March 14, 2020

Beloved People of God,

“God is our refuge and strength, 
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear…” Psalm 46:1-2

I believe and trust those words of scripture with all of my being. They have lodged at the forefront of my thinking, doing, and feeling over this past week as the impact of the COVID-19 (coronovirus) is experienced around the world, in our own communities, and among our families and friends. 

I see God’s presence in this time of trouble as communities, organizations, groups and individuals work together to stem the spread of this disease. People are thinking and working together so that the most vulnerable are protected and our health care system is less overwhelmed. There is greater emphasis being placed on prevention through frequent hand washing, social distancing, and staying home when sick. Some people are being more attentive to those who are isolated and making extra efforts to check in by phone. I see God’s presence, strength and help in all of these ways in which people work together for the common good. It helps to calm fear and anxiety

OUR RESPONSE  
We, at St. David’s, as a community of God’s beloved people, must also do our part to care for one another and our neighbors. Yesterday, we received a recommendation from our Lower Susquehanna Synod Bishop, Rev. Jim Dunlop to not hold church activities for two weeks, as a way to practice social distancing. This is especially necessary for those most vulnerable to the virus, which accounts for a large percentage of our congregation. You can read the full text of his message here . Our congregation council has voted to follow those recommendations and immediately suspend all public gatherings at the church through Saturday, March 28, 2020.  There will be no public worship services or Sunday School on March 15, 18, 22, or 25th.  The youth bowling event, March church council meeting, and the “Making More Room” retreat will not take place. Any other meetings or events that are scheduled by groups, committees, or community groups will not take place.  Worship and other activities will resume on Sunday, March 29, 2020. Our congregational leaders will monitor this rapidly changing pandemic and will make further adjustments to our schedule if they believe it is warranted. 

HOW WE CAN STAY CONNECTED
Please know that this decision was not made lightly or out of a sense of panic or fear. It was made to exercise the utmost caution and to do our part to stem the tide of this illness. For many of us our participation in worship and the life of our spiritual community is the foundation from which the rest of our life is lived. As your pastor, I am committed to doing whatever we can to help us stay connected in this time of social distancing and not gathering for public worship. Over the course of today I will be exploring some online platforms and telecommunication practices that can help us worship, study, pray and fellowship in different ways. You will be notified when those are ready for use. 

I am available to respond to pastoral care needs and concerns. These are especially difficult times and you may find it helpful for us to talk and pray together. You can reach me by phone (717-688-0652) or email ( pastorladonna@gmail.com ). I welcome conversation, questions or concerns.

With these actions, comes the encouragement that you practice social distancing in your everyday life, to the degree that you are able. Avoid gathering in groups. If you must be in the presence of others, avoid touching and keep a distance of at least 6 feet from others. Wash your hands often, especially after being out in public. Work from home, if possible. Stay home if you are ill. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP THE STABILITY OF OUR MINISTRY
Not gathering for worship for two Sundays can put the financial stability of our congregation at risk. At certain times of the year, our congregation meets its financial obligations (staff salaries, utility bills, program costs, mission support, etc.) week-to-week, relying on the Sunday offerings. As you are able, your congregational leaders ask that you mail your weekly offering to the church during this time that we are absent from one another. Or, consider using our on-line giving option. You can set that up at this link . It only takes a few minutes and your donation can be one-time or recurring. 

Finally, if you know people connected to St. David's who do not use email, please share this information with them.

As we move through this unique and troubling time, know that you are held in prayer and great love by your church family. Receive the blessing from Genesis 31:49: “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other.

Serving Christ and community with you,
Pastor LaDonna