Session has decided that we still have not entered safe enough territory in the Erie region to responsibly and wisely return to in-person worship in the month of July. However, they have decided that if the case “curve” for Erie County is able to demonstrate a stagnation or reduction in August, they will agree to begin a gradual return at that time.
COTC now has a COVID-19 legal waiver form created by Tom Pendleton. “Effective 7/1/2020 (and in effect until suspended by their action) all persons (including members of the Church) will need to have a signed COVID-19 waiver on file in the office to be authorized to enter and utilize the buildings and grounds of COTC for any purpose.”
COTC Gym: There is to be absolutely NO ACTIVITY in our gym during this time. This includes basketball practices, personal use, or any other unspecified activity. Any violations of this policy will be considered trespassing. We appreciate your cooperation.
- Church workers have returned to work for half days. You can reach someone in the office from 8am-1pm. Voicemails are now answered in the span of one day wait time.
- COTC’s Gym remains closed until the green light is given by Governor Tom Wolf. There is to be no gym use of any kind.
- Please continue to mail in your contributions.
- We are still practicing social distancing.
- Worship is still online only.
- Wednesday evening: adult study via Zoom. Thursday evening: fellowship time also via Zoom. Email pastor Drew for more information on either of these opportunities.
A NOTE FOR THIS SUNDAY’S WORSHIP (and Sunday’s after):
Since the Governor’s order has been extended to the end of April, we will continue to worship at a distance as we have these last several weeks.
That means Easter worship will be held on Facebook live.
Also, for this Sunday (which is Palm/Passion Sunday) we WILL celebrate communion. (How? you ask). SIMPLE! Have some bread or cracker with you along with juice (grape, apple, tomato…doesn’t matter). When it’s time, I will lead us in a liturgy of the table and you will help out wherever you are. Communion is about the visible presence of Jesus and the action of God’s Holy Spirit; you don’t have to be a pastor to celebrate communion…and we don’t have to physically be together to do it either.
Distance will not stop God from communicating love, grace, and power to us. So, as we worship together this week, celebrating the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, we will gather around many tables and be brought together as the one and whole people of God…no matter where we are.
God bless you all; stay safe, stay inside…WASH YOUR HANDS!
Peace and Joy,
In accordance with the County Executive’s order today there will be NO in person worship on Sundays until April 6.
Please tune in to our Facebook page on Sundays at 10am for live streamed worship. It will also be posted to cotc.org.
Stay safe and stay inside.
Friends, although religious organizations are exempt from the Governor’s order, we have decided to close the office for the foreseeable future. We will let you know when operations are back to normal.
The Office Administrator and Pastor will be making random trips to the church for administrative operations. However, there will not be anyone consistently at the church.
If you have an EMERGENT need, please contact the Pastor on his 24-hour line: 814-580-9215. Emails and voicemails will be returned when able but will be highly delayed.
Please take care of yourselves and stay safe; stay home.
Dear Friends and Family of Church of the Cross,
These are uncertain, unforeseen times in our common life together as a church community and as a broader world community. Never would we have anticipated something so small (fractions of the size of a human hair) bringing the entire globe to a virtual standstill. But here we are. The church universal has a long, long history of facing widespread illness. The Plague, the flu pandemic of 1918, and any number of other outbreaks, regional and worldwide, have been part of our corporate memory. And each time, we have been able to survive and continue our holy work of ministering in the name of our Christ.
That said, we need to take precautions. We must think not only of ourselves but of those most vulnerable in our communities, both faith and geographic. While a good many of us, even if we contract this illness, will do just fine, there are probably an equal number for whom this illness could be life threatening and deadly. And it is for those who can be most affected that we must focus our attention. According to the latest expert information, those 60+ (especially those 70 and 80+) and those who have pre-existing heart, lung, and immune system disorders are most disadvantaged by this virus. It is for those that we must take the most abundant of precautions.
That said, we will continue to meet on Sunday mornings for the foreseeable future (unless a clear order to quarantine and shut down operations is handed down). However, our time together will be modified to limit risk and exposure. I have detailed the modifications below:
- We will gather at 10am; education and formation for all ages has been suspended.
- Our time together will last roughly 30 minutes; it will be a time to center on the words of Scripture and to pray together both silently and out loud.
- Our time will be heavily informal; no need to wear your Sunday best; jeans and comfy clothes are encouraged.
- There will be no fellowship time; please bring your own coffee and snacks if you wish (this helps to limit shared containers/food which can lead to the transmission of illness).
- Please refrain from touching one another; a friendly wave or a word of hello is sufficient to share love.
- Please keep the appropriate distance of 6 feet at all times. I know this is hard for a people who love to be together but it follows the most expert advice on limiting transmission.
- We will not be passing the offering plates; they will be stationed in fixed positions and you’re asked to simply deposit your tithes and offerings in the plate.
If you feel that you are vulnerable to being in a group setting, you are under no pressure to attend. If you do not feel well (especially if you are experiencing flu like symptoms) PLEASE stay home. We will be working to provide these gathering times either via next day video delivery on cotc.org or Facebook Live video (or both).
As strange as this request is, please consider it prayerfully. While the church may be limiting our contact with one another to address the present state of affairs, we still have financial needs. Our staff still need to receive their salaries and benefits; our utilities still need to be paid. So, please, remit your tithes and offerings to the church office either in person on Sundays or please mail them in. Please keep your pledge commitments as these allow for the church to continue operating through this modified time and to be prepared to return to life as usual once this outbreak has been contained.
Consider these pieces of advice as well:
- Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly. Give a call; stop by (keeping 6 feet of distance). Make sure they are safe and healthy.
- WASH YOUR HANDS! Sing the first verse of Amazing Grace once or Happy Birthday twice while using warm, soapy water (20 seconds or longer).
- Stay out of public spaces unless absolutely necessary (doctor; pharmacy; basic grocery shop).
- Do not hoard any supplies; think of others; get only what is necessary.
Friends and family, we will get through this together. With faith, hope, and love, we will persevere. If you are feeling completely overwhelmed, scared, and anxious, do not hesitate to call the church or contact me directly. I am ready and able to provide pastoral care via phone to you.
I love you all. Be well; be safe.
Peace and Joy,
Rev. Drew Himes