Showing posts with label communication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communication. Show all posts

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Seniors Seeking Internet Access

Lansdowne Baptist has been live streaming our worship services and more on Facebook Live and YouTube, increasingly so during this time of pandemic. There are many seniors who cannot take advantage of this service as they do not have access to the Internet. Linked here are two articles that discuss options for seniors to gain access to the Internet at low prices. If you know and love someone who could take advantage of any of these programs, please follow these links and bring this information to their attention. We have several seniors who had not been able to attend church services who have rejoined worship through live streaming. Lansdowne Baptist will continue to offer live streamed worship services moving forward for all who need it.

Here are links to the articles. I pray they will be helpful.

https://www.seniorliving.org/internet/best/
https://dailycaring.com/7-sources-of-low-cost-internet-for-seniors/

~Pastor Jeff 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

COVID-19 Testing Sites Locally

If you need to find a testing site for COVID-19, the links here will take you to the testing sites nearest to you. Please stay safe and get tested if you suspect you may be ill.


Philadelphia COVID-19 Testing Sites:

https://www.phila.gov/covid-testing-sites/#/

Delaware County COVID-19 Testing Sites:

https://www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/covid19/testingupdate_may12.html

Chester County COVID-19 Testing Sites:

www.chesco.org/4460/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Testing-Information

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Malachi Week 2





We nearly finished the last of our three minor prophets tonight, the
prophet Malachi. He lived when the Temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt.
During the rebuilding phase, all sorts of ideas developed about how
wonderful life would be once the Temple was back in operation and how
much humans would change as well. It didn't happen that way and Malachi
helps his people deal with that, change their expectations, and calls
them to work for the change they want. Looks like we'll have one more
week and then we'll take a summer vacation and return in the fall. Join
us. Or enjoy watching this later. All are welcome.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Message from the National Council of Churches Concerning this Pandemic


Now is a Time to Imagine a Bold New Future 

A statement by the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

-Psalm 46:10-11 NRSV

The Governing Board of the National Council of Churches, meeting during the Easter season 2020, sends greetings to all with the eternal message, “Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!”

These joyful words are a balm, especially, during these difficult days when the COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping over the country, and indeed the entire world, causing illness, death, and the disruption of lives and livelihoods. At the time of our meeting, April 28, 3,090,844 people worldwide have tested positive for the virus, and 213,273 have died.

In the United States alone, there are 1,003,844 cases, and 57,962 deaths have been reported. Fortunately, some areas in the country and around the world are experiencing a decrease in the daily numbers of confirmed, new cases of infection. It remains uncertain whether these positive trends will continue or if a new wave of the virus will emerge. Thus we acknowledge that uncertainty and fear remain. In the midst of such tribulation, we claim that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NRSV).

This pandemic shines a light on our ability as a nation and as a people to rally together in a time of crisis. We rejoice and express thanks for all those who are providing aid and comfort to the ill and suffering. This includes first responders, medical personnel, chaplains, and others providing humanitarian assistance. Our prayers are with the scientists and researchers and other experts who are working on improved testing, new vaccines, and guidelines that will enable a return to normal life.

We are grateful to the countless individuals who have come to the aid of their neighbors out of moral conviction, religious faith, or love. We also give thanks for educators, civic officials, and religious leaders, who are learning new, creative ways to teach, lead, and minister to their communities.

This pandemic also shines a light on the hierarchy of human life as we live it. Many essential workers considered essential are treated as expendable. Grocery clerks, orderlies, custodians, restaurant workers, delivery drivers, warehouse workers, and countless others — are at the bottom of the economic ladder. They are required to show up at work and maintain the comfort of others without having necessary resources to protect themselves or their families. We support measures to safeguard their well-being and elevate their economic and social status.

We urge everyone to continue to adapt to those guidelines which will limit the spread of the virus. Now is not the time to ignore measures intended to limit illness and loss of life.

As we are mindful of all the good happening around us, we must also name the injustices and challenges that we confront. This crisis reveals dangerous biases. In particular, we condemn the hate-speech and hate-crimes directed against the Asian-American community, as well as attacks on our siblings of other ethnic and religious backgrounds who are experiencing hatred and xenophobia during this time.

The pandemic has uncovered the systemic racism and classism that is intrinsically part of our national DNA and has shined a light on the vast disparities in our healthcare system. Large cities are reporting over 70% of reported deaths are of African Americans.

A grossly disproportionate number of persons of color are suffering and dying from COVID-19 because of the systemic poverty and racism that plagues our society. We reiterate our determination as a Council to work to end racism.

Further, the economic collapse that is underway shines a light on the weakness of our social safety net, including economic and healthcare inequities, and the tenuous nature of our purported prosperity now that tens of millions have quickly been thrown out of work. As some corporate interests rightly seek government funding to support their workers, others inappropriately seek vast sums from our government to enrich themselves; meanwhile, those of more humble means have received inadequate assistance. We pledge to continue to advocate for our nation’s resources to be utilized to help the most vulnerable among us, including immigrants and refugees.

Finally, this is a time of grief and sadness for millions of people. The loss of life and the numbers who are suffering is staggering. The anguish is compounded by our inability to be near our loved ones as they pass away and to gather in community to celebrate their lives and participate in rites of committal. Although many have died alone, they are not expendable and their loss to us is irreplaceable. We pray that their memory be eternal, and that their loved ones be comforted.

As people and communities of faith, we know that God is with us, and that we are all in this beautiful creation together. A central message of the ecumenical movement has been the resolve to stay together despite our differences. When we do so as a society, we are able to coordinate and extend our response to the pandemic and, in seeking to remedy the weaknesses and faults in our society that this pandemic has exposed, insist that those who are suffering be placed at the center of our concern.

Now is a time to imagine a bold new future, and a way forward that considers the best interests of all of God’s people. The pandemic is a crisis and all crises provide opportunities for change and renewal. People seek and need connection with one another and they desire to collaborate to build a new future that integrates justice and peace with health and well-being. We celebrate that and we are committed to participating as full partners in working for the beloved community.

Read the statement online here.
###
Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions and more than 40 million Christians in a common commitment to God’s love and promise of unity.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Bible Study: Mark, Week 15



This week we explored Jesus' arrest, trial and execution and what it all means for us today. Come and watch. All are invited. If you wish to join us, next Tuesday evening at 8 p.m., we'll be covering Jesus' burial and resurrection, with all its amazing implications for us today. Subscribe and become a regular at the J.S. Brooks YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBxxX5sENGIcCowZ314locA We meet Tuesday evenings at 8 p.m. .

Friday, April 10, 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Don't Live in Fear

Romans 8:15-16 reads: 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God...

I want to add an observation to this from scholar Eileen R. Campbell-Reed from an article she wrote in Christian Century. "The Gospel of John tells us Jesus inspired a crowd of 5,000 to pull bread and fish from their cloaks and baskets and share food with everyone. People called it a miracle." God provides us with a sacred abundance that will see us through even this pandemic. What do you suppose we as individuals and as a congregation have up our collective sleeves? Remember too, when God provided manna to the his children in the wilderness, it would only last a day (it also came every day) and anyone panicky enough to hoard manna found it rotting the next morning. If we don't succumb to panic and don't hoard, there will be enough for everyone. 

Thanks for Prof. Campbell-Reed for the good thought! Thanks to Paul for the ever relevant letters! 

Have a blessed day.
God has placed sources of joy all around us

Please share this message with your friends!
~Rev. Jeff Snyder

Friday, March 20, 2020

Pastors Looking to Livestream Services

No, this is not the laptop I'm talking about.
Hi pastors! If you're looking to livestream, here's a couple tips. I started doing this two years ago for Bible studies ... and never expected that experience to be as useful as it is today. 

If you're going with Facebook Live, it's easy. It will work entirely with your own laptop's camera and microphone. I'll attach a link to a quick video on how to get started with Facebook Live. That video had all I needed to provide a Sunday worship service on the first Sunday our church closed in March due to COVID-19. Link: https://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2020/03/how-to-livestream-your-church-service.html

One thing you need to know, the preview won't last long. On my computer, it freezes if you don't go live quickly. If it does freeze, just start over and roughly 30 seconds to a minute later, you'll be live and nobody will know the difference. 

Now, YouTube Live is another kettle of fish. For this you'll need an encoder. OBS Studio is free and works well. Follow a YouTube instructional video on how to get started. There's a steeper learning curve here, but it's worthwhile. 

Another thing you'll likely need. If you're like me, you can't keep up with the newest, most expensive equipment. My laptop is a few years old and has limited storage by today's standards (150 GB hard drive). This can be a problem as you need a decent amount of memory available for livestreaming seamlessly (along with a good, strong, fast internet connection). I was pushing the limits and discovered flash drives (tiny, meant to install in your laptop and stay there) with 128 GB memory, for a very reasonable price on sale. Needless to say, that nearly doubled the amount of space I had to play with. I transferred all the photos from the laptop to the flash drive (how did I end up with 60 GB of photos, that's over 11,000!) deleted the photos from the laptop's main drive, and the computer is running faster than it has in years. The errors caused by limited space should be done. One thing, when transferring files, open the overall file (in this case Photos) and select all the files & photos within, and pull those over to the flash drive for copying. If you try to pull over the overall file (Photos), you'll get an instantaneous shortcut to the file, but the material IS NOT transferred. You can see the disaster this would create if you weren't careful. 

We live in a new age. We will have to figure out how to stay connected with our congregations differently, how to hold worship digitally when needed, and perhaps this will change some of the things we do after the pandemic is over forever moving forward. That may be something God wants from us. It's worth considering, prayerfully. 

Good luck! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Sometimes You Need a New Plan

Sometimes you just need a new plan. I am building an N Scale model railroad on a door at home. It helps me decompress after a stressful week. I was looking to make my own trees. I selected a tree plan from a YouTube instructional video (they cover just about everything on YouTube), had most of what it took to and decided I could make a few reasonable substitutions. Well, the result is what I call my zombie tree (in the foreground) ... even from a distance you can tell something's just wrong about it. 
Meet my "zombie tree." A different plan was required.

It was discouraging. But, I sat back, thought it over, admitted I didn't have all I needed to successfully complete that plan. I went back to YouTube, found another plan, and this time made no substitutions. At the same stage of development, this tree looked a lot more like a tree. 

Looks more like a tree to me.

The finished tree I liked well enough to make another ... with a third on the way ... and try two different leaf application plans. I enjoyed the results of both. 
Two finished trees with another on the way.

But why am I telling you all this? Because, life right now seems to be strongly suggesting we try another plan. The one we are familiar with just isn't going to work during this COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. We need a new plan for church worship. The PBA developed one in league with the CDC's recommendations and American Baptist plans from around the nation. Here it is and we have the resources to implement it and that's what we will do to keep everyone safe. We can worship together now as we will gather in numbers below the unsafe threshold and we have plenty of room for social distancing. It will seem unfamiliar at first, perhaps a little unsettling, but the safety of our beloved church community is the priority. Here's what the PBA offers as a new plan. 

I have compiled and listed below recommendations for congregations to follow as we live through the challenges that we face given the outbreak of coronavirus.

First:
The PBA Ministers Council gathered this week and discussed the challenges and shared helpful recommendations for congregations as we face in this public health emergency. Please click on the link to review their recommendations and share your thoughts by filling out the survey https://form.jotform.com/200715356940150

Further, the Ministers Council plans to develop webinars and an online community that helps us to coordinate our efforts in serving and protecting church members.

Second:
I have gathered and compiled some of the recommendations from Regions across ABCUA. The PBA does recommend our churches consider the suggestions below:

WORSHIP
Churches face decisions now and in the future about cancelling worship services.  We have been advised to avoid gatherings over 250 people (now the number is down to 50); our larger churches will have a more difficult decision.  In your sanctuary, spread out!  Create some distance between persons
If possible foregoing print bulletins, and replacing them with electronic or projected versions, is advisable. If this is not feasible, make sure greeters are wearing gloves as they pass out bulletins, and have worshippers sanitize their hands as they enter the sanctuary.
Consider live streaming or podcasting your services for those who elect not to attend, and to prepare for the possible cancellation of live worship in the future. 


MUSIC
It is not known at present how long COVID-19 is able to remain viable on surfaces. Projecting lyrics is a good way to prevent the spread of the virus. Remember to disinfect the keyboards, remotes/mouse and desks. If this is not feasible a printed song sheet may be a better option, and if this will not work then encouraging hand washing and sanitizing after worship is recommended (which should be a standard practice).

OFFERING
Plates or baskets should be placed in a location where the people may leave their offering. Plates should be handled by gloved ushers and not passed by the congregation. While there are costs, encouraging online giving would also help protect those who handle the offering after it is taken.

PRAYER TIME
If your church passes a microphone around at prayer time, have the person holding the microphone in the front listen to each request and then repeat it for the congregation.

HANDSHAKING
Following CDC guidelines, handshaking should be avoided. As we greet one another or Pass the Peace, we should do so without physical touch of any kind. A gentle bow or a nod can be substituted. 
People could be taught to sign “I love you” or place their right hand over their heart and then turn it outward to their neighbors—the latter is considered by many to be a sign of peace. A friendly nod and smile is also a good alternative.

COMMUNION
Passing plates and cups is inadvisable at this time, as too many hands end up touching the elements and the potential for spreading the virus is increased. Churches may want to consider inviting congregants up front for communion, keeping a least three feet between members, and have gloved servers hand worshippers the elements. You may also consider using pre-filled communion sets.


OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS:

Who should forego worship gatheringsPersons who feel, or within the past two weeks, have felt unwell or run a fever should be discouraged from attending church services or events, both for their own protection and the protection of others. If anyone in a household is unwell, everyone in the household should remain at home.

In particular, the following persons who are at particular risk from COVID -19 should take extra precautions: persons age 60 or over, anyone with a respiratory condition such as asthma or emphysema, anyone with an autoimmune disorder, anyone who is undergoing or has recently received chemotherapy, and smokers.


Cleaning:  Make sure to wipe every surface that is often touched with disinfectant: doorknobs, handrails, the tops of pews.

Food service:  Food served at coffee hour, feeding programs or other gatherings should be in individual servings. If food is not in individual servings, a person wearing a new pair of food service gloves should be assigned to pre-plate and serve the food. Serving utensils should be handled only by the person preparing and serving the food.

Virtual meetings are encouraged where possible. Church or program staff may be encouraged to work from home, provided their physical presence is not required.  Some free or low-cost online meeting platforms include: Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex Meetings, and Microsoft Teams.

Pastoral Care:  Please be aware that pastors may need to reduce or eliminate their physical presence in hospitals and nursing homes.  Many facilities are already limiting such visits.  We have had our first case of a US pastor contracting this illness.  Pastors do not want to become unintentional carriers by entering high-risk areas; in addition, many pastors have family members in high-risk groups, or are themselves at high risk.  Prayer by phone or video can indeed be Spirit-filled.


The Rev. Dr. James E. McJunkin
Regional Executive Pastor

In the end, the new plan that succeeds (and it may take a couple tries to get it right) creates something beautiful ... and perhaps a little different from what was expected! 


Monday, March 16, 2020

Meeting at the Well



Sermon for Sunday, March 15, 2020, based on John 4:7-14, the most complex story in the book of John, in which Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. Life application connections made to the current coronavirus pandemic facing us all. This was an experiment (as so many pastors were making that Sunday) using Facebook Live for the first time. The recording you see here was made in parallel with that recording. That's why the angle and you see me looking between my computer screen (with camera and microphone) and my iPad with my sermon notes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Timely Information on COVID-19

The Acting General Secretary of our denomination (American Baptist Churches USA) provides valuable information on dealing with the COVID-19 virus. As of this writing (3/11/2020), the virus has just been declared a pandemic. Here is some important information you need to know. We American Baptists want all our communities to stay safe. 


Dear American Baptist Family:

I join you in our common concerns regarding the effects of COVID-19, which is being referred to as the coronavirus.

We continue to be in prayer for the recovery of those who are ill, the medical teams caring for the sick and, for those who are working to contain and combat the virus.

While much uncertainty still exists regarding the virus, here are a few quotes posted on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website:
  • COVID-19 was first detected in China and has now been detected in almost 90 locations internationally, and 35 states within the U.S. COVID-19 is part of a family of Coronaviruses.
  • Reported illnesses from the virus have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. Information collected so far suggests that most COVID-19 related illnesses are mild.
  • Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
  • Symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath have surfaced 2-14 days after exposure. Persons are most contagious when they are most symptomatic.
  • Persons with the illness have contracted it through travel and through close contact with known cases. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In addition to seeking to curb the spread of illnesses, another reason to try to contain the disease is so that local health agencies will not be overwhelmed by many persons contracting the disease at the same time in the same area. To help contain the disease, please continue to practice everyday preventive behaviors as listed below:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects.
  • Maintain at least 3 feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
  • Avoid shaking hands and encourage the congregation to greet one another with a smile and a hand over their hearts as a symbol of Christian love.
  • Have hand sanitizer available for communion servers to use prior to distributing the elements. You may want to consider using individual cups and pieces of bread rather than a common cup and loaf of bread.
For several years, American Baptists have been learning and practicing how to have respectful dialogue with one another through our “Mission Summit Conversations” and “Baptist Talk.” We have learned how to listen well, how to seek to understand before responding, and how to show respect in our conversations. We have learned that “how” something is said is as important as “what” is said.

Let us lead the way as we discuss our concerns about this illness and other matters with our friends, family, and neighbors. May we express concern without panic, calmness in our questions, and kindness in our conversations. Now is not the time for blame or condemnation. Rather, now is the time for care, compassion, and empathy. Every crisis is an opportunity to share God’s love and compassion with others.Additional information can be found at the following website as well as your state health department websites.

CDC LINK: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fpreparing-individuals-communities.html

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Dr. C. Jeff WoodsActing General Secretary

We at LBC are praying for you all. We are concerned about your safety.