As many of you may have heard, Governor Baker lifted the ban on gatherings for places of worship starting today, May 18th. While this is hopeful news, unfortunately we cannot jump right back into church as we all wish. Massachusetts’ phase one of reopening includes specific guidelines, which highlight the importance that we proceed with caution. Governor Baker’s phase one plan for reopening churches include significant limitations to how we can use our building. The following are the current guidelines: *Houses of worship will be limited to 40 percent occupancy of the building’s maximum permitted occupancy level, including attendees and staff, according to the checklist of safety requirements for the reopening of the facilities. *Everyone is required to wear masks, and non-immediate household members must stay at least six feet apart. *Communal gatherings before or after services remain prohibited, though food pantries and the distribution of pre-packaged food run out of houses of worship remain allowed. *Child-care services must remain closed.
We want to assure you that the Trustees, Pete and I are working hard to put together a re-opening plan which will follow UCC guidelines, Massachusetts guidelines, and put the safety of our church community and staff as top priority. In the meantime, we will continue to gather virtually until we have a solid plan in place. It feels like it has been an incredibly long time since we have been able to commune and worship together. Please remember that the time we spend apart represents our love for each other, as this separation comes from the deepest desire to keep everyone safe and healthy. We all look forward to rejoicing together with great anticipation! Lynn Mayo, moderator
March 16, 2020
Dear HCC Family,
I hope all of you are feeling well and caring for yourselves — or seeking help if you need it. Many at HCC have offered to run errands or help in other ways. Please contact me if you need anything. As always, Sara and I are free to talk on the phone, text, or email to offer pastoral care or just reflect with you.
We offered our first-ever virtual worship service yesterday and reached not only our members and friends nearby, but people from many other states and at least three other countries! Here is a YouTube link to an edited version — with no sideways people 🙂 https://youtu.be/dF8hONULsWE
Wednesday Evening Services: We will offer online messages on the 18th (Sara) and 25th (me). Link click here
Going forward: We will continue offering virtual worship services each Sunday morning at 10 a.m. and plan to add occasional online opportunities for spiritual nourishment (brief times for prayer, music, and reflection).
Church School: Please email Sara for a lesson plan if you’d like to try “home church school” with your child(ren).
Growing In Faith Together (GIFT):
We will be studying the Bible each Thursday morning from 9 – 10:30 a.m. using Zoom (an online video conferencing service) until we can again meet in person. Please email me if you are not already a part of GIFT and would like to participate.
Vacation Bible School:
Planning is under way! Please click this link for information and registration:
Sending compassion, calm, and confidence that we will make it through this and see each other again when it’s safe to gather. God’s peace be with you!
March 14, 2020
Dear HCC Family,
Sara and I hope that all of you are faring well, even as the coronavirus crisis continues and many of us have had to interrupt our usual routines. I went for a long walk today and that helped reduce my cabin fever! If you are not feeling well — physically or emotionally — please know that we are praying for you and that we are here for you if you’d like to talk by phone.
A few updates:
Pine Street Inn: We will not need desserts this month. We will purchase desserts and do not need cooks or servers. Thank you to all of our caring bakers and volunteers! We will need you in the future.
Food drive delivery: A small group of folks will be delivering some of the food we gathered. Please do not come to the church to help with this project. Thanks to all who shopped and intended to help deliver. We surpassed our goal of 100 bags of food and that is something to feel great about. You are such a compassionate congregation.
The Consignment Center will be closed to donations, volunteers, and shoppers for the next few weeks. We will let you know when we plan to reopen.
Tomorrow morning’s virtual worship service: We will be streaming live on my personal Facebook page. If we are not friends on Facebook yet, please click on this link https://www.facebook.com/peter.allen.5070276 and send me a friend request ASAP.
If you are not on Facebook, you can find the service by mid-afternoon tomorrow by searching for Rev. Dr. Peter Allen on YouTube.
I hope everyone can find the service one way or another. If you can’t, please reach out to me at email@example.com and let me know. In any event, both Sara and I would love to exchange emails or text or chat with you if you’d like. We want to stay connected, especially in these days of unusual separation and worry.
Keep the faith! Sending God’s Peace,
March 13, 2020
Dear HCC Family,
I greet you with the peace of Christ and I hope this message finds you well. We are all feeling challenged and anxious these days because of COVID-19 and it’s time to make some difficult decisions.
After carefully considering guidance from health officials, state government, and UCC denominational leaders, we have decided to suspend all HCC gatherings, including Sunday and Wednesday worship, for at least the next two weeks.
We did not come to this decision lightly and are sad to have had to make it. However, if we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and be responsible, it is the only course of action we can take. Because we need each other more than ever in times of crisis, we are being as creative as we can to find ways to still be the church.
Virtual Worship: We will offer a simple online worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday morning, which will be available on Facebook Live (on my page). If you and I are not “friends” on Facebook, please reach out and we will connect. We will also offer the service on YouTube (including Sara’s children’s message). More information will be coming about how to find it.
The HCC sanctuary will be open for individual prayer on Sunday morning from 10:30-11. Anyone who comes will be asked to keep a safe physical distance from others. Please do not come if you are feeling sick. I will be there.
Church School: Anyone who wants a lesson for your child(ren) for this Sunday can receive a PDF from Sara. Send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
Other ways to connect, pray, study, and serve:
Tuesday Bible Study and GIFT will continue in a virtual format, we hope! Please contact Todd Anderson (Tuesday study) at email@example.com or me (GIFT) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-522-3685 to discuss plans.
Sara is texting daily Lenten thoughts and quotes . Please contact her to get signed up to receive them. I have been enjoying them each day!
Walks : We are looking into the possibility of scheduling weekly walks for those interested.
Reach out : Please make an effort to call, text, or email those whom you know could use a caring friend during this time, whether they are HCC folks or not. This is an important part of our calling as people of faith.
Prayer and conversation with the pastors : Sara and I are available to pray and talk with you via phone. Please do not hesitate to reach out.
Board/committee/group leaders: Please be in touch with your folks. We are here to support you as you make plans for the coming weeks.
I will be sending regular messages to the congregation to offer more ideas and to update you about our evolving plans. Please know that Sara and I hold each of you in prayer. We will get through this!