Coronavirus (COVD-19) Information and Updates

As the rise and spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts our state, the Pennsylvania Conference is closely monitoring the news, working with pastors and principals in planning, preparing and decision-making for our churches and schools. Updates on actions the Conference is taking and its communications with our churches will be posted on this page.

We invite you to join us in praying for those affected, the healthcare professionals who are caring for those who are ill, and for all who are anxious and fearful about what happens next. Download a list of things to be praying for during this pandemic here.

Sign up for our eblast updates here.
Blessing the Local Church

While some may choose to worship from home temporarily, there is also the potential that Governor Wolf may mandate closings of churches and group meetings in some areas, like in Montgomery County, and possibly across the state should the outbreak continue to grow. It’s important that we stay connected as a church family during this time of crisis and concern.

We encourage members to continue to support your local church in a variety of ways:

  • Pray for your church, your leadership, members, and the community around your church–for health, calmness, peace and trust in God.
  • Stay connected to members who are not able to attend at this time because of their health. Call, text, email, send a card. Let’s not allow this pandemic to disrupt our friendship, fellowship, or caring.
  • Create ways to stay in touch and pray together. Live stream worship services, start a prayer call using a Free Conference line like this service, use Skype, Zoom, and Facetime in order to talk in real time and almost face-to-face.
  • Check in on older members. They may already not attend church, but they, too, are hearing the news and may have fears about what’s going on. Check out these ideas from Jeannette Dare, Adventist Community Service Director, for helping members in tangible ways.
  • Continue to support your local church financially. Churches will continue to have bills and expenses even if they are unable to meet, worship and give members the opportunity to give. You can give online through your church’s AdventistGiving.org account or send your offering to your local treasurer. Contact your pastor for information.

Updates

May 7, 2020 COVID-19 Update

Video Update

Watch President Gary Gibb’s video update on Facebook, here.

Worship

We are excited that about 90% of our churches are meeting for worship, Sabbath School classes, prayer meeting, vespers, seminars, and even “church socials” through conference calls, Zoom meetings, and through live streamed services. For those whose churches are not able to offer worship services, our conference leadership team invites you to worship with us:

  • On our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference/
  • By calling our audio line, call 605-472-5260 and enter code: 662834
  • On our YouTube page, go to YouTube and search for Pennsylvania Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Note you do not need to have a Facebook page in order to view our online worship service. Just click to proceed to the page without creating your own profile.

The worship services will be archived on both Facebook and YouTube for those who would like to enjoy the service later in the day, after your church service is over.

Sabbath School Classes

We are also providing Sabbath School classes for children and adults. Please contact your pastor or the Conference office for the Zoom links:

Kindergarten Sabbath School Class at 9:30 am each Sabbath morning with Schwanda Morgan

Primary Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning with Julissa Boyce

Junior Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning with Priscilla Gonzalez

Youth Sabbath School Class at 2:00 pm each Sabbath afternoon with Todd Casey, Youth Director

Adult Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning

Pathfinder Teen Leadership Training at 1:00 pm each Sabbath afternoon with Doug Miller

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our moms and to those who have loved and cared like a mom! We are grateful for your impact and your prayers!

Looking for some fun ways to make memories with mom and the whole family during this pandemic and stay-at-home orders? Visit our Conference Family Ministries’ page and find ideas, resources and links to virtual museums and zoos, places to find great family-friendly movies and programs, Bible studies for kids, likes to Primary Treasure, My Little Friend, Guide, and so much more! Click here to check it out.

By My Spirit – Prayer

Prayer for the Holy Spirit is the foundation of success in God’s work and one of our strategic mission initiatives. As church members pray daily for the outpouring of the Spirit, we will see the promised blessing come. “To those who wait humbly upon God…is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train.” (The Desire of Ages, p. 672) We invite you to join with us in prayer through a variety of ways:

Share your prayer requests with us:

  • Email to prayer@paconference.org
  • Share via our website at paconference.org and click on the “Prayer Requests” button
  • Call 610-374-8332 and leave your request in a message on our prayer line

Unite with us in prayer:

Connect with Us

We know that connecting with others is important, especially while we all stay safely home. It’s important to stay healthy. And those who have children at home may have bored kids at home. We want to be here for you, so we’ve started several new Facebook groups and invite you to join:

May 1, 2020 COVID-19 Update

Video Update

Watch President Gary Gibb’s video update on Facebook, here.

Worship

We are excited that about 90% of our churches are meeting for worship, Sabbath School classes, prayer meeting, vespers, seminars, and even “church socials” through conference calls, Zoom meetings, and through live streamed services. For those whose churches are not able to offer worship services, our conference leadership team invites you to worship with us:

  • On our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference/
  • By calling our audio line, call 605-472-5260 and enter code: 662834
  • On our YouTube page, go to YouTube and search for Pennsylvania Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Note you do not need to have a Facebook page in order to view our online worship service. Just click to proceed to the page without creating your own profile.

The worship services will be archived on both Facebook and YouTube for those who would like to enjoy the service later in the day, after your church service is over.

Sabbath School Classes

We are also providing Sabbath School classes for children and adults. Please contact your pastor or the Conference office for the Zoom links:

Kindergarten Sabbath School Class at 9:30 am each Sabbath morning with Schwanda Morgan

Primary Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning with Julissa Boyce

Junior Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning with Priscilla Gonzalez

Youth Sabbath School Class at 2:00 pm each Sabbath afternoon with Todd Casey, Youth Director

Adult Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning

Pathfinder Teen Leadership Training at 1:00 pm each Sabbath afternoon with Doug Miller

Save on Taxes

There are special tax provisions available for only this year that will help you save on your 2020 taxes*:

  • Deduct up to 100% of your taxable income on donations to the Pennsylvania Conference and your local church. Normally, you can only deduct up to 60% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
  • If you do not itemize, this year you can deduct $300 (single) or $600 (couple) for charitable contributions. This will reduce your taxable income and taxes.
  • Qualified Charitable Rollovers (QCR) have not changed except required minimum distributions (RMD) are waived for most qualified plan participants for tax year 2020. However, qualified charitable distributions are still an excellent way to support God’s work and offer tax savings for most.

For additional tax savings strategies, or questions on the above, contact our Conference estate planning experts Dr. Al Navarro, or our estate planning attorney Bonnie Navarro Esq.. They stand ready to assist you free of charge with confidential estate planning, wills and trusts.

*Since each person’s situation is unique, check with your tax preparer for your specific situation.

By My Spirit – Prayer

Prayer for the Holy Spirit is the foundation of success in God’s work and one of our strategic mission initiatives. As church members pray daily for the outpouring of the Spirit, we will see the promised blessing come. “To those who wait humbly upon God…is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train.” (The Desire of Ages, p. 672) We invite you to join with us in prayer through a variety of ways:

Share your prayer requests with us:

  • Email to prayer@paconference.org
  • Share via our website at paconference.org and click on the “Prayer Requests” button
  • Call 610-374-8332 and leave your request in a message on our prayer line

Unite with us in prayer:

Connect with Us

We know that connecting with others is important, especially while we all stay safely home. It’s important to stay healthy. And those who have children at home may have bored kids at home. We want to be here for you, so we’ve started several new Facebook groups and invite you to join:

April 17, 2020 COVID-19 Update

Evangelism Changing Lives

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20 NKJV)

Many of us are familiar with Joseph’s story, of God’s rescue and family reunion. How God took what looked like crisis and pain and redeemed it. Saving Joseph’s family and God’s people from famine. God is doing the same thing through this pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic may have closed the doors to church buildings, but it did not stop evangelism or mission—instead it spread the message to people and parts of the world it would not have reached otherwise.

Here are several examples:

Hispanic Ministries

The COVID-19 pandemic may have closed the doors to church buildings, but it did not stop evangelism or mission. Hispanic churches had planned a week-long evangelistic series for April 4-11, 2020. They were no longer able to invite people to their churches, but they did not give up. Instead, they committed to being digital missionaries, using their personal social media pages to promote and invite people to attend meetings offered live on Facebook. Hispanic pastors from across the Pennsylvania Conference united together as a team behind the scenes and took turns preaching.

Their series received more than 19,000 views and was shared 678 times, with an average attendance of 191 people during the live sessions. One woman watching faithfully online was from a Pentecostal church. The messages and truths moved on her heart and she decided to start returning her tithe to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as she continues to study.

Pastor Saud Elias, Pennsylvania Conference Hispanic Ministries Coordinator, left his hometown in La Concepción, Junín, Peru thirty-five years ago. During the Holy Week meetings, people in La Concepción joined the live stream and listened to the service. As Pastor Elias preached on Sabbath, the Holy Spirit moved on the heart of his uncle who made the decision to be baptized.

“It was a total surprise when my cousin sent the photo of my uncle watching me preach,” shares Elias. “I never imagined a video could impact people that far away. I am so thankful that God used my preaching to reach my uncle.”

As the week-long meetings came to a close, Hispanic pastors discussed how to follow up and continue Bible studies in person during the pandemic and stay-at-home orders. They posted the phone number of

Braulio Jiminez during the meetings and invited those interested in a free Bible or free Bible studies to contact Jiminez who would drop them off at their doorstep. Twenty-six requests for Bible studies and thirteen requests for Bibles were received. Jiminez dropped them at each door, making connections and encouraging people to share the Bibles and studies with a friend or neighbor.

“Reaching everyone, everywhere takes all of us united together to fulfill the mission,” states Gary Gibbs, Pennsylvania Conference president. “Our Hispanic pastors showed us what that looks like lived out. They didn’t let the pandemic interrupt their plans to share the gospel. They united together as a team and reached their communities—and communities in other parts of the world. This is what it will take to finish the work.”

Reach & Connect

One of our strategic mission initiatives recognizes that over 95 percent of Americans are online. We have recognized that social media is the new front line of evangelism, based on Christ’s method to mingle with people where they are, sympathize with them, meet their needs, invite them to follow Jesus, and connect them with a local church family in their community. Last fall we launched a Facebook page and digital media plan to intentionally connect with people, engage them in conversations, invite them to do Bible studies, and connect them with a local Bible instructor. It’s been exciting to watch people request Bible studies—and then another lesson and another.

Two weeks ago, Pastor Dustin Hall, our church planting director, began a three-week evangelistic series on this Facebook page. Every evening, seven nights a week, a group has gathered to watch his live presentations and then join the Facebook group connected with the series to download the study guide and engage in conversation. Several have been faithfully watching each night and participating in conversation. Hall will connect those interested in Bible instructors in their area to continuing studying and welcome them to a church in their community.

It Is Written

Beginning tonight, Friday, April 17, 2020, It Is Written will conduct a virtual, online evangelistic event presented by Pastor John Bradshaw, It Is Written speaker/director. The month-long series, entitled Revelation Today: Hope Awakens, will present the prophetic message of the Bible while speaking to hearts burdened by anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Pennsylvania Conference churches and pastors will be a part of this series—It Is Written’s largest evangelistic event ever. As people across Pennsylvania “attend” this month-long series, our pastors and members will connect with those interested, sharing Bible studies and building relationships. Register to be a part of this series and invite your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers to register and find hope even in the midst of crisis. Register at https://www.learnhopeawakens.com/webinar-registration.

When you receive your confirmation email or response from It Is Written, please respond and let them know you are a church member and you do not need them to follow up with you.

– – –

Worship

We are excited that about 90% of our churches are meeting for worship, Sabbath School classes, prayer meeting, vespers, seminars, and even “church socials” through conference calls, Zoom meetings, and through live streamed services. For those whose churches are not able to offer worship services, our conference leadership team invites you to worship with us:

  • On our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference/
  • By calling our audio line, call 605-472-5260 and enter code: 662834
  • On our YouTube page, go to YouTube and search for Pennsylvania Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Note you do not need to have a Facebook page in order to view our online worship service. Just click to proceed to the page without creating your own profile.

The worship services will be archived on both Facebook and YouTube for those who would like to enjoy the service later in the day, after your church service is over.

– – –

Sabbath School Classes

We are also providing Sabbath School classes for children and adults. Please contact your pastor or the Conference office for the Zoom links:

  • Kindergarten Sabbath School Class at 9:30 am each Sabbath morning with Schwanda Morgan
  • Primary Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning with Julissa Boyce
  • Junior Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning with Priscilla Gonzalez
  • Youth Sabbath School Class at 2:00 pm each Sabbath afternoon with Todd Casey, Youth Director
  • Adult Sabbath School Class at 10:00 am each Sabbath morning
  • Pathfinder Teen Leadership Training at 1:00 pm each Sabbath afternoon with Doug Miller

– – –

By My Spirit – Prayer

Prayer for the Holy Spirit is the foundation of success in God’s work and one of our strategic mission initiatives. As church members pray daily for the outpouring of the Spirit, we will see the promised blessing come. “To those who wait humbly upon God…is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train.” (The Desire of Ages, p. 672) We invite you to join with us in prayer through a variety of ways:

Share your prayer requests with us:

  • Email to prayer@paconference.org
  • Share via our website at paconference.org and click on the “Prayer Requests” button
  • Call 610-374-8332 and leave your request in a message on our prayer line

Unite with us in prayer:

– – –

Connect with Us

We know that connecting with others is important, especially while we all stay safely home. It’s important to stay healthy. And those who have children at home may have bored kids at home. We want to be here for you, so we’ve started several new Facebook groups and invite you to join:

April 10, 2020 COVID-19 Update

Schools

Governor Tom Wolf has closed all Pennsylvania schools through the end of this academic year. Our schools are following this mandate, though education has not stopped. Students are connecting with classmates and teachers for classes, worship, and prayer. Many of our elementary schools are also doing outreach/service projects in creative ways—like making cards for those in nursing home or who are ill. Or creating sidewalk to brighten their neighborhoods. Follow us on Facebook or on our Instagram page to catch a daily glimpse of our Adventist schools in action.

Churches

Governor Wolf has also closed all churches to services stating, “Individuals should not gather in religious buildings or homes for services or celebrations until the stay-at-home order is lifted.” We are excited to see our churches continuing to worship through a variety of means. Many churches are offering Sabbath School classes, prayer meetings, and vesper services through audio calls, Zoom meetings, and online through Facebook and/or YouTube. Several church members are also hosting Facebook live Sabbath School classes and classes for children during the week. (Check out our “Families United Together” Facebook group for a couple of examples.)

Churches are also seeing the opportunity to share the gospel during this time of fear and anxiety. Our Hispanic pastors have united together with a different pastor preach each night this week, April 4-11, 2020, to present an evangelistic series through Facebook. Both Pastor Brandon Senior and Pastor Dustin Hall are preaching evangelistic meetings online through Facebook.

Beginning April 17, 2020 at 7:30 pm, churches and pastors across Pennsylvania will be joining It Is Written for their “Hope Awakens” evangelistic series with Pastor John Bradshaw, director of It Is Written ministry. People who are watching in Pennsylvania and request Bible studies will be connected with the pastor in their area. Just one more way evangelism and the mission continues.

Prayer Live

This week we launched our new mid-week prayer time live on our Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference with Pastor Shawn Shives hosting. Each Wednesday at 1:20 pm, Shawn and his co-host will share updates on how God is moving across Pennsylvania during this pandemic and pray for your prayer requests. You can see this week’s prayer time at https://www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference/videos/1245945265608980/.

Shawn and our Conference team are praying for you. Share your prayer requests with us:

Unite with us in prayer:

Sabbath School and Worship

The Conference team is offering both Sabbath School classes for children, youth and adult, along with weekly Sabbath worship, and a Pathfinder Leadership Training time. Parents can contact their local pastor for login information for cradle roll (9:30 am), primaries, juniors (10:00 am), and youth (2:00 pm) Sabbath School classes along with a Pathfinder Teen Leadership Training at 1:00 pm. Your pastor will also have information for an adult Sabbath School class via Zoom. (Note we are not making the Zoom links public but have given them to pastors for safety reasons.)

While many churches are offering online worship services, the Conference leadership team is also providing a worship service each Sabbath morning at 11:00 am. It is a shortened service with few preliminaries, so members are invited to join us and invite their friends at 11:00 am.  You can join us for worship in three ways:

Unite Together with Us

We know that connecting with others is important, especially while we all stay safely home. It’s important to stay healthy. And those who have children at home may have bored kids at home. We want to be here for you, so we’ve started several new Facebook groups and invite you to join:

  • Staying Healthy – Join this Facebook group on our Pennsylvania Conference Facebook page and enjoy exercise videos, resources, recipes and more. Direct link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PaStayingHealthy/
  • Families United Together – A place for families to connect, find resources and activities to build strong families who love and serve God, use their gifts to serve their communities, and build strong relationships. https://www.facebook.com/groups/FamiliesUnitedTogether/
  • United in Worship – Miss our Sabbath morning worship service or during the week devotionals? We’ll archive them all in this group for easy access so that you don’t need to scroll through our page finding the video you’d like. https://www.facebook.com/groups/UnitedinWorship/
  • United in Prayer – Unite with us in prayer for each other, for the ministries and needs of the conference, for the requests that come in from our website or prayer line. Currently, we’re spending two weeks praying for a different aspect of the pandemic or group of people impacted by it. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PaUnitedTogetherinPrayer/

April 3, 2020 COVID-19 Update

Schools

Governor Tom Wolf has closed all Pennsylvania schools indefinitely. Our schools are following this mandate, though education has not stopped. Blue Mountain Academy classes resumed this past Monday, March 30, 2020 through distance online learning with teachers reunited with students after spring break. Our elementary schools and junior academies have settled into distance learning—continuing to worship together, complete homework, projects, and look for ways to impact their communities. Follow us on Facebook to catch a daily glimpse of our Adventist schools in action.

Churches

Our churches have also closed their doors, but ministry doesn’t stop. A number of churches have moved to online worship services (find a list with links on our website at https://paconference.org/virus-updates/.) Other churches are meeting through Zoom and/or audio conference calls. One of the exciting things happening in our churches is a growing movement of prayers as members pray together in ways they weren’t before the pandemic. Prayer is happening through phone calls, conference calls, and Zoom. Our Hispanic churches are creating an army of digital missionaries using their personal social media accounts to spread the gospel. Pastor Dustin Hall has launched an online evangelistic series on Facebook every evening at 7:00 pm beginning April 2, 2020. The series will run about three weeks. There’s a Facebook group where Hall will be able to share study guides and connect with those interested.

Sabbath School and Worship

The Conference team is offering both Sabbath School classes for children, youth and adult, along with weekly Sabbath worship, and a Pathfinder Leadership Training time. Parents can contact their local pastor for login information for cradle roll (9:30 am), primaries, juniors (10:00 am), and youth (2:00 pm) Sabbath School classes along with a Pathfinder Teen Leadership Training at 1:00 pm. Your pastor will also have information for an adult Sabbath School class via Zoom. (Note we are not making the Zoom links public but have given them to pastors for safety reasons.)

While many churches are offering online worship services, the Conference leadership team is also providing a worship service each Sabbath morning at 11:00 am. It is a shortened service with few preliminaries, so members are invited to join us and invite their friends at 11:00 am.  You can join us for worship in three ways:

Unite Together with Us

We know that connecting with others is important, especially while we all stay safely home. It’s important to stay healthy. And those who have children at home may have bored kids at home. We want to be here for you, so we’ve started several new Facebook groups and invite you to join:

  • Staying Healthy – Join this Facebook group on our Pennsylvania Conference Facebook page and enjoy exercise videos, resources, recipes and more. Direct link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PaStayingHealthy/
  • Families United Together – A place for families to connect, find resources and activities to build strong families who love and serve God, use their gifts to serve their communities, and build strong relationships. https://www.facebook.com/groups/FamiliesUnitedTogether/
  • United in Worship – Miss our Sabbath morning worship service or during the week devotionals? We’ll archive them all in this group for easy access so that you don’t need to scroll through our page finding the video you’d like. https://www.facebook.com/groups/UnitedinWorship/
  • United in Prayer – Unite with us in prayer for each other, for the ministries and needs of the conference, for the requests that come in from our website or prayer line. Currently, we’re spending two weeks praying for a different aspect of the pandemic or group of people impacted by it. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PaUnitedTogetherinPrayer/

Prayer

We’re praying for you and invite you to join us in prayer and/or share your prayer requests with us.

Then join Pastor Shawn Shives each Wednesday at 1:20 pm on our Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference, as he and others share what God is doing across our Conference and prays for requests shared and for our 120 in 2020 Evangelism Initiative.

March 26, 2020 – Summer Camp and Schools

Summer Camp

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our world and the expectation that this crisis could continue through July or August, Conference administrators have made the difficult decision to cancel plans for summer camp at Laurel Lake Camp.

“We were anticipating a great year for summer camp,” says Education Director Jeremy Garlock, who has been serving as this year’s summer camp director. “Registrations are the highest they’ve been at this point in the year. Several churches have already begun to send in names of children they are sponsoring from their churches and communities. Young adults were applying for positions on our summer camp staff. So the decision is an incredibly disappointing one to make, but it’s important to keep members and young people safe and do our part as a faith community to suppress the transmission of the coronavirus.”

Everyone who has already registered will receive a refund shortly. Thank you to churches who have sponsored young people, giving them an opportunity to discover a deeper understanding of God and enjoy the great outdoors at Laurel Lake. Those monies will be returned to church treasurers shortly.

New Youth Ministries Director Todd Casey is excited about next year’s camp program. “Camp is a powerful tool at the church’s disposal where children are introduced to Jesus Christ and decisions to follow Him are made,” he shares.

Education

In accordance with Governor Tom Wolf’s mandate, all Pennsylvania Conference schools will remain closed through April 6, possibly longer should the governor extend the state’s closure. Despite the closing of the school buildings, education is still happening. Each of our Pennsylvania Conference schools had a distance learning plan in place before students went home for spring break.

“The current pandemic is a true test of our education system,” states Education Director Jeremy Garlock. “I am proud to state that our education professionals are passing the test with flying colors!”

Elementary school and junior academy teachers are spending just as many hours educating students now as they did in the classroom. Each school designed a distance learning plan with their own students in mind, looking at technology available to students and children’s learning styles. Several teachers are doing double duty, teaching students online and also preparing packets, getting them to children, and connecting with them over the phone or email.

“It’s amazing to see the teachers using new ways and doing whatever it takes to do the thing they want to do—educate kids,” Garlock says.

Blue Mountain Academy staff prepared students for distance learning before spring break. Classes will resume on Monday, March 30, 2020. “Our staff is optimistic,” shares Principal Burney Culpepper. “Our administration is meeting together regularly. Our staff is organized and equipped for teaching online. The school year will continue. Academic credibility will be maintained. Diplomas will be awarded to those who complete the classwork.”

Blue Mountain Academy Alumni Weekend

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s mandates, Blue Mountain Academy and the Alumni Association have regretfully cancelled alumni weekend scheduled for April 24-26, 2020. We understand that alumni, especially honor class members, were excitedly planning to reunite with classmates here at BMA. We invite you to “reunite” on our BMA Facebook page and in other ways. We will be posting photos from yearbooks and encourage you to follow us on FB, look for friends and yourself. Share fun stories and great memories. Let’s unite together to connect with friends, catch up, and encourage one another.

March 22, 2020 Update — Blue Mountain Academy

Our world is constantly changing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast to the anxiety pervading society, the Bible assures us we have nothing to fear because God is faithful and will never leave or forsake us. Praise the Lord for His promises!

One week ago, Tom Wolf, governor of Pennsylvania, closed all schools for two weeks. Blue Mountain Academy complied with this order and have been planning to reconvene classes on campus on March 30. Recently, however, other states have announced they are transitioning to online classes for the rest of the school year and we expect Pennsylvania will do the same. Consequently, BMA has decided to complete the year with distance learning beginning Monday, March 30. What does this mean for students?

  1. Academic credibility will be maintained and diplomas will be awarded to those who complete the classwork. Staff and students are fully prepared to make this transition.
  2. Class schedules will be optimized for distance learning and will be sent next week to all students. While school hours will approximate normal BMA times, they will be shorter.
  3. A special schedule will accommodate students living in China and Korea who have a 12+ hour time difference.
  4. There will be adjustment to FACTS and financial statements for students who are no longer boarding or eating in the cafeteria. This will be reflected week after next.
  5. Parents may arrange with BMA administration to pick up their child’s dorm possessions. The Conference camp meeting in June is cancelled, so belongings can remain safely in the dorm for some time.
  6. Should the governor lift the school closure, BMA will let parents and students know on-campus classes can resume. The BMA staff would love to have students back on campus, hearing their laughter, seeing their smiles, and joining them in praise, prayer, and worship.
  7. BMA hopes to be able to open the campus in time to conduct graduation May 22-24. If not, they will consider pushing it into June. We want the seniors and juniors to celebrate this amazing school year.

We understand this coronavirus disruption is unsettling for students and parents. Please know that the BMA staff is fully committed to serving parents and students during this last quarter. They stand ready to assist families in any way they can. parents and students can contact BMA with questions and concerns at 484-662-7000 or at info@bma.us.

Thank you for your prayers and patience as we work to turn adversity into triumph through the powerful grace of our Lord. Let us echo King David in Psalm 16:1, “In You, I have put my faith.

With continued faith in Christ,

Burney Culpepper, principal

March 20, 2020 – Pennsylvania Churches and Camp Meeting
Churches

On a conference call with pastors, volunteer lay pastors and church leaders last night, President Gary Gibbs recommended that all churches close their doors effective immediately and move Sabbath worship services online or join the worship services provided by the Conference leadership beginning Sabbath, March 21, 2020. This drastic measure is urged in an effort to keep members safe and do our part as a faith community to suppress the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. (A separate press release announces the Conference office is transitioning to a virtual office on Monday, March 23.)

Camp Meeting Update

Conference administration is regrettably announcing that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty in the length of the virus’ impact, camp meetings are cancelled for June. Due to the virus crisis, camp meeting speakers were also cancelling. President Trump announced earlier this week that the United States may be managing the outbreak through July or August.  Health experts expect that the country will be fighting the virus for months. We have been looking forward to camp meeting and this news is disappointing as we each face many changes in our plans, calendars, and lives. Conference leadership will continue to work with our pastoral staff to provide opportunities for worship, prayer, spiritual growth, and fellowship as we navigate the days ahead.

Everyone who has already registered will receive a refund shortly.

Stay Connected

It is important that churches continue to connect with members and their communities. Our brick and mortar buildings may be closed, but the ministry of the church has not stopped. The hope and courage that God, His Word, and worship brings is needed even more now in this moment of crisis. Church is not a building or something we do on Sabbath. Church is the people. We can continue to be the church, worship together, and impact our communities.

  • Many churches are offering online worship services. For those who are not, our office team will offer adult SS lesson study at 10:00 am and Sabbath morning worship at 11:00 am service with President Gary Gibbs each week through our Facebook page, facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference. Simply go to our Facebook page (there’s also a link on the home page of our website which will take you directly there) and look for the post to pop up at 10:00 am and then again at 11:00 am. These services will remain online so that you can access them later in the day or in the week.
  • Pastors will continue to meet with Ministerial Director Tim Bailey and their regional team for prayer, updates, and encouragement via Zoom on a weekly basis.
  • Resources and options for innovative ministry through digital platforms, conference calls, and other means that will continue to connect churches, members, staff are being collected and shared with our pastoral team to help churches find new ways to “meet” together.
  • Ongoing communication will be shared with members through:
    • Our Facebook page, facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference
    • Our website, paconference.org
    • Through eblasts—if you are not currently receiving our eblasts, please sign up at https://paconference.org/email-update/
  • Church buildings may be closed, but the financial responsibilities continue. Members may continue to support their local church and Conference evangelism and ministries through several methods:
    • AdventistGiving on your local church’s website or through the Conference website (if you are unsure how to use AdventistGiving, we have tutorial videos in both English and Spanish on our website at https://paconference.org/treasury/)
    • Mail your tithe and offering to your local treasurer (your pastor can provide the information needed)
    • Continue to write your tithe and offering check, placing it in your tithe envelope and holding it until we return to worship in our church buildings if you are unable to mail it, but note that your church will continue to pay bills during this time
  • Members and friends are invited to unite together in prayer at 8:30 pm each Monday evening by calling 605-472-5260 and entering code: 662834.

We encourage members to stay connected to each other. Call, Facetime, Skype, and check up on one another. Text and email are great, too, but it’s important that we have real conversations. Meet for prayer as a church family like our office team is doing through a free conference line, video group meeting, or a Facebook group. Connect with your neighbors, co-workers, and family through ways that allow you to show your care and keep social distancing at the same time.

God Will Give Courage

This is a time when many be anxious and even fearful. It is important that we remain and strengthen our connection with God. Spend time in scripture. Get outside and enjoy the beauty of spring and breathe fresh air. Eat healthy and get rest. Take breaks from the news and digital devices. Spend time with your family playing games, talking, reading books, and enjoying each other.

Encourage one another with God’s faithful promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. He’s with us in this difficult time and will guide us through this pandemic. He has promised, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NKJV

Our office team is praying for our members, students, pastors, teachers, and our communities. Let’s unite together and fulfill the mission of reaching everyone, everywhere especially in this time of crisis.

March 19, 2020 Update

Due to the rapidly changing situation with the COVID-19 Pandemic and it’s growing impact across our country and our state, the Pennsylvania Conference office will transition to a virtual office beginning at noon, Thursday, March 19, 2020. Conference administrators will reevaluate the situation each Thursday and determine if virtual operations need to be extended.

All efforts are being made to ensure that day-to-day operations will continue without interruption. Some of these include:

  • Pastors, teachers, members, and others will continue to reach our office team by calling the office at 610-374-8331 during regular office hours, 7:30 am-5:30 pm. If you’d like to talk to a specific person, simply call, and say their name when the auto attendant prompts, and the call will immediately be transferred to them. You can also stay on the line and our receptionist will take your call and assist you in finding the information or person needed.
  • Our office team will meet each morning at 8:30 am via Zoom for worship, prayer and to touch base about ministry and needs during our work week.
  • The office team will offer adult SS lesson study at 10:00 am and Sabbath morning worship at 11:00 am service with President Gary Gibbs each week through our Facebook page, facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference.
  • Pastors are continuing their monthly regional meetings via Zoom.
  • Resources and options for innovative ministry through digital platforms, conference calls, and other means that will continue to connect churches, members, staff are being collected and shared with our pastoral team.
  • Our schools are currently closed for spring break in guidance with the governor’s mandated closure. Schools will reopen either in the classroom or through distance learning plans already in place for each of our schools, including Blue Mountain Academy, depending on the governor’s decision. Our educational team is organized and equipped to enable students to continue with their classwork and graduate at the end of this school semester.
  • Ongoing communication will be shared with members through:
    • Our Facebook page, facebook.com/PennsylvaniaConference
    • Our website, paconference.org
    • Through eblasts—if you are not currently receiving our eblasts, please sign up at https://paconference.org/email-update/
  • Church buildings may be closed, but the financial responsibilities continue. Members may continue to support their local church and Conference evangelism and ministries through several methods:
    • AdventistGiving on your local church’s website or through the Conference website (if you are unsure how to use AdventistGiving, we have tutorial videos in both English and Spanish on our website at https://paconference.org/treasury/)
    • Mail your tithe and offering to your local treasurer (your pastor can provide the information needed)
    • Continue to write your tithe and offering check, placing it in your tithe envelope and holding it until we return to worship in our church buildings if you are unable to mail it, but note that your church will continue to pay bills during this time
  • Members and friends are invited to unite together in prayer at 8:30 pm each Monday evening by calling 605-472-5260 and entering code: 662834.

Through this time of crisis, join our team in praying for our members, our communities, our churches and schools, those impacted by the virus, healthcare workers serving their communities, researchers as they learn more about the virus and work to end it, our Conference, church, and government leaders as they make difficult decisions, and those who are facing this pandemic without the hope and peace that trusting God brings. Jesus promises peace no matter what is happening in the world around us or in our lives, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV) Let us keep our eyes on Him and look for opportunities to speak His words of courage and peace to those around us.

March 17, 2020 – Pennsylvania Churches

Click here to open the PDF update sent out today with information for churches and members about what to do regarding church services during this pandemic.

March 13, 2020 Update – Blue Mountain Academy

In response to Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement that all K-12 schools in Pennsylvania will be closed for ten days, Blue Mountain Academy will move their regular spring break to March 16-29 to coincide with the mandated closure. Parents may pick up all domestic students at BMA on either Saturday evening or Sunday, March 14 or 15. BMA will also provide our usual transportation home, on Sunday, for those who need it. The schedule for drop-offs will be sent to parents on Saturday evening in order to give staff enough time to gather data. International students may stay on campus as is often customary.  If parents need to make other arrangements, please contact BMA immediately.

BMA is requiring all students to take their books, computer, and schoolwork home with them. If needed, they are fully prepared to do classes online until the schools open again. Students have been preparing for this and learned how to access online classes this week. We will keep you informed of developments as they happen. Right now, students should plan to return to campus on March 29 for classes on March 30.

March 13, 2020 Update – Pennsylvania Adventist Schools

On Friday, March 13, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf announced that all K-12 schools in Pennsylvania will be closed for 10 business days due to the coronavirus.  The closure is effective Monday, March 16, 2020. Pennsylvania officials will continue to monitor COVID-19 and will reevaluate at the end of the 10 days to determine whether schools should remain closed for longer.

As a result, all Pennsylvania Conference elementary schools and junior academies will also be closed beginning, Monday, March 16. Education Superintendent Jeremy Garlock is carefully monitoring the situation and is working with principals and staff. During the closure, schools will be thoroughly cleaned. Students will return to the classroom when the governor and officials deem it safe and reopen schools.

Like Governor Wolf, one of our top priorities is to ensure the health and safety of our students and school communities. We invite you to join us in praying for our students, their families impacted by the closures, our educational team, all those impacted by the virus, healthcare professionals caring for those ill, and government officials dealing with this crisis.

A Message from our President

March 12, 2020

Dear Pastors, VLP’s and Church Leaders:

As the coronavirus crisis expands, its impact on our Conference is also evolving. Be assured that your Conference officers are monitoring the situation closely and will communicate any actions needed to keep our members healthy. During this crisis, we appreciate your cooperation and leadership as we work together to minimize risk to everyone. While some people may feel that organizations are overreacting, others may feel the opposite. The important thing for us to remember is that we are God’s people and that United Together, We Fulfill the Mission.

Here are today’s latest developments in our rapidly changing area:

  1. Philadelphia officials have legally banned public gatherings of over 1,000 people for the next 30 days. They are also urging there be no gatherings of more than 250 people—this includes churches. They closed 63 schools today because of staffing shortage with staff who live in Montgomery County unable to come to Philadelphia to work.
  2. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has closed all schools, universities, gyms, entertainment venues and community centers in Montgomery County for 14 days, starting Friday, March 13. Governor Wolf also asked all non-essential retail stores to close. UPDATE: On Friday, March 13, Governor Wolf closed all schools for two weeks beginning Monday, March 16.
  3. Ohio’s governor is closing all schools for the next three weeks.
  4. Maryland is closing its schools for the next two weeks. They also are prohibiting gatherings of more than 250 persons, including churches.

You can see that each state is taking drastic measures to stem the transmission of this virus. In the Pennsylvania Conference, we need to do our part to stop COVID-19. Therefore, we are asking all our churches to help our communities in the following manner:

  1. The Conference now has a COVID-19 webpage on https://paconference.org/virus-updates/ with the latest information and resources for our members. This page will contain links to sermons the Conference will provide for those who must stay home on Sabbath and links to other Conference churches who livestream their services.
  2. Churches should plan to stay open unless the government orders they be closed. Those who are immunocompromised can join your livestream or access one of the livestream sermon options that the Conference is posting on its COVID-19 page.
  3. Churches need to assess their individual risks. Churches that are in the eastern part of the state, in urban areas, and that have exposure to New York City where the virus is having a large outbreak, are at a higher risk. These churches need to consider how to lessen their risk immediately. Things to consider: members who are elderly or immunocompromised can join the church service via livestream; some members who work in NYC (who might be at a higher risk of transmission) may self-choose to join the worship services via livestream so they lessen the risk for others at church; take the other measures mentioned below.
  4. The Conference is urging all churches cancel fellowship meals, communion services, outreach events, and all other gatherings besides church services until May 1.
  5. The Conference is cancelling or postponing all its sponsored events beginning Monday, March 16 through Thursday, April 30. Events will be evaluated and possibly rescheduled later. (This includes: God’s Girls Gala, the Geography Challenge, Hispanic Evangelistic meetings, Western Youth Rally, and Lay Leadership Training. We are working with the hotel that is hosting Women’s Retreat to determine the future of this event and will announce accordingly.)
  6. Pastor’s regional meetings will move to Zoom until the first of May when everything will be re-evaluated.
  7. The Conference is postponing Global Youth Day (March 21) until Sabbath, May 2.
  8. Pathfinder events are cancelled including the Union PBE scheduled for March 21, 2020. Alternate arrangements may be made and announced later.
  9. BMA is assessing what additional actions they may take, and an announcement is forthcoming.
  10. The Conference is asking that all churches use the following stages to determine their future church services and activities. (The message below can be shared with our members.)
Pennsylvania Conference Coronavirus Plan for Churches

 World governments are learning that the only way to stop the COVID-19 coronavirus from spreading is to limit travel and human-to-human contact. This is why entire countries and continents have taken drastic measures to stop travel and group gatherings. Local governments and institutions are following similar containment procedures. For example, on March 12, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf ordered the closure of schools, universities, gyms, entertainment venues, and community centers in Montgomery County starting Friday, March 13. Maryland also announced they are closing schools for two weeks.

Likewise, as the COVID-19 crisis evolves, the Pennsylvania Conference is diligently working to provide guidance to our churches so that they can keep our members and communities healthy and safe. The following three-staged plan for local churches identifies which actions your church should take to limit virus transmission in your church and community. Please note that we are calling for all churches to implement Stage 2 actions this Sabbath, March 14, 2020.

Because this situation is rapidly changing, Conference leadership may need to adjust the action items below. As the situation develops, local church leaders will be notified and the news will be updated on the Conference website.

Stage 1: Warning
Indicator: Confirmed cases in the United States
Actions for Local Churches to Take:
  • All worship, ministries, and meetings in churches remain active. All schools remain open.
  • Extra sanitation and cleaning performed in all facilities—schools, churches, office, etc.
  • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and other forms of physical greetings.
  • Encourage handwashing and use of hand sanitizer, making soap, water, towels, tissues, and hand sanitizer available in all areas of the church, school, or office.
  • Encourage those who are not feeling well to stay home for church services, from school, and from work (office, church or school.)
  • For those uncomfortable attending church in person, provide online worship options. (Our Conference website has links to churches offering live worship services as well as sermons by our Conference president, Gary Gibbs. https://paconference.org/virus-updates/)
Stage 2: Alert
Indicator: Confirmed cases in Pennsylvania
Actions for Local Churches to Take:
  • Church services continue on Sabbath.
  • People with any illness remain at home.
  • Greeters will welcome people but not hand out bulletins or hugs. Bulletins are on a table for people to pick up on their way in.
  • Cease all fellowship meals, communion services, outreach events, and all other non-Sabbath worship gatherings.
  • Tithes and offerings should be collected at the back door of the sanctuary as members leave; offering plates are not to be passed in order to limit the spread of germs. You still share the offering appeal and video as a regular part of the service.
  • Extra cleaning and disinfecting before and after worship services and Sabbath school.
  • Pastors greet people after the service as usual, but no hugs or handshaking.
  • All members or staff who contract COVID-19, or ordered to do so, are quarantined at home and do not attend any church functions.
Stage 3: Critical OUR CURRENT STAGE
Indicator: Confirmed cases in our churches, schools, academy, or upon the advisement/mandate of the local, state, or federal health officials or governor
Actions for Local Churches to Take:
  • Churches in impacted areas (or across the Conference if mandated by the governor) will be closed and services moved online. For those churches unable to stream services, a list of links to live worship services and sermons by President Gary Gibbs will be on our website.
  • All giving will move to each church’s online giving via their website or with checks sent to the local church treasurer. Members can also give through the PAConference.org website’s Giving/Online Giving page. Since expenses will continue during this crisis, members are encouraged to unite together to support the church.
  • All church and/or school facility use and events will be suspended until further notice. Church and school board meetings will move to conference calls through services like https://www.freeconferencecall.com/.

We will continue to monitor information released by the CDC and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and make necessary adjustments. We will release updates on status changes through the Conference’s Facebook page and website. Our hope is that these actions will keep our church and community members safe, while doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help avoid overwhelming medical facilities.There also may be measures taken at the Conference office that affect our normal business hours. For example, the Conference office may need to close if the governor issues an order to shut down businesses in our area or if a staff member contracts the virus and it is spread to the building. If this happens, we are prepared to work from our homes to continue Conference business. Also, our officers and department leaders may need to reassess their Sabbath speaking appointments if there are church closures. Each speaker will work directly with their scheduled churches on an as-needed-basis.

My friends, the world around us may feel anxious and fearful, but you and I can rest in the knowledge that God is able to see us through whatever comes. (See Romans 8:35-39 for very encouraging words.) Our Heavenly Father has not abandoned us. This is an opportunity for us to share words of hope, encouragement, and the gospel with our neighbors. People are looking for something to bring peace and assurance. We have that message. Let us unite together to fulfill the mission of reaching everyone, everywhere with the hope-filled Advent message.

Sincerely,

Elder Gary Gibbs, president