Greetings, First Church family. The peace of Christ be with you.
It is with heavy hearts that we are announcing a suspension of our gatherings for the near future due to the threat of contagious disease. At least for the remainder of March, we will not gather here at our building on Sundays for worship together, and any other large group events are canceled or postponed until further notice. The Leadership Team and pastor are in ongoing conversation and will continue to monitor our operations going forward.
We did have a wonderful worship service yesterday, and the message can be viewed by clicking here:
If you did not attend (a decision we commend), I encourage you to take time to listen to it. It speaks to our current situation and the matter of “social distancing” – which is generally not to be our way of life, but for the time being it must be. Thank you to the choir especially for blessing us with song, and the children’s (J.A.M.) choir as well for sharing an impromptu anthem!
We have every intention of continuing to provide worship, teaching, and encouragement while maintaining “social distance” for the safety and well-being of all. Expect to receive email newsletter(s) as usual by week’s end, which will include links to “virtual worship” via YouTube video with a brief service and full sermon/message that you may watch, joining together in spirit, each Sunday morning (or other times/days as you wish).
The church office and building remain open during this time. The pastor and secretary will be available and in the office most of the week, so please feel free to call, email, or drop by if you wish. Anyone is welcome to come and sit in our sanctuary and pray alone, we simply cannot gather in large groups. Visitation to nursing homes and hospitals has been severely restricted, so pastoral visits there will be minimal.
We have several church members who have volunteered to assist any church members who are in need at this time. If you are deliberately minimizing public contact and are in need of something, let us know and we can perhaps see that groceries or other essentials are delivered to your home. Also, recognize that your church will require funds to continue basic operation of property and facility, fulfill pledged outreach giving, and maintain staff who will continue to minister whether in-person gatherings happen or not. Online giving is a simple and easy way to support your church and those it serves during this time, and it is accessible through our church website www.yorkfirst.org
Look for other announcements there as well, and as always you may read current and/or recent newsletters through our website for other updates (and past sermons if you have spare time). Concerning the spread of COVID-19, this remains good resource with helpful links to other sites as well: http://www.brethren.org/bdm/covid-19.html Be careful to not get swept up by “opinion” media that is more entertainment than it is fact. Please do pay attention to public health experts, however, and operate out of regard for all.
Thank you all for understanding and for your faithful participation in our life together. Stay apart from each other in body but close together in spirit. Take time to study, pray, and appreciate this time of rest that is before us. Talk to each other often, by phone especially. Be unafraid, yet be concerned for those who may suffer. The Lord bless you and keep you safe, with hearts eager to share the love of God.
Joel Gibbel, Pastor
York First Church of the Brethren