Dear First UMC Family,

On July 15th Governor Wolf announced new statewide restrictions for bars, restaurants and large indoor gatherings due to the escalations of new coronavirus infections across Pennsylvania. The order limits indoor gatherings to 25 people.  Because you have been so faithful in following the guidelines established for in-person worship, the church leadership had initially hoped to continue in-person worship. They felt that every precaution was being taken to keep our people safe. However, a communication from Bishop Park came late yesterday urging us to strictly follow the new order. With heavy hearts, the church leadership made the difficult decision to, once again, suspend in-person worship effective immediately.

But friends, take heart!  I am excited to inform you that the Vision Team met last night and we have begun to dream about how God might be using this current circumstance to build something new. It will take us several weeks to work out the details but we hope to eventually offer in-person worship opportunities for groups smaller than 25. Please be in prayer for the team as they strive to faithfully hear God’s call and discern his leading in working out the details. We are very hopeful and excited by what came out of the meeting.

So here is what worship will look like in the coming weeks: For the next two weeks (July 19th & July 26th), a small group of essential worship leaders will gather in the sanctuary early on Sunday morning to record the worship service. The recording will be processed and uploaded to our website and Facebook page sometime between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

Equipment has arrived at the church and will be installed next week that will allow us to live stream the worship services beginning August 2nd. Details for joining the live stream worship services will be forwarded once the new equipment is installed and all the “bugs” have been worked out.

Additionally, once the Vision Team has worked out the process for gathering for small group, in-person worship, we will give you detailed information for participating. If you do not feel comfortable gathering in person, there will still be the option of continuing to worship from the safety of your homes. At this point, we can not say exactly when this new small group, in-person worship will begin but we hope to have everything in place by mid to late August. 

Concerning our current small group gatherings, any small groups that are currently meeting may continue to gather and operate as normal. This includes our mid-week groups and our Sunday School classes. If you are a small group leader, please contact those in your group with any changes or if you intend to cancel your classes/gatherings. Please also contact the church office and leave a message so our custodial staff knows what rooms will need to be set up and sanitized. 570-546-8030.

Friends, we know that this difficult season has been long and discouraging. But we must remember that God is still in control. His purpose is still being worked out. We have faithful leaders in this church who are seeking God’s direction and we have great hope for moving forward into an uncertain future. You can rest easy that the state of our church is strong and we are proceeding with intention and care. We will get through this and we have faith that we will be stronger on the other side of this pandemic. Thank you for your faithfulness in continuing to support our beloved church with your prayers and gifts. It has upheld us and kept us moving forward.

Finally, I encourage you to pass this information along to those in our congregation who are not on the internet.

Peace and Blessings,


Pastor Rick

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