Dear Members of Penn Central Conference:
The staff of PCC are committed to continue serving our churches and ministry partners in myriad ways. This holds true even in the midst of the corona virus outbreak. This past week the national UCC and a few other conferences set protocols in place that severely limit the movement of staff. At this point, we are not restricting the movement of our staff. This may change in the days and weeks to come, especially if/when the virus becomes known in our Associations. Since this is a fluid situation, we will make decisions on a week to week basis. We met today and wish to share several recommendations with you.
1. We recommend that you stay on top of
protocols issued by your township or county
regarding large meetings
. Each consistory or council must make the decision for the congregation about if or when to suspend worship. This decision would become more acute if the virus shows up in your area. Find local and national news/health sources you trust and monitor them. If you continue to meet, please use caution regarding personal spacing, hygiene and the like. See the CDC link below.
practice of communion
is also one that each church must determine for itself. Members of a congregation should be encouraged to make their own decisions about participation in communion. What to do about communion will depend on what your congregation practices. For those who serve communion via trays in the pews, the decision may be different from those who serve by intinction with wine. Again, balance the costs and benefits with as much objectivity as possible. If your church decides not to have communion, consider putting a time limit on it for now, such as “We will not celebrate communion again until Maundy Thursday services.” This helps to ease anxiety because it provides clear parameters. (Obviously, the situation will then be re-evaluated by Holy Week.)
3. If you have
staff coming to preach at your church
, be in touch with us directly regarding whether you wish for us to attend.
A word of caution to our clergy
. If you are immune-compromised or have someone at home who is, please take your movements and engagement in the wider community seriously. While the virus is not yet in our geographic area, trends indicate that it will be. Protect yourself so that you can continue to serve others. Consider using different means of providing pastoral care such as FaceTime or Skype.
Meetings that are hosted by the Conference will meet via Zoom
. This includes gatherings such as the Commission on Ministry and Annual Meeting planning team. The Board meeting scheduled for April 4
will be determined closer to that date. If you have a question about an upcoming meeting, please write to Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meetings that are not hosted by the conference
(such as committees on ministry and association councils or executive meetings) will determine their own plans. Some may decide to meet via Zoom. Committee chairs should contact staff directly about their participation.
3. A decision regarding
the Confirmation Retreat scheduled for March 27-29
at Hartman Center will be made by the 20
UCC History and Polity class
will move to Zoom if or when Lancaster Seminary moves its classes to on-line format. That has not happened as of yet.
Please hold one another in prayer. Practice meditation or contemplative prayer. Engage in yoga or long walks. Take deep breaths. God is with us in all we do. And God will remain with us through this time.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV)