EDITORS NOTE: The message below was copied from an email sent to the StMatts email list. I will continue to post an email version of the service, but to avoid the possibility of malicious entry into our Zoom worship space, that link will only be shared via email.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
How wonderful is our St. Matthew family? As I have been speaking with many of you I have been very encouraged to hear the ways in which you are working to keep yourselves home, safe, and clean of hands. Even though this is a difficult thing to do, and poses problems for day to day living, I believe it is critical to slow the spread of this dreaded virus, and I commend your efforts. Our community will be the safer for it.
Thank you for connecting
I am also encouraged by the way in which so many of you are reaching out to others in our church family, and in our broader community, by phone calls, emails, Facebook, and other means of non-physical, but ever important social contact. It is much easier to meet such uncertainty when we are united and connected. Even if not physically present with one another, we are spiritually and emotionally supporting each other, and this is incredible. St. Paul writes in Galatians, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2.)
Abigail is home
I have personally felt much care and concern sent my way, for which I am grateful. Something that I wish to share in relation to this expression of concern is the status of my daughter and her study abroad. Abigail is home, and has been for two weeks. She was able to leave before the UK travel ban went into effect (just barely), and was able to get on a plane within days of hearing her program was being shut down and going online. She had no symptoms in England, and has had none since her return. While no one can be certain of anything in this time, we are quite confident that she is fine, and we are pleased and relieved to have her home. (Though it is not my story to tell, I am also very relieved that Aidan Cunningham was able to safely return from his study abroad as well. He has been home for a week or two longer than Abigail.)
Worship at 10:00 a.m. Tomorrow! – Together though apart
I am happy to hear that many have been using the worship services that I have sent via email, and which have been posted on our website, www.stmattspringfield.org. I have shared in previous emails that I have been exploring ways in which we can worship together in some form, and I have settled on a method I believe will work for us. Tomorrow I will send out an email with an order for worship, but with the email will be an invitation to use Zoom. Zoom is an online teleconference program which will allow up to 100 devices to be connected at one time, and allow all to see, hear, and participate in what is going in in our gathering. You can use Zoom from many types of devices: a laptop computer, a tablet, a smartphone, a desk top computer (if you have a camera and microphone connected to it), or you can just call in with a regular phone. If you use a regular phone you will not, obviously, see what is going in, but you will be able to hear and share in the gathering.
I settled on Zoom for several reasons. I like that we can be in visual contact with each other. Using Facebook live allows me to be “out there,” but there is no community connection between us. I am just a talking head in my living room. Zoom is also very secure. I have been speaking with the Rev. Dr. Dee Littleton of Trinity Lutheran, Havertown, about Zoom, as she uses it extensively. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and conveyed that Zoom is acceptable even by HIPPA guidelines as a safe and secure site.
Tomorrow’s email will include a link to join the meeting (worship). There will be a 9 digit number to identify which meeting you wish to attend. When you click on the link to the meeting, you will be asked to allow Zoom to be on your device, and asked to set up an account. This will not cost you anything. It just registers you so you can access the gathering. When you are registered, you will be asked to enter the 9 digit meeting number, and then you should be in the teleconference. I will walk through how we will use the details on the site when we gather online in the morning. Following worship we will stay online for another half hour for those who wish to enjoy a “virtual coffee hour,” and share how we are doing.
If you prefer, or do not have a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you can dial the number that will be part of the invitation, and then enter the meeting number when prompted to do so.
If this is still uncomfortable for you, you may simply use the worship service I will be sending on your own, or with your family.
This will be a bit strange at first, and I am sure we will learn to use it better as we go forward, but I think this is a great vehicle to use so we can see, as well as hear, one another, and for us to worship Jesus together, even while we are physically apart.
as our building closed
Thank you for your patience and your understanding as our building has been closed. Having people honor the call to stay out of the building has been making it possible, and safe, for our sexton Ted to continue a deep disinfecting of our entire facility. We will let you all know when we are re-opening the building, but until then, please continue to stay out.
for gifts being made
Many of you have expressed your desire and willingness to continue your offerings even in this uncertain time. Ongoing fixed expenses for our church home continue. Using the green “Give” button on our website makes use of Tithe.ly, an online giving app that deposits money directly into our checking account. (A description of how to use this was in a previous email). We are also having the mail forwarded to the home of our Office Administrator, Janice Gardner, and so if a check is sent, it will be received and can be deposited.
I cannot give thanks enough for all of you. As we weather this storm it is good to know that we do so in the company of each other, and in the company of Jesus, who joins us together as one family by our baptism.
Yours in Christ,