September 5, 2021
A Message from
Co-Pastor Rev. Barb Lemmel
Last night I was in a meeting with a congregation from Rhode Island. One of the participants was sharing some history and said, “In the first year of COVID…” Then she stopped and shook her head ruefully. “I can’t believe I just said that: ’In the first year of COVID.’ I never thought this would go on this long.” We all nodded in agreement.

This is the season of students returning to school - elementary, middle school, high school, college and beyond. For everyone, it’s the second year of starting the fall school year during COVID. A lot has changed since last year, of course, for many: there are vaccinations (though not for anyone younger than 16); we know more about this particular coronavirus (though many mysteries still abound); mask-wearing and social distancing are much more the norm (though somewhat inconsistently followed). Most colleges are welcoming a higher percentage of their student body on-campus, and many primary schools are (mostly) in-person.  

At the same time, a lot hasn’t changed, as well, especially for those who aren’t vaccinated or who are immunocompromised.

It’s complicated, this being in the second year of COVID. Differently complicated. We’re all working hard to make the best of what we have to work with, to continue to make adjustments and shift our expectations.  

So in these back-to-school days, my heart and spirit have been full of prayers and concern for the students facing this second year of COVID schooling, whatever their educational level. And with their parents and families, who seek to shepherd them through this year’s challenges, and to manage their own fears. And with their teachers, professors, all who are part of the process of their education. I believe I am not alone in this — that all our hearts and spirits are joined in prayer.

May our common journey into the second year of COVD continue to draw us together with each other and with God. May we know the peace that passes all understanding as we seek to be both wise and gentle in these living of these days.

Peace to all,

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Backpack Blessings this Sunday!
Reminder, this Sunday September 5, we will be doing backpack blessings! If you would like to have your backpack or bag for the upcoming year blessed, please bring it to worship or have it nearby if worshipping from home. 
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:
  • Friday Café
  • Thrive Communities
  • Justice for Our Neighbors
  • On the Rise
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
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:
Join Us for In-Person Sunday Worship!
Worship is now in-person, without required reservations, in addition to the YouTube livestream.

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

On Sunday, September 12 we will have an official Re-Opening Sunday. Our fall worship schedule (9:00am and 11:00am) will resume. After the 11:00am service (which will continue to be livestreamed), we'll gather outside next to the church or on the Common for Coffee Hour and fellowship!
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).

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.
Right now we have Clara coordinating a group in JP, Janie connecting folks in Cambridge, and Bailey organizing people in Brighton. If you would like to join one of these group texts, please email Sarah with your phone number and your neighborhood. Is your neighborhood not represented? Connect with Sarah to set up your own group text. Please reach out with any questions.
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. To see this week's programs and opportunities, click here.
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.
Reflections on Faith and Life from the Back of a Paddleboard
We're kicking off this season's SUP devotional series - summer video devotionals where you can join Rev. Natalie to reflect on faith and life from the back of a paddleboard. New episodes are available each Monday at the Circuit YouTube channel!
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.
Volunteer with Friday Cafe
Friday Cafe will now works in a bag-lunch format, offering lunches provided by caring neighbors like you! With the help of Doing Good Together, Friday Cafe has set up an online signup  where you can commit to making 10 or more bagged lunches each week. Sign up to make sandwiches once, or once a month, or every week, if you want to! This is a great activity to do with kids, if you're home with family and looking for things to do. Lunches can be dropped off curbside on Fridays from 12:30-1:00: You don't even have to get out of your car. Just text Rev. Kate Layzer, Director of the Friday Cafe, at (617) 851-5074, and she'll come to you.
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...

  • Sunday, September 5: Summer Worship Service at 10:00am (livestream and in person)
  • Virtual Coffee Hour
  • Young Adult Life Group
  • Wednesday, September 8: Prayer call (7:45am)
  • Thursday, September 9: Faith After Doubt Book Study Registration Deadline
  • Sunday, September 12: Re-Opening Sunday, Fall Worship Schedule Resumes
  • Sunday, September 19: Christian Education resumes: Sunday School and Adult Forum meet
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