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Let us love one another and worship/church updates

As the pastor at Tom's Creek, I am constantly trying to take in facts and information to make the very best informed decisions of what we as a church should and should not be doing during the pandemic. I have tried to find a balance that allows our church to proclaim Christ and be in community while trying to protect and keep people safe. While COVID can be fatal we also know that for some loneliness is becoming depression and depression can lead to suicide or to addictions. I try to focus on the big picture and understand that life still has to be lived while we wait for a vaccine to be available for most people. I have been doing that since March in consultation with people in our church and health professionals. I continue to take in all new and important information and am always reassessing with the goal of trying to do what is right to keep people safe from COVID and from loneliness and other consequences of people feeling alone.


On Wednesday, one of the 15 people that came to worship on Sunday found out they were positive for COVID. They have had no symptoms but got tested to relieve their worry, unfortunately it only increased their worry when they found out they were infected with the virus. They were also helping in the church kitchen with our Feeding FriendZ program when they got the results from the test. People were wearing masks in worship and also while preparing the food as per our safety protocols. Everyone who was in worship on Sunday was contacted and notified directly from me. In addition, Jeanne Schubert who has been battling COVID went to the hospital yesterday in order to get the needed level of treatment that she could not get from home. I also received a call yesterday from a member of our church who tested positive after going to the hospital. This person got it from work and has not been at the church recently. In addition, rates are going up everywhere and hospital systems are starting to experience overcapacity.


With all that in mind we are changing our Sunday morning worship options and procedure. We will not be having anyone in the sanctuary for the live-streaming of the service at 9am besides myself up front and our 2 tech team people all the way in the back. I do not wear a mask when I speak during the service and I do that for many reasons and do not plan on changing that. With no one else in the sanctuary this reduces exposure and the 2 in the tech booth are younger and are lower risk and know the risk they are taking. Yet, I know some do not have good internet access and do not like just listening on the phone. Some just want to go and be somewhere else for an hour. We will be live-streaming the service on the new large screen television we installed downstairs in Fellowship Hall at 9am. Looking at numbers and who has been coming to worship, I believe that we will probably only have at most 4-6 people down there but it does provide an option.


Now about the worship, we will be celebrating the Second Sunday of Advent and focusing on love!! The bulletin is attached for you to download or print. This is part of an exciting sermon series that looks at the power of music and that music is often a light in the darkness. We are looking at groups of people who have used music to make it through the dark times and to see God's light shining on them in their dark time. I have been working with and partnering with many other people to get music that we are allowed to use as to follow all the copyright rules and laws. Yes, there is a lot of music out there but I have to be able to get permission from the performers to be able to livestream the music or videos. When we were not live-streaming to the world I did not have to be as careful but now that our worship is sent out of our sanctuary, and out to the world, I have to be careful what videos I use. I have been blessed with finding some great music for us to listen to and to sing along with. Music that is powerful and that will touch our souls in this a dark time for many and as we all struggle with the effects of this global pandemic. Each week we assess and try improve the quality of what we are live-streaming or putting on the telephone for those calling in. There are limitations but we try to do the best we can with the constraints we have. I think our worship is pretty awesome given our size and setting. Go ahead and invite your neighbors to join us on the livestream or the other ways you can join us that are listed below.

You can catch the Facebook Livestream at: https://www.facebook.com/tomscreekumc .

We will start the Facebook Livestream at @8:50am and you will see announcements scroll and hear music playing. This is the best option if you want to interact with others online. Feel free to chat to each other before and during the service. You can put prayer requests in the chat. This is great way to be able to interact with others if you watch it live with others in your church family who are staying home but want to worship as part of an online community.


You can catch this livestream on our Toms Creek UMC channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6E7eCwH2ZGYspkSCF0CGw/featured. We will start the YouTube Livestream at 8:50 am and you will see announcements scroll and hear music playing. This format is best if you are watching on a television or large screen with lots of people gathered around. You can have it fill the whole screen and just watch it without any distractions. There is a way to chat on YouTube but it normally has a lot less people and is normally a lot less chatty than the our Facebook livestream.


You can go to our website here https://www.tomscreekumc.com/service-videos and by Monday morning there should be shortened version of our service that will contain the Scripture, the Middle Hymn, the Sermon, and through the end of the service.


You can also use a phone to listen to our service by calling 857-799-9465 from any phone starting at 8:50 am. This will only have sound coming through and you will not be able to see anything that is occurring. This is also the one where there might be sound issues because it does not always pick up the sound as well as we would like in the sanctuary. If you would like can we make a DVD of the service for you to watch just let the church office know.


To give your financial offering you can sign up to give electronically here: https://www.eservicepayments.com/cgi-bin/Vanco_ver3.vps?appver3=oo37DPDB_IkRvUYRT4XYFR9HODrOVn_HRoRVzfIf6wIC8Jr39BzhtDTFkxI3DZSBugLUwNICM4mn_Vn6Yqj7ze3avdPht8ScFTxSmF__f6NGGfZi-D-1l6WdFZHC1c8U

OR

you can go to our website and hit the donate button on our webpage

OR

you can mail your offering to:

Tom's Creek United Methodist Church

10926 Simmons Road

Emmitsburg, MD 21727


Church family, let us continue to worship together. Yes, we might not see each others faces but we can still be worshipping together. Maybe after our time of worship together, call the person who you talked to the most at church and check in with them. Let us reach out to one another in ways that draw us closer together as a community, even as we cannot be together physically.


Peace,

PH



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