COVID-19 Updates

UPDATE 8.26.2020

RETURN TO IN-PERSON SERVICES: Phase 3 Guidelines

Dear St. Stephen Family,

We are excited to confirm that we will be returning to in-person worship services on the Lord’s Day, September 6! It is essential that  you read the Guidelines attached to this email. We acknowledge that the document is lengthy, but it describes in detail what you will need to know. 

 In brief, our services will be held at their regular times but will provide different options:

 8:15   Masks will be Required

10:30   Masks will be Optional (must be worn in common areas and can be removed when seated)

Please read the attachment to understand the rationale for this distinction and other important information.

 Masks will be required in all common areas at all times.

Yes, there will be singing!

 Please respond to the Survey Monkey (below) that will let us know which service you plan to attend, or if you are not yet ready to return.  We are limiting capacity to 100 per service in order to respect social distancing.

 https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MBY5MBQ

 Beginning next week you will have the opportunity to register for the next Sunday’s services. This will be available on our website.

 Thank you for your patience and may the love of Christ reign in our hearts!

 The Session of St. Stephen Reformed Church

Click Here to View or Download “PHASE 3 GUIDELINES

UPDATE 7.30.2020

In-Person services to begin September 6

Dear St. Stephen Family,

First of all, thank you so much for your prayers and patience as we have sought to determine what is best for our dear flock at St. Stephen Reformed Church.

After considering the input from the congregational surveys together with COVID conditions in the nation and region, we have determined that it is best to delay the return to the Sunday schedule of in-person worship until September 6.   

We are very concerned about the spikes in the virus around the nation and the continuing rise of cases in the region, together with the vulnerability of a large portion of our congregation. 

It has been more than 100 years since a pandemic such as this has struck our nation. We think that erring on the side of caution for another month is the prudent course of action. In the meantime, we will continue to offer the regular ministry of the Word and worship for your edification online. We ask for your continuing patience and for your prayers for the safety of our church family. 

Just a reminder, that for those who are eager to gather for worship, that you are welcome to join us for the recording of the service on Saturday nights at 6:45

In His service,

The Session of St. Stephen Church

UPDATE 4.21.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

I trust that you are doing well!  Thank you for tuning into the online services and ministries.
Please log on Wednesday evening at 6:30 PM for the LIVE Zoom prayer meeting. Send requests and updates directly to me at twitmer@ststephenpca.org. If you are unable to send them in advance, there will be opportunity to add requests LIVE. Hoping to “see” you then!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have needs or know of someone who does.
Below is another reading compliments of WTS books for your encouragement based on the book of Ecclesiastes. Cut and paste the entire link to your browser.
Blessings!
Pastor Tim
On behalf of the Session

Click here to download Living Life Backward

UPDATE 4.16.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

Now that we have crossed the halfway point of the “next” 30 days, I trust that the Lord is sustaining you and yours. 

I have attached the updated prayer list from last night’s LIVE prayer meeting. If you were not able to be with us last night I encourage you to take a few moments to pray for these requests. This attachment contains all trailing requests as well since our first meeting.  I would also invite you to join us tomorrow at Noon for a brief LIVE prayer meeting through our website. Please send email requests to me at twitmer@ststephenpca.org. There will also be opportunity for LIVE additions.
We also had ZOOM session meeting last night and here are some of the highlights (not an exhaustive report).
   -The Deacons are investigating how we can support the Food Bank.
   -The “Free Market” scheduled for later this Spring has been canceled for this year with hopes that it can be held next Spring.
   -Praise the Lord that March giving surpassed expenses.
   -Nominations for the Pastoral Search Committee have been coming in. Other matters related to the search for the next Senior Pastor were discussed. 
   -The online services and ministries offered through the sequester were reviewed.
   -We are committed to maintaining regular contact with the flock
We continue to seek to advance the ministry of the Beacon on the Hill as he enables us during these days. Remember that we are here for you if you need us. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need a grocery store or pharmacy run (we have our masks!)
May the Lord sustain you and we look forward to the day that we can gather together again!  Below is a link to a reading on anxiety (compliments of WTS Books). Remember to copy and paste the entire link to your browser.  
Blessings!
Pastor Tim

Click here to download Anxiety – Knowing God’s Peace

UPDATE 4.14.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

I trust that you had a blessed Easter celebration in your homes. It was very strange not to be together but encouraging to know that the Lord is with us and that we are one in the Spirit! Let me know if you heard our bell ringing Sunday at Noon (thanks Ernie and Anne Orr!).

Thank you for logging on to our services, prayer meetings, and Sunday School class. We have also been encouraged to hear (through your shepherds!) that you are holding up well through the sequester.

I would remind you to log on to the LIVE Zoom prayer meetings through our website this week on Wednesday at 6:30 PM and Friday at Noon.  We will continue to trust the Lord for the mitigation of the impact of the  COVID-19 virus as well as personal congregational requests. Please email your prayer requests and updates to twitmer@ststephenpca.orgOf course, you will also be able to make requests LIVE during the meeting. (For the youth: Sunday meeting at 6:00 and Tuesday devotional at 7:00).

As always, please let us know if you have needs: food, prescription pickup, or just need to talk! Contact me (610-733-1659), Pastor Nathaniel (717-715-5954) or your shepherd if you need our assistance. 

Below is a link to a reading from Alistair Begg on Prayer compliments of WTS Books. Remember to copy and paste the entire link onto your browser. 

The resurrection is an irrefutable fact and the foundation of our faith. It is a truth that no circumstance can alter. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Blessings!

Pastor Tim

On Behalf of the Session

Click here to download Alistair Begg on Prayer

UPDATE 4.11.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

He is risen indeed!  We are looking forward to sharing our Easter Sunday service with you!  Wherever you are please respond to “Christ is Risen” with  a joyful “He is Risen Indeed!”  Please sing along with the hymns.  Attached you will find the order of worship, announcements, and Food for Thought.
The service will be available to you when you rise tomorrow morning on our website.
Don’t forget to tune into the LIVE Zoom Sunday school class at 9:30 AM Many thanks to Phil Castor for leading the class.
It is strange for all of us not to be together on Sundays, but especially on this Sunday. But the profound reality of the resurrection of our Lord is the foundation of the new life lived in his power and of the fellowship we have, though absent from one another. May the Lord richly bless you and yours as you rejoice together.  Depending on where you are, listen at Noon for the ringing of the church bell to celebrate his triumph!
In His service,
Pastor Tim

Click here the Easter Order of Service

Click here to the John 20 Food for Thought

UPDATE 4.9.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

 I have attached the order of worship for the Good Friday service that will be available for you to view tomorrow at your convenience. I am grateful to Dr. Sacks for leading this service again this year and for the musical contributions of Heidi Shannon and Doug Wimer.  May the Lord richly bless you as you meditate on the suffering of your Savior for you.  

Please note that there will be no online prayer meeting tomorrow We will resume next Wednesday.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance, or know of someone who does.

Below is a link to another reading compliments of WTS BOOKS from Iain Duguid The Armor of God(Copy the entire link and paste it into your browser). 

In His service,

Pastor Tim

On Behalf of your Elders

Click here to download Iain Duguid The Armor of God

Click here to download the Good Friday Order of Worship

UPDATE 4.4.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

In preparation for Sunday’s service, I have attached the bulletin, announcements, food for thought, and the new prayer requests that came into Friday’s Prayer meeting. If you are unable to attend the zoom prayer meetings I encourage you to download the requests as sent via email.  We are not including personal prayer requests in the service on Sunday mornings for privacy reasons which makes the prayer meetings and emailed requests important to support our church family.
Don’t forget to log on to the LIVE Zoom Sunday School class tomorrow at 9:30.
Please continue to be alert to the needs of those around you and don’t hesitate to contact me, Pastor Nathaniel, or your shepherds if you need assistance.
Below you will find a link to another reading compliments of WTS Books. Please remember to copy and paste the entire link into your web server.
In HIs service,
Pastor Tim

Click here to download Everyday Prayer with John Calvin

UPDATE 4.1.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

Just a reminder that we will gather online for LIVE prayer at 6:30 this evening via ZOOM.

Access is available on our website under “Ministries” then “Online Ministries.”

The meeting will last between 30-40 minutes. We will pray for the needs of the nation as well as for our congregation. PLEASE SEND REQUESTS you would like me to include. We will welcome LIVE requests as well.

I have attached a 30 Day Prayer Guide with very simple Scripture reading and prayer requests that you can use this month for personal or family devotions.

Today is April 1. Hopefully, this Prayer Guide will help you and your family walk through this extended month of social distancing.

We had a brief online Session meeting this morning and we want to pass these actions on to you:

1.  Our online services and meetings will continue through the month of April in compliance with Federal and State distancing guidelines.

2. The window for submitting nominations for the Pastor Search Committee has been extended through the month of April as well. The congregational meeting to elect the search committee will be delayed.

3. One of the sad consequences of the current situation is that we will not have share the Lord’s Supper until we are reunited. The Scriptures indicate that this is something that we share together. This will be another reason for us to pray and long for gathering together once again. 

As we have made our shepherding calls we have been very encouraged by your trust in the Lord!  Please continue to care for those around you while observing social distancing. Finally, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have needs (groceries, prescription pick-up, etc). 

Hope to see you at 6:30!

In Him,

Pastor Tim

On Behalf of the Session

Click here to download Prayer Guide

UPDATE 3.31.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

Thanks be to God for his sustaining grace!

I trust you are doing well! It was great to “see” many of you at the prayer meetings last week and at online Sunday School. We are also encouraged by the response to our online services. I am grateful for the technology that allows us to do a few things “together” during this crisis.

You have heard that the social distancing guidelines have been extended through April. We are having a meeting of the Elders tomorrow morning after which I will send “official” notification of changes in the upcoming schedule.

I am also writing to remind you to join us tomorrow evening for the online prayer meeting via ZOOM at 6:30 PM. Please send requests that you would like me to include. We will also review some updates on past requests. 

Below you will see another link to from WTS Books. This time from Paul David Tripp on Suffering. Remember to copy and paste the entire link into your browser.

I will be writing to you again tomorrow. Stay safe and please don’t hesitate to let us know if there is anything we can do for you!

In Him,

Pastor Tim

On Behalf of your Elders

Click here to Read Paul David Tripp on Suffering

UPDATE 3.28.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,
 Greetings in the Name of our Lord!  We certainly miss meeting together but we are one in the Spirit and trust that you are doing well.
First of all, let me reiterate that if you have needs or know of someone who does (grocery pickup, etc) please contact me (610-733-1659), Pastor Stamper (717-715-5954) or your shepherds.
 
Many thanks to all who logged onto the LIVE prayer gatherings on Wednesday at 6:30 and Friday at Noon. These are important times to connect with one another and also to look to the Lord for His help. 
 
You will be able to access the abbreviated service and sermon online tomorrow at your convenience. I have attached the order of worship, announcements, and food for thought to this email for your convenience. The sermon will also be available via Facebook, SermonAudio, and Youtube.  
 
Just a reminder that during the pastoral prayer tomorrow we will not be praying for people specifically by name for privacy reasons because of the broad reach of social media. We are praying for these specific prayer needs via congregational email and at the Zoom prayer meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays. AFTER the LIVE prayer meetings I email the specific requests to you but will not put them online for privacy reasons.
 
There are additional opportunities we would like to make available to you via Zoom. In order to access these online gatherings, please go to the website and click on “Ministries.” Then click “Online Ministries.” There you will see the online opportunities available as well as an instruction video on how to download Zoom.  You do not need Zoom to access the worship service/sermon but you will need it to access these meetings LIVE, though a recording of Phil’s class will be made available afterward through the Online Ministries link and on social media. Here are the upcoming LIVE meetings:
 
1.  Phil Castor’s T.U.L.I.P class will be available “Live” at 9:30 Sunday morning. Thanks, Phil!  ZOOM
 
2.  Wednesdays at 6:30: LIVE Interactive Prayer Meeting  ZOOM
 
3.  Fridays at Noon: LIVE Interactive Prayer Meeting ZOOM
 
Many thanks to you who have mailed in your offerings and for those who have used the new online giving option on the website. Within the next week, I will give you an update on our March income/expenses.  Thank you in advance for your generosity!
We will continue to monitor national and state guidelines for gathering and we look forward to that day when we can meet together to worship and serve our great God!
 
Below is a link to another reading (“Untangling Fears” by Groves and Smith). Copy and paste the entire link into your browser) for you to consider and also would encourage you to read Psalm 103 before watching the sermon tomorrow morning.
 
In His Service,
Pastor Tim
On Behalf of your Elders

UPDATE 3.24.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

It was great being together with many of you last night for the online prayer meeting (40-50 of you!).  

I have attached the prayer requests from last night’s meeting for everyone to have to continue to pray whether you were online last night, but especially for those who were unable to join us last night. Of serious concern is the discovery of a worker at Garden Spot Village who tested positive for COVID-19. Pray for everyone there!

Remember, we will do the same tomorrow (Friday) at Noon for about 15 minutes. I will try to provide updates on earlier requests and encourage you to send in requests for tomorrow’s meeting. 

Below is another link to a reading by Tim Keller for you (compliments of WTS BOOKS). Remember to copy the entire link to your browser.

It was great seeing you and talking with you last night and I will look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Blessings!

Pastor Tim

Click here to Download a Reading from Tim Keller

UPDATE 3.24.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord!

I hope you are doing well. Our officers are very encouraged by the spirit with which you are enduring these challenging times. I am writing to bring you a couple of updates and reminders.

1. Thank you for tuning into our worship services. We are encouraged by your enthusiastic response. 

2. Many of you tuned into Phil Castor’s T.U.L.I.P class on Sunday at 9:30.  Please tune in again. It was great to see many of your faces! 

3. Wednesday evening at 6:30 we will hold our first virtual prayer meeting via Zoom. We will be praying for the Covid-19 outbreak but this will also be a time when you can share personal prayer requests. For privacy reasons we have not prayed for individuals by name during the Sunday morning services due to its broad and public reach. The Zoom meetings are designed to meet the need to pray for one another’s requests. Please email your requests to me so that they can be included. The Zoom meeting will be interactive so there will be opportunity to add requests LIVE and for others to pray.

I am planning for the meeting to last approximately 30 minutes.

4.  Friday at Noon we will hold another virtual prayer meeting using the same format as Wednesday’s meeting.

5.  Church Finances   I asked for an update on our income vs. expenses up to this moment for the month of March.  The income including 2 Sundays together, funds mailed in, and online giving totals $31,890.51.

The expenses total $31,858,69 leaving us $31.82 in the black!! I could hardly believe it when I saw these numbers. But I shouldn’t have been surprised knowing the kindness of our Lord and the generosity of our congregation.

There are still a few bills to pay this month and we are short of our budget target for the month ($51,000).  During the sequester we will remain dependent on the gifts you mail in and online giving. Thank you for your generosity. 

6.  Please continue to look for opportunities to help others during these days.

Please let us know if we can be of assistance; picking up groceries or prescriptions or in other ways. If the Lord brings someone to mind, please give them a call.

Finally, below you will find another link to a resource by my friend Ed Welch (complements of WTS Books).  Remember to copy the entire link into your browser.

May the Lord bless you, and please send in prayer requests and tune into the prayer meeting Wednesday evening at 6:30.

In Him,

Pastor Tim

On behalf of your Elders

Click Here to Read and Download Ed Welch

UPDATE 3.21.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,
Greetings in the Name of our Lord!
I am looking forward to “seeing you” tomorrow. Actually, you will be seeing (and hearing) me, Lord willing.  Just a reminder that the worship service video will be available online first thing in the morning.  I have attached the order of worship, announcements, and food for thought to this email for your convenience. The sermon will also be available via Facebook, SermonAudio, and Youtube.  
 
One matter related to the pastoral prayer in tomorrow’s service; recognizing that our service will be broadcast to a much wider audience, we will not be praying for people specifically by name for privacy reasons. I urge you to look at the prayer list on the announcement page. We will keep you updated on specific prayer needs via congregational email and at the Zoom prayer meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays.  
 
There are additional opportunities we would like to make available to you via Zoom. In order to access these online gatherings, please go to the website and click on “Ministries.” Then click “Online Ministries.” There you will see the online opportunities available as well as an instruction video on how to download Zoom.
You do not need Zoom to access the worship service/sermon but you will need it to access these meetings LIVE, though a recording of Phil’s class will be made available afterward through the Online Ministries link and on social media. Here are the upcoming LIVE meetings:
 
1.  Phil Castor’s T.U.L.I.P class will be available “Live” at 9:30 Sunday morning. 
2.  Wednesdays at 6:30: LIVE Interactive Prayer Meeting
3.  Fridays at Noon: LIVE Interactive Prayer Meeting
 
We are offering these as ways to “stay connected” during the current crisis.  The links to these Zoom meetings will also be made available on social media.
We would also encourage you to consider the new online giving option on the website.
 
Below is a link to Prayers of the Puritans for you to consider and also would encourage you to read Psalm 46 before watching the sermon tomorrow morning.
In His Service,
Pastor Tim
On Behalf of your Elders

UPDATE 3.20.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

Greetings in the Name of our Risen Lord!  I trust that you are doing well in the Lord during these challenging days.  For your encouragement, I have attached a brief article I was asked to write for New Growth Press in light of the current crisis. (Click Here: Don’t Worry About It Article)
Our abbreviated service will be available again on Sunday morning. We will prerecord it and upload it in advance so that it will be available on our website whenever you choose to watch it on Sunday morning. I would encourage you to read Romans 14:1-23 in preparation for viewing.
I also wanted to let you know that the session approved an online giving link our website in case you would prefer to give your tithes and offerings through this link during these weeks when we are not gathering for worship. I am grateful to Nathan Titus for researching the options and setting it up on our website. I urge you to watch the brief video (below) that he prepared to help you see how it works. Many thanks to Nathan and the tech committee for their help during these days.

Finally, I am so grateful to our officers who have served you so well throughout the sequester. As they have made their shepherding calls they have been greatly encouraged.  Though we are apart from one another, we are still one in Christ. Please continue to pray for one another and if you need help PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE to contact us.  For example, if you need something picked up or something delivered please let us know. Anita is in the church office from 9:00-Noon but Nathaniel (717-715 5954) and I (610-733-1659) are available if you need us.
May the Lord bless you and give you his peace!
In Him,
Pastor Tim

FROM NATHAN T:

Forgot to mention: congregants can download the Tithe.ly app, if they want to create an account and pay that way

Here is a quick video of me going through how to access the online giving.

If we want, I can upload it to Facebook, or you can share this link with them
Online Giving Through the Website. Click here – Watch Video

UPDATE 3.14.2020

Dear St Stephen Family,

I am writing to inform you that an abbreviated service including the full sermon will be available on our website (ststephenpca.org) for you to view at 10:30 AM tomorrow morning. It is going to be prerecorded so it will actually be available anytime after 10:30 AM. We are hoping to have live stream capabilities by next Sunday.
We will keep you informed of the status of next Sunday’s worship as soon as possible. Also, just to reiterate that ALL MEETINGS ARE CANCELED FOR THIS WEEK. Please continue to pray for the mitigation of this pandemic and follow the safety guidelines at Coronavirus.gov.
In His service,
Pastor Tim

UPDATE 3.13.2020

Dear St. Stephen Family,

As your Elders, we have determined, out of an abundance of cautionthat Sunday services and meetings for the next week will be canceled. This includes this Sunday’s worship, Youth Group, Women’s Studies, Game night, the Women’s breakfast, and most committee meetings. We are working on a live stream option so that you can watch this Sunday’s sermon and liturgy from home and we will send that link as soon as it is set up. If we are unable to set that up by Sunday, the sermon audio will be available by Noon on our website (ststephenpca.org).

We urge you to set aside time on Sunday morning to watch the live stream or listen to current or a previous sermon. Please be praying for the safety of our more vulnerable members and for wisdom for our leaders.

We will keep you posted on the link to the live stream and our plans for next Sunday morning. In the meantime, stay safe and pray for the mitigation of the pandemic.

In His service,

Pastor Tim