Pastoral Letter for a Distributed Church August 22, 2020
It’s been three weeks since my last letter (yeah for vacations) and I wanted to update you on some upcoming events and changes for this fall. We have been restarting our ministries in an incremental fashion this summer with good results.
We have restarted the Nursery during the worship service (to include ages 0-3) with a number of safety precautions in place.
We have restarted Children’s Church, with safety precautions, and that has also gone very well, though we are looking for a few more volunteers (especially women).
Additionally, our Youth Group will be restarting in person meetings this coming week. As always, these will be led by Frank Wang. They will be held outdoors with all the safety precautions. Frank will be communicating the specifics to each of our teens and their families. I know the youth group is excited to start meeting again. Frank needs some adult volunteers to help out, so if you have a heart for our youth, please give him a call.
And, after surveying all the parents, on Sunday, September 6th, we’ll be restarting Sunday School. It will be at the usual time right before worship (9:30 am) and we’ll start with two children’s classes. There will be a Younger Elementary Class (K thru 2nd grade, with some toddlers) taught by Andy Pogany and Deb Williams. And there will be an Older Elementary Class (3rd thru 5th grade) taught by Mark Rist and Lindsay Dyke. For those unable to attend, the materials will continue to be made available for you to teach at home.
Then there will be a combined Teen/College/ Adult class in the auditorium so we can be spread out. This class will be called “The Story of the Bible: Origins and Objections” and will be taught by Dr. Silvernail, Rev. Wang, and Ruling Elder James Murphy. And the hat tip goes to Matt Zollinhofer, who suggested this class about a year ago. Since there will be no nursery during Sunday School, infants are welcome to stay with their parents during the class. The class will be conducted both in person and simultaneously on Zoom. However, it you choose to attend on Zoom, please note that, for most of you, there won’t be enough time to get from home to church in time for the start of worship. Here’s the schedule for these classes —
Class Schedule Origins
September 6 How Did We Get the Books of the Bible?
September 13 What about the “Other” or “Lost” Gospels?
September 20 Why do we say the Bible is Inspired?
September 27 Inerrancy, Authority, Sufficiency
October 4 Jesus’ View of Scripture
October 11 How Do We Know the Bible is God’s Word?
October 18 Sola Scripture and the Reformation
October 25 Role of Scripture in the Christian Life
Class Schedule Objections
November 1 Does the Bible Make Historical Mistakes?
November 8 What about apparent Contradictions?
November 15 Do the Miracles in the Bible Conflict with Science?
November 22 Why Are There So Many Differing Translations?
November 29 Why Are There So Many Differing Interpretations?
And we’ll be kicking all this off on Sunday afternoon, September 6th. with our annual Labor Day Picnic at Fox Ridge Park. This picnic will follow the modified format we used for our 4th of July picnic. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be provided along with individual bags of chips, and bottles of water/cans of soda. You are welcome to bring other sides/desserts for **your family only** to eat.
All church-provided food will be “full service” with gloved volunteer servers, so that there are limited shared touch surfaces. We will have hand sanitizer stations near the food area. Social distancing while eating/fellowshipping is encouraged.
There will not be a volleyball net set up, but bring your chairs and blankets. The playground will be open. Reminder: Leave alcoholic beverages and pets at home. Please RSVP on Realm so we know how much food to buy. We are in need of volunteers to help cook and serve the food!
Well, it seems like we’re going to have a strong emphasis on the Bible this fall since we’ll also be starting a new sermon series. If our Sunday School class is about knowing and trusting the Bible; then our sermon series is about interpreting and applying the Bible correctly. You may remember a few years ago, we did a series on “The Most Misunderstood Verses of the Bible.” We got more comments on that series than any series we’ve ever done. Well, this fall, we’ll be looking at the most …
Most of the time, when we hear the stories of Rahab and Her Rope, Gideon and His Fleece, David and His Giant, Daniel and the Lion’s Den … there’s a moral to the story. And it’s usually wrong. So we’ll be looking at some of these well-known stories and learning how to read them right. It should be a lot of fun.
Finally, we’re going to resume celebrating the sacraments together this fall. On Sunday, September 6th, we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. However, we’ll keep safety in mind. The communion elements will be served in individualized prefilled communion cups with wafer included (and yes, there will be a gluten free option). People will pick up their own cups from a table when they enter the auditorium, and everyone will partake together at the appropriate time. There will be one congregational prayer time instead of individual/family prayer. It may feel a little different, but it will be good to take communion together again.
We’ll also start scheduling baptisms again. I know there’s a waiting list, so for those who have a family member needing to be baptized, please check your schedules, find out when you can have family members and guests there and let us know what dates work best for you. There’s no rush on this, we want you, your family, and your guests to feel both safe and comfortable so we’re able to rejoice together.
We’re coming to the conclusion of our year long study of the Gospel of Mark. I hope you’ve found it helpful and it has strengthened your faith. The pandemic has made this a rough time for so many pastors and churches and I so appreciate how Potomac Hills has repeatedly demonstrated the grace of the gospel and forbearance, one for another. Let’s keep it going this fall. See you soon!
Dr. David V. Silvernail, Jr., Senior Pastor
Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church