September 12, 2021
A Message from
Co-Pastor Rev. Barb Lemmel
How very good and pleasant it is
   when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
   running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
   running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
   which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained a blessing,
   life forevermore.

Psalm 133 has been echoing in my head all week, as we make the preparations for the Official ReOpening Sunday on September 12. I love the unbridled joy of this psalm, and the poignant descriptions of richness — oil running down, dew falling — all capped off with a blessings of “life forevermore.”

After nearly 18 months of pandemic separation, it will be rich indeed for folk to be able to gather at both 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. Our spirits will be fed by the singing of a small choir, and after the 11:00 service our bodies will be fed at a Coffee Hour, held outside under the trees of the Law School lawn. 

It won’t be the same as before the pandemic, of course. While indoors, we’ll all be required to wear surgical masks (we can provide them if you don’t have one). Social distancing won’t be enforced but is still a good idea. Elbow bumps and waves will stand in for hugs. We won’t be coming together to the rail for communion at the 9:00 service, or passing offering plates. Most difficult of all, there are folks, especially children, who won’t be able to attend in person because of their own health concerns or immunization status. We’ll continue to livestream the 11:00 service for those who can’t be there in person.

Still, it will be “very good and pleasant” indeed! We are both excited to meet in person those of you who can be present, and we continue to anticipate ways we can connect with and meet those who will attend digitally. And God will be in the midst of all of it, absolutely all of it, rich and present and running amongst us all.

A Message from Director of Christian Education
Alyssa Burleson
This week I returned to in person learning at Boston University for the final year of my Master of Divinity program. After a year and a half of online learning, this shift has felt wonderful, exhausting, scary, exciting and just absolutely overwhelming. If I am being truthful, my heart is much heavier than it was the last time I sat in a classroom. It is as though the pandemic has awakened me to more and more injustice and suffering in our midst and witnessing the collective pain, much less holding it, often seems impossible, unbearable even. I see the brokenness of creation and our communities and I wonder if I am doing enough or anything at all. The shadows of doubt and helplessness swirl in my mind and conjure the memory of Mary Oliver’s poem The Gardener in which she writes,

Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I come to any conclusions?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
Actually, I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.

While this poem offers multiple interpretations, I wonder how much more loving and whole our world would be if we spent more time tending to children? When we teach our children the Christian values of radical love and hospitality, we are forging a better future than our often-painful present. When we spend time investing in our young people, we are drafting a blueprint for a more equitable world to come. When we are in ministry with children and youth, we find ourselves learning and healing more than we could have ever done alone.    

As we come back to in person Sunday School, I invite you to consider signing up to lead Sunday School once a month. This commitment of roughly 10 hours for the entire academic year will not only greatly impact the life and spiritual formation of our young people, but will impact yours as well. Then, when you find yourself wondering if you are doing enough or anything at all, you can breathe and know that at the very least, you are sharing the gospel message of love and peace with our children.
Please see the announcement below for more information on volunteering or email me at

Peace be with you,
Alyssa Burleson
Director of Christian Education
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Join Us for In-Person Sunday Worship:
Fall Worship Schedule Resumes!
This Sunday is our official Re-Opening Sunday! We'll gather again for the fall season with joy-filled worship at the 9:00am (with Communion) and then at 11:00am. The 11:00am service will also be live-streamed. After 11:00 worship, we'll gather outside for Coffee Hour and fellowship! Virtual Coffee Hour will also be held at the same time. Please see Rev. Barb's letter above for more details.

Our Re-Opening Task Force has done research, surveyed the congregation, and consulted local guidelines to determine how Harvard-Epworth can safely re-open. Please be aware of these requirements:
  • congregants will wear surgical masks (we’ll provide them at the door)
  • the sanctuary windows will be open in all weather
  • singing may be done with masks, but please sing quietly rather than loudly
  • please observe social distancing when possible
If you have any questions, please contact
Second Mile Mission Giving in September
This month offers an opportunity for “second mile” giving to a number of vital local mission projects that are supported by Harvard-Epworth. We’ll be marking these particular groups, all of whom are making a difference in our community and our world:
  • September 5: Justice for Our Neighbors
  • September 12: Friday Cafe
  • September 19: Thrive Communities
  • September 26: TBA

Please watch the livestream on Sunday if you can’t be present at worship to learn more about these ministries. Contributions may be placed in the offering plate at the back of the church, made online at, or mailed to the church office marked "extra mile local giving" in memo (mail to: 155 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA 02140).
Faith After Doubt: Book Discussion with
New England UMC Conference and author Brian McLaren
Tonight (9/9) Last Day to Register!
In his 2021 Episcopal Address, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar recommended the book Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It to clergy and laity of the New England Conference. Rev. Mitch writes that "McLaren describes how doubt can be a profoundly useful aspect of our faith that can (if we allow it) move us beyond the simple dualistic beliefs structure of our childhood into the deeper stages he calls complexity, perplexity, and finally, harmony.  Many of McLaren’s stories and examples resonated with my own spiritual autobiography and made me think of some of the the stories I’ve already heard from many of the folk at Harvard Epworth."

McLaren will be available for four Zoom discussions open to New England Conference members--clergy and laity. Join Harvard Epworth in reading the book and discussing with him how it might shape our ministry in Cambridge and beyond!

Each session takes place from 8-9 pm Mondays.
Sept. 13, 2021 – Session One: An overview of Faith After Doubt  
Sept. 20, 2021 – Session Two: Spiritual life, a personal perspective 
Sept. 27, 2021 – Session Three: Liturgy and spiritual formation, a congregational perspective 
Oct. 4, 2021 – Session Four: Outreach and evangelism for congregations 

For more information, and to register for the discussion sessions, please see the article linked below. Space is limited, so you are encouraged to register as soon as possible. The deadline to register is Thursday, Sept. 9:
Sandwich Ministry: Saturday, September 18
Our Outdoor Church volunteer team will be taking sandwiches to the homeless in Harvard and Central Squares on Saturday, September 18, and we need providers to make 60 to 80 sandwiches. Please contact Lane at for details and to sign up.
Join Us for Sunday School: September 19
Children and Youth Sunday School will begin on Sunday, September 19. Both groups will meet in person in the church basement with open windows and masks. There will be a hybrid option for Youth Sunday School. Please email with any questions or for more information!

Sunday School Volunteers Needed!
Please consider signing up to help lead Sunday School for our Children and Youth. This is a great opportunity to get connected with our families and invest in the spiritual formation of our young people. Please use the sign up form that is linked below and email with any questions or for more information! HE-UMC Children and Youth Ministries: Sunday School Volunteer (
Nursery Opens this Sunday!
The Nursery will be open during the 11 am service beginning on Sunday, September 12. Please email with any questions or for more information!
Welcome to the New Office Administrator!
Flynn Fernandes recently joined Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church as our Office Administrator. He currently serves as the Director of Faith Formation for Holy Trinity Parish, Quincy, in the Archdiocese of Boston. Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Flynn came to the United States to pursue higher education. For many years, he worked as a project and program manager for different firms in the healthcare technology and services sector. During the evenings, he volunteered as a middle and high school catechist for his parish church.

Flynn earned a Master of Theological Studies from Boston University School of Theology, as well as the licentiate and doctorate in sacred theology from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. This fall, he is teaching a course in theology at Emmanuel College.

Events and Groups for University Students and Young Adults
Sundays at 7pm: Life Groups
Life groups meet weekly on Sunday nights to offer a space for young adults and students to share how they’re doing, share prayer requests, and stay accountable with one another on our commitment to live ethical and faithful lives. Life groups are open to anyone who wants to join, just send Sarah an email so she can share the Zoom link with you. By joining a life group, you’re committing to try to:
1.) Read the booklet Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living by Reuben P. Job.
2.) Engage in brief individual prayer practices twice a day, five days a week.
3.) Gather weekly to share about our spiritual well-being in light of the three simple rules (do no harm, do good, stay in love with God).

Brunch Bunch: Sunday, September 19, will be our next Brunch Bunch. This monthly event is a great time for folks to catch up and mingle as we share a meal together. After the 11:00am worship service at Harvard-Epworth, we’ll head to a local restaurant for brunch around 12:30pm. Whether you worship online or in person, everyone is welcome to join. If you plan to come, send me an email so I can reserve a table for us.

Neighborhood Text Groups: Connect with Your HEUMC Neighbors! As vaccines roll-out and weather improves, several young adults have volunteered to coordinate neighborhood group texts. Find someone to go for a masked walk, share info of interest for your neighbors, and check-in with your church family near you. If you would like to join one of these group texts, please email Sarah with your phone number and your neighborhood.
Seeking Flower Donations for the Sunday Altar
Thanks in advance to Anne and Neil Harper, who are donating a flower arrangement for this Sunday’s ReOpening. If you would like to donate flowers for the altar on an upcoming Sunday, please sign up on the sheet at church, or contact the church office to request a date.

You may order flowers from a florist, bring in your own arrangement, or donate an offering that will be used to obtain flowers. Please indicate the dedication that you’d like to have included in that Sunday’s bulletin. 

Thank you for bringing beauty to our worship!
Friday Cafe Resumes with a Hybrid Model
The Friday Cafe, at First Church in Cambridge at 11 Garden St, provides a nutritious lunch and a welcoming community to over 100 homeless and at-risk neighbors every Friday afternoon. After 18 months of providing bag lunches, we are thrilled to resume the buffet lunch in a new, “hybrid” model.  To maintain the safety of our guests and volunteers, masks are required of everyone, and social distancing occurs. Only six guests are now allowed in the Cafe at one time. All food is then consumed outside on the church lawn.

This fall, Harvard-Epworth will provide volunteers to the Friday Cafe on the third Friday of each month, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers may work in the kitchen, buffet line, donations table, or work other positions. Our first volunteer team event will be Friday, September 17, 2021. COVID-19 vaccination is required of volunteers. You may sign up at the new Onsite Volunteer sign up link:

If you wish to volunteer on the third Friday, please contact the Harvard-Epworth office at or 617.354.0837 so that we can connect you with the team. 

For those who like to cook at home, volunteers may contribute main courses, salads, sides, soup, and desserts each week. You may sign up at the new Cooking sign up link:  More information about the Friday Café may be found at, Facebook and Instagram.
We are the Church: Voices of Harvard Epworth
During the "online reality" that we find ourselves in, it is difficult for new people to get a sense of who we are as a church. Therefore, the Welcome and Evangelism committee is inviting people to submit a video (30 seconds or less) that introduces themselves and says what they find special about our church. We are hoping to put together a number of these short videos and release them in the coming weeks and months. This will be a great way for people to get a sense of this ministry we share in together. Please consider recording a short video and emailing it to Erin Lee, our Welcome & Evangelism Chair, at Thank you in advance for being a part of this important opportunity of welcome! 
Virtual Menu for Programs and Support
Harvard-Epworth is making a commitment through this crisis we find ourselves to provide opportunities to connect each day.  Look for an email tomorrow that will outline program and support opportunities for next week. 
Virtual Coffee Hour
Immediately after our livestream worship, we invite you to gather for a virtual coffee hour. People will enter the Zoom meeting, and then we will break out into random small groups and connect and get to know each other better.  Join us for coffee hour after church this week through this online 

You can also join by phone at 1 929 205 6099. The meeting ID is ID 935 3829 1213.
Help Support Haiti: UMCOR Response
Last week, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Haiti killed 1,900 people and left thousands more injured and displaced. Severe storms two days later led to flash floods and mudslides, making recovery even more difficult.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is working with partners in Haiti, including giving grants to the Methodist Church of Haiti and Service Chretien d’Haiti that will help provide emergency supplies to hospitals and clinics. You can read more about their response and help support it here on the UMCOR website.
Connect with Us Electronically: New Instagram!
Harvard Epworth Church Member Online Directory
Remember that we have a Harvard Epworth Church Member Online Directory.  You can log in to the directory by going to by clicking on the link in the menu on the church website (it's next to the live stream link).

Current users can reset their password with the "Need a password" button on the directory login. If you don't have a directory account or access to it, email  and we will be in touch with login information for you.
Sermon Podcast Update: If you would enjoy listening to the Sunday sermon during the week they can now be found on Apple, Google, and Spotify by searching for Harvard-Epworth Church podcast. You can also still find them on the front page of our church website at
Help Harvard-Epworth While You Shop: Our Amazon Smile link shares some of the profits from any Amazon purchases with the church: If you shop via this link, a percentage of what you spend is automatically donated to the church.
Prayer Ministry: Each Wednesday morning (from 7:45am to 8am), some of the Harvard-Epworth congregation gather by phone for meditation and prayer. This gathering is a wonderful way to begin the day and to hold the concerns of our congregation in prayer. We would love to have you join us! To join in, dial +1 (605) 468-8016 and type in our access code: 658031#.
Looking Ahead...

  • Thursday, September 9: Faith After Doubt Book Study Registration Deadline
  • Sunday, September 12: Re-Opening Sunday, Fall Worship Schedule Resumes
  • 9:00am: Worship Service (sanctuary)
  • 10:00am:Choir Rehearsal (library)
  • 11:00am: Worship Service (sanctuary and livestream)
  • 12:10pm: Virtual and In-Person Coffee Hour
  • 7:00pm: Young Adult Life Groups
  • Monday, September 13: "Faith After Doubt" Book Study (8:00pm)
  • Wednesday, September 15: Prayer Call (7:45am)
  • Thursday, September 16: Bishop Devadhar's Evening with Commonwealth East District (7:00pm at Aldersgate UMC in North Reading and Zoom)
  • Friday, September 17: Harvard-Epworth Volunteers at Friday Cafe (11:00am to 2:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm)
  • Sunday, September 19: Christian Education resumes: Sunday School and Adult Forum meet
  • Young Adult Brunch Bunch
  • Sunday, September 26: Young Adult Apple Picking
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