Newsletter 

May 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! 

 

It is right to  celebrate the work of St. Mary’s to care for one another in word and deed for the last few months.  Your commitment to one another and to our community has been a shining example of steady faith in unpredictable times.  Though these first few months of my pastorate have been unorthodox to say the least, I am filled with joy as I watch each of you do your part as the body of Christ.  From a child’s encouraging sign in front of Brewer’s Market, to the delivery of meals to our at-risk members, to the children growing seeds on their window sills, to the substantial money we’ve donated to assist the food insecure, to the folks from a wide array of places who join us for prayer and worship, this church has never been closed; it has only been sent.  I feel blessed to be a part of this dynamic community in this moment.

 

As you may be aware, the state of Maryland has taken some preliminary steps forward to ease the stay at home orders, beginning May 15.  We celebrate the good news that infections and hospitalizations are going down, and we will continue to pray for downward trends, even as we rely on local and national health experts to help us discern our path forward.  While the governor’s directive does permit religious gatherings at 50% capacity, the Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ has “strongly recommended” no in-person gatherings through June 15 to ensure the safety of our people.  St. Mary’s will join with our covenanted sister congregations in observing this guideline, keeping the building closed until June 15 at the earliest.  This will enable us to watch for any signs of growing rates of infection, as well as give our ministry teams time to prepare a thorough and complete plan for re-entry. 

 

In my sermon on May 3, I said, “Things are going to get murkier, harder, more difficult to know how to move forward safely and appropriately.  This isn’t good or bad - it just is.  But our decisions have spiritual significance.  In a more tense, more uncertain environment, what is informing our decisions?”  The question of “opening” isn’t just a matter of legality, but of faith.  At the core of our decision is the idea that we hold this place, this community, and our faith in common.  They belong to us all.  Therefore, the only way forward is together.  For as long as some may be left behind or put at unnecessary risk, we will join with them in waiting until this common space is indeed open to all and welcoming to all.  We appreciate that this decision may be painful for some.  But we ask that you to consider how this will be lifegiving as well, as we seek to follow Christ faithfully, holding all things in common - this place, our faith, and our quarantine.

 

In the meantime, we will continue to be a community of prayer and service, with prayer each day, as well as Sunday morning worship, accessible through our Facebook and YouTube channels.  And we will continue to do what we have done so well - supporting and serving our community, being the body of Christ scattered like good seed.  And in this way, we will grow into all that Christ is calling us to be in this moment.  Be sure of our prayers for you all and our excitement to see you soon.  Peace and good!

 

Pastor Sam   

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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