Coronavirus Updates

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

As we near the end of the coronavirus crisis, we find ourselves in a time of transition.  Policies are constantly changing as we re-define what the “new Normal” is.   As these details become available, they will be posted here.  Stay tuned….

 

Current Status of PUMC Activities & Building Use

Our Building is now OPEN to all activities!!!

We continue to monitor the case numbers, but it currently seems that we are reaching the end of the pandemic and that we can now safely begin to lift restrictions.  This is the news we’ve all awaited since the building was closed in March 2020!

We still strive to keep everyone safe and to take basic precautions.  For details on how we are currently conducting our worship services, click this button (building use policy updates will now be shown on the “COVID Safety for Worship Page”):    COVID Safety for Worship  

 

 

 

Important Resources…

Refer to these items to help you thru the end of this pandemic…

Facts about the coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control:

Facts from CDC

State of NJ Vaccination Information:

  NJ Vaccination Registration

Find an Appointment

 

Gloucester County NJ Vaccination Information:

Covid Vaccination Center

 

Pharmacy Vaccinations near Pitman NJ (Google Search):

Rite Aid CVS Walgreens ShopRite

Other locations can be found here:  

Vaccination Search

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When in-person services are available, here’s how to attend:

Covid Safety for Worship

When 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!     

 

Current Status of Virus in New Jersey…

(Note: Click and Drag title to see next screen)

 

 


 

Life During the 2020-2021 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…

6/6/21:  Adult Sunday School Returns to Building!

The Potter’s Hand adult Sunday School class resumed meeting in the building before the worship service!  The class was conducted both in person (in the Potter’s Hand Room) and via Zoom (using the room’s large screen TV).

6/5/21:  Building Re-opens!

The case numbers continue to drop and the vaccinations continue to rise.  On May 22, the office made an announcement that we’ve all been waiting for:

Beginning June 5, the building and grounds of Pitman United Methodist Church will be open for all groups, meetings, events, and activities.

Any group wishing to resume coming to PUMC, will be asked to read the Plan for Building and Campus Use (May 2021) and complete a Building Use Form. Both are available by contacting the church office at office@pitmanumc.org. PUMC is looking forward to opening its doors for use by the congregation and the community.

For the Building Use Form, visit this page:     Community Resources

 

3/13/21:  In-Person Congregations Resume!

As more and more of our members receive the vaccine, it was decided to resume “Limited In-Person Congregations” for our worship services.  “In-Person” worship will begin on Sunday March 28 (Palm Sunday). The number of worshipers will be limited according to the conditions.  To attend in person, you must register in advance so that we can ensure that the limit isn’t exceeded.  Pastor Jim emailed the following announcement:

3/13/21 Announcement

Grace and Peace to each of you in the name of Jesus Christ!  

It is with joy we announce that PUMC will have “in person” worship again beginning on Palm Sunday, March 28. We will also have in person worship on Maundy Thursday at 7:00pm, Good Friday at 7:00pm, and Easter Sunday at 10:15am.

While there are those who still do not feel comfortable attending in person worship at this point, please know that you will still be able to worship via the live stream each Sunday at 10:15am. There are those who are anxious to return to in person worship.  At this point to start, we will welcome 50 worshippers at each service (this is 50 people in the pews and does not include members of the Tech Team, Praise Team, Ushers, or Pastor).  As we return to in person worship we will continue the safety practices advised by the CDC, the Insurance Company, Bishop, and what we were doing during the first return to in person worship back in October.  For example:

Who Should Attend…

Persons experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or who are feeling unwell should not attend in-person worship. Persons who have been exposed, or may have been exposed, to someone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who have tested positive for the virus within the past 14 days of a given Sunday should not attend in-person worship.

When You Arrive…

All attending worship will need to sign waivers (like before) as instructed by the Church Insurance Company.   Seating will be on the main floor and not the balcony, for now.

During the Service…

All persons will be masked for the entire service (the exception being the Praise Team and Pastor when singing/speaking. Social distancing will be practiced when inside of the church building. This means remaining at least 6 feet apart from those not part of your family unit. Restrooms are available on the first floor next to the coat room.  .  There shall be no “passing of the peace” or similar expressions of greeting. Offering plates will be available for offerings for your convenience as you enter or depart the sanctuary.

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Many of these things may be reviewed and adjusted as needed as things continue to change based on the guidelines of the CDC and recommendations of the Governor and Bishop. Please be sure to call the church office (856) 589-8313 and schedule your attendance each week, for now. Please be sure to call during the week but before 2:00pm on Fridays

Please Note: Even as we gather for in person worship, all services will continue to be live streamed as we have been doing. This is an exciting time! I look forward to seeing many of you and worshipping in person again! Stay safe! Stay strong! 

Keep the faith!  God is Good!

Pastor Jim

 

12/20/20:  In-Person Congregations Suspended

After a lull during the summer and early Fall, the case and hospitalization numbers continued to rise.  On December 18, it was reported that 3,582 people were in hospital due to Covid, and the total death toll in NJ was 18,124.  Several cases have hit the PUMC family, and it became more and more clear that even our limited  in-person worship was posing an unacceptable risk to the community.  Therefore, we decided to heed the warnings and to suspend in-person worship for the time being.  When the numbers improve, we will resume to permit a congregation.  In the meantime, all services will continue to be broadcast on our Live Stream.

Pastor Jim's Announcement Letter

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I hope this finds each and everyone of you well as we continue our journey through Advent.

The numbers of the pandemic, especially in this area since Thanksgiving, are concerning and continue rising. As a Pastor, my main concern is always for the safe and healthy well being of all under my care. After closely watching the numbers of these infected, encouragement and support of the Bishop and the District Superintendent, and much prayer, this Sunday, December 20, 2020, will be the last Sunday for in person worship for now.

We will continue to have live worship each Sunday via our live stream. Please be sure to tune in each Sunday.  We will continue as we did in the Spring with the talents of our amazing Tech Team and members of the Praise Team. The bell choir will play the remaining, previously scheduled dates of Sunday, December 20, and Christmas Eve. Remember, if you know of someone who does not have Internet access or computer access, we can have them join worship live each Sunday through the telephone. Please let the Church Office know if we can help with the telephone arrangements.

Many of us have had to make adjustments to our day to day routines and traditions for family celebrations.  Remember, by being careful and making adjustments we make our best effort to be safe when this is over. We will make adjustments, once again, and we look forward to next year returning to all our normal traditions.  One day, this will only be a memory and stories we will recall.

Friends, this will only be temporary. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hang in there. Stay strong and keep the faith. Stay safe and let’s be in prayer for each other!

Pastor Jim

 

12/14/20:  On Line Bingo!

Groups and committees continue to meet online, mostly using Zoom.  On this evening, instead of “Zooming” committee meetings, we got together for some fun.  Bingo cards were supplied and fired up Zoom to play Bingo together.  Not only was it fun (no- no money was involved!), but it gave us a chance to see eachother and catch up with old friends who we haven’t seen since the pandemic started in March.

 

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 Announces that In-Person Worship is Suspended

As the pandemic impinged more and more into our lives, Pastor Jim emailed the the difficult announcement that our worship services would be suspended as an in-person event, and that worship would happen only by our Live Stream.  He also offered words of encouragement to help guide us through the pandemic… 

Message from Pastor Jim

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.

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.

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

 

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  

 

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