Month: May 2021

Letter to the Congregation – 05/25/2021

FROM THE PASTOR

As I write this, the CDC has said that those who are masked can stop wearing masks in a whole lot of places, but the CDC says that individual businesses and institutions may still require people to wear masks. Pennsylvania has indicated that its rules around masking will come into compliance with CDC guidelines, but nothing has been published yet. Our Church Council has not had opportunity to meet, but will be meeting this coming Sunday (that will mean that by the time you receive this the Council will have had a chance to meet, but I don’t know the outcome of that meeting yet).

I don’t know about you, but this is feeling a lot like it did when the pandemic first hit the United States. We were getting all kinds of signals and statements from all kinds of folks. It was hard to know who to listen to.

So, we continue to try and maneuver in a very unsettling time. As a people this would not be the first time that humans have had to live through very trying times. Imagine living in the Middle East or in India right now.

God has to be our constant. It is so easy to look beyond God and look for an end to the pandemic or to the summer when we can be outside and not wear masks, and so on. And while those things may be true, God still must be our constant, because those things may not come true, but God is still there.
So, the one thing that is the same as it was in March of 2020. We focus on God and worship. We call each other and care for each other in a constant and safe manor.

At some point we will walk out of the fog that we call COVID-19. God will walk us through the Red Sea before the water tumbles in on us. But now and in the future God will be with us, you can count on it!

Pastor Neel

Letter to the Congregation – 05/24/2021

FROM THE COUNCIL (notes from the 05/23/2021 meeting)
The Congregation Council continues to meet twice a month, so they can be responsive to the changes and recommendations from the CDC as well as the state of Pennsylvania. It is the Council’s desire to stay on top of what is happening and ensure a safe environment at St. Andrew’s. With that said, not everyone will agree with everything that the Council decides, never-the-less please keep the Council in your prayers and remember they are trying to find a middle ground that all members of St. Andrew’s can support. Now on to the meeting summary:

• It was decided that there will be NO changes to the 8:30 Zoom Worship experience at this time.
• The following changes will be made to the 10:30 worship experience. The changes will take place starting June 13th to allow time for the office to communicate these changes to the entire congregation.

o There are NO changes if you have NOT been vaccinated.
o IF you have been vaccinated:

▪ You DO NOT have to wear a mask to worship.
▪ You will be able to sing in worship whether that be hymns or liturgy.
▪ Fully vaccinated is understood to means a completed shot regime and two weeks following the last shot.

This seems like a good time to talk about wearing a mask. There should never be any judgement based on someone wearing a mask. The changes we are making are consistent with CDC guidelines. But it may be that someone who has been fully vaccinated may still want to wear a mask, that is okay. It may be that someone is unwilling to receive the vaccine, that we need to respect. As Christians it is important that we love and care for everyone, even if they don’t agree with us.

• Council approved the restart of the choir (up to only 6 choir members) with choir members distanced and rehearsing only in the worship space, with the goal of singing at the 10:30 Worship experience.
• At our outdoor worship experiences (as per CDC guidelines) fully vaccinated folks can worship without a mask and sing. Folks who have not been vaccinated must wear a mask but can sing. All other outdoor worship guidelines will stay in place.
• Both the Easton Parents Support Group and Crossroads AA will be allowed to resume meetings. A set of building use guidelines has been developed for these groups to follow as they re-enter the church building. Please look for those Building Use Guidelines in the next issue of the Cross.
Please remember all members of the congregation are welcome to attend Council meetings. Simply go to the calendar on the church website for the Zoom link.

Letter to the Congregation – 05/13/2021

FROM THE PASTOR

The Community Care Committee is back! Not only are they back, but they are looking to restart some of the ministry that we are familiar with and start some new ministry to enable the congregation to care for the community! Now the details.

  1. We will be collecting canned food. The food banks will receive the canned goods now. There will be a bin in the Narthex for those who come into the church building for 10:30 Worship, and there will be a bin at the entrance to Hope House. (use the entrance off the main parking lot). The rule of thumb is that you only donate your favorite canned good. If you really like it, then it is good to donate.
  2. We will be bringing back the altar basket, well kind of. We will be receiving money for the baskets in memory or in honor of, but the money will go to purchase a case of diapers. There is a very strong need for diapers. A case of diapers runs $25.00 to $50.00. Please call the office to reserve a Sunday just as you did in the past.
  3. We will be looking to partner with the Easton Neighborhood Center. The center provides a whole host of services that we can help with…
    1. Help to unpack the food truck for the food bank
    2. Work in the garden, the center has a very large garden that provides fresh vegetables to those who need food
    3. There is a need for tutors after school
    4. The center runs a transitional housing program. The center works to help folks become employable.
    5. Helping folks with budgeting so they know how to manage and thrive on a budget

As you can see the Center offers many services, there is a place in this program where you can have a positive impact.

We are also in need of more people to serve on the committee. Indeed, there is much to do. And it is exciting to imagine the positive impact that St. Andrew’s can have on the ministry at the Easton Neighborhood Center. Please plan to join us at our next meeting will be held on Thursday, June 24 at 7:00 PM. The link will be on the Church website calendar as well it is listed here: Meeting ID: 850 8953 3739 & Passcode: 372560.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85089533739?pwd=TGF6cnByRktINjU1ZUdUUnZobGFvUT09

Please see Pastor, Diane Laustsen or Terry Diehl with any interest or questions.

Pastor Neel

Letter to the Congregation – 05/05/2021

FROM THE PASTOR

I am hearing a lot of talk lately about personal rights around getting the vaccine or wearing a mask.

Now, to be fully honest, I wear a mask (over my nose and mouth) and I have received the vaccine. But, that aside, I am bothered when I hear this discussion of personal rights in relation to these topics.

A Christian’s first thought isn’t about themselves, rather those thoughts need to be about the other people. Indeed, we have Jesus as our guide here. Jesus’ entire life was not about himself, it was about us, you and me. He put up with attacks from the religious leaders for you and me. He died and suffered for you and me. None of it was about him.

In John 15, we are called to love one another as Jesus loved us. Notice, this does not imply that we worry about our personal rights, it just is not about that.

We live in a time and in a country that seems to be overly concerned with personal rights vs. the concerns of our neighbors. That worries me because (as I indicated) as Christians our call is to think outside of ourselves not about ourselves.

For me that makes wearing a mask properly and getting the vaccine an easy thing to do because it helps the people, that I come in contact with, feel more comfortable. And, while we live in a country that embraces personal freedoms, as Christians, God calls us to embrace the concerns of each other.

As you consider the proper course of action concerning masks and vaccines, ask yourself the old question: “What would Jesus want me to do?”

Pastor Neel