This Friday is our monthly Food Pantry day. The pantry is drive-thru and begins at 11 AM for Blair County residents in need.
Beginning May 1st, Jake Baskin and Chris Ferguson will be the new co-leaders of the Praise Band. If you have a musical gift you’d like to share, please reach out to them. (or let Jill know and she can connect you with them). You’re more than welcome to come check out a few practices and get a feeling for this ministry.
Pastor Brian will be in the sanctuary from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, for anyone who would like to come reflect and hear the crucifixion story. At 7 pm there will be a service combined with other local United Methodist churches at Greenwood UMC (1505 E. Walton Ave), all are welcome!
Saturday, April 16 from 11:30 am – 1pm, will be our Soup & Sandwich fellowship. Join us for some delicious food and fellowship.
We will hold our monthly Food Bank on Friday March 25th beginning at 11 am. Also, our Hope Chest ministry will be open during our Food bank giveaway time.
Saturday, March 19 at 11:30 am will be our Soup & Sandwich fellowship. Join us for some delicious food and fellowship. Also, our Hope Chest ministry will be open durning the Soup & Sandwich fellowship time.
Sunday, April 10
8:15 am/10:45 am – Palm Sunday
Thursday, April 14
7:00 pm – Maundy Thursday Service
Friday, April 15
7:00 pm – Good Friday Service at Greenwood UMC. 1505 East Walton Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602
Sunday, April 17
7:00 am – Easter Sunrise Service
8:15 am – 9:15 am – Easter Breakfast. Please let us know if you and your family plan to attend Easter breakfast. Please RSVP using the following link. Easter Breakfast RSVP
9:30 am – Easter Worship (Combined service)
Our annual Lenten Fish Dinners will be on Fridays during Lent starting Friday, March 4 (Except Good Friday), from 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm. Youth Group sponsored all you can eat Lenten Buffet (includes dessert). $15/adults, $10/children ages 5-10, $12/single take out.
Ash Wednesday will be on Wednesday, March 2.
- Ashes will be given from 9:00 am – 10:00 am in the Church Sanctuary. Please enter the church by the glass elevator doors.
- There will be a Vesper service for Ash Wednesday at 7:15 pm in the Church Sanctuary.
Church, we are in the season of Easter. What a glorious time of the year that we can celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Let’s keep celebrating the empty tomb, our resurrected Savior, and the faithful call that He has placed on our lives to go and share the good news! Today I just want to reflect on this interesting but profound piece of scripture in John 20:24-29, the narrative of Thomas doubting the resurrection. In looking at this piece many things come to mind and here are a few observations:
- It is okay to doubt. I think we as the body of Christ have this idea that it is wrong to doubt. Wrong to question and wrong to wonder. I do understand the theology that if Jesus said it, scripture recorded it, and we should accept it does have a strong footing in our churches and in many of our lives. However, there are many who that’s not them. Doubt can arise through areas of theology, areas of personal experience, areas of different relationships, or doubt can have its roots in another place. Regardless, I want you to know that God is okay with your doubt. God will not cower away, lose power, or lose authority because of your doubt. It’s okay to question, okay doubt, and okay to wonder.
- Work through your doubt. One of the big mistakes we make is to let our doubt fester and let our doubt eat away at our soul. Work through your doubt. Prayer for the questions you may have. Talk with a teacher, pastor, loved one, or a trusted friend about where you are having doubts in your faith and also be humble enough to really listen to what they’ll tell you. The prayer and hope is always that your working through your doubt would strengthen your faith.
- Know that God will use your doubt for something great into the future. As human beings there is not one experience that we will encounter that will be in vain. Meaning that the good and bad moments in our lives serve a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is the consequence of our sin, sometimes the purpose is sadly the pain that another person inflicted on us, and sometimes the purpose is not known by us just yet. But God knows the purpose. God works in all experiences of our lives to bring about His glory and to expand His kingdom. So know, that if you are doubting your faith today that God is at work in you. Know that scripture rewards great faith, and finally know that God is with you always.
Hello, and welcome to Second Ave. UMC’s website we’re glad you are here. As a church we have adapted a COVID-19 policy that applies to our life together, if you are looking to come visit us in person please review our policy so we can ensure your experience with us in person is meaningful and safe.
1) Currently, if you come to our indoor worship service at 8:15 on Sunday mornings we do ask for you to please wear a mask, please sanitize your hands when you enter the sanctuary and when you leave, and please look to remain six feet apart from people not your in family.
2) Please enter Second Ave. Church for our 8:15 or 10:45 service through any of the three doors on our Second Ave. side. The alley door and Second St. door will be locked.
3) Please look to wash your hands for 20 seconds after you use the restroom, and if you could please use the disinfectant spray in the restroom to spray any touched areas that would be appreciated.
4) If you are experiencing any COVID symptoms, have been exposed to someone who has symptoms, or have been around either a person who received a positive test or someone waiting for a test result we do please ask if you could utilize our virtual worship option which will begin Sunday morning at 10:45 on Facebook, if you’d like a link to that service please contact our Church office at email@example.com.
5) This final guideline is tough, but we are asking if you could please refrain from hugs and handshakes that would be greatly appreciated. There are many fantastic ways to show someone you care about them: a wave, a phone call, a conversation, a prayer, or even just a friendly hello.
Church, I am a person who loves big moments. I enjoy parties, weddings, birthdays, celebrations, baptisms, and more. I enjoy and really like the spotlight. I really crave the big moment. But, life is not filled with big moments, in fact life is filled with the ordinary moments. Moments that many of us wouldn’t deem extraordinary or grand but rather just ordinary. These moments shape us. These moments define us. These moments shape who we are and who we will be in the big moments of life, so my question today in this post is how is your faith in the ordinary? How, do you do on a regular day in and day out experience where nothing grand or celebratory occurs? If you’re like most people they go from spiritual high/celebratory moment to the next spiritually high celebratory moment and often times just go through the motions on a regular Tuesday or a slow Friday. It can be really tough to develop and sustain a powerful, vibrant faith in the ordinary moments of life. Here are a few suggestions:
- Spend time in silence each day. I would encourage you to start with thirty seconds and work your way up. In a world filled with noise and chaos silence is refreshing. Silence is good for the soul, silence also allows our hearts to hear when God speaks be silent.
- Listen. Listening is a great personal and also spiritual tool and gift. My encouragement: learn to listen. Listen intently. Listen well. You will be more invested in the ordinary moments in people’s lives if you listen more. Listen.
- Finally, and there are many ways to develop a vibrant, faith in the ordinary moments. I encourage you to attend worship regularly, pray constantly, and dive into God’s word. But, my final suggestion is to read something every day that brings you closer to Christ. Read a passage of scripture. Read a daily devotional. Read from different authors of different perspectives. Read from people you may disagree with. You don’t have to agree with them, but it helps to learn where people who disagree with you are coming from. Read something every day that brings you closer to Christ and that will help you develop a vibrant faith in the ordinary.
I’ll be honest these days of COVID-19 have produced beliefs, opinions, articles, arguments, moments of joy, and moments of frustration in a way that I’ve never seen before. We as a society have become more on edge, more frustrated, and more irritable than I have noticed in a long, long time. If you are reading this I will readily admit that I don’t know much about infectious diseases and my scope and experience is limited but I do want to share a few things I’ve noticed.
- God didn’t cause COVID-19. I’ve heard people speculate COVID-19 is a judgment, God sent COVID-19 as a way to get people to refocus on Him, and other different speculations about this awful pandemic. God loves people. God loves people so much that He died for them. But, God also gives people free will, humanity has fallen into sin way back in Genesis 3. Humanity fell in Genesis 3, but God also shared that Adam and Eve’s disobedience also affected all of creation as well. With that being said disease, disaster, brokenness, inexplicable pain, death, and fear are all part of a fallen creation. God sees the brokenness. God understands the pain. God has not left us alone during this time. God is moving to bring about a glorious, new future let’s hold on the present. God did not cause COVID-19.
- Let kindness be your default reaction. I’ve seen communication from many people over these past several months concerning COVID-19, racism, political topics, and numerous other topics. The default reaction I’ve noticed has been frustration, combative arguing, and name calling, and I must say this breaks my heart. I’m not downplaying anyone’s frustrations, and I cannot possibly know all of what many of you have walked through, but what I can say is how we communicate as believers in Christ show to everyone the inner condition of our heart. Communicate better. Speak kindness, speak life, there will be others who disagree with you. Pray for them, God will correct them, God will guide them, but you are called to love them as you love yourself.
- Let us love our neighbor unconditionally. Many have suffered physically during these days, but others have suffered financially, others have suffered emotionally, and others have suffered socially. Let us love one another in ways that show people we care. Let us connect with people over the phone, be intentional in prayer, send letters, support one another through social media, speak kindly about people behind their backs, and let us show the love to one another that God has shown us. We’ll get through this, and we can get through this if we love one another.
These past several weeks have been very difficult for many of us. It has been trying, hard, but I do want you to hear that we have not stopped being the church. Period. The church of Jesus Christ is stronger than any pandemic, any separation, or any difficulty that may occur. We are stronger. With the question I hear often, “When is Second Ave. Church opening up?” Well, the good news I have an answer Ad Council voted to resume in person worship on July 5. Please know that many but not all events and gatherings locally during the month of June have been postponed or cancelled. The decision had many factors, but one of the main factors was that Second Ave. United Methodist has many people and all those people are their personal health vary greatly. In our church there are many people who are healthy and if they were to have an illness passed to them or they would get sick they would recover quickly. However, there are many vulnerable, elderly, those with compromised immune systems, those receiving treatment for a variety of health issues: cancer, heart concerns, those who have loved ones with compromised immune systems, and other health concerns. As leaders in the church it was our desire to show everyone the care and intentionality of opening Second Ave. Church in a safe way that allows people who are healthy and those who have health concerns to worship without fear. I know the decision is frustrating for some, a relief for others, and some don’t know how to feel, it is my prayer that you see this decision was met with so much prayer, thought, and I will firmly admit there is not a perfect date to open up, but leadership feels confident that our reopening will be a great celebration! In the mean time it is my encouragement to you as your pastor to connect with people over the phone, connect with people virtually, since we are in the green in Blair county as of tomorrow if you feel comfortable connect with small groups of people in person, pray deeply during these days, and there will be an opportunity in the upcoming weeks for you to connect with me in person about Second Ave. Church’s Covid-19 response I want to hear you, I want to pray with you, I want to dream what the church can be with you, I want to mourn with you, and I want to celebrate with you. Thank-you for understanding.
As some of you read that, I’m sure there are feelings of relief, some feelings of anger, some feelings of concern, and some feelings that are all over the place. Here is the explanation for the date: based on the guidance of the Bishop and cabinet of our annual conference we still even in the green phase need to abide by guidelines from the CDC. There is an enormous amount of work to do from now until 7/5, some of that includes having a detailed seating plan, having enough supplies to properly clean the church after each worship gathering, properly communicating what is asked of each person during a worship experience, acquiring volunteers to usher people into their seats before and after a worship experience, communicating to families with children what they can expect as they come to a worship experience on a Sunday morning, opening up the wall and providing additional seating in the Elevation Room, and more. As your Pastor, I deeply miss you, I desire to be in person with you so badly, and I know that in terms of answers for how to respond to COVID-19. It is very hard to determine the when of opening but Ad Council we were very focused on the how we opened up. The Church council would like to open up in a safe, well-communicated way, that allows all people to worship without any fear.
During the survey that was sent out last month in terms of Second Ave.’s Covid-19, the survey results were fairly varied. Some were all on board with opening immediately and others were more cautious, with that being said a few things were fairly consistent: people were almost unanimously on board with doing what is asked of them in worship, people were very pleased with the steps leadership has taken during the pandemic as of 5/20. So, I want to say thank you for being the church, thank you for being patient, thank you for not stopping ministry, and thank you for understanding the level of difficulty and complexity of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe, responsible way.
This decision and conversation was met with great prayer, understanding, it was my intention to for Ad Council to see this through a theological lens. Theologically Jesus cared for all people, He loved all people. He loved people in disagreement. He loved all people, and His ministry was a transformative one that made people better. Jesus especially cared for the vulnerable in His society and continues to care about the vulnerable ones in our society today. Those vulnerable in our society today are the people with compromised immune systems, the elderly, the sick, and the young in our society and especially in our church. We are called to care for them, about them, and care for their well-being. Part of John Wesley’s three rules is: Do No Harm. Our goal is to make sure our re-opening is well executed, well communicated, follows the guidelines from the Bishop and Cabinet, and does no harm.
I know you have read a lot of information, but I do want to share some first guidelines with you in this letter. The plan is to communicate the full plan by email, Facebook, and postal mail within the week. I do plan to have two times to meet with people to answer questions, share concerns, spend time in prayer, and provided guidance. I do want you to know this will not be forever, once the situation with COVID-19 becomes clearer the conversation will be had about which restrictions can be loosened and when. It is my desire to have that conversation during the early part of August. Here are some things you can begin to expect:
1) For the time being you will be asked to wear a mask to enter and leave the building. If you feel comfortable removing your mask once you are at your seat that is your decision.
2) For the time being you will be asked to refrain from hugs and handshakes, please greet one another verbally, please send cards, please call one another on the phone, but for the time being please refrain from greeting one another with hugs and handshakes.
3) Both services: will be blessed with wonderfully beautiful music. It is my desire to showcase the gifts and talents of our wonderfully blessed music community. Due to numerous studies and guidance from the Bishop and Cabinet singing for the time being in a church setting has been discouraged. Please sing at home. Please sing in the car, please sing outdoors, but due to guidance of the Bishop and Cabinet we are discouraging singing just for the time being.
Thank you for being the church. Thank you for loving Jesus. Get ready. Be prepared we are coming back! Our brothers and sisters at Juniata United Methodist Church will be coming back for in person worship as well on 7/5/2020. Please stay tuned for more information as we move closer to the time. It is my desire that we can incorporate many people to serve as we desire to open up in a safe, effective way.
It is with great joy that I do want to share that Rise Up Sports Camp will be occurring this summer. The camp will be held from 7/20-7/24 at a local park in the area. Stay tuned for more information. A sign up sheet for the church picnic will be going around here soon, the church picnic will be held on Saturday July 25. The Corn Boil is a go for this summer! It will be held on Saturday August 8. The Food bank, Hope Chest, and Soup and Sandwich Luncheon will be all be operating this summer, and my prayer is that you would consider being a part of these life giving ministries.
Friends, these most certainly are challenging and uncertain times. One of the most challenging things during this time is there is not a certain end date and most people are very uncertain as to what the end will look like. That makes life tough. But, friends I want to remind you that numerous times throughout God’s salvation story times have been tough for His people. My encouragement is to not mask if you’re having trouble, don’t hide it, reach out to a trusted friend, small group leader, teacher, spouse, neighbor, fellow church member, or co-worker. We will get through these times, but in the mean time let us be there for one another during times of uncertainty. Here are a few reminders about God during these times that I encourage you to share with others:
- God is with you, even in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23:4) You won’t be alone.
- The joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:7) You know where to find your true joy and where strength can be found.
- Jesus has left you His peace. (John 14:27) In the midst of uncertainty, chaos, and fear you can claim an unconditional peace only found in Christ.
- The Lord is your light and salvation. You don’t have to be afraid. (Psalm 27:1)
- In the end God wins. (Revelation 21:1-3) Let’s stay faithful, connected, and with each other knowing that God has us and will always have us.