UPG Coronavirus Response
Based upon guidance from the CDC, WHO, & the PA. Department of Health, and with an abundance of caution, we will be temporarily closing both of the UPG campuses until further notice. This decision was made after carefully researching all relevant information about this unprecedented situation and spending a great deal of time in prayer and discernment.
When Martin Luther was dealing with The Black Death plague, he wrote these wise words that can help inform the way we approach things happening in our world right now…
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
Luther’s Works Volume 43 pg. 132 the letter “Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague” written to Rev. Dr. John Hess
We are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience this may cause but we feel this is the best step we can take to keep everyone safe.
Coffee and conversation with the pastor
Weekly Bible Study
Prayer and Scripture Journal
Mon Mar 30 2020
What about offerings?
Even though we can't bring our offerings to church during this time we can still contribute. Click this button to give through Pay Pal:
Offerings will be sent to the proper congregation. There is an option to leave a note. You can put in your church name and envelope number. You can also give by mailing in your offerings or arranging to have your bank send them. We thank you for keeping up with your offerings. The congregational expenses and the causes we support continue. Pastor Jerry wrote a letter about this. See it here.
Actions of UPG during Coronavirus Pandemic
Greetings and peace to you all!
As you are keenly aware, the normal operations in the world and in our community of faith have drastically changed due to the recent coronavirus pandemic. The leadership of our community of faith is acutely aware of the profound impact this pandemic is having on both individual and corporate belief systems.
We offer this message to try to highlight some “things” that we “think” we know and how our community of faith is planning to proceed during this unprecedented time. I have constantly been reminded of the slogan that became part of our corporate psyche at the beginning of the United Proclamation of the Gospel. “We do not know where we will end up or how we will necessarily get there, but we do know and trust that our Lord is travelling with us during this journey.”
Until we receive recommendations from health officials to establish normal operating procedures, both campuses of the UPG will remain closed. This decision also affects our partners in ministry such as AARP, Headstart, NA, AA and others. We lift these partners in prayers and hope to return to our normal relationship with them as soon as is safely allowable.
In the meantime, the leadership of St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church and the leadership of the UPG will be working together during this immediate time to share our combined resources for our communities.
The UPG website and regular emails from the UPG will be the best source of information during this time period. If you don’t currently receive regular emails from the UPG, please consider sharing your email address at email@example.com We have also updated our phone messages and will be checking phone messages regularly in order to share information across the community. If a pastoral emergency arises, please call the church and choose the option to speak to Pastor Jerry. Your call will be forwarded to my cell phone. If I am unable to “pick up” please know that I will respond to your message as soon as possible.
Worship – There will be no public worship celebrations offered on any of our campuses until such time as local health officials deem it appropriate to gather for worship. Our hopes and prayers are that we will be able to gather for Holy Week observances. However we will not work against the best practices being offered by health officials. Each week we will offer a “live stream” worship on Sunday morning at 10AM through the newly created UPG Facebook page. This will be a joint venture with Rev. Suzanne Trump of St. John’s Windish. The broadcast location of the “Live stream” will alternate among our three buildings. We will email a Worship bulletin to everyone on our email list and place this bulletin on our website on Friday for you to use during the “Live Stream.” (A word of thanks: Augsburg Fortress has extended their copyright license to include “live streaming” for the next six months)
Lenten Series – We currently offer the mid-week reflections through the “blog” page on the UPG website. Our hope and prayer is that many of you will take advantage of this “online” community to share your thoughts and opinions on the wonderful reflections prepared by Pastor Birchmeier.
Bible Study and Meetings - We are beginning to research the possibilities and procedures for conducting “video chatting.” As we become more familiar with this technology, our hope is that we may be able to resume Bible Study and hold meetings through this technology. Please be patient with us as this is unchartered waters for the leadership of our community.
Our Lenten Journey – While we understand the great disruption to our normal “Lenten Journey” we will be offering more reflections for your consideration during this important season. Each week we will be attempting to email three Lenten reflections to our community of faith in addition to the Mid-week Lenten series reflection. This practice will begin this week.
Daily we will be emailing a prayer to our community of faith in hopes that all people of our community will pray this prayer at 7PM in the evening. That way, when you are praying, you can imagine that a much larger community surrounding you is making the same offering to our Lord.
The daily lectionary utilized by most main line churches will also be attached to the daily prayer if you would like to read the same Scripture lessons as many of our sisters and brothers in Christ.
Easter Decoration Fund - A decision was reached today to cancel our flower orders to adorn our sanctuaries for Easter. If we can gather for worship on Easter, we will adorn our sanctuaries to the best of our ability with the resources that we will have available at the time.
Visitations – Following the guidance of health officials, Home Communion visits and pastoral visitations will only occur in “emergency circumstances.” We will shortly be contacting our ministers of home communion and share with them that they should NOT visit homebound persons for the safety and protection of all concerned. We will be asking our ministers of home communion to be in more regular contact with their homebound sisters and brothers to check in with them and see if there is any way that we can offer practical help during this time. Hospital and home visitations will also follow these same guidelines. If you feel that there is an emergency and you need a pastoral visit, please contact Pastor Jerry.
Offerings – The leadership of the community of faith is hoping that we will remain steadfast in sharing our resources to advance the kingdom of God, even in a time when we cannot gather in community. Please consider mailing your offering to our community of faith or holding your offering until we return to normal practices. Our Information Technology Team is currently looking into the possibility of making “online” gifts through our website. We will make you aware if this becomes a possibility.
Staff - The leadership of the community of faith has determined that we will continue to pay the salaries of our staff during this time.
A new Ministry Arises – We will begin a new ministry designated as Calls of Compassion and Caring, or the “CCC Ministry.” We are looking for people within our community of faith who are comfortable making telephone contact with others. If you might be willing to participate in this new ministry, please call the church office and leave your name and your phone number. It is our hope that this new ministry we begin by next week and each volunteer will be given three people to contact that week. To check on how they are doing and to offer some companionship and support during this time period. More specific information will follow for those who are interested.
In summation, while this time period will inevitably bring severe disruptions to our daily lives, I take comfort knowing that God is continuing to move within our midst through our community of faith.
A prayer: God of compassion and grace, in Your steadfast love accompany all of us. As You ever work to restore and renew Your people, allow our bitterness to be overcome with joy, allow our fears to be overcome with a word of hope, allow our anger and frustration to give way to patience and peace, and allow all hatred to be overcome with words and works of love. Allow us at this time when we cannot gather as “church” to be Your Church. Amen.