image-title

Announcement regarding updated gathering guidelines

 

Sunday morning Worship Options:

Beginning Sunday, May 30th, the following in-person worship guidelines will be in effect:

In the Sanctuary:

Since we know that we have members with a wide variety of health situations and comfort levels, and since we are blessed with a spacious sanctuary, we are offering the following options:

  • In the center section of the sanctuary, masks will not be required for people who are fully vaccinated. People who are not fully vaccinated may also sit in the center section if they are wearing masks.
  • The two side sections of the sanctuary will be designated “masks only.” The section nearest the band loft will remain marked off for physical distancing. When you arrive, please inform the ushers and/or greeters of your distancing and masking preferences and they will make every effort to accommodate you.

In the Fellowship Hall:

The service will be live streamed simultaneously on the big screen in the Fellowship Hall where chairs will be set up observing the physical distancing guidelines and masks will be required. Staff members or board members will be present to welcome worshippers.

Children:

Children over the age of 3 and under the age of 12 will need to wear masks in the sanctuary, since the vaccine is not available to them and we are concerned for their safety. Beginning on Sunday, June 6th, a nursery will be provided for young children. The adults in the nursery will be fully vaccinated and masked to ensure the safety of your children.

Sunday School:

On Sunday, June 6th, Sunday School classes may resume in-person gatherings in the spaces that they previously occupied in the building. Each class will be asked to formulate its own safe guidelines.

Pastor’s Plea:

For our own safety and for the safety of others, and so that we can accelerate the process of returning to full in-person worship, we strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding as we seek to move forward in a way that shows our concern and care for each other as God’s children.

(Please know that we will continue to monitor the situation and make any necessary changes if the need arises.)

Read More
image-title

On Sunday, May 9, we will honor all our mothers during the 10:00 a.m. Worship Service.

Here are three ways you can honor your mother on Mother’s Day, May 9:

  1. Bring her to In Person Worship or, if that is not possible, consider watching the service online with her. visit the newphilly.org website for registration information.
  2. Tell us (through a comment on this Facebook post or email to sam@newphilly.org) what her favorite hymn or praise song is (or was, if she has already gone to be with the Lord). The first 7 hymns or songs to be submitted will be included in some way. Hymns and songs submitted after the first seven entries will be mentioned in the service and listed on the Live-stream.
  3. Men: Consider joining the Men’s Chorus that will sing a special anthem during the service in honor or in memory of our mothers. If you would like to sing, please come to a brief (15-20 minute) rehearsal on Monday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. or, if you are not able to attend the rehearsal, come to the sanctuary on Sunday, May 9 at 9:30 a.m. to practice.

Our Worship Team will lead other hymns and songs during the service.

Read More
image-title

Important Update on In-person Worship Gatherings

 

At our recent Joint Board Retreat, we were guided by these words from I Peter 5:10:

 

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.

 

We are thankful that God is helping us restore some of the things that we have missed over the past year. We are grateful that God has continued to support and strengthen some of our ongoing ministries and activities. And we are excited about some of the new opportunities that we believe God wants to establish in our congregation (stay tuned for more on that!).

 

Some of the elements of our Sunday Morning Worship services are being restored. We have opened the doors to in-person attendance in keeping with the safe gathering guidelines that we have set. Please consider attending in person on Sunday morning. Our online registration (through the New Philly website) helps to “save your spot” and you may also simply “show up” on Sunday morning (you will be asked to fill out a contact card and place it in the offering plate in the vestibule before you leave).

 

For the time being, masks are still required. We are using liturgies that include shorter congregational responses so that you can take part in the liturgy if you feel comfortable doing so. Hymnals and pew Bibles have been restored to their places and may be used during the service. We have marked off available seating in the sanctuary and we have about 95 “spots” where people may be seated. If you attend with other people from your household or “inner circle,” you are all welcome to occupy the same “spot.”

 

Please continue to hold our congregation (our members, our staff, people who are involved in worship leadership, our musicians, our tech team, and others) in your prayers. The past year has not been easy but Peter’s words remind us that God will indeed restore, support, strengthen and establish us as we move forward rejoicing in hope!

Read More
image-title

12 Days Till Easter…and lots of opportunities packed into a dozen days!

 

Wednesday, March 24th

12:00 Noon Join Pastor Gray and others at 12:00 Noon for a Weekly Wednesday Reflection on Zoom. If you sign in at 11:00 a.m. you can watch the Day of Prayer Service from Konnoak Moravian. Bishop Carol Foltz will bring the message. The Zoom link is on the church calendar.

7:00 p.m. The Justice and Reconciliation Team is sharing the Lenten Series, “A New Way of Being: From Confession to Hope.” Ronda and Tracy Robinson are ordained Moravian ministers from Nicaragua (good friends with Steve Gray when they were growing up!) and are serving in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They will share their race-related experiences in America, Nicaragua and in the Moravian Church. This Zoom link is also on the church calendar.

 

Friday, March 26th

8:00 a.m. Men’s Breakfast in the Pavilion

 

Palm Sunday, March 28th

10:00 a.m. Worship Service (In person and live-streamed, registration is required for in-person). Installation of Board members; Mission Moment; Hosanna! and more!

Come at 9:30 and listen to the band playing on the front lawn!

4:00 p.m. Confirmation Service for the students who began in 2019. You are welcome to register for in-person attendance or watch it live online.

 

Tuesday, March 30th

7:00 p.m. Readings for Holy Week, via Zoom. Stay tuned for more details!

 

Maundy Thursday, April 1st

7:00 p.m. Holy Communion (register for in-person or take part virtually)

 

Good Friday, April 2nd

12:00 noon  A cross will be placed outside in front of the sanctuary. Come by and “nail your sins to the cross.”

6:00 p.m. The sanctuary will be open for a time of reflection and meditation.

6:30 p.m. Evening service with Holy Week readings and presentation of “The Seven Last Words” oratorio (register for in-person or watch live online).

8:00 p.m. Drive-in Seven Last Words visual experience at God’s Acre

 

Saturday, April 3rd

Preparation for Easter Sunday: in God’s Acre you will find a cabinet with cleaning supplies and all of the water faucets will be unlocked.

Women’s Fellowship will place flowers on God’s Acre beginning at 9:00 a.m. – you’re welcome to lend a hand!

 

Easter Sunday (April 4th):

9:30 a.m. Band prelude on the front lawn

10:00 a.m. Easter Service (In person with registration and Live stream)

10:45 a.m. The service continues on the front lawn and then at God’s Acre.

Read More
image-title

Elders Report

We have all heard the musings of one year “lost” in a pandemic. But perhaps as we have listened to God’s leading in this time of our lives, as we have sought light in the darkness, we may have found some things too. We may have learned that we did not need and could not be as reliant on what we call “material things.” We may have “lost” our regular seats in Sunday worship, but we may have found a different perspective that allows us to see and hear worship in a new light. We may have realized that no matter how many losses we counted, God was with us to lead us to respond in faith, love and hope.

Regathering:  We have missed the companionship of loved ones and friends as we first sheltered in our homes and continued to restrict physical contact during these months of pandemic. Of the 94 persons who responded to the Regathering survey sent to members last week, 85 had watched the livestreamed worship or watched it later on Youtube, 24 had attended a worship service in person and 58 had attended meetings or Bible study by Zoom. Eight others mentioned handbell practice, playing in the band outside and drive-in communions as ways they had gathered during this past year. We will continue to follow guidelines for safety (3 Ws) as we gather for now, but our gatherings for meetings and fellowship inside and outside can be up to 25 persons.

We have learned that sharing worship on a screen or by sitting masked and apart from others isn’t the way we expected or even wanted, but we may have found ways to listen to God in the stillness, in the music and liturgy read and sung to us, and even in the clatter and noise of keyboards and dishes and dogs. We may have looked outside ourselves to see God at work in our world as we began to watch the world transform with spring’s beginning. We may have seen the enormity of feeding the hungry in just our small neighborhood and stocked the Blessing Box or sent food to Sunnyside or supported missions like H.O.P.E. through our Missions and Social Concerns Committee. These efforts, like dropping coins into the huge lovefeast candle that lit up in December, may seem small, but to one person who lost a job during a pandemic and needed to feed a family, it may have been large. Diapers, books, school supplies, Imprints Cares, delivering communion kits, doorstep visits, benevolence to help a neighbor in need—none of these may solve all the shelter, world hunger or food deserts or even keep everyone connected, but each of these acts is the something we can do and have done to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world.        

Justice and Reconciliation Team has continued to study, to share conversation and action with our neighbors, looking for ways to partner with Estamos Unidos, the Moravian Hispanic ministry led by Rev. Angelica Regalado Cieza and with Rolling Hills Moravian Church in Miami. Meetings each Wednesday night during Lent and through the first of April focus on sharing the Lenten series A New Way of Being.

 

Stewardship:  As a congregation, we are being led by the Stewardship Team and our pastor Sam to think about stewardship in some different ways over these next months of 2021,  a refocusing to follow cross-shaped-giving and cross-shaped-living as we examine practicing Jesus’s economy. How can we continue our mission to live like Jesus, serve our neighbors like Jesus and love our neighbors (next door and across the globe) like Jesus? Consider your talents and gifts and how you can use them to serve like Jesus in the coming months as we regroup and regather.

We kept lights in our windows and in our hearts when news of the world seemed so dark and heavy. We lit our lovefeast candles this year in a different way: we shared them with family and in small groups physically distanced as some of us stood outside in the dark on Christmas Eve, but we also lit them in our bringing them to some of our members with portable lovefeasts and porch visits and as we shared our lovefeast kits and a recorded Christmas Eve service with our families. Pastor Sam shared stories of how God’s light in our lives inspires us. Are you seeing some light in your life? We are gaining about a minute’s worth of light every day as we move toward a season of warmth and hope.

Stories can help us process both the joys and sorrows of our lives.It’s how Jesus often taught—with parables. Let me tell you a story of one member’s path to participation in worship during this past year. This member was present in person last March on the last Sunday we were able to be present in person without masks, distancing and the protocols we adopted to keep each other and our community as safe as we could from infection. Within a week after we were shocked into realizing that we could attend only by finding our livestreamed service online, we started using Zoom, a videoconferencing tool, to have members call in by phone–usually landlines– to listen to the service as it is livestreamed. For approximately 52 Sunday mornings, this member with impaired vision, found a neighbor to dial a Chicago phone number, key in the meeting number, press #, press # again to bypass a participant number, key in the passcode, press # again, then choose speakerphone for the phone and tab the star and 6 keys in case she wanted to mute or unmute herself. All of that process to be able to join a few other church members to participate in worship. Every single Sunday morning. A year of Sunday’s. And now screens. Some of our members who had called in faithfully on landlines to hear worship can now see worship on tablets borrowed from New Philly using hotspots to connect them. We found some ways to stay connected.

Communication and connection happen because one person or group has a message to send to others to receive it. It can be like the old game we sometimes played in school where one whispers a message. . .

A town crier gave daily news in the village of Salem in the 18th century. This small community in the midst of the woods was 5-6 miles from Salem so it is doubtful that those residents of this community could hear that town crier shouting the news of the day. During the past year, communication and connection became even more important.

How do you receive news and information from New Philadelphia?

Sometimes we have to learn new ways to send and receive information to stay connected. Here are some of the ways we communicate and connect today:

  • Email: 413 of us have provided up to date email addresses to the church so that we can receive an individual email when there is news to receive (including the weekly emailed newsletter that Emily McNeil from Communications Team has provided for little more than a year.
  • Instant Church Directory: 176 of us have used our email addresses to create a login to the church directory where we can put a name to a face or click on a member’s email or phone to contact them. 609 families or individuals  are listed.
  • Realm: 90 active participants (those who have accepted the invitation and have access to their account) and there are 411 Members w/Email (an email group I set up).
  • Website: For the newphilly.org blog/website – there are 114 subscribed email followers and 1313 who follow via social media. Our most popular day for the website is Sunday. All time views for the month of January 2.4K, February 2.8K, and 1.1K thus far for March( first week).
  • MailChimp: We have 599 contacts in our total audience.
  • Facebook: private New Philly Now group – 202 members with 130 of them showing as active.; 1215 people ‘like’ the public Facebook page, 1567 people ‘follow’ the public page.
  • Twitter : 103 follow our twitter account
  • Instagram : 370 follow our Instagram account
  • YouTube : 127 subscribers
  • Some three dozen members who do not use email request a mailed copy of the weekly newsletter and Sunday’s order of worship.

We are grateful for the shepherding, leadership and teaching of our pastor Sam Gray, who answered our request for a call to ministry last spring and who, since July, has led us, taught us, and encouraged us. We are grateful for church staff: Clyde’s enthusiasm, Evie’s creativity with children’s ministries, Zach and Erin’s creative planning for middle and high school youth, for Tim’s rearrangement of the spaces in this facility and on the grounds to provide safety, for Rachel who keeps us scheduled, organized and informed and Donna who manages financials. We are grateful for all staff and for the worship team: for Steve Gray whose leadership and teaching has amplified a few voices to sing and play so richly for us all. We are grateful to the small but dedicated tech team (Michael Crotts, Eric Bradley and Valerie Crane), who have used the media of sound and video to allow us to share in livestreamed worship, especially for the last 52 Sundays.

We are grateful for these outgoing board members who spent hours in prayer, in Zoom and in-person meetings, in faithful dedication to our congregation. For three years and three months, and in at least one case five years, these members of your Board of Elders: April Greenwood, Frank Chitty, Nancy Renn, Tina Spach and your Board of Trustees: Alan Barber, Brad Pitts, Chris Rogers and Ron Tedder have served in these capacities. Our Rules and Regulations say that they can have a two-year break before being nominated to serve again, but they continue to lead us as they seek to follow Jesus’s example. Thank you to this group and to April Greenwood and Chris Rogers who have chaired the Nominating Committee, and who have invited many of you to serve on our boards for the coming term.

Congregational council elected four candidates for Board of Elders and four for Board of Trustees who will help to lead New Philadelphia’s congregation in living, serving and loving like Jesus during the next shortened term of two years and nine months. We welcome Mike Sloan, Will Spach, Darla Bonnett and Shannon Koontz as members of the Board of Elders and Steve Huddleston, Darlene Reinhardt, Dan Franklin and John Geis to the Board of Trustees to serve through 2023. Nancy Holland will serve as Congregational Council secretary. Board members who continue to serve are Andi Williams (2022), Cindy Daggett (2022), Cynthia Fearrington (2021), Frank Nifong (2021), Michael Crane (2022), Tiffany Woods (2021), Maggie Davis (youth representative) and Kay Windsor (2022) on Board of Elders, and Becky Ward (2021), Bill Byrd (2021), Bruce Bradley (2022), Constance Linville (2021), David Stanfield (2022), Earl Wall (2021), Susie Tickle (2022) and Tony Ebert (2022).

Continue reading Congregational Council REPORT

Read More