Newsletter 

September 2021

MESSAGE FROM CONSISTORY PRESIDENT

 

We were cautious but overjoyed when the building re-opened for services back in April.  Restrictions, such as masking, physical distancing, no Congregational singing, offering plates at the doors, and other protocols were introduced to further mitigate possible spread of the COVID-19 virus during a Sunday service.  As April progressed into early summer, viral transmission dropped to a “Low” rating in Carroll County. As the rates decreased and the number of local infections dropped as well, we re-introduced singing and removed the mask requirement.  Vaccinations were available, free of charge, to anyone 12 years old and older.  Life was beginning to “get back to normal.”

 

Unfortunately, the Delta variant of COVID-19 appears to be more infectious than the original virus.  While vaccinations are still very effective against this variant, breakthrough infections can occur.  In fact, it appears that this variant can be transmitted by both vaccinated and unvaccinated people much more readily than the original.  Fueled by the Delta variant, every region of the U.S. has seen a rapid increase in COVID infections in the past month.  Carroll County has progressed from “Low” to “Moderate” and now to “Substantial” viral transmission, as tracked by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

 

At its August meeting, the Consistory voted to revise its guidance to congregants.  When Carroll County is in the “Substantial” level for local viral transmission, the Consistory STRONGLY ENCOURAGES mask wearing inside the church building for all people, regardless of vaccination status.  If Carroll County moves to “High” level of viral transmission, masks will be mandated for everyone in the building at the next Sunday service and communicated  via email, social media, and a message on the church’s office phone.  Other restrictions remain in place.  Physical distancing in the pews still occurs with offering plates and Communion Wafer cups received at the door.  Anyone unvaccinated, including those under the age of 12 years old, should be masked.  The Consistory is working hard to find a balance between worshipping in the manner its members seek to do so, while using protocols to keep everyone as safe as possible in the confines of our building.  At the time of this writing, masks are encouraged to be worn in the building.  The Consistory has no plans to close the building to Sunday services unless directed to do so by a governmental authority, an outbreak within the Congregation, or a dramatic increase in local infections.  As always, the Consistory will continue to monitor.

 

Please know that online church services through St. Mary’s Facebook site continue and is a great option. Online attendance has been strong and matched in-person services for the past month.  Many of our congregants and friends have availed themselves of this option.  In fact, we have out-of-state members attending online to get a “taste of home.”  I encourage you to tell former family and St. Mary’s members to view our services from time to time.  This is a great way for them to connect with St. Mary’s, and for St. Mary’s to connect back with them.  There is a small group working on ways to enhance the on-line worship experience; suggestions on ways to improve can be sent to the office email.  We would love to hear from you!

 

Finally, the ministries of St. Mary’s UCC continue their important work. I would encourage anyone interested in deepening their involvement with St. Mary’s to please give Pastor Sam or myself a call or email sod we can pair your interest with a ministry!  They are always seeking new energetic members, and we would love to develop new leaders, be it for these ministries or for other initiatives that come along.  There are many opportunities and ways to serve.  Please reach out and get involved!  In addition, your continued financial giving is sincerely appreciated as it keeps the lights on, employees paid, and ministries running.

 

If there are questions or concerns, please reach out to Pastor Sam or myself!

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Rob Brown

Consistory President

      

Spiritual Formation Ministry

Mark Your Calendars

9/12    9:15 AM     Kids’ Sunday School restart

9/12    9:15 AM     Adult Sunday School restart

We hope you enjoyed a wonderful and refreshing summer.  Fall is on the way and we'll be resuming children's Sunday school classes very soon.  Our curriculum is "Epic Teachings of the Bible" focusing on "Fruits of the Spirit" and "The Lord's Prayer".

 

Please see the information below and feel free to reach out if you have questions or concerns.

 

We've planned in person classes as well as continuing a virtual format on alternating weeks.

  • Sunday Sept 12 - In person at St Mary's

  • Sunday Sept 19 - Virtual (Zoom links and supply lists provided a few days before class)

  • Sunday Sept 26 - In person at St Mary's

 

  • All classes begin at 9:15 am and end at approximately 10:15 am. 

  • Masks will be required for all participants during in person classes, even if held outdoors.  

  • In order to plan for supply needs, we invite you to pre-register via this link:

           https://forms.gle/Kga2pc73BSihTLt68

 

We will update the class schedule for upcoming months as we ascertain interest and abide by Covid safety measures.  If you have any questions, please contact Sabrina Hodge (sabrina@nwbcmd.org or 443-985-9174).

Worship Ministry News

Please check your email and mail for updates from the worship committee for special worship events for this upcoming church year! 

 

The worship committee is also still in need of volunteers for many different tasks to keep the worship service running smoothly!  If one of these tasks seems interesting to you, even if you think you may have volunteered before, please contact the church office or let Pastor Sam know as we will get in!

 

* Sound and technology- Running the video stream, PowerPoint, and Sound.  (We will train you, fear not!) 

 

* Online greeters- Pop into the Facebook service live stream and interact without online visitors and members.  You will need a Facebook account, but we will help you with a script. 

 

* In-person greeters- Greet people at the doors of the church and pass out materials for the service.  Due to COVID, there are a few other tasks, but these change frequently. 

 

* Readers- Help the worship along by reading the bible passages and some other selected texts. The amount you read depends on your comfort level and will be determined beforehand. 

 

Thank you to everyone for your constant presence in making the worship service run smoothly, we can't do it without you!

A Praying Congregation

 

The potluck dinners at churches have been a given in past years as well as loads of baked goodies.  I remember Pastor Eric remarking about us saying we were the “eating-est” congregation!  We loved our coffee hours and table fellowship lunches! 

 

However, all those yummy coffee hours and table fellowship meals are on hold indefinitely currently.  So, I would like to challenge the people of St. Mary’s to become the “praying-est” congregation instead of the “eating-est”.

 

During our prayer time on Friday August 20th, I introduced you to a short morning prayer I found in Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book.  It’s a simple prayer that arose as a result of a young person who insisted the morning rush offered no time to pray.  In just a few words, this prayer sums up our response to God in praise, offering ourselves up to God and in petition. 

 

          I praise my God this day.

          I give myself to God this day.

          I ask God to help me this day.

 

I found this little prayer to be simply beautiful!  These simple words carry so much meaning if you consider them briefly.  We are called to praise our God.  We are invited to give ourselves to God in whatever state we find ourselves as the day begins – the good, the bad and the ugly.  We ask for God’s help and guidance throughout the day so we can be God’s faithful children and know God’s grace in every moment.

 

Granted, it takes some time to learn something new, but who knows?  This little prayer written down on a slip of paper by your bed could help you begin each new day afresh in the presence of our Almighty One and be the first step in becoming more intentional about praying throughout the day.

 

Blessings and Peace,

 

Belinda

Sound Board Training

Anyone interested in learning how to operate the Sound Board and technology for Sunday Services, please contact Rob Brown immediately!  We need coverage for June 27th, and we would like to start training now.  This is a great opportunity for tech savvy individuals.  Please call the office at 410-346-7977 or email office@stmarysucc.org if you have any interest in helping.

Altar Flowers

The Flower Calendar for the remainder of 2021 is open for sign-ups.    It is so easy to donate altar flowers.   Please call the office at 410-346-7977 or email office@stmarysucc.org to claim a Sunday and provide the wording for your dedication.  Call Bowman’s at 410-751-7290 (ask for Becky) or The Flower Shop at 717-359-4824 to order arrangements.  They will deliver and place the 2 vases on the altar for you.

Outreach Ministry

Back to School Donations

A special thanks to all who contributed to The Shepherd's Staff Back to School program.  If you still would like to contribute to the program you can do so by designating an offering as Back to School.

 

More Back to School News

Have you ever wondered what happens to that money we earn from the Scrip orders?

 

We were able to purchase $650 of socks and underwear for children for the Back to School program using the proceeds from the fundraiser.  Thank you to all who have supported the Scrip fundraiser. And, special thanks to Emily for shopping and delivering these wonderful gifts.  If you have any questions about the program please contact Emily Brown. 

 

 

Mark Your Calendars

Sunday, October 3rd

5 for 5

Neighbors in Need Contribution

More information to come in upcoming weeks

 

Garden News

Thanks to all who have, and who are continuing to, care for the garden to provide fresh food for the community. 

 

Podcast

Don't forget if you miss church and would love to just listen to Pastor Sam's message, or if you want to hear it again, think about tuning in to the Podcast.  Access to the Podcast is simple by going to:

https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/things-to-ponder-st-marys-ucc-silver-run-md-H4JEbKZ6-As/ 

or by using your favorite Podcast service and search for Things to Ponder by St. Mary's UCC, Silver Run, MD. 

Finance Ministry

Below is a summary of church finances and other related items for the end of July 2021:

                              General Fund:          Budget %

Total Income:     $       98,634.39              66.9%    

Expenses:          $     112,540.11              53.3%

                          $    -  13,905.72  

       

We have compared our July’s income and expenses with 2020’s and we are approximately $5,000 ahead this year.  The primary reason is this year’s income is $15,000 more than our last year and our expenses this year are $10,000 more than last year.  So far, our decision to transfer money from the Emerging Bond Fund to higher earning investments is working.  The income and expenses percentages are slightly better than we anticipated, and we attribute this to the continued support from our donors and our Ministry teams.  

It is important that we continue to support our church’s General Fund and our various Wider Church Giving efforts to help sustain our support to several local programs that are assisting those in need in our community.

Thank you for your continued support to St. Mary’s and to our outreach activities.

 

Bob Finn, Finance Ministry Chairman

On-Line Giving

 

We’d like to remind you that we offer electronic giving as a way to automate your regular offering.  Electronic giving offers convenience and consistency and has been proven secure.  You may choose direct debit giving from your bank account or use a credit or debit card.  The plan is flexible; ranging from a 1-time gift to a regularly recurring transaction at your discretion.  Online giving allows you to access our church website – www.stmarysucc.org – at any time to set up a donation plan, change an existing plan, make a 1-time donation or view your donation history.  As you contemplate future contributions, please consider electronic giving.  Additional information is available by contacting Sabrina, financial secretary.