Coronavirus Updates

Posted by on Mar 12, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

As our area endures the coronavirus, we are facing an unprecedented barrage of  of postponements, cancellations, and questions.  As these details become available, they will be posted here.  Stay tuned….

 

Current Status of PUMC Activities & Building Use

The below information will be updated as the situation changes, but this summarizes our current status during this crisis…

 

Our Building is CLOSED to most activities until further notice.

Details / Exceptions…

  • As conditions permit, our Sunday Worship Service will be limited to a small congregation (“first come first served” reservations are required each week).  “Social Distancing” and other safety practices will be strictly enforced.  There will be only one service (at 10:15 AM), and it will be shown on our Live Stream Page.

  • The Our Father’s House Preschool is open but following strict health guidelines.

  • The church office will remain open during regular hours (8AM-3PM Monday thru Friday). Check our Facebook Group for changes. The doors to the church are locked. Call 589-8313 for service upon your arrival.

  • Offerings may be submitted by mail (758 N.Broadway, Pitman NJ, 08071).

  • Staff will have access to the building.

  • Committee meetings are postponed.

  • Activities occurring outside of the building may meet at the group’s discretion.

(The entire message is shown in the below timeline)

 

Important Resources…

Refer to these items to help you through this crisis…

Facts about the coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control:

Facts from CDC

–     –     –     –     –

While in-person services are cancelled, “attend” via Live Stream:

Live Stream

On Sunday Mornings, “go to church” virtually:

Sunday Connections

If you need any help in getting through this:

       Help!     

 

Message from Pastor Jim….

Pastor Jim emailed the following message when announcing the first “In Person Service” cancellation (which was on March 15)…

Friends,

All of us are aware of the coronavirus, also known as, COVID-19, which is impacting the entire world. I am sure that there are many questions and perhaps even fears over this. Be assured that Pitman United Methodist Church is following the steps that are recommended by professionals and will stay abreast of new information as it is released. We can be grateful that our Facility Manager, Bruce Pote, has been using approved disinfectant and wiping everything down, including door handles, pews, rest rooms, high traffic areas, etc…, The staff of Our Fathers House (our preschool) is doing the same thing.

Much information about the virus and how to deal with it has been received from our Bishop, our District Superintendent, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The World Health Organization (WHO), as well as local officials. At the bottom of this email there are links which may help you in being informed and knowing the facts of this virus. {see the buttons at the top of this page…}

Obviously, the health, safety, and well-being of the entire PUMC family, church members, visitors, and all who use the church are of the highest priority. Of special concern are those who are the most vulnerable to this virus…. {cancellation details deleted… see Timeline}

I would like to say that while these are challenging days, yet we worship a God who is mighty indeed! God is in the midst of this situation and will guide us through this time. The Scriptures are clear, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5c). We can maintain calm in the midst of uncertain days because through Christ, our God is with us. To borrow from Bill Gaither, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Stay strong! Keep the faith! We’re going to be fine. God is walking with us. Be sure to take care of yourselves and each other during this crisis. Let us also be in prayer for each other.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Jim

 


 

Life During the 2020 Pandemic…

When the pandemic burst upon us in March of 2020, we initially experienced a string of announcements regarding events; things were very uncertain. We closed our building, and postponed, canceled, or moved events to an online format. 

During this period, we’ve been learning not only how to “get by” or to “make due”  or to find ways to do the things we’ve always done.  But we’ve also been discovering new ministries which can be offered without using our building.  We can no longer simply invite people to attend events held in our church building.  Instead, the church has been learning how to reach out to the broader community to meet them where they are, instead of requiring them to come to where the church is.

This section has now become a historical record of how things have transpired during this period.  Some day we’ll look back on this pandemic and be thankful for God’s protection and guidance… 

Note:  Many of the below headings are links.  Click on the heading for more information about the event…

 

 

10/18/20:  Worship Service Opens to Limited Congregation

After a successful  “dry run” on 10/11, it was decided to begin opening the worship service to a limited congregation of 25 people.  Reservations were required (on a first come first served basis).  Mask wearing, no singing, social distancing, and other safety requirements will be enforced.

 

9/28/20:  Council Approves Trustee’s Safety Plan

The Trustees developed a Safety Plan which would enable a congregation to attend our worship service (currently “Live Stream Only”).  It was brought to a vote before the Administrative Council and approved.  The plan didn’t open the sanctuary to worship, but permitted Pastor Jim to invite a congregation to the service at his discretion) following the Safety Plan.

 

8/16/20: Trustees to Re-Evaluate Closure Status in November

In light of the continued spread of the virus, the Trustees voted to extend the building closure until at least November 1.  The decision was announced during the Live Stream service,  and the Trustees distributed a letter describing the rational.  Open the below Drop Down box to view this letter.

Trustees 8/15/20 Announcement

 

8/7/20:  Circle of Friends Ministry Reaches Out to All Members

During the pandemic, the Internet has become our lifeline.  Team meetings, Small Groups, and even the Sunday morning worship service depend on a computer and Internet connection.  But not everyone “does computers” or has the equipment needed to keep in touch.  Dial-in service has been established for our Live Stream so that anyone can listen to the services.  Additionally, a “Pen Pals” ministry called “Circle of Friends” has been set up to reach out to those who are not connected to the church online.

 

7/14/20:  Zoom Training Made Available

During the pandemic, the online Zoom platform has become essential in our ability to hold team and small group meetings.  But not everyone has used Zoom before, and most people have never set up a Zoom meeting or hosted one.  In order to promote and strengthen our small groups, the church began offering training to show group members how to host a Zoom meeting.

 

7/7/20:  Creative Connections Ministry Begins

We’re missing each other!  To help us to continue to “meet together” and “spur one another on to good deeds,” lay volunteers took turns at reading a devotional or giving a prayer and then posting a video on Facebook.  Others recorded audio messages that could be heard on a special phone number.

 

7/4/20:  Parking Lot Open on Fourth of July!

“Normally” our parking lot is closed on the morning of July 4 so that we can serve as the ending point of the annual parade.  Unfortunately, our parking lot remained opened this year: Because of the dangers associated with spreading the virus, this year’s 4th July parade had to be cancelled.

 

6/30/20:  PUMC / UMW Help Pack Summer Lunches

For the past couple of years, the Presbyterian Church has led an effort to provide free lunches to needy children during the summer vacation (to replace the lunch they would have received in school).  This year, relief funding allowed us to provide that service to all children in the community.

 

6/22/20:  Vacation Bible School Hits the Track Running!

Our 2020 VBS was conducted using Live Stream.  We met for an hour each afternoon and learned how Jesus’ power helps us do hard things, gives us hope, helps us be good friends, and gives us eternal life.

 

6/7/20: Potter’s Hand Class Meets Online

Our adults Sunday School class, “Potter’s Hand” began using Zoom to hold “virtual meetings” every Sunday morning.

 

5/20/20:  Registration for VBS Opens

Our Christian Education team designed a “Virtual” Vacation Bible School which will be held via Live Stream during the week of June 22 through 26.

 

5/13/20:  Men’s Fellowship Releases Virtual Retreat

The Men’s April 2020 retreat was canceled, but the retreat speaker produced a series of videos presenting the message that was prepared for the retreat.

 

5/11/20:  OFH Celebrates Graduation with Drive By

Our preschool celebrated the graduation of the pre-K class of 2020 by forming a parade which drove through each child’s neighborhood, distributing personalized Congratulations lawn signs.

 

5/4/20:  Blood Drive

PUMC hosted an American Red Cross blood drive in our Fellowship Hall.  The building continues to be closed, but this exception was made (the need for blood continues despite the pandemic).  The Red Cross  created hospital like conditions in our hall and sanitized everything after the event.

 

5/3/20:  UMW sets up “Soap & Such” Mini-Pantry

The UMW placed a box outside our building to share toiletry items with the community.  “Take what you need, give what you can.” 

 

4/27/20:  OFH Cancels Remainder of ’19-’20 Year

It had been expected as a likely outcome, but Our Father’s House officially announced that the rest of the school year has been cancelled.  “Virtual” opportunities continue, but we will not meet in the church until (hopefully!) September.

 

4/25/20:  Sunday School Goes Online

Youth leaders Kate and Lance Bird took to Facebook Live and created an online Sunday School to be presented at 9:45 (1/2 hour before the Live Stream worship service starts).

 

4/19/20:  Mother’s Day Service Features Videos

Our Mother’s Day service was held via Live Stream only.  The service was a presentation of our favorite songs and hymns, and two videos were produced showing the “virtual Joy-Filled Junior Choir” and a slideshow of Mom’s and families.

 

4/12/20:  Easter Service

Our Annual Easter Egg hunt was cancelled, but we held online services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  And it’s estimated that at least 260 people watched our Live Stream Easter service.  The Easter service included a slide presentation of “selfies” sent in by PUMC’ers, it ended with a recording of the Hallelujah Chorus from our 2017 presentation of the Messiah.

 

3/31/20:  Our Father’s House Teaches Online

OFH started conducting short lessons via a private facebook page.  Handouts were also distributed using a “drive through,” and the kids learned about things like the sound of the letter “W”… “Wacky Wednesday!”

 

3/24/20:  Smile Today Meetings go Virtual

As the social distancing requirements increase, the NA Smile Today group will not meet in the church for the time being.  Instead, they are moving to a “virtual meeting” format.

 

3/16/20:  Building CLOSED to all Activities

Due to the current pandemic, Pitman United Methodist Church will be closed to all outside groups, other than the Smile Today (NA support group) beginning Tuesday, March 17, through and including, Saturday, March 28.  All church groups, including committees and the like, are prohibited from using the building during this time period.  We encourage those wishing to meet outside of our building to follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization and state and local government.
 
This was a very difficult decision for the Trustees to make, but we are committed to doing our part to stop the spread of the Corona virus and contribute to the good health of our congregation, neighbors, and friends.  We have reviewed scientific evidence which shows the importance of social distancing to flatten the curve of the spread of this virus.
 
We realize we are approaching a very holy and active season of the liturgical calendar.  Our hope is that our facilities will be available in time for the Pre-Palm Sunday Cantata and all Holy Week observations and activities, but we, simply, are not certain.  The fluidity of the circumstances limits our ability to make any definite plans.  We will continue to monitor the situation and review our decisions.
 
Thank you for your understanding.  We wish you peace and love.

 

 

3/15/20:  Pastor Jim’s Message
(In person Worship on Sunday 3/15 Cancelled.  Live Stream only)

contains only the portion of Pastor Jim’s message (above) which pertains to the 3/15 cancellation…

…   That said, this Sunday, March 15, our two in-person worship services have been cancelled. However, a worship service will be available through Live Stream only. In an effort to do our part to keep people safe, we are asking all to enjoy worship from the comfort of your own home. You can participate in worship through our innovative live stream found on the church website.   The service will begin at 10:15am.

Additionally, my Tuesday small group Bible Studies are cancelled until Easter. At that time we will reevaluate. I am also asking that all small groups suspend their meetings until after Easter, unless your group meets electronically.  More information about meetings and future worship services during this crisis will be arriving over the next couple of days.

 

3/15/20:   Soup Delivery

The Mary Circle held a soup fundraiser, and the soup was originally supposed to be available between services on Sunday 3/15.  Since the service has been moved to Live Stream only, we will have a “Drive Through” instead.   For individuals who ordered soup, members of the Mary Circle will be at the church kitchen on  Sunday (3/15) to bag up the orders and provide curbside delivery.  Drive up to the kitchen / Fellowship Hall doors, stay in your car, and you’ll be greeted by a friendly face who will stand at least 1 meter away from you and hand you some delicious soup (after making sure that you placed an order of course…)

There will be two pick up times, and each will last for about a 1/2 hour:

  • 9:00 AM
  • Following the end of the Live Stream (11:00’ish depending on how long the sermon is…)

If you are unable to drive to the church, contact the UM Women to arrange for delivery (email UMW@PitmanUMC.org). 

 

3/12/20:  Greater NJ Conference Website Announcements

Cancellations/postponements of events throughout the Greater NJ Annual Conference are now being announced on the GNJ website.  Ust this button to view:  
Event Announcements  

 

3/12/20: Bishop Schol’s Message

Bishop John Schol posted a message on the Greater NJ Conference website regarding the virus.  As part of that message, he announced that several events (including the 3/21 Rise Against Hunger) will be postponed.  Click the below button to view the bishop’s message:   
Bishop Schol- Coronavirus Updates  

 

 

Summary of  Events Affected by Virus…

Currently, our building is closed. All activity is canceled during the closure (except as noted at the beginning of this page). Listed below are details on specific out of building events, cancelled events, and events rescheduled past the scheduled building opening.

EVENT
STATUS
March 21 Rise Against Hunger Postponed
March 22 Praise Band Concert Postponed
Pastor Jim’s Tuesday Bible Studies Suspended until further notice
All Small groups Suspended until after Easter
Our Fathers House Preschool Closed until further notice
Choir rehearsals Canceled until Further notice
March 29: Daffodil Sunday Canceled
March 29: Cantata Postponed
April 24-26: Men’s Retreat Canceled (videos posted on website)
April 5: Palm Sunday Service Live Stream at 10:15
April 9: Holy Thursday Service Live Stream at 7:00 PM
April 10: Good Friday Service Live Stream at 7:00 PM
April 11: Easter Egg Hunt Canceled
April 12: Easter Sunday Service Live Stream at 10:15
May 31:   Greater NJ Annual Conference
Postponed (possibly October)
June:  Vacation Bible School
Will be held via Live Stream
June-July:   Pitman Camp Meeting
June & July canceled.  Future dates pending.

 

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