Welcome Home: Worship in the building

July 5, 2020
9:30 a.m.

We have been waiting for this day for some time. All of us have been watching as Lancaster County went from the “red” to the “yellow” and finally into the “green” status. It was impossible to consider any sort of reopening until the green phase was achieved.

Now that it has happened, we are looking forward to being back together.  Being able to meet does not mean going back to the way things were in January.  There will be no slacking off from making sure that our building and more importantly, you, can worship as safely as possible. Therefore, when you come to worship this summer, things will look and happen differently.

It starts with entering the building. There will be one set of doors dedicated for entrance, and another set dedicated for exit.  Everyone is to bring a face mask to church. If you forget to bring one, there will be a supply available for you to use and take home.  Hand sanitizer will be everywhere.

Inside, distancing will be followed. Every other pew will be roped off and not used. Tape will be on the floor, six feet apart, to guide us. There will be no coffee time or lemonade socials this summer.

Paper bulletins will be available, however the weekly bulletin will be also be emailed through the Ministry Minute network. You are encouraged to use your electronic device to view the order of service.

Liturgically, the service will be shortened, but we will still follow our historic pattern of gathering/word/meal and sending. Passing the peace will be different as we will stay at our place and wave. Other liturgical changes , including the distribution of the Holy Communion will be part of the pre-service announcements and printed in the bulletin.

The most noticeable change in the liturgy will be that there will be no singing or chanting. Allison is preparing some familiar music for you to tap your feet to, and even hum.  And the number of spoken congregational responses are reduced.

And the room will be airy!  The glass doors will be opened, and other doors as well will be open to promote fresh air. We are fortunate that the architecture of our building lends itself to being very open.

We grieve not be able to do those things we are familiar with. But remember: worship is what we make it and the effort that we put into it. God will be honored. Jesus will be praised. The Holy Spirit will be supporting us in our effort.

It may take a little time for some of you to feel comfortable returning to worship. That’s OK.  And if you are sick or just getting over an illness, do not come to worship.  We pray that our area will not fall back into the yellow phase. We pray that we will be able to worship in person.  Those prayers will be answered by our persistence in our collective love for the neighbor. A command which comes to us from Jesus himself.


From the Pastor- July 2020

There was once was a time when I was in good enough condition that I could have run a marathon. Now I can barely run two houses down and back.

There was once a time I could remember every little detail. Now you should see the slips of paper with reminders and notes I keep taped on the wall of my office at home.

Sometimes you just have to do things differently. Sometimes you just have to have more help to function well.

Which is precisely what we have been doing during this pandemic. It has been necessary to do some things differently. And by the looks of things, we will be in this different mode for many more months.

And so we prepare to resume in-person worship on July 5. This is a good thing. And we are also going to be very careful in making sure that in our worship we will do whatever is necessary to keep us safe. This too is a good thing.

On the next couple pages of this newsletter you will read of some of the different things that will occur. In addition to providing enough space, and opening up the nave to more fresh air, and even shortening the time length of the service (shorter sermons??) the most important thing to do, to care for one another, is to bring your face mask to church. It is proven to be an effective safety device, or as I like to call it, a measure of care. You can find many scientific articles that bear this out. But I’m coming at it from a theological perspective. It is a faithful thing to do.

It expresses care for the neighbor, which Jesus spoke a lot about. It also helps us live up to the meaning of the fifth commandment, the one about don’t kill. Martin Luther wrote in his explanation of this commandment that, “We should not harm anyone.” We violate the commandment when we, “fail to prevent, protect and save (him) from bodily harm or injury.” We are to show to everyone, “Kindness and love.”

I look forward to seeing you again in worship. And expressing together our gratitude to God and our care for the neighbor.

Clifton D. Eshbach, Pastor


Drive-up FOOD Drop-off

Saturday, July 11, 2020
9 a.m. – Noon

Drive-Up FOOD Drop-Off

Help support the Hempfield Food Pantry  Saturday, July 11, from 9 a.m. until noon. Just drive up to the front door of the church and place your donation onto the cart that will be located on the sidewalk. Simple!

Requested items 16 ounce cans of peaches, pears, or any other fruits, elbow noodles, egg noodles, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, 1 pound packs of rice, mac & cheese, corn, and green beans.

Thank you for your continued witness to assist the hungry of this community.


From the Pastor- June 2020

Today you and I are in the “now…but not yet” time. That’s theological shorthand for the time from the first coming of Jesus to his second coming.

Between the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost, the apostles were in their own “now…but not yet” time. They received a promise from Jesus that they would get some help. And it came at Pentecost in the form of the Holy Spirit. From that time forward apostles of Jesus have been sharing the good news of salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah. When they started they had the gift of the Spirit and themselves for mutual care and support. They did not have a building.

As we turn the corner to the month of June, we are still in our “not yet” time. It is getting somewhat closer, but clearly it is “not yet” time to reopen.

One of the mistaken comments of this time has been something like, “we have to reopen closed churches.” Excuse me, but only the building is closed, and for good reason. It’s unsafe to gather in large groups. And we value and apply the tenants contained in the fifth commandment.

The church, the CHURCH, has never been more open than right now. People are sharing their faith. God’s word is shared in the sacred manner as it always has. Study of scripture goes on. People are talking to and caring for each other frequently.

One of the constants over the centuries is that the church is always changing. Today we are taking on some new ways of being the church, less reliant on a physical structure, and more reliant on the structure provided by Christ. Grace, peace and mercy. And our baptismal call to serve and love the neighbor.

Will it be good to be back together? Darn right it will. It will occur, sometime. Not yet. God has provided the science, the precautions and the steps to take to make sure that safe gatherings will happen. That is the faithful path to follow.

Clifton D. Eshbach,



COVID-19 Precautions

From the Centers of Disease Control

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick

Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.


Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.


Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

Throw used tissues in the trash.

Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.