Shenkel Covid-19 Updates

12/16/2020 Update
 

Shenkel December Update (In-Person Worship Suspended)

Greetings Shenkel Family:

 

With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions, not even Shenkel has been immune from the virus.  Several members and friends have contracted the virus.  Fortunately, all are doing well and none have attended any recent in-person worship.

 

After assessing the current environment and reviewing the governor’s latest restrictions, Consistory has unanimously reached the following decisions:

 

  • In-person worship will be suspended immediately.

  • Our Christmas Eve service will be virtual.

  • We will resume in-person worship sometime in 2021 after the spike has abated.

 

As one of our members said, “My heart says we should continue in-person, but my head says no.”  We believe our actions are the most responsible at this particular time.

 

Some of you have told us that the audio on our streaming and recorded worship is worse now than when we were recording earlier in the year.  That’s because the microphone on the webcam is not as good as the one on the iPhone.  We’re meeting with some folks in early January to see what we need to do to improve that situation.

 

I want to thank Kelly Strunk and Dave Derman for their tireless efforts in delivering our streaming and recorded worship.  Shenkel is blessed to have members that are willing to share their talents in this way.

 

If you have not already, I remind you to send your proxy for the December 20th Congregational Meeting to approve the 2021 Current and OCWM Budgets.

 

I also ask that each of us find some time during the Christmas season to reach out to other members of our Shenkel family.  Even though we can’t physically be together, a phone call, note, or email can still keep us connected.

 

This will be a different Christmas for each of us.  Let’s remember that a star shone brightly on a dark winter’s night signaling the birth of hope for all people.

 

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

 

Randy Berriker

Consistory President

11/24/2020 Update
 

Shenkel November Update


Greetings Shenkel Family:

 

I wanted to let you know how Shenkel has been progressing through the fall and our plans through yearend.  First, I want to thank everyone who has attended worship for “religiously” following the protocols we outlined in July.  Everyone has been wearing masks properly, social distancing, and refraining from direct contact with other members.

 

As the weather grew colder, it became necessary for us to move Sunday worship into Fellowship Hall.  The UV Light system we placed on our HVAC has been working as expected increasing some folks’ sense of safely and comfort level inside.

 

Yet I know there are people that are just not comfortable being inside with any non-family group at this time.  That’s OK!!!  Please do not come if you have any safety misgivings whatsoever.

 

We continue to record the Sunday service and are looking at an option to “live stream” as well as record the service.  If our test is successful, you will be able to participate in worship as it happens or later on Sunday, whichever is your choice.

 

With all that we have done so far, Consistory is painfully aware of the increased number of COVID cases in our area and the new restrictions that seem to be issued almost daily.  We held a special meeting this past week focused entirely on what we should do now:  continue in-person worship or stop?

 

We are particularly sensitive to those members that are internet-free (have no internet access) and are unable to enjoy streaming or recorded services.  How can we offer meaningful worship to them or others that desperately need some social contact, regardless how restricted, at this time.

 

After prayerful, honest discussion, Consistory has reached the following conclusion.  We will continue with in-person worship in Fellowship Hall for now; however, we encourage any member that has internet capability to watch the streaming or recorded service to do so and not physically attend our services.  It feels counterintuitive to me to say “We’d love to see you, but please stay home.”  Yet we believe that is the best and safest way to offer worship in the current environment.

 

We will not be standing at the door to turn you away if you have internet; however, we ask you consider that as your primary option for worship.

 

Our Christmas Eve service plans remain unchanged.  We are still planning a 3 pm and 6 pm service outside in the pavilion.  Our plans include a fire in the fireplace and hay bales for seating for those who wish.  We do ask that you either call or email the church office to let us know which service you plan to attend, how many will be in your group, and if you want hay-bale seating so we can plan space accordingly.

 

After our December 8th Consistory Meeting, you will be receiving information on the 2021 Budget and how you can vote via proxy at a called Congregational Meeting on Sunday, December 20th.

 

Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles just release a song about COVID with the lyrics “When you can’t do what you do; You do what you can.”  Wish I would have thought to write that.  As we navigate these uncertain waters, know that we are not alone.  God will see us through this regardless of what tomorrow may hold.

 

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

 

Randy Berriker

Consistory President


 

8/18/2020 Update
 

Shenkel’s Early and Late Service Update

 

Greetings Shenkel Family:

 

We’ve now been sharing in-person services for three weeks.  I wanted to let you know what we’ve learned and actions we’ve taken.  As a reminder, only come back when you are comfortable.  Whatever feelings you have about returning are fine.

 

I apologize for the audio quality on the recordings the first two weeks.  We tried something different this past week and the sound was much better.  You may have to increase your volume; but there aren’t any crickets and static in the audio now.  We will continue recording services and looking for ways to make the recordings better.

 

Of course the weather has not cooperated fully.  As long as we are not having a monsoon or a heat index of 100, we will continue to meet in the Grove or under the pavilion.  Someone told me on Sunday they’ve already broken out the hat and gloves for our fall, outside services.

 

Two or three people have been attending the early service; 23-27 folks have been attending the late service.  The few attendees at the early service have volunteered to come at 9:45 rather than have us support the additional service.  After prayerful consideration, Consistory has elected to suspend the early service for now.  As the year and the pandemic progress, we will revisit this decision.  Hopefully in the not too distant future, this will all be behind us.

 

Our late service format will not change.  Thanks to Dan and Susan, we’ve had some wonderful music during that time.  In particular, Pastor Suzanne has found ways for us to pray together using sign language and has reduced the number of times we verbally respond.

 

I also thank all of you for your financial stewardship during this time.  The postal service has done a great job making certain we receive your mail-in offerings. Ken and I are hoping to have a PPP Loan update in September for you.  For now, those funds have not been included in our Current Budget financial reports you see in the bulletin and newsletter.

 

As we move into the fall, let Pastor Suzanne and Consistory know what different shapes our various ministries could take for our community.  As I noted before, the Israelites wandered in the Wilderness for 40 years.  Thank goodness it’s only been 5 months for us.

 

Randy Berriker


7/17/2020 Update
 

Return to Shenkel

Greetings Shenkel Family:

 

After much prayerful consideration, I am happy to announce that Consistory has approved a Return to Shenkel Plan and Protocol.  Our deliberation included the most recent information from the CDC, the PA Department of Health, and the UCC Science and Technology Network.  Pastor Suzanne has been an integral and valuable part of our discussions.  I want to share our thinking, approach, and protocols with you.

 

One of the gifts we share as members is our difference of opinions.  I know some people can’t wait to get back and others are apprehensive about gathering with others.  Your feelings may be anywhere on that spectrum and may change day to day.  I want to be clear that you should return when you are comfortable.  Know you are always welcome at Shenkel.

 

Worship will look “different” than it did before.  Certain activities for now are too risky to resume.  It may feel strange, but this is a time for us to listen and know that God is still speaking to us; perhaps in a manner we’re not used to.

 

Pastor Suzanne and Lisa will be returning to the church office on Tuesday, July 21st.  I ask that you limit your face-to-face visits to Fellowship Hall so we can reduce our disinfecting obligations.

 

General Protocols:

 

I’ve attached our detailed protocols for Services, Meetings, and Funerals/Special Events.  As you will see, we are requiring masks to be worn during all services, meetings, and events.  Current science tells us that this is for the other person’s benefit more than it is for our own.  In Matthew, Jesus tells us that we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  I suggest we think of wearing a mask as a visible demonstration of that love.

 

We will be recording the names of each attendee at every service, meeting, and event.  If an attendee tests positive, we ask that they contact either Pastor Suzanne or Randy Berriker.  We will then contact each attendee letting them know of the test.  Rest assured, you will remain anonymous in that notification unless you specifically tell us it’s ok to use your name.

 

Social distancing.  This will be the hardest protocol for me.  I love shaking hands, hugging people, putting an arm around a person’s shoulder when they need support.  One of our strengths over the years has been our affection and support of each other.  COVID 19 makes that nearly impossible now.  Let’s try waving, faux high fives, virtual hugs, even bows as signs of our concern for each other.

 

Food and beverages.  This will be the second hardest protocol for me since I love to eat.  We will not be having any food or beverage at any service, meeting, or event.  Our kitchen will be closed for both food preparation and bringing in food to Fellowship Hall.  Our post-service meet-and-greet will be “food-free” for now.

 

Any service, meeting, or event held in Fellowship Hall will be restricted to the Hall and the restrooms.  The Sanctuary, kitchen, lower-level classrooms, and nursery/agape/choir rooms will not be available.  In the event of Funeral or other special event, prior approval must be requested and approved to use the Sanctuary.

 

 

Services:

 

Our 8:30 and 9:45 services will resume Sunday, August 2nd.  The early service will be in the Sanctuary; the late service will be in the Grove.  I have a 6-foot “Shenkel Connector” to make it easier to honor our social distancing protocol. 

 

All the current science indicates that outside worship is less risky than inside worship.  We plan to worship outside as long as weather permits in the fall.  We encourage you to bring your own chairs since some of the benches will be unavailable due to social distancing.

 

In the event of bad weather, our first alternative for the late service will be under the pavilion.  If it’s a deluge or oppressive heat, the service will be held in Fellowship Hall.  A sign will direct you where to enter and where to exit.  Chairs will be configured using social distancing between sets of chairs in a row and rows.  Tape on the floor and the 6-foot “Shenkel Connector” will help you know where to sit.

 

Upon arrival at a service, you will be greeted by a gloved member at a table that contains bulletins, extra masks, hand sanitizer, and offering plates.  In the rest rooms, you will find bleach-solution spray bottles and paper towels.  We ask that you use them both before and after using the facilities.

 

We ask that you continue to wear your mask during the service.  Pastor Suzanne will be masked prior to and after the service.  Once the service begins, she will be wearing a face shield to make it easier for folks to hear her and read her lips.

 

During the services, we will not have any hymn or soloist/group singing.    There will be special music which I encourage you to enjoy.  Everything you need for the service will be in the bulletin.  We will not be using any songbooks, hymnals, or bibles.

 

Since August 2nd is a communion Sunday, you will find individual element packets at the entrance table (some with grape juice; some with wine).  They will be available for each subsequent communion.

 

Meetings:

 

Standing Shenkel Committees and groups can use the Grove by confirming the date with the church office.  Fellowship Hall can be used with the General Protocols noted previously.

If tables are to be used, it is the Committee’s responsibility to set them up, disinfect them after use, take them down, and reset the room in our indoor service configuration.

 

Funerals and Other Special Events:

 

All General Protocols must be followed for the use of the Grove or Fellowship Hall.  Use of the Sanctuary must be requested and approved in advance of the event.

A commercial cleaning company will disinfect Fellowship Hall after an event.  The cost for this cleaning will be identified in advance and be borne by the sponsoring person/group.  We do not expect our sexton to perform these cleaning services.  The sexton can setup Fellowship Hall in advance of and reconfigure it after the event.

 

Funerals and Other Special Events:

 

A member said to me recently “I can’t wait to get together with my Shenkel Family even though I can’t get together with them.”  In this environment, “together” takes on a whole new meaning.  I encourage you to contact any Consistory member with your thoughts or questions on this new phase of our communal faith journey.  Remember, we are not alone.

 

Randy Berriker, Consistory President

 

Consistory Members:

Sandy Rowe

Joan Palubinsky

Pat Kuestner

Gary McDermit

Tony Gulotta

Dan Jenkins

Protocol for Shenkel Return

 

Services:

 

  1. The 8:30 service will be held in the Sanctuary.The 9:45 service will be held in the Grove.

  2. Based on weather, the 9:45 service will first be moved under the pavilion.If that move is not viable, the service will be moved to Fellowship Hall.

  3. Each person must wear a mask.Masks will be available for anyone that does not have one.

  4. Social distancing must be observed around each family unit. 

  5. Each attendee’s name will be taken in order to facilitate notification if an attendee subsequently tests positive. 

  6. A gloved greeter will be at a table outside the worship area.The table will contain:

    1. Offering plates

    2. Extra masks

    3. Hand sanitizer

    4. Antibacterial wipes

    5. Single-serve communion packets will be available for communion Sundays 

  7. All offerings must be placed in the plates at the entrance table. There will be no passing of the plate. 

  8. No singing of hymns or vocal soloists/groups will be part of the service. 

  9. Recorded, special music will be utilized. 

  10. Responsive readings will be limited. 

  11. Hymnals, songbooks, and bibles will not be available during a service. 

  12. Bleach-solution spray bottles and paper towels will be in the restrooms for disinfecting prior to and after a person’s use. 

  13. No food or beverages will be served as a fellowship time after a service. 

  14. If in the sanctuary, two pews must separate any family group.All social distancing guidelines must be followed. 

  15. If in Fellowship Hall, chairs must remain on the designated lines.On any designated line, chairs can be moved together for a family group, but social distancing must remain for a non-family group.

 

Meetings: 

Current Shenkel groups and committees will be able to meet in Fellowship Hall with the following protocols:

 

  1. Fellowship Hall and the rest rooms will be the only spaces available. The Sanctuary, kitchen, lower-level classrooms, and nursery/agape/choir rooms will not be available. 

  2. The following items will be available for use at the meeting:

    1. Extra masks

    2. Hand sanitizer

    3. Antibacterial wipes. 

  3. Masks must be worn at all times inside. 

  4. Each attendee’s name must be recorded for facilitation of notification if an attendee subsequently tests positive. 

  5. Social distancing must be observed. 

  6. Bleach-solution spray bottles and paper towels will be in the restrooms for disinfecting prior to and after a person’s use. 

  7. The kitchen will not be open for any type of food service.No food or beverages may be brought in for a meeting. 

  8. If tables are used, the group is responsible to set them up and disinfect them after their use.The room must be reset with chairs on the designated lines for a potential inside service.

 

Funerals and Other Special Events:

 

  1. The sexton can setup the room as per your requests. 

  2. Fellowship Hall and the rest rooms will be the only spaces available.The kitchen, lower-level classrooms, and nursery/agape/choir rooms will not be available. 

  3. The following items will be available for use at the event:

    1. Extra masks

    2. Hand sanitizer

    3. Antibacterial wipes 

  4. The Sanctuary will only be available by special approval when the event is scheduled. 

  5. Masks must be worn at all times inside. 

  6. Each attendee’s name must be recorded for facilitation of notification if an attendee is subsequently tested positive. 

  7. Social distancing must be observed. 

  8. Bleach-solution spray bottles and paper towels will be in the restrooms for disinfecting prior to and after a person’s use. 

  9. The kitchen will not be open for any type of food service.No food or beverages may be brought in for a meeting. 

  10. The cost of disinfecting Fellowship Hall after the event will be identified in advance and will be borne by the person/group sponsoring the event. 

  11. After disinfecting, Fellowship Hall will be reset with chairs on the designated lines for a potential inside service by the sexton.


     

ADDRESS

610-326-3535

1580 Shenkel Road
Pottstown, PA 19465

shenkelucc@aol.com

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