, or want to find a ministry you can do in the safety of our new parameters, please email or call us and let's find a way together. Take heart as we believe in the communion of saints, the mystical communion which binds us to saints past, present and future. Often times, we think of that communion as those who have lived before us, the unseen cloud of witnesses who surround us on our journey. Cherish that communion now, as that mystical bond of Christ holds us together even when we are separated into different households. When we pray for each other, encourage each other by email, text, or phone, when we give together, or witness to our faith, we are living into the bonds of Christ. Blessed be the tie that binds us even now, one to another.

These are difficult times, but we serve an amazing God who the gospels tell us can be present in all places, wherever His church resides.

Blessings and peace, First United. Blessed be the tie that binds.

Women’s Connect Online

Join Us!

Hello Friends,

We wanted to “Connect” with you, even though we have cancelled our regular gathering for Women Connect this weekend (3/21/20).  Here’s what’s happening:

Our topic for March was: Lent/Spring/Easter and we were planning to have a panel of 3 ladies speak about – The Cross (by Sandy James), Forgiveness (by Karen MacWilliams), and Sacrifice (by Paula Hepfer).    They have graciously prepared a version of what they were going to present for us to read, so we could share it with you.   After you read each part, consider these questions:

  1. At what time in your life has “the Cross” been most important to you?
  2. When is a time you were able to “forgive” or someone forgave you?
  3. Has there been a situation where “sacrifice” was important to you?

Enjoy the newness of Spring all around and reflect on your most memorable Easter.  If you had an item to put in our Easter Mission Basket (nail clippers), please hold on to it until the next time we meet.

I pray we can quiet our hearts during this Lenten season, when there is so much anxiety and fear in our world, so God can reveal how we can make His love & forgiveness visible to others.

Our faith reminds us that God’s presence never depends on our situation: God is with us everywhere and always! We may be isolated from one another right now, but we are never alone!  Many things have been cancelled because of the coronavirus; Love is not one of them.   Turn to scripture to calm your soul during these uncertain times and remember, your Women Connect Sister’s in Christ are praying for you - pause just now, and pray for as many “sisters" whose names or faces you remember.

Great is Our God & We are Safe in Him!

Your Women Connect Team,

Dianne, Paula & Robin


The Cross; Forgiveness; Sacrifice.

March 17, 2020

Grace and peace, Chambersburg.

In loving response to the Governor's additional restrictions, here are the most updated changes to First UMC/Hungry Heart schedules.

Sunday morning worship will now only be offered online. Join us at 10 am on our facebook and website ( or click on the video at whatever time suits you. There will be no Sunday School for March 22 or March 29 or small group/bible studies gathering at First UMC.

We are capable now of using Zoom for online meetings. We will be working to keep our essential teams connected during this time using Zoom.

Food Distribution - (Bread, Milk, Grocery bags) has moved to the alley door (gym) Tuesday and Thursday 9 am to 1 p.m. Our personal shoppers will assist you in choosing items for your family.

HH worship and meal: - No inside worship. Dinner will be take out.  Please watch for further instructions.

Clothing ministry - will be closed until we can safely reopen. If you have an emergency need for clothing, please call the church at 717 263 8491 or message us here.

We know this is a very difficult time for our neighbors and friends. Please let us know if you become sick so that we can be caring of you and hold you in prayer.  We know that many families are struggling with childcare and other challenges. While we have needed to secure our building and encourage you to stay safe, the staff and members of First UMC are very much still in ministry and want to partner with you in your journey. Please feel free to message us and we will see what we can do.

Please let us know how we can help you at this time!

Fields marked with * are required

March 14, 2020

Updates in response to COVID-19

Sunday March 15, 2020 Plans

8:15am - Service as normal

9:30am and 10:45am services (Contemporary and Traditional) will be combined into one blended service at 10am.

There will be no Sunday School (adult, children, or youth) or childcare tomorrow. We welcome children to sit with their families, or families to worship at home. An online activity will post for family use by noon tomorrow which may/may not include a video of the sermon. Those attending are invited to practice our FUMC protocols: please observe safe space (6 feet) and avoid physical contact with people outside your own household. Please use the provided hand sanitizer before and after worship. Please cover coughs and sneezes, and wash or sanitize your hands after. Please allow safe space between your household and other worshippers in your seating choices. Please stay home if you feel ill and call us so we can check in with you.

Anyone interested in meeting to discuss how First United can respond to the needs of the community during this unexpected and uncertain moment can meet in the Sanctuary at 11:15am for discussion and planning so we can move forward on a path of service and care.

In discerning God's direction, we feel strongly that we need to offer people the opportunity to worship God especially in this season. But we also encourage you to use wisdom, prayer, and God's discernment as you decide whether you and your family should worship at home or with us tomorrow and all future Sundays. Most of all, we want you to choose what is best for your family and your health.

Several of you have asked about streaming and while we have been working on it, we are not yet ready. Staff will be discussing this week what is possible. Like you, we are taking this one day at a time. Please continue to check Facebook and our website under announcements for future COVID19 updates.

Know that we are actively praying for you all.

March 13, 2020

First UMC is concerned for the safety and health of all our Chambersburg neighbors and friends. We are actively praying, watching reports and working through effective safety measures for the COVID19 virus.

We believe that COVID19 poses a significant threat to the wellbeing of our community, and therefore want to put the best practices in place that will help us all stay healthy.

Here are some things you can do to help keep us all safe:

If you have any symptoms of illness, we ask you to care for yourselves and also others and stay home, seeking medical attention if necessary. Please call the church to let us know you are ill, so we can check in on you and pray for you.

Use hand sanitizer offered in common areas before eating anything, or after coughing or sneezing. We invite everyone to wash or sanitize before joining in a class or worship service. (Jesus makes us all clean! 🙂 ) Medical experts tell us also to refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth to limit your exposure to the virus.

If you cough or sneeze, please use your arm or tissue. Please discard your tissue immediately and wash your hands. (We will understand if you need to step out of worship or your group to keep us all safe.)

Please be sensitive that some people are of greater risk than others. Keep a safe distance (6 feet) from others. Our older adults will appreciate and remember a card more than a hug and a potentially dangerous infection. Please remember even younger members care for family members or may have had chemo in the recent past. Send cards, not hugs.

All meeting areas will now have a basket of sanitizing supplies. Please disinfect your classroom/meeting space before your group leaves following the instructions in the basket. This will help us disinfect even more frequently than once a week in prime meeting areas. It also allows us to serve each other.

Please understand if our greeters hold the door rather than shake your hand. They are not unfriendly, they are simply limiting your exposure to germs on the door handles, and serving as gatekeepers for the House of God. Thank them and wave and cheer them on! Remember,”I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of the Lord………”

Keep your sense of humor. It will help your immune system, but also help us be flexible. Thankfully, we rarely experience this kind of threat to our health and wellbeing, so let’s be grateful for our wonderful God and seek creative ways of being church. This is a good time for God to teach us how to do church in ways “that we have never done before.” Let’s use this season as a chance for God to do something good out of difficult circumstances and try new ways of serving others that might actually reach our community and us!

And lastly….

Pray. Pray for your family, and others you know. Pray for medical professionals who will be working the front lines and trying to help all of us while exposing themselves to illness. Pray for those who are most vulnerable, including those with limited resources who cannot afford to buy extra food or have no health care. Pray for First UMC and all churches, and prayerfully consider how to continue to support the church in this season of disruption. Pray for holy imagination for ways we can be the church even if personal contact (and in some cases attending church) are limited.

Most of all, we are in this for the long haul, together. If you or your family’s needs would be better served by playing it safe and staying home, stay home. We are on a journey together, and you are a cherished part of Christ’s body in the building on Second Street or in your home. Wherever you are, you are a member of the Body of Christ.

Psalm 91. Let’s believe that God is greater than the COVID-19 virus, and let God’s goodness consume our thoughts so fear may have no home in us.

God bless you all.
Pastor Cathy