Pastor Bob's eNews - December 10, 2020

Dear Family and Friends,                                                                              

         On March 13 when I announced by email that we were closing the building to in person worship I asked you to pray with me and you did.  On July 23 when we decided to change course and not reopen until later I asked you to stay unified and focused on God’s bride, the church, and you did.  We have been asking a lot of you over these 9 months.  I have more to ask, and I pray that you will continue to be as faithful, loving, patient, and full of grace for this request as you have shown over these many, many months that we have been apart from each other.  Will you wait a few more months for us to be back together again as a family here in church? 

            I’ve been in touch with most of the pastors in the ministerium this week and one of them shared a verse from Scripture with me that I shared with session last evening.  Look up and read Philippians 2:1-5.  I’m not going to write all of it out but just vs.5 where Paul states: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”  The relationships that we have built over these years are relationships built on trust, love, compassion and caring for each other.  That has not wavered and I ask that you will maintain your love for each other and for this church, First Presbyterian Church, throughout this time.

            I asked for a called session meeting last evening and every single elder was present to hear a recommendation from the Covid Task Force.  After discussion and an opportunity to hear reasons to discontinue in person worship and reasons for why we should stay open for in person worship your session decided to suspend in person worship beginning this Sunday with constant vigilance to monitor the situation with the goal of returning to in person worship as soon as possible.  How did we get here?  The session was asked to pray from Monday evening until Wednesday evening to discern God’s leading on this.  The session looked at 8 different metrics to make a determination of where we currently are.  I will list them here but a more in depth analysis of the metrics can be found on our website under Covid 19 Action Plan:

Metrics for the decision:
1.  CDC 12/4/2020 Guidelines,
2.  Strasburg Ministerium churches becoming more cautious as a whole,
3.  First Presbyterian and a number of close calls and positive cases where we know that it is among us,
4.  PA state government limiting occupancy to 10%, while we know it does not pertain to churches, we have in the past used this as a metric,
5.  Area school closings and increase of cases in the LS district,
6.  Hospitals are stressed to a level never seen before.
7.  Lancaster County positivity rate is over 13% and the goal is to be under 5%.
8. Donegal Presbytery is strongly encouraging churches to suspend indoor worship immediately.

As a result there will be no in person worship this Sunday or for the near future. 

Below you will see how this will impact the other events and activities that we have planned and the other programs that are continuing to take place and make the life of our church vibrant and productive.  Preschool will continue to meet, Youth Group will continue to meet, the Food Bank will stay open, and the church will continue to be open during the day during the week with staff coming in and out. 

I can only say that I am sorry.  We have done such a good job in following protocol and this decision was not based upon a failing on any one of our parts.  But collectively things are not going well around us and so as a result we need to respond in a way that will continue our consistent approach to this pandemic which is to keep all of you and the community safe. 

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Bob



      Join us for Bible Study this evening!!:  Join us as we will go back to our regular format as we look more in depth at the Scriptures from last week’s sermon.  You can follow and participate in the Bible study here: Youtube

      Commissioning of the Harrar family:  This Sunday during worship, which you can watch online, we will be commissioning Simeon, Alison, Sam, and Lydia as the go to Nairobi, Kenya in a few weeks to work with Rosslyn Academy, a Christian international school serving families from 50 different countries.  This will take place during the 11am service. 

      Welcome to the Sands family!:  On Saturday missionaries Karl and Jackie Sands will be arriving from central Asia to stay in the home of the church on 6 Funk Street for a month.  We are so pleased to be able to offer them this place of respite and sanctuary after decades of years on the mission field.  Please keep them in your prayers as they transition back to the states.

      Santa’s Helpers:  Have I told you that you are amazing?  All of the tags for the children of the LS school district have been taken.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  Now, we need to get the gifts back.  Originally we had said by this Sunday, and that still holds true.  Since we are no longer having in person worship please return your gift at your convenience.  The building is still open and you can drop them off where you got the tag.  If you are not comfortable bringing the gift in then please let Terry and JoAnn know and they would be glad to pick it up from you.  Their numbers are:  JoAnn 717-672-1427 or 717-606-6907. 

      Streaming improvement:  Just this week we have made leaps and bounds in our streaming capabilities.  We have added a couple more cameras and updated our media.  Thanks to Flagstream for their continued work with us to improve our ability to reach out with the Gospel in improved and better ways.

      Search Committee for youth leader:  We have a team of 5 people looking for a youth leader for our youth.  They are Pete Coste (chair), Amanda Allison, Beth Feiler, Sandy Wenger, and me.  We have received applications and are still receiving them and hope to start interviewing candidates soon. 

      Christmas Eve services:  Because of the change in in person worship we are providing three services which will be streamed for Christmas Eve.  We will have our traditional Christmas Pageant with the children at 4:30pm.  We will have our traditional candle light services at 8:00pm and 11pm.  Join us online.  We also will providing candles for anyone who might want them.  You only have to come to church and pick yours up!  Join us virtually!

      Youth Group continues:  We will be meeting this Sunday evening at church at 6pm and also the 20th for an ugly Christmas sweater party.  Send your high school or middle school to join us.

Our Great Beginnings Preschool: is always very appreciative of your donations. It helps to keep the tuition costs down! There is a bin in the library area for your donations. Needed are: paper plates, napkins, Kleenex, 5 oz. cups, crackers, pretzel, animal crackers, cookies, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, popcorn, cheese balls.

The work of FPC continues:  All of the staff are still working hard to keep us connected and are keeping the light of Christ shining within the community.  While programmatically things may have shifted, we are still looking to provide a family for those who don’t know Christ, for those who want to grow in Christ, and for those who want to go with Christ.  This not only takes time and planning, it also takes resources.  We fully realize that we are in a time of having to rely even more on the providence and provision of God.  You can play an enormous role in helping us meet the needs for our staffing and our programs during this time when collecting tithes in person is limited.  There are various ways that you can give your tithes and contribute to the FPC ministries.  One way is to send your tithe and offering checks to First Presbyterian Church at 101 S. Decatur Street, Strasburg, Pa 17579.  Make it out to First Presbyterian and our financial accountant will take care of it.  Another way to give is online at the church website:  Click the donate button.  On your home computer, at the top of the page, select “Computer Giving”.  From there click on “Go to Engage e-giving” where you can either create an account to give more frequently or in a recurring way.  To give a one-time gift, click “Create a Gift” and it will provide similar options.  You can pay either by credit card or by ACH, your bank information.  Please take the time to make an impact on your community with your offerings at this time.  For questions about electronic giving please give me a call at 717-799-0777.  I can walk you through it.





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