March 20, 2020 – Pennsylvania Churches and Camp Meeting
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.
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.