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St. Andrew's In Person Worship Cancelled

Dear Friends,

Like many businesses, community organizations, and churches in Montgomery County, we have been carefully monitoring developments in the spreading of the COVID19.  We have taken seriously recommendations from Governor Wolf, the CDC, some neighbors in the medical profession, and our brothers and sisters in Christ in other area Lutheran Churches.  Over the past week, we learned that the Bishop of the Episcopal Church has ordered the closing of all local churches and Bishop Davenport of our Southeastern PA Synod has strongly recommended that we do the same (many SEPA churches already closed their doors this past weekend and some have remained closed throughout the pandemic).  

It has become clear to us that the situation with the virus is going to get worse before it gets better, especially as families travel and gather for Thanksgiving, as students come home for college, and  as Christmas celebrations and observances take place. We do not want to put anyone at risk, especially our seniors who in these past weeks have made up the overwhelming percentage of our in person worship population. 
Therefore, St. Andrew's Church Council  has made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel in-person worship for the forseeable future, including Christmas and the early part of 2021 as significant renovation and expansion will be taking place in and around the area of our sanctuary, narthex, and social hall.  Like our decision to reopen in-person worship in October, this is not a decision that was taken lightly nor made alone.  This is an especially difficult decision because after not being able to celebrate Easter together in our worship space, we will not be able to gather inside for our Christmas celebration either.  Even though we know that we are erring on the side of caution for all of the right reasons, it doesn't make this reality hurt any less .However in the weeks ahead we do plan to:

- continue to post digital worship content as we have been doing since March.
- continue to offer Sunday School, Adult Education Bible Study, and small groups on the Zoom platform (and hope to have even more people join us in these virtual venues that continue to gain numbers and  interest)
- collect items for those in need (gift cards, toys, blankets, winter clothing, food) in this season of giving.  Items can still be dropped off in the narthex foyer or the church office next door during the week or in the receptacles outside)  Keep an eye on your email for more info and reminders.
- host our at home Advent Family Night.  Bags will be picked up this weekend.
- have a digital Christmas pageant as elves cobble together 20 years of St. Andrew's Christmas Pageant highlights for you to enjoy from home.
- dedicate poinsettias  in honor or in memory of loved ones, which will beautify our chancel for Christmas Eve digital worship.  There will be arrangements for poinsettias to be picked up and also delivered to shut-ins.
- host an outdoor Christmas Gathering in our lower parking lot on Sunday night December 20 @ 7:30 complete with spirited Christmas carols, a reading of the Christmas story, a special message for the kids, prayer, and the singing of  Silent Night. We will have glow sticks on hand but please bring flashlights, phones, and, if it is not too windy, your own candles (and your own candlelighters). Rain / Snow Date: Wed. Dec. 23 @ 7:30 PM
- have Digital Worship on Christmas Eve (posted on YouTube, Facebook, the church website, and through congregational email). featuring beloved Christmas hymns, the reading and proclaiming of the Christmas story, prayer, and special music from our bell ensemble, soloists and instrumentalists.

Jesus calls us to love and serve our neighbors and care for the most vulnerable in our communities.  Canceling worship for this period will do exactly that.  And we certainly encourage you during this time to check in with seniors, those with small children, and the sick, to make sure that they have what they need as our community resources are more limited.  Also, reaching out with a phone call, email, or text can go a long way for someone who is feeling lonely or isolated, especially around the holidays.

We thank you for your very generous support of St. Andrew's mission throughout this challenging year together.  If you have not made a donation to St. Andrew's in a while (or would like to make a special end year gift), here is a friendly reminder:

- You can mail a check to the church.
- You can set up automated donations through your bank.
- You can sign up for automated giving to arrange ongoing giving or a one time gift. Click the green donate button on our website to access a secure portal.
- You can download the Give Plus Mobile App (Find St. Andrew's searching by zip code 19403)

Although face to face activities will be on hiatus, our fixed expenses for ministries, building operations, and staff continue.  Thank you for your ongoing generous support!

In the words of one of our beloved shut-ins (and he says it every time I visit him or call - sometimes twice!)  "There is still much for which we have to be thankful for"  Indeed! On behalf of the staff and council of St. Andrew's we hope that all of you have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Mueller
The Staff and Officers of St. Andrew's Church


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