Covid-19 Coronovirus

Re-Opening 

Updated 8/25/2020

We are excited about the upcoming school year that is about to begin.  We are excited because even though the Covid pandemic continues to impact our community we are able to send our children back to school and some semblance of normalcy.   At this point students are even preparing for the fall sports kickoff.  The stands may be empty but the kids will still be able to play.  We rejoice in even the small blessings. 

 

School starting back presents us with many uncertainties.  What will happen over the next few months?  Will Covid continue to simmer and smolder beneath the surface or will we see major outbreaks in communities like ours who have been largely spared up till now?  Will school continue through the year or will we be beset with frequent shutdowns, re-openings, and online learning?  These issues and many others are the reality we are facing over the next few months. 

 

With this in mind let me ask you to help us in a few ways:

  1. Please be mindful of the risks we take as a church both for our vulnerable members as well as for liability in this litigious and increasingly hostile environment.  Please help us by following social distancing rules, moving conversations outside, and wearing masks when you cannot be socially distanced from others. 

  2. Stay in close contact with us.  Our limited staff cannot always stay in close contact with the hundreds of people who call Friends Church home.  We need your help to know your needs, struggles, and concerns.  Reach out to us and I promise you will always find a hand reaching back.  If loss of work has caused financial hardship we have funds available to help. 

  3. Be ready for any emergency closures that may be needed.  If a large outbreak is suspected in our community we may make the call to go live-stream only for a short time (7-14 days) to protect our congregation and our community witness.  This may affect small groups, worship services or both.  We will use every means at our disposal to keep you informed promptly in case this happens.  As with weather emergencies during the winter we will post closings to the website, facebook page, answering machine, and we will use the one-call-now system we have in place.  (If you are not on the one-call-now list please contact the church office right away.)

  4. Show grace and mercy to others.  It has become obvious over the past months that this is not only a health crisis it is a political one as well.  I understand the frustration people are feeling, however, defending the gospel of Christ is far more important than our personal or political beliefs.  Please be kind to others even if you disagree with them.

  5. A recent Barna study shows that 1 in 3 people who moved from live church to live-stream church at the beginning of the Covid closures have now left the church.  For millennials, our young adults, 1 in 2 have stopped attending by live-stream.  These numbers are discouraging but they reflect what we have seen anecdotally at our own church.     If you are not comfortable joining us in person consider gathering with others in your home to form a home church watching the live-stream together.  Pastor Dan will have resources available to help you.

 

Know that we are here to support you in any way we can. 

Pastor Dan

Updated 7/11/2020

Our worship service on Sunday will look just like it did prior to last week.  Masks are being required in the Fireside Room to protect our most vulnerable.  Masks are highly recommended in the sanctuary.  Hand sanitizer is available at all entrances.  Please spread out in the sanctuary as much as possible by family groups and reserve longer conversations for out of doors.  Thank you.

Updated 7/2/2020

New Mask Mandate Changes

Due to the new PA mask mandate issued yesterday, our worship service will be held outside this Sunday, 7/5.  Please bring lawn chairs, sunscreen, umbrellas, water, whatever you need to be comfortable.  Masks will not be necessary as long as you choose to sit in family groups at least 6 feet apart.  If you want to sit closer than that or with your friends please plan to wear a mask.  The service will be live-streamed on facebook.  A pre-recorded message will be available on our youtube channel at 9 am.  It will not be the entire service.  

We ask that you please be flexible and respectful this week as we buy some time in figuring out what our longer term plan will be. Thanks!

Updated 6/3/2020

Children’s, Youth, Sunday School Re-Opening

June 21st

 

The Elder Board has agreed that with the move of Lycoming County to Green Phase of re-opening that we will move quickly forward into stage two of our re-opening process.  Starting June 21 we will re-open children’s, youth, and Sunday School ministries.  This will mean the return of Kingdom Seekers (9am), Kingdom Quest (10:30am), Kingdom Tots (nursery), Surge Student Ministry (10:30am), and some Adult Sunday School options.

 

Once again just because we are opening these ministries it does not mean that it is the right time for you or your children to return.  Each family must assess their own risks and determine when it’s the right time to return.  You should be aware that children’s ministries will have some social distancing (as age allows) but no mask requirements.

 

 

 

Updated 5/27/20

Covid – 19 Reopening Update

Beginning 5/31/2020

The Elder Board of Friends Church voted Tuesday May 26 to move forward with stage one of our phased re-opening plan.  This means we will be open for live worship this Sunday May 31, 2020.

 

For the next few weeks there will be no live Children’s ministry, nursery, or Youth ministry available on Sundays.  We hope to be able to resume those activities sometime in June or July.  Please feel free to bring your children to worship.  A little extra noise and fidgeting won’t hurt us and will be a great benefit for them.  We want you to worship with our family as a family. 

 

For those not returning to in person worship we recommend that you begin or join a Home Church (a small group of people gathered together for worship using our live stream broadcast).  For more information about Home Churches please call Pastor Dan at the office.

There are a number of things you should keep in mind when you decide it is the right time for you and your family to return.

  • We recommend that people who are at higher risk continue to remain at home and join us by live stream.  Just because we are gathering in person does not mean it is the best time for you to return.  Gathering in large groups inherently increases the risk of spread of the Covid-19 virus and each person should assess their own risk and the risk of those around them when deciding the best time to return. 

  • Please use common sense and stay home if you or any family member is sick or has been exposed to someone who has been sick.

  • No physical contact is requested throughout the church building to help with mitigating the risk of transmission.

  • Protective masks or face covering is recommended when entering the building and throughout the service in the Sanctuary. 

  • Protective masks or face covering is required in the Fireside room as our highest mitigation area.  The outside entrance to the Fireside room will also be unlocked to provide for entry without going through the foyer.  The safest place for high risk people is at home, however, we are providing the Fireside room (The Refuge) as our higher risk mitigation area requiring masks and larger social distancing.

  • Hand sanitizer is available at all entrances.  Surface sanitizer and hand soap is available in restrooms.

  • We are asking that social conversations be moved outdoors in the open parking lot area.

  • The children’s wing, office areas and basement are considered restricted areas to reduce the burden on our cleaning staff.

  • We ask that families stay together during service and space themselves 6 ft apart from other families in the sanctuary.  Exiting the building immediately at the conclusion of the service is also recommended. 

  • If a confirmed case of Covid-19 infection is discovered among our attendees we will notify the congregation immediately (while protecting the identity of the individual), and take appropriate steps to sanitize the building. 

 

We realize that for some these measures may seem minimal for others they may seem excessive.  We are asking all of our people to remember that we are working to protect the church, its people, and its reputation in the community.  Should Covid-19 cases emerge in our congregation it not only puts people at risk but may lead to further closures or restrictions.  Please help us by respecting the procedures we have put in place. 

 

 

Updated 5/6/20  12pm

Covid-19 Re-Opening Update

The Elder Board of Friends Church met last night and approved the staged implementation of Phase One of our Re-Opening plan.  We have adjusted the plan to accommodate new and increased information we have received about Pennsylvania’s re-opening plan.  Below you will find important information on our current status.  As we move through these early stages, at risk populations are encouraged to remain at home and join us by live stream and Web-Ex. 

Live Worship Re-Opening Date

The question highest on everyone’s list is when we will be able to gather again for worship on Sunday mornings.  We are taking a conservative approach to re-opening our worship services and have selected May 31 as our first live worship opening.  This allows us to see what is going to happen when Lycoming County re-opens on May 8 and to assess the risks of gathering in large groups.  More information on these services and requirements will follow as the date grows closer. 

House Churches

With the end of stay at home orders we are recommending that people begin to gather together in home churches to view the live-stream together.  Gatherings of two or three families will provide a place for fellowship (koinonia) and group worship.  Starting this week Pastor Dan will be providing small group discussion questions that can be used for conversation in these house churches.  If you want a copy of these questions or want to start a home church call the church office and we will get you started.  We hope that house churches will continue to meet for those who are at high risk or concerned about gathering with large groups for as long as needed.

 

Life Group Re-Opening

  • Life groups (with the exception of Sunday School) are allowed to begin in person meetings as of May 11.  Sunday School teachers may choose to go live by selecting an alternative time for their meetings.

  • Written guidelines for life group leaders will be provided setting expectations for all sanctioned in-person gatherings.

  • Life group leaders should consider whether they can offer in person meetings in a safe way before deciding to re-open.  Leaders will be in touch with their groups to communicate live opening dates and social distancing guidelines that will be required of those who attend live.

  • Life group leaders are encouraged to maintain a web-ex component alongside their live meeting to allow people who are not comfortable returning to join.

  • Life group leaders should agree to following the provided guidance for social distancing before re-opening their small groups.

  • The fireside room will be set up following social distancing rules to allow for small group meetings at the church rather than in individual homes.  These meetings should be scheduled through Jo Miller in the church office.

 

I am excited about our ability to begin to join together as the body of Christ.  Live streaming and web-ex have served us well but they are not a substitute for the real fellowship of believers.  The heart of the church can’t be experienced when we are separated by computer screens.  Please be patient with us as we move slowly into the future trying to protect the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters whom we care so much about.  Please be cooperative and respect the social distancing practices that allow a safer place for everyone to worship.  Paul writes to the church at Philippi “do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil 2:4-5).  Thanks in advance for your cooperation and let’s come together with great joy and rejoicing in the days to come.

Updated 4/22/2020 6pm

Covid 19 Response and Re-opening Plan

The Elder Board of Friends church wants to remain in close communication with our members about ongoing issues related to our Covid-19 response.  The following are important updates:

Payroll Protection Loan/Grant:  We were not approved during the first round of funding for the Payroll Protection Loan.  We are working with First Commonwealth Bank in Muncy to be ready for the next round of funding.  This is an uncertain possibility at best.

Financial Position:  Currently our giving has remained strong.  From the beginning of the closures we suspended all discretionary spending and we are focusing on the essentials (utilities, necessities) and our ability to maintain our commitments to our staff.  We want to remind you that online giving is available through our website (hughesvillefriends.org) and by mail or drop off at the church. 

Stimulus Payments:  Just a reminder that tax law for 2020 has been changed to favor non-profit organizations like ours. 

As NPQ board member Gene Takagi details, the stimulus bill also contains a one-time, above-the-line deduction for cash contributions of up to $300 made to certain qualifying charities. All taxpayers would be eligible to take the deduction, even people who use the standard deduction. The incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed on tax forms next year. The new deduction would not apply to non-cash gifts or to gifts contributed to donor advised funds.

Phased Re-Opening:  As the Federal and State government begins its process for re-opening the economy we are sure that many of you want to know what the plan is for re-opening the church.  What follows is a broad view, three-phased approach approved last night by our Elder Board for restarting our public gatherings.  As we move forward more details will be forthcoming on each phase:

 

Covid–19 Phased Re-Opening

During all three phases:

  • Cleaning staff will prioritize sanitizing rooms and spaces that are used during the week for any meetings (admin will keep list of rooms)

  • Anyone who is sick or running a fever (or has a family member who is) should stay home.

  • At risk populations as defined by the CDC should follow the advice of their health care provider when considering their risk of community exposure.

  • Use of protective equipment (masks, gloves etc) and social distancing should continue following recommended guidelines. 

 

 

Phase One (this could be a long phase with small incremental roll outs)

  • All at risk populations are encouraged to remain at home

  • Small groups may resume in person meetings but should practice strict social distancing (use larger rooms, outdoor meetings, seat spacing, masks etc.)

  • Larger groups should continue to use electronic meetings (webex, zoom) or break up into smaller in person groups.

  • Continue live stream only services on Sunday – possible building of home church groups to gather (within guidelines) to watch and interact during live stream.

  • Large group summer activities still closed (VBS, Camps, etc)

 

Phase Two

  • Small groups continue with moderate social distance protocols in place (remember one active case inside the church could shut us down for two weeks)

  • Begin multiple in person worship times with a limit of 50 people (strategies will be developed to keep groups at this size limit). 

  • High risk populations are advised to continue to remain at home and join via live stream.  Consideration will be given to having a special service for at risk only populations using very strict social distancing and protective equipment.

  • Elder Board will give consideration to allowing large group activities to resume (VBS, Camps etc.) with possible changes to accommodate recommended social distancing guidelines based on local conditions and risk.

 

Phase Three

  • Return to one service on Sunday morning with a continued live stream “Virtual Campus” ministry.

  • Return to normal Sunday School activities.

  • All other activities should resume and each person should consider how to mitigate danger to at risk populations appropriately based on local conditions and guidelines. 

 

 

Updated 4/14/2020

Our efforts to improve our live stream continue.  If you are having problems watching live you may want to consider watching the taped version at a later time.  

We are hopeful that the state will be able to begin to relax some of the social distancing rules by early May and we are in the planning stages for how we can respond as soon as we are able to begin meeting together again in small or large groups.

Stay tuned.

Updated 4/6/2020 10:08am

Easter Week with Friends

Dear Friends,

I wanted to send you some ideas to help you prepare for Easter Week. 

  • Communion – We will share communion on Sunday morning as the body of Christ.  Unleavened bread is available just inside the church doors in individually packaged servings.  I will provide time for families to share together and even spend a few moments teaching with your children. 

  • Make it special – Dress Up in Easter dresses and hats or decorate your space with a lilies, or get set for communion with pillows in a circle on the floor and pass the bread and juice in a first Passover style.  Whatever you do have fun and take a picture (or a Selfie) and send it in to me dandpastor@aol.com or hfriendsc@gmail.com and we will make a montage of them to celebrate.

  • Jesus – Sight and Sound is making their production “Jesus” available to everyone through free streaming this weekend.  I have seen this production and it is wonderful.  Take time to sit down on Saturday or Sunday and experience it with your family.  You can find the live stream at https://watch.tbn.org/sight-sound-theatres-presents-jesus - you will have to set up a free TBN account to access.

  • Sunday Sunrise - For those of you who love sunrise service – Pastor Matt will have a devotional podcast ready for you to sit on your front porch and watch the sunrise and join us with a meditation on Easter.   

  • Breakfast – get up early and make a big breakfast for the family and enjoy it prior to our 9am start time for worship.

  • Fun - Make up your Easter eggs and hide them after the kids go to bed and let them search for them after worship service on Sunday.

Let’s demonstrate to the world that Easter is not about where you are it’s about Jesus.  Our celebrations are not limited to physical spaces they are the outpouring of hearts alive with the hope and joy of a living Savior. 

 

Updated 4/3/2020 11:00am 

Two actions have been taken over the last 24 hours.

 

The Phase 3 Covid Response Plan measures have been extended through April 30, 2020.

 

SBA Paycheck Preservation Program

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (Grant)

As you all know, the social distancing orders set in place to deal with Covid-19 are going to last far longer than any of us anticipated or desired.  This leaves us with a need to protect our ministry financially for the long term.  Even with strong giving from our members we will need help.  Many are without work and there is the potential for the unemployment situation to last significantly longer than the social distancing orders. 

The CARES act passed by congress in March opens this help for small businesses and also for non-profit organizations like ours.  This Act provides access to funds to help the church during this time of crisis in the amount of approximately $50,000 from the Paycheck Preservation Program and $10,000 from Economic Injury Disaster Loan. 

Our Elder Board has taken steps to begin the process of applying for both of these programs to help us stay fiscally solvent and prevent the need for laying off staff during this critical time. 

The EFC-ER Oversight Board has both recommended and approved this action.  The Oversight Board passed a resolution earlier this week overriding Faith and Practice paragraph 313, C, vi that requires a congregational vote to approve capital debt.  This resolution authorizes the Elders and Pastor to apply for Cares Act funding without a congregational vote.  Our bylaws have no provision for voting outside of an “in person” meeting which is not possible under current conditions.  This resolution applies only to decisions related to the corona pandemic and the resolution will expire when the pandemic is declared over. 

Small Business Association PPP – this $50,000 begins as a loan originated at a local bank (First Commonwealth Bank Muncy).  The loan is fully backed by the Federal Government and requires no collateral or personal guarantors.  Assuming the following criteria are met at the end of 8 weeks we will apply for forgiveness of the loan and the money will be considered a grant to the church.  There are no other strings attached to this program.

  • Money can only be spent on payroll, mortgage interest, rent, or qualifying utilities.

  • We must maintain the same number of employees and contractors over the 8 week period.

  • We must apply at the end of 8 weeks and the loan will be forgiven in full.

 

EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) Grant – this is a grant to small businesses and non-profits to offset the economic impact of forced closures due to social distancing guidelines.  This $10,000 is a grant and there is no need to later apply for forgiveness. 

 

If you care to delve deeper into these programs there is a webinar (1hr) available presented by Injoy Stewardship at www.injoystewardship.com/cares-act.

Updated 3/25/2020  11:40am

COVID-19 Response Update

As you know the response to the Covid-19 virus in our area continues to be a day to day evolving situation.  While the current risk in our area remains very low our leadership team has decided that it is prudent for us to move to Phase 3 of our Covid 19 Response Plan.  This plan will be in effect until April 6th at which time we will re-evaluate the situation.  This means:

  • Small Group Meetings – All in-person small groups are cancelled until at least April 6th.  We are moving as many of these groups to a Web based format as possible as quickly as possible.  Watch for details.

  • Live Streamed Adult Sunday School – Dave Rising, Wyatt Timmins, and Pastor Matt all will be holding their regular classes this Sunday by WebEx a web based meeting platform.  Details will be sent on how you can join these groups.

  • Online Giving – Please remember the church during this time of closure when financial needs continue.  You can give online here on the website by clicking the "online giving" button at the top of the page or by regular mail.  Thanks for thinking of us.

  • Social Distancing – We are encouraging all of our members to practice social distancing as prescribed by the CDC to protect not just yourself but others who are most vulnerable.  The lower we can keep instances in our community the sooner we can be back together.

  • Church Building – Our doors remain open but we ask our members not to make social visits so that our staff exposure is limited to ministry opportunities, counseling and other important community activities.  If you need help in any way physical, spiritual, or emotional don’t hesitate to call or stop by.  We are here for you!

  • Social Interaction – We are recommending that you use all available means to stay connected during this time.  Call people you know, check on them, pray together on the phone or by video call.  Please if you know someone who needs help call the church office. We have volunteers standing by to help.

 

Live Stream Access: 

  • click “live stream” button at the top of the page.  If you need help please call the office and Pastor Matt can help you get set up.

  • Go to our Facebook Page

  • Go to Youtube.com and search for Hughesville Friends Church

 

Online Giving Access: click “online giving” button at the top of the page.

 

More Covid Info Access:  www.hughesvillefreinds.org and click the “covid response” button.

 

 

Updated 3/19/2020 2:36pm

Covid-19 Response Update

 

As you know the response to the Covid-19 virus in our area continues to be a day to day evolving situation.  After long conversations with the Leadership team we have decided it is prudent and in the best interest both of our congregation and the community we serve that we move to phase two of our action plan.  This means:

  • Closure of our live campus and going to a fully Live Streamed* Service this Sunday.  We encourage you to watch from home with your family or a small group of friends.  Worship with us (our live praise team will still be here) and learn together from the text.  This week Pastor Dan will begin a short 4 week series leading up to Easter Sunday called Prayers of the Cross.

  • Live Streamed Adult Sunday School – Pastor Dan is working to provide a live streamed* Sunday School class for this Sunday on our Facebook/youtube page

  • Small groups will continue to meet for the time being using precautions (hand sanitizer, social spacing, small groups under 10).

  • Giving – please remember the church during this time and help us stay financially viable.  Online giving can be accessed easily from the buton above, send in via mail, or drop by and see us in person.

 

Live Stream Access:  from this webpage click “live stream” button at the top of the page.  If you need help please call the office and Pastor Matt can help you get set up.

 

Online Giving Access: from this webpage and click “online giving” button at the top of the page.

 

Updated 3/18/2020

Our Elder Board met last night and has approved a phased response plan that is now being implemented.  We are working hard to comply voluntarily with Governor Wolfe’s recommendations while recognizing our role as providers of essential services.  As we have seen in every crisis (floods, school emergency planning, and now pandemics) the church acts in the role of emotional, spiritual, and physical first responders.  Every day we stand alongside fire, police and medical personnel to provide guidance, comfort, services and support to families in crisis moments.  We are balancing that first responder role with our responsibility to guard and protect the safety of the most vulnerable among us.  Even if you are healthy and at low risk, remember that if you are exposed you may transmit the virus to someone who is vulnerable.  This is another reason to practice social distancing and other precautions.

Our highlights of the phased plan are detailed below.  Please watch for updates as our response is likely to change day to day. 

Phase One – We are currently implementing this phase.

  • Day School closed (will follow Public School actions)

  • Friends Feeding Friends (new distribution methods)

  • Senior Dinners Cancelled till further notice

  • Extra-curricular (non-ministry) activities are being cancelled

  • Begin shifting to live stream as a primary delivery mechanism to protect those at highest risk.  Help those in need to connect.

  • Leaning into our bible study and small group formats

  • Reinforcing our Virtual Campus

  • Physical precautions on church campus

  • Reinforcing online and mail based giving

 

Phase Two - 

  • Closure of Sunday morning Service gathering

  • Live Stream will continue

  • Focus on small group meetings and limiting exposure (less than 10 people)

  • Encouraging the development of small groups and online groups (service watch groups, bible studies, and service groups)

 

Phase Three

  • Cancellation of all small and large group gatherings

  • Continue live stream church services

  • Begin small group web based meetings during the week

  • PD will produce live and taped bible studies for families

  • Leadership will maintain a strong presence

  • Focus on small group service projects to help those affected in our community

  • Development of an emergency service center of volunteers and staff to meet community needs.

 

We are currently in phase one implementation and will likely be in phase two by this weekend depending on developments this week.  We will communicate next steps as soon as decisions are made.

God is with us in this so don’t waste this moment - be the light of Jesus to the world around you.

Pastor Dan

Updated 3/16/2020  - 12:00pm

At the time of this writing no cases have been reported in Lycoming County or adjacent counties but there is reasonable expectation that this will change quickly over the coming days.  As conditions change we will make changes as well.  At present we are continuing our worship service as scheduled and all of our small groups (with the exception of those listed below).  We encourage you to use good hand hygiene (washing) practices and to limit physical contact at these meetings. 

 

Currently the following steps have been taken:

  • Day School has been closed and will follow the Public Schools schedule

  • Friends Feeding Friends – change in distribution to limit group exposure

  • Senior Dinner Cancelled for March

  • Hand Sanitizer placed at all major entrances with alert sign

  • We request that anyone who is sick or has a sick family member stay home and join us by live stream.  If there are needs (groceries, sundries, help) we can help with call the church office. 

  • Use Live Stream to join us if you cannot come to service. (Go to our web page and click the Live Stream Button at the top of the page)

  • Request that people limit physical contact (no hand shaking etc.)

 

I would remind you all that in times like this our attendance goes down and offerings go down as well but expenses do not change.  To help us remain financially viable during times of crisis please consider either giving by mail or online giving to help.  You can access online giving from our website www.hughesvillefriends.org.

This page details our ongoing response to developments surrounding the Covid-19 virus in our community.  The links below will take you to appropriate resources for information, safety and response.

 

As of the time of this post no cases have been reported in Lycoming Co. or adjacent counties but there is reasonable expectation that this will change quickly over the coming days. 

If the virus spreads to our area we are prepared to take all necessary steps to protect our congregation and our community. 

 

In the mean time we are suggesting these responsible precautions:

  • If you are one of those who are at high risk we encourage you to join us on Sunday mornings by live stream rather than in person.  If you need help connecting, call the office and we will do all we can to make this available to you.  If you have an internet connection it’s very easy.  There is a link on the home page that will take you to the live stream each Sunday morning.

  • If you or your children are feeling sick or running a fever please stay home, take care of yourself and protect others by joining us by live stream.

  • Pastor Dan will not be greeting people at the rear doors after service for the next several weeks. 

  • Please remember that as attendance and giving drop our expenses remain the same - consider online giving or giving by mail to sustain our missional efforts to reach our community.

  • We suggest you use reasonable precautions and hand washing techniques before and after service once again to minimize risk.