COVID-19 Updates

Emory United Methodist Church’s building is currently open for 10:00 AM worship services on Sundays. 

Click here to visit the Susquehanna Conference website to access all of the Bishop’s statements and helpful resources regarding COVID-19

A Message from Pastor Erin 7/16/2020

Hello Emory Friends,

I wanted to get in touch with you in order to clarify Emory UMC’s response to the latest announcement from Gov. Tom Wolf and Dr. Rachael Levine, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  On Wednesday, July 15 it was announced that some state-wide restrictions would be pre-emptively applied in order to help our communities avoid another surge of the virus. 

Indoor gatherings are again limited to 25 people, and outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 250. We must continue to wear face coverings and practice social distancing any time we might encounter others. We still should strictly follow all the safety protocols.  This is to slow the spread of the virus, for the sake of our congregation and the communities outside our church.  Bishop Park reminds us that “as Christians, we must be diligent to care not only for ourselves, but for all people, especially the least and the vulnerable. It is our sacred responsibility to surpass governmental standards to keep people safe.”

            With the last few weeks as my reference, I am confident that we can continue to gather at our building for worship and adhere to these restrictions faithfully.  Since we resumed our worship service at the building our in-person attendance has fluctuated between 20 and 25 worshipers.  At this point, we will continue to gather at the building for our 10:00 AM service as we practice social distancing and safety protocols.  We will also continue to record our service and make it available online later in the day.  You can find the service on the church website (emorynewoxford.org) or by searching for “Emory Newoxford” on YouTube.   

         Though we will be able to continue offering this cooperate gathering for worship, I understand that attending this service in person will not be the appropriate choice for many of the folks in our congregation.  I trust in the blessings given to the Body of Christ.  By the Holy Spirit, we are held together in worship whether we are gathered at Emory’s building or sharing the experience of worship electronically and from home.  Please protect the health and safety of yourself and the most vulnerable folks around you as you make your own decision about how you will participate in worship at this time. 

 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Rom. 8:38-39

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Pastor Erin Wheeler

A Message from Pastor Erin 6/13/2020

Hello Emory Friends,

What a joy to announce that we can soon gather together for worship again! 

In-person worship at the church building will resume on Sunday, June 21.  In order to ensure a safe reopening, we will begin by resuming only our worship service at 10:00 AM.  At this time, we are not resuming our Sunday School yet.  Due to the current risk, we are also suspending our time of fellowship and gathering for food and coffee following each worship service.  Preparations for our reopening have been underway for some time now.  Be assured that the leadership of Emory UMC has given care to making this reopening as safe as possible.  We have updated the cleaning and disinfecting of the building and frequently touched areas according to CDC guidelines. In addition, safety necessitates some changes to our worship.  Please review the details below to prepare for your next visit to Emory UMC.

While it is safe for some to start gathering in person, we understand that it is not yet safe for others.  We will be recording our services so that we can continue to offer online worship.  This enables people in high-risk categories to participate and join us from home.   We remind you that health experts encourage those most vulnerable, older adults and people with chronic medical conditions to avoid gatherings at this time.

Church Reopening Guidelines During COVID-19 Pandemic: Green Phase

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania established a three-phase process toward the reopening of businesses and nonprofits: red, yellow, and green. The Green Phase does not mean “full speed ahead.” This phase has some specific restrictions, because the risks of transmitting COVID-19 remain.

What to expect when you attend worship:

  • All worshipers (over age two) and leaders are required to wear face coverings.
  • Greeters will be recording the names and contact information of all worshipers in order to facilitate contact tracing should the need arise. 
  • Social distancing will be practiced with all reasonable efforts made to maintain six-foot distances between each person, especially as we enter, exit, and use stairways and the elevator.  Our pews are marked for spaced seating.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided in the building.
  • We will forego congregational and choir singing at this time as the risk of spreading the virus through droplets and aerosolized particles is very high. 
  • You are invited to pass the peace and greet others in ways that do not entail touching. Bowing or waving are suggested alternatives.
  • We are asking families to worship together at this time.  We will not be offering Sunday School or nursery service during worship.  A children’s sermon will be part of our service, but children will not be invited to come to the front of the church during worship.
  • We have suspended use of shared hymnals, Bibles, pens, envelopes, and bulletins.  You are encouraged to bring your own Bible to worship. 
  • Our offering plates are located next to each sanctuary door.  You may place your offering in the plate as you enter or as you leave the sanctuary.
  • We will continue to collect “pennies” for Operation Christmas Child gifts.  You may place your donations to this special collection in the marked containers near the offering plates at each sanctuary door as you enter or exit.
  • Our conference’s current position is that there is no safe means of offering communion at this time. 

We could use your help!

Our volunteer needs have slightly changed for this time.  Some areas remain the same.  We will continue to rely on our tech team, special music volunteers, acolytes and counters.  During this phase of our reopening our kitchen is closed, we will not need ushers to help with the offering plates or individuals to hand out bulletins.  We do have need of Greeters.  Two volunteers at each worship service can serve the congregation by recording the name and contact information of each worshiper in attendance.  Greeters will also be able to facilitate touchless entry and provide masks to anyone (over age two) who arrives without a face covering.  Two greeters should arrive by 9:45 and be ready to welcome worshipers at the front doors.  If you can answer this call, sign-up by emailing Pastor Erin at ewheeler@susumc.org or by talking to a greeter on Sunday morning.

God bless you until we meet again…soon!

A Message from Pastor Erin 5/24/2020

Dear Emory Friends,

I greet you on this Ascension Sunday and Memorial Day weekend.  I want to address the recent news debating the reopening of churches which has been surrounding us in these recent days.  As I seek to make wise decisions as your pastor, I find myself returning to John Wesley’s three simple rules:  Do no harm.  Do all the good you can.  Stay in love with God.  These sentiments have guided me in the past and continue to be a frame for me.

First, I have been proud of the way Emory UMC has stood through this pandemic.  The faithfulness of this congregation in caring for each other, worshiping online, continuing to give generously, and finding creative ways to carry on has proved that it has merely been our building that has been closed.  God’s church, truly the faithful worshipers who make up the body of Christ here, has not been closed.  Together, we have surely been doing good and staying in love with God.

That being said, I miss you and I know you miss each other.  I understand the desire to be together in person with one another for worship and I share that desire.  Soon, we will gather again.   What we will not do is cause harm.  We will not irresponsibly risk the safety and lives of others by assembling in person at this stage of the pandemic.  If we come together in a building with singing and all these things that experts are telling us not to do, I strongly feel that is doing us harm and even risking doing harm to others around us by spreading this virus. 

It is challenging to put a time frame on our process of reopening the building because so much depends on the results of our efforts as a community to control the outbreak of the virus among us.  There is going to be a phased reopening process for our community and for our church.  Our county has just entered the yellow phase on Friday, May 22nd and is cautiously watching the safety of using social distancing precautions to resume business and small social gatherings.  We can hope for the success of our caution to result in safer conditions for all.  Let us pray as we progress into the green phase, possibly in a few weeks.  As we continue to watch these results and follow the advice from physicians and health experts who are guiding us through this pandemic, we will also be getting ready to prepare our building for the time when it is possible for us to be safe in a physical gathering again.  That day is coming.  Let us pray for it together. 

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Pastor Erin Wheeler

A Message from Bishop Park 4/7/2020

May 7, 2020
 
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
(Jeremiah 29:11-12)
 
But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.

(Psalm 69:13)
 
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Susquehanna Conference,
 
Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of our Brokenness, and Hope of the World!
 
Today we observe the National Day of Prayer. This day was set aside by the United States Congress beginning in 1952 as a time when people of all faiths might unite their hearts before God.
 
Please join me in making this a special day of prayer. Indeed, we have much to pray about. Let us come into God’s presence asking for healing from the ravages of COVID-19. Our prayers and tears flow for those who are sick, those who are hospitalized, and for those who have lost loved ones. Many are also living in the anxiety of having lost employment due to the pandemic. In general, communities of color and the poor have been hurt most by the pandemic and the resulting precautions. We grieve for all these concerns.
 
Please join me in praying also that God would lead scientists and researchers as they work hard to find effective treatments and a safe vaccine that will allow people to heal and live healthy lives. We know that our God is a God of revelation in faith and science.
 
Our prayers of lament are also mixed with prayers of gratitude. For family and friends who have remained healthy or recovered well, we are grateful. For the signs of hope we see around us, particularly as creation awakens into spring, we give thanks. For God’s gift of creativity to our clergy and lay people who have found new ways faithfully to worship God and care for neighbors, we praise God. As Easter people, we rejoice that even now, God is working for the renewal of life.
 
On this National Day of Prayer, I ask that as the people of Susquehanna Conference, we pray together mightily for our nation and for our world. Let us pray that the division that is felt in our country be healed. May God hear our prayer that we all would be united as one people striving to work together so that all might be free and honored.
 
May our voices ascend to our God, who hears all of the people of the world and is quick to answer our prayers.
 
O Thou, in whose presence my soul takes delight,
on whom in affliction I call,
my comfort by day and my song in the night,
my hope, my salvation, my all!

(The United Methodist Hymnal, 518)
 
Praying with you,
Jeremiah Park

A Message from Pastor Erin 4/8/2020

Hello Emory Friends,
What a joy it has been to hear from some of you about the worship service last week.  It has been exciting for me to see that it has been viewed over 60 times!  The plan for now is to continue offering these videos each Sunday.

Our Leadership team had a video-call meeting last night.  We had a productive conversation about managing things at Emory through the time our building must remain closed.  Our ministry continues as we begin to find meaningful alternatives that are working for us.

Offering has been arriving at church.  To those of you who have been able to continue to make an offering, THANK YOU!  I am grateful that you are continuing to support Emory and I am grateful for your faithfulness and stewardship.  May your giving be a blessing unto you and the Lord.  There have been some questions about giving cash offerings.  If it is helpful to you, we want to provide you with another option for giving.  As an alternative to  mailing your check to 35 Center Square, New Oxford, PA, 17350, you may prepare a cash offering labeled in an envelope which you drop-off in our securely locked mailbox at the church.  The mailbox is mounted on the wall and located next to the office door.  A third option is to set up electronic payments through your bank.  Please email Wendy Wetzel at emorynewoxford.org for more information.  

I am glad to invite you to worship online tomorrow and Friday evening at the Emory website under the Alternative Worship Resources tab.  If you have a smart TV with the YouTube ap, you can search for the worship video by name on YouTube and view it on your tv.
Here is a direct link you use:  https://www.emorynewoxford.org/alternative-worship-resources/

HOLY WEEK SERVICES

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On Thursday evening, we remember the last supper and celebrate communion together.  You are invited to participate in communion from your home as you view the worship service.  Bishop Park has given special permission to all churches in the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church for this celebration of communion during this global pandemic.  Please gather your own elements for communion and have them ready and with you when you begin the worship video.  You may use bread or crackers and juice or wine that you have in your home.  I have a seat for you.  On this night, my kitchen table and yours become the table of the Lord as we return to the upper room with Jesus.

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We will celebrate Good Friday with a Tenebrea service that guides us through scripture and the increasing darkness of death on the cross  This service will feature voices from all over our conference.  Pastors and leaders from churches we are connected to through our United Methodist connectional system have joined together to narrate this service.  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  Let us bear witness to the crucifixion together.

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I am looking forward to celebrating the resurrection with you in an online video service which will premiere on Sunday morning!

Continue to hold each other and the world in prayer.

Peace,

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Pastor Erin Wheeler

A Message from Pastor Erin 4/3/2020

Hello Emory friends,

In response to the stay-at-home order given for the entire state of Pennsylvania, Emory UMC will remain closed until further notice.  You will continue to get updates and information from me over the coming weeks.  I expect that we will be closed through the month of April at the least.  As before, this means that all in-person meetings, activities, and worship services at Emory are canceled.  Let us pray that this sacrifice is a witness to our care for others and a contribution to saving the lives of the most vulnerable among us.

We will not gather…but there is so much we can still do.  I am so grateful for the creative ways that many of you, our Sunday School classes, and the youth group have continued to be together while apart.  In such a time as this, when we are unable to go about business as usual, we are challenged to consider what is essential to the practice of our faith.  Jesus was once questioned about essentials.  In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus is asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  And  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (NIV).  How will you hold on to what is essential in this time?

You can still make an offering to God.  You can support the ministry of Emory UMC by mailing offering to the church at 35 Center Square, New Oxford, PA 17350.

You can still care for each other.  This church family is blessed to walk through this challenging time together.  Phone calls and cards are touching hearts and bringing blessings these days.  I encourage you to keep reaching out and to stay in touch with each other. 

You can still pray together.  Emory UMC has a prayer chain that is active all week, every week.  You are welcome to share joys and concerns by emailing them to me or directly passing them on to the email group.  Please get in touch with me for more information about getting connected with the prayer chain by email or by phone. 

You can still worship.  I encourage you to visit the church website at emorynewoxford.org in these coming weeks.  There you can find more information and communication from me and Bishop Park.  You can access resources dealing with COVID-19.  Most importantly, there is a special page providing materials for worshiping at home called “Alternative Worship Resources.”  I am continuing to add to this page each week.  Keep coming back for new content, sermons, and music to help us worship through Holy Week, through this trying time, and through the communion of the Spirit which abides with us and unites us wherever we may be.

This Palm Sunday will certainly be different from those we have celebrated in the past.  Let’s remember what we are marking with this special day of worship.  Let’s remember that Palm Sunday was never about us coming together in a church building to wave palm branches and practice our beloved traditions.  It was never about the excited crowds who lined up in the streets of Jerusalem.  This Sunday is about our Lord Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem and coming to the people–the very crowds who would turn to reject him–yet still, He came and still He gave it all for them.  This day, Palm Sunday, helps us remember that Jesus comes to us, wherever we are in life, in the journey of our faith, in the state of our relationship.  Even while we are apart and at home, Jesus comes.  Thanks be to God!

May the peace of Christ be with you and the love of God embrace you this week as you still live and walk as a disciple of Christ holding on to the essentials.

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Pastor Erin

 

A Message from Bishop Park 3/27/2020

Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39)

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.”
(Psalm 119:76)

Beloved Sisters and Brothers of the Susquehanna Conference,
Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of our Brokenness, and Hope of the World.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your hard work, creativity, flexibility, patience and prayers during these very difficult times. You continue to show your faithfulness and commitment to Christ and the people you serve. I thank God for the many ways you and your congregations continue to be in ministry even in these times.

As your bishop, I implore the Susquehanna Conference churches to continue to suspend all gatherings for worship and other non-essential activities until further notice. As the COVID-19 situation escalates, we must follow the best preventive practices and use utmost caution. We are closely monitoring the directives of Governor Wolf, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If any of the current limitations change, we will offer you guidance accordingly on how to comply.

I am sure the question of how to celebrate Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter services is weighing on your mind. The District Superintendents have been telling me how many of you are already creatively planning for these sacred days in this new time when we worship together, yet at a distance. I would remind everyone that on the first Easter evening, Jesus appeared to his disciples even though the doors were locked. The next week, even though the door was shut, Jesus appeared to the disciples. Nothing can hold back our Risen Lord! Although we may not be physically
together in worship on Easter, the power of the Risen Christ does and will come to God’s people in their personal space, homes, and hearts. 

Social distancing is a very challenging time for all of us. However, we know that it is the best way to flatten the curve. It saves lives. It’s about “doing no harm”. It’s also about “doing good”.  More will live because we are doing it. During our Lenten journey through the Holy Week, social distancing can also be about “staying in love with God”. It can be a tremendously beneficial time to develop a closer and more intimate relationship with God.  Please continue to pray. Prayer is vital in these times. Let us remain focused on God to ease our anxieties and give us strength to move to the other side of the current crisis soon. With God, we will.
Yours in Christ,

Jeremiah Park

A Message From Pastor Erin 3/25/2020

Emory Friends,
As I’m sure you expected, we are making more changes to our schedule at Emory in order to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our church members and community.   Due to more stringent recommendations from the White House, Gov. Wolf, our bishop, and district superintendent, we will extend the cancellation of all activities and worship services at Emory through April 4.  I share the same sentiment that Gov. Wolf expressed today in his statement that we must take a measured approach to this epidemic.  We will not do less than what is needed and we will not do more than what is needed.  Future decisions about our ability to gather for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter services will be made as the situation is carefully monitored over the coming week.

What we are experiencing now is unusual and uncomfortable, but it is not more than we can endure.  The Church has endured all kinds of challenges in its history. It has endured through persecution, famine, natural disaster, economic downturn, and even plague. God is with us, for us, and will see us through these strange times. 

There are many aspects of worship we can continue to practice.  This Sunday, you can visit Emory’s website to DISCOVER resources to help you worship from home.  Let’s rely on our prayer chain to keep us CONNECTED in prayer for and with each other.  I encourage you to email your joys and concerns to me (ewheeler@susumc.org) and they will be shared with the prayer chain.  To continue in stewardship and SERVING the Lord by making an offering, you can mail your tithes and gifts to the church at 35 Center Square, New Oxford, PA, 17350. 

If you are in need of pastoral care, please contact me on my cell phone at 717-542-4957.  If you need help with picking up groceries, running errands, picking up prescriptions, please do not hesitate to ask for that help from your Emory family.  Reach out to your church friends and neighbors during this time of increased isolation.  Check on each other, stay in touch, support each other.  This is an opportunity for us to prove that our church exists beyond our building.

God’s peace be with you,

Pastor Erin

A Message From Pastor Erin 3/15/2020

Emory UMC’s Response to Coronavirus Concerns

We believe God has called us to live wisely in this world.  This means we will not be driven by fear, but we will take into account the health and well-being of others.  Bishop Park and Governor Tom Wolf have advised churches to partner with the effort to practice social distancing and make the infection curve of this virus mild.  Here at Emory, that means we will not be gathering for the next two weeks.  All rehearsals and group meetings are canceled from March 16- 28.  We will not gather for Sunday School or our Worship Service on March 22.  Alternative worship will be offered—Please see details below.  We will make this sacrifice in compassion for the safety of others.  Our building may be empty for a number of days, but God is still with us and we are still the Church even when we are not gathered. Please pray for the hurting world as we put our hope and trust in our God who cares and heals.

Alternative Worship offered Sunday, March 22, 2020

Lent Week 4
“Finding Your Power: Listening for Healing”

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As an alternative to gathering in our building, you are encouraged to participate in worship from home.  Pastor Erin will be making personal phone calls for spiritual conversation and a time of prayer.  Follow the instructions below to participate.

Our abundance of caution is a sacrifice we can make to care for others around us and around the world.  Let’s look at this inconvenience of not being able to gather together next week as a gift.  Let’s ask what this experience can teach us.  We may be canceling our service; but we are not canceling worship or Church.  This is an opportunity for us to be creative and faithful and compassionate.  Let’s embrace it!

Do you want to engage in a special time of prayer with Pastor Erin on Sunday, March 22?

 Expect a call during the hours that Emory is typically gathered on Sunday

(between 9AM and 12PM)