Newsletter 

April 2020

As we all know schedules have completely changed. 

We are still a church and much is still happening.

Check in regularly for updates.

 

Message from our Pastor

 

Peace and good in Christ!


Indeed, this has been an extraordinary chapter in the life of our congregation.
Certainly this is not what I envisioned when I sat down with the search committee for
an interview (and they can be forgiven for not asking me one question about how I
would handle quarantine!). But I cannot stress enough the joy and pride I feel as this
congregation has banded together to do all we can to love and support one another
and our community during this time. I’m also grateful for the patience and
encouragement you have shown me as I’ve tried to contribute in a positive way during
this remarkable moment.


To date, we are offering worship online (which, by the way, is more heavily attended
then our in-person gatherings), with music provided by Mary Ann, as well as
daily prayer Monday – Saturday, with musical selections by Jane. We
celebrate the work of our congregational volunteers:


- Sent $500 each to Together We Own It, For the Love of a Veteran, and Human
Services of Carroll County
- Maintained contact with congregation members just to check in and see if they
need anything picked up or delivered
- Established a weekly soup delivery to those who expressed an interest or are
self-quarantined
- Continued to keep in contact with Brenda Meadows to support Shepherd’s Staff
and the Silver Run Food Pantry
- Grocery shopped for congregational members self-quarantined

At every step, we have tried to be thoughtful and responsive to an ever-changing
situation. When the virus began spreading, we were among the very first who
committed to our community’s health by suspending in-person worship through the end
of March, and we remain committed to being proactive and decisive for as long as is
required to protect the safety and well-being of every person.


Therefore, given Governor Larry Hogan’s recent “stay at home” order, we will be
closing the building and suspending in-person worship until further notice.

Regrettably, this closure will extend beyond our Holy Week and Easter celebrations.
While no one is enthusiastic about this course of action, we are confident that it is the
appropriate step of faith as we love our neighbor by prioritizing their health and well-
being.


To that end, we are making plans for Holy Week and Easter.


Palm Sunday: we will host worship on Facebook Live, but we’d like you to be a part!
We want you (and whomever you are quarantined with) to video yourself with
vegetation in hand, saying, “”Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of
the Lord!” A bit cheesy? Maybe. But the opportunity to see and hear each other is too
much to pass up.


Maundy Thursday: We’re going to host our first online communion, as well as a
“dinner church” style worship. You’ll be sharing food around your tables, and worship
online with one another.


Good Friday: We’re putting together a visual presentation that will run on Facebook
and YouTube, intersecting the readings with artwork. We’re looking for readers – if
you’d like to record yourself reading a passage of Scripture, we’d love to have you!


Easter Vigil: We’re going to put together an Easter Vigil, where folks will spend an
hour in prayer, and then pass it off (electronically) to the next person. This way, the
congregation will be in constant prayer from Good Friday to Easter morning.


Easter: We’ll be hosting a sunrise service at 6:30 AM online, and regular online
worship at 10:30 AM.


We’ll be sending out email instructions, as well as posting opportunities on social
media and our webpage. Please do all you can to stay up to date, so you can
participate during Holy Week, and contribute towards the great work this congregation
continues to do.


As we well know, the church doesn’t close; it just relocates; the body of Christ never
stops being the body of Christ wherever we are. During this unique Holy Week and

Easter, we will support and love our neighbor. We’ll continue to be in prayer. And we’ll
learn whole new ways of thinking about and being the church, which is a gift of
extraordinary value.


It is a joy to be your pastor at this moment. Peace and good, my friends!

 

Pastor Sam

Holy Week Signups

Palm Sunday Videos – deadline to submit: Thursday, April 2, 9:00 AM
Text it to 717-309-7680
Email it to stmarysucc.pastor@gmail.com
Dropbox link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4ieo9k72y423o9i/AACBr-
80alzhpf6yfOm4YSJEa?dl=0


Good Friday Readers – deadline to sign up: Saturday, April 4, 9:00 PM
Text me at 717-309-7680
Email me at stmarysucc.pastor@gmail.com
Sign up at:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bRQ9sLyBe_e1kWxqAgbbtJr1SSXR4zul73U34
UPE2kQ/edit?ts=5e7c9d7f


Easter Vigil Participants – deadline to sign up: Saturday, April 4, 9:00 PM
Text me at 717-309-7680
Email me at stmarysucc.pastor@gmail.com
Sign up: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rbbJl1xDE-
EnUIhibFKxO4A91CHimtpFWm0eCjHtTmQ/edit?usp=sharing

Community Outreach

St. Mary’s is doing what it can to overcome the challenges of outreach to the
congregation and the community at large. We are holding virtual worship services
each Sunday and daily prayer sessions to keep us connected as much as possible.
We encourage members to stay connected by calling each other, those who live alone,
and those in nursing facilities just to “check-in” and say “hi” to reduce feelings of
isolation and let each other know we care, see if anyone needs any assistance with
anything, or just to talk a few minutes. We continue to assemble food deliveries for the
elderly and other community members who are otherwise homebound during the
current stay-at-home order.


We have several ongoing outreach projects in the works but our current focus is
our partnership with the Silver Run Food Pantry.
We recently held a conference
call with Brenda Meadows and discussed ways to keep the food pantry functional
during the current environment. We are now ready to share ways that the
congregation can be supporting our community even in quarantine.


1. In lieu of physically collecting food items and hygiene products, we are
collecting both monetary donations and Scrip gift cards to support the
Food Pantry.
This method of donating provides flexibility to volunteers to shop
for specific items needed and eliminates the risk of face-to-face collections
points. If you are interested in supporting the Food Pantry in either of these
ways, please send checks made payable to St. Mary’s UCC in any amount with a
notation of “Food Pantry” or follow the instructions below to purchase Scrip
cards.


2. We are continuing to assess needs alongside our community partners. However,
we already know that volunteers will be needed in the coming weeks who can be
ready either at a moment’s notice to support a need, or to be a part of an
expanding food pantry offering. So we are assembling a list of volunteers
NOW so that we can communicate and coordinate more efficiently in the
near future. If you are interested in being on that volunteer list, please
click on this link to identify how you can help. Volunteer sign up.


We continue to brainstorm on tangible, healthy ways to continue to care for our
congregation and community neighbors. This includes creative ways to support local

businesses such as Brewer’s Market (purchase of gift certificates to help restock the
food pantry and to distribute to pantry patrons to supplement their food needs) and
Bud’s of Silver Run (purchase of gift certificates to support the restaurant and hourly
wage workers affected by the mandates to avoid crowds and public spaces).

 

We sincerely appreciate the outpouring of generosity and caring by the congregation,
members of the community, and our neighbors at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church.

 

What is Scrip?


Scrip is just another name for GIFT CARDS. We earn between 1-20% from the face
value of each gift card purchased through our program. There are hundreds of retailers
available. Our Scrip program at St. Mary’s UCC has raised about $2200 per year to be
used for Local Missions projects, e.g. Shepherd Staff, Cold Weather Shelter, Together
We Own It, etc. 
 
Right now we have an opportunity to use our Scrip program to generate revenue for
these local missions programs AND immediately support the community needs
during this pandemic. The Silver Run Food Pantry needs to restock food and
household supplies. You can purchase gift cards to:


·         Walmart
·         Amazon
·         Target
·         Weis
·         Visa (Scrip Visa cards can be used locally at Brewer’s Market.)


And then donate the cards to be used to purchase groceries, hygiene products,
cleaning products, etc for community members who come to the Silver Run Food
Pantry. Volunteers will do the shopping using these cards for the items most needed.
(You may also choose to purchase cards to the retailer of your choice, do the shopping
yourself, and donate the items to the Pantry. Dropoff locations will be announced
shortly.) 
 
How to participate? 
Go to the Scrip website – www.shopwithscrip.com. If you are new to Scrip please send email to stmarysucc.scrip@gmail.com for Enrollment code for St. Mary's UCC. 
If you don’t want to register online, please send your order information to Emily Brown
at stmarysucc.scrip@gmail.com with questions or with your order.

How to pay?
The fastest method is to use PrestoPay which is setup on the Scrip website for direct
debit of your checking account. (Contact Emily for details or assistance.) If you are not
comfortable with this method, you can pay by check, email Emily at stmarysucc.scip@gmail.com.
 
Please place all orders by Friday April 3rd at 8pm and mail your check by Friday as
well. We thank you for your support of members of our community who need
assistance during this time.

Pastoral & Congregational Care

Pastoral Care:
 

Carroll Hospital Center, its affiliated organizations, and nursing homes have banned visitations for the time being.  Pastor Sam will not be making visits to any members.  However, in the event of a life-threatening emergency, clergy are permitted to provide end-of-life care.  If such a situation occurs, please contact Pastor Sam as soon as possible at stmarysucc.pastor@gmail.com or call me directly on 717-309-7680.

 

Pastoral care will still be available for members of the congregation.  While home visits are discouraged, Pastor Sam will be at the church office for visitations.  With good hygiene practices, we can continue safe, limited pastoral care opportunities. 

Offering in this time of change 

As we increase our congregational activities in new ways, the continued financial support of our members is paramount.  You are encouraged to give in two ways:
 

·         You can give online through our secure online giving portal at the top of any of our pages.

·         You can mail your checks.  The CDC has assured us that mail is unaffected by the virus.

ELECTRONIC 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.

​​Call us:

410-346-7977 

Find us: 

St. Mary's United Church of Christ 

1441 East Mayberry Road 

Westminster, Maryland 21158

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