Update: March 18, 2020
Dear Glen Mar friends,
I hope you enjoyed our first "livestream" worship experience on Sunday! Join us this weekend for another time to "be together" online as we continue our Lenten series, First Things First: God Is Our Refuge. I'll be preaching on Psalm 46, the basis for the hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" and many songs based on the phrase, "Be Still and Know that I Am God." You can find the link on Sunday at 10:00 on our website and Facebook page.
If our ministry has blessed you, and if there's a way that you can, we'd love for you to be able to contribute to our church, to replace the "missed offering" that we rely on as part of corporate worship. We received about half of what we normally would expect last weekend, and we want to be able to continue mission and ministry and pay our bills in an uninterrupted fashion. Here's a link with all the ways you can give. It's easy, quick and secure. Thank you for helping us as we all pull together to get through this time. https://glenmarumc.org/give/
Building and Meetings
Our Bishop has recently issued an updated directive to refrain from group gatherings in our building through at least 3/29, so we will be honoring that directive. Glen Mar Church's offices are closed to the public through at least 3/29.
Our Early Learning Center plans to remain open until we are mandated to close so that we can be available to serve our community by offering child care to those workers essential to our work force at this time. The Center is prioritizing safety by complying with updated MSDE requirements for child care centers, enhanced cleaning, maintaining social distancing, and limiting "group" sizes. The Church is helping here, also, by closing our building to lower "foot traffic," and help protect the people who are here.
Groups are using all kinds of online resources to meet remotely, to study and to share and to pray for one another. If you need help doing this, or getting hooked up with a group,Pastor Anna can help you. Anna.Schwartz@glenmarumc.org
Even though we are not meeting in person, be assured that your pastors, staff and church family are with you in prayer, in spirit, and if you need us. If you need pastoral care, or if you are hesitant or unable to be out and about, call us to get a listening ear, talk to a pastor, or have groceries, medications or other necessities delivered to you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the pager at 410.748.1320.
I'm grateful to be one of your pastors in every season of church life, and especially grateful for all we are doing to keep folks safe and help our neighbors. We are here to help, and to love, in Jesus' name.
See you online,
Update: March 16, 2020
Dear Glen Mar friends,
We are experiencing an extraordinary time, as many organizations are taking precautionary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Even though we are not meeting in person, be assured that your pastors, church staff, and your church family are with you in prayer and in spirit. We are still here for you! If you are hesitant or unable to venture out into public, you may call on Glen Mar to deliver groceries, medications, and other necessities to you. Contact email@example.com or call the pager at 410.748.1320. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. You are not alone!
Update: March 13, 2020
Dear Glen Mar Friends,
I am sure you have been following the fluid circumstances and directives we have had regarding the current health situation. Yesterday I drafted several communications only to delete them as circumstances changed. Following Governor Hogan's press conference, our Bishop sent out a letter directing churches to refrain from having group gatherings in church buildings for two weeks. Therefore, we will not gather for worship on Saturday 3/14, Sunday 3/15, Saturday 3/21 or Sunday 3/22. We will have worship online on Sundays at 10 a.m., probably featuring prayers, scripture, a song or two, and a sermon, that will be easily accessible for folks from wherever they are. Click here to view the worship service.
As a general principle, we will not have scheduled group meetings, including outside groups, at Glen Mar during the period 3/14-3/27. I'll be meeting remotely with church and ELC leadership this weekend regarding whether the building itself will be closed to the public, whether staff can come in to work individually, and what the ELC will do. As of now, the ELC (which is under the 250-person threshold) will remain open under an enhanced cleaning protocol, though that may change as things develop.
We have a small wedding and a small funeral scheduled in our chapel within this two-week time, and I am making the pastoral decision that those events can continue as planned (with no visitation). They are well under the 250 person limit and in my view, fall within "pastoral care" in this time of crisis. We will clean thoroughly following those events.
I will reach out to the leader of our Alcoholics Anonymous group to see how they wish to proceed. In the past, during building closures, they have met elsewhere, but I haven't had the chance to have that conversation yet with him.
SMALL GROUPS AND MEETINGS
I encourage small group leaders and folks with meetings scheduled to use technology to meet remotely or meet in folks' homes. I will be asking Pastor Anna and or the HUB to reach out to leaders of growth groups and Bible studies to offer support for ways to "meet" remotely.
PASTORAL CARE AND PRAYERS
We will not be doing visits to nursing homes and similar facilities unless it's an emergency/hospice situation. If you have a pastoral care need, or want to talk, I encourage you to reach out to me, or any pastor during this time (my email, Pastor Jen's email, Pastor Anna's email). Our emergency pager will remain operational, and our pastoral care continues. If you have a prayer concern for our prayer team, please send it to Marti Windram, or to any pastor, who will forward it to our prayer team. If you have a need for food supplies and are unable to get them, let us know and we will try to help. You are not alone.
Many of you already give through online giving or electronic funds transfer. Thank you so much!! In this unusual season, if you would normally put your offering in the plate in person, please consider using our online giving option. It's safe, and easy. Your continued giving will play a crucial role in helping us keep our financial commitments to mission and ministry during this unusual time. You can set up online giving here.
GOD IS WITH US...WE ARE NOT ALONE
Friends, I am drawn to Psalm 46 in this season of tumult - "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." This is a season that will pass - and we know whatever the season, God is with us - we are not alone. "Social distancing" is not a thing that Jesus did very much, and that is hard for a church like Glen Mar to do, when we are so committed to gathering in our praising, growing and serving. But I think this is a chance for the church to model ways to care for one another in spite of and in the midst of this season. At Glen Mar, we have a way of pulling together and leaning on God and each other, through all sorts of seasons. And when we do that, God can do amazing things - like loaves and fishes for a multitude, like changing lives, like growing disciples like our amazing preachers from last weekend, like a prayer shawl in a time of crisis, like 100,000 meals for the hungry. I pray this time of "distancing" is actually a chance to grow closer - closer to each other by checking on one another, and reaching out in new ways, and closer to God in this Lenten season. A hiatus could be an opportunity to let go of all the distractions that consume us and help us listen to God.
Please join me in prayer for those who are fearful, suffering or afraid, and for all those who are responding to this situation. It's uncharted waters, but we know who calmed the storm...and I can't wait to worship with you - online or in person. I'm grateful for your patience, support and prayers as we seek to be faithful and do the right thing for everyone, and I am grateful to be one of your pastors.
See you online,