From Pastor John, March 17th Church cancellations & changes

To Members and Friends of Clarion First United Methodist Church of Clarion,

On March 14th we sent a two-page email about our Corona response.  Things are changing fast, so we already have an update for you, and will send new updates as helpful.

Worship on Sundays and also Wednesday evening is cancelled, at least through March (but we will still be on radio at 11:00 Sunday, 94.1FM) .  Along with worship almost everything else has cancelled too.  Check with your group leaders if you are wondering.

Those that as of today will continue to meet are:
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous (health support)
Tomorrow’s (Wednesday) Love Cupboard
Nominations Committee (Wednesday 6PM)
Small leadership groups as deemed necessary and helpful
Our live radio 11:00 Sunday worship broadcast on FM94.1 (twenty- mile radius)

Those that as of today will not meet the rest of March:
Boy Scouts
W Pa Conference Bishop’s Meetings regarding the Protocol – pending legislation of General Conference
and also the March 28th meeting at Christ UMC, Bethel Park, “The Current”, about General Conference
Chancel Choir
Church Adult and Youth Bell Choirs
Church Council
Clarion Christian Preschool
Clarion Community choir
Cub Scouts
District Lay School
Financial Peace University
Girl Scouts
Men’s Wednesday Breakfast book study
Naomi Circle
Ruth Circle
Singing Angels
Stephen’s Ministers
Sunday School
Teen Youth Group
Worship – both Wednesday night and Sunday  (BUT we are on radio this Sunday, at 11:00 AM on FM 94.1

Others?  Check with your group leader…and let the office know.

What we DO know… God is still with us!  And God still rules!!
Though different, these temporary changes are hoped to reduce stress and increase health safety.
In a message I received earlier today our Bishop wrote a message of hope and support, in which she suggested eight daily activities to supplement your day…

  1. Spend as much time reading scripture as you do watching and reading news about the virus;
  2.  Call someone you know is alone during this time and take a few moments just to listen to them;
  3.  Put on some praise music or hymns and have your own devotional time;
  4.  Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer every time you get into your car;
  5.  Twice a day, walk around the block, down the road, or down to the mailbox;
  6.  Don’t join in the blame game that has become so much a part of our culture;
  7.  Offer to virtually babysit for a family that now has several children at home;
  8.  Set a time to FaceTime the children, have a video tea party, play video games with them online, or watch a movie at the same time.

As we take care to prepare as best we can for the present days, remember to keep a positive focus.  Be intentional about finding something in every day that we can do to make use of the time.  Indeed, also be intentional in remembering those who are not in ready touch, who are not on email or Facebook or who might be alone.  Be intentional about widening your circle, at least by phone.

The Church offices remain open and we are here for you.   Both the Sanctuary and the Prayer Chapel in our church are open to you for prayer…as you pray, be considerate of the present requirements and keep a ten- foot space between others.

We will be sending more updates.  I invite you to write me, pastor@fumc-clarion.org, with things that you are doing that brings hope, joy or fulfillment in these present days.

11:00 this Sunday, let’s still gather, around our FM94.1 radios, and worship together.  Invite your friends to join us. I will preach for the days we are in.

Pastor John

March 13, 2020, From Pastor John:

Dear Members and Friends of First Church, a Corona virus update,

It’s been a big day of national and local news, and will no doubt continue for the next while.
We’ve received a number of calls, so here’s what we can say for now:

Church IS open and will continue to be unless you hear otherwise.
(Church will be closed if the government orders a mandatory shut down of worship.)
However, know the following so far has been cancelled: our upcoming Pizza and Games night; the Trailblazer class for this Sunday, March 15th; our Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have cancelled meetings for the next few weeks.  The church outing next weekend to see “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” has also been cancelled.  Love Cupboard will distribute this Wednesday, March 18th; however, recipients are advised there will be no social time prior and NOT to arrive before 4:30 PM, the time of distribution.

What about other meetings?  They are as scheduled for now.  I am leaving it to each small group leader, both church groups AND community groups that use the church, to decide for themselves whether or not they will meet.  If you are unsure, check with multiple members of your group and then make the best decision.  I am asking that if you decide to cancel or otherwise change your schedule to let the office know so that we may update our calendars and help you create awareness of any change.

We are continuing our daily cleaning with careful attention to touch points, disinfecting and sanitizing.

WHETHER OR NOT TO ATTEND:  Persons who have a weakened immune system or chronic respiratory problems are advised NOT to be around crowds, church or elsewhere.  You should consider NOT coming to church until the viral setting is back to normal.  Please care for yourself, and think of your safety first.  And anyone who is generally NOT feeling well should definitely stay home and take care of yourself.

If you choose to stay home, especially if you live alone, please take steps to make sure that you and someone are in touch every day, to ensure that you are well and safe.  If you are NOT feeling well, tell someone – don’t keep it to yourself.  Make sure that someone can bring the things you need to you.  Your church family can help too, so call the church office at 814-226-6660 to let us know if you are ill that we might pray for you or if you need anything.  Everyone should make sure they stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep.

If you stay at home and live within twenty miles of Clarion, First Church worship may be heard live on AM1300 or 94.1 FM radio at 11:00 on the 2nd and 4th Sundays.  A few days following EVERY Sunday our worship service is uploaded to our website (www.fumc-clarion.org) for you to hear and to share with friends. 
PERSONAL CONTACT – No Handshakes / Hugs  BECAUSE we care about you, we’re asking everyone including our greeters and ushers NOT to have personal contact for a while.  No handshaking or hugs.  Create a bigger airspace around your seating and your talk space to diminish the likelihood of catching airborne germs.  Keep your hands away from your face, and for goodness sake, wash your hands often with lathered soap for a slow 20 count (while you wash hum, sing, or think the Doxology or the Happy Birthday song, as they are each about twenty seconds long). 
Preparing the offering is also an act of worship.  Your offering placed in effect through the ministries of the church helping others is one of the visible ways people see the movement of God in our time.  Since many hands touch the offering plate as the offering is passed, we are changing the way the offering is taken.  For the time being, the ushers will receive the offering near the exit doors.  This way only their hands will be holding the plate, and you may drop your offering in as always.  Those at home may mail their offering in.  Some of you may wish to take this opportunity to move to “electronic” giving.  If you wish information on how to do this, please contact Darren Mackenzie at the church office, 814-226-6660.   
Something that may be comforting, of all the recognized cases in the general population, it is documented that near 97% survive the Corona virus.  A nurse also shared that those hospitalized are the most severe cases, and that it is likely that the most of the persons infected either did not even realize they were sick or at least did not need hospitalized.  If that is so, then the survival rate becomes much, much better. 
NOT THE LEAST OF THINGS TO DO, JOIN TOGETHER TO ALWAYS pray for our region and for the world, especially for those who are directly impacted by this virus.  For many, this virus is a source of fear and anxiety.  As followers of Jesus, we know that God has given us a spirit of love and not fear (“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7).  We pray that you will sense God’s presence and peace.
Pray for the Lord’s intervention in this outbreak
Pray for the healing of those infected with the corona virus, as well as all other health concerns
Pray for wisdom, guidance, and protection for healthcare workers
Pray for spiritual wisdom and help for those caught overseas with difficulties coming home
Together in the body of Christ, in the church, there is much wisdom.  As you think of things that are helpful at this time, please share with our leaders and the church office.  As this situation progresses we will continue to update you through email blasts, on Sundays, on our website, on our Facebook page, and in small group sharings.  For the moment it looks like things are changing too quickly for a postal mailing.  So please print and share with those of the church whom you think may not be receiving or checking email. 
Confidently trusting in Christ,
Pastor John