SUNDAY, APRIL 11, 2021
WHEN WILL WE RETURN?
(The text of which can be found below)
Through much prayer, study of examples from scripture, and frankly the still small voice of the Spirit, I have determined that not only are we to embrace this season to allow God to teach us but that also our actions should be taken in order to achieve the maximum possible protection of our church community from even contracting COVID-19. I do not have the authority to control each individual person and family and their choices. Some of these choices are unavoidable and others are avoidable. While I have my own personal opinions, they are just that—opinions. Each of you also have personal opinions and they are just that—opinions. Some have contracted the virus, many have not. We do not judge you, nor do we condemn you. But your personal opinions and choices cannot be determinative for our local church community.
And allow me to address bad theology (understanding of God) regarding death and free will. Many across our nation and the world have stated something similar to the following: I believe in God and God will not allow me to die until it is my time. This statement is false. Yes, I said this statement is false. It is false because it does not acknowledge the role of free will. Let me share two examples with you.
The first is the life of King Hezekiah. He was a good king, served the Lord, and was true to the God of Israel. At a certain point, God informed him that he was going to die. Hezekiah did not want to die and pleaded with the Lord to give him more time. He exercised his free will and God responded by extending his life. It is a perfect example of the sovereign will of God interacting with human free will. You can study out the story further, but during that extended period of time Hezekiah made many mistakes that tarnished his walk with God and his leadership as king. It was not God’s will for him to live longer but free will impacted what happened.
The second example is not from the Bible but from our Newark UPC story. Some of you may remember it. It is the story of Nelson Walstrum. Nelson was Elkton’s town drunk and he was known by the name Bunky. Through the faithfulness of a godly wife, Bunky ultimately was born again but only after he had destroyed his liver through drinking and his lungs through smoking. Bunky struggled with smoking until a very few months before his death. In fact, once my Dad visited him in the hospital and told him to tell the friends who were sneaking cigarettes into the hospital for him to smoke while on oxygen that Dad would break their legs if they kept it up. Bunky died not just when God willed it. Bunky died earlier than he had to in the hands of a loving God because Bunky’s choices to drink and smoke affected when he died. I loved Bunky, I loved his singing, his spunk, his personality. But I would have loved to had Bunky with us longer.
My point is that we cannot relieve ourselves of the responsibility of our choices exercised through free will by simply saying that God is in total control. He is in total control but he has shared that control with us through free will. Our choices matter.
My decisions are and will be to protect the church community and its members from an outbreak that spreads throughout the entire church. It is also to present a witness to our larger community about how we the church are caring for them by our actions. These decisions are not simply my opinions because they are my responsibility as stipulated within our local church government by-laws. I am doing my best to act in a manner consistent with the needs of the whole. The test of leadership is not how you act when everyone agrees. The test of leadership is how you act when there is disagreement. This season has been a season of massive miscommunication and a break down in national leadership. Newark UPC has experienced through this season clear communication and a consistent demonstration of leadership. We have not wavered and we will not waver. As I have stated before, you will have the opportunity to decide whether my actions were appropriate during the pandemic, but the expression of those opinions will only be possible (and appropriate) after the pandemic has ended.
Based upon prayer and my continued research and monitoring of our knowledge of the pandemic, it is my decision that we cannot safely return to in-person meetings until we have met one of the following conditions:
1. The pandemic ends for the United States through infection and death rates plummeting - called a medical end
2. Appropriate levels of vaccinations are met within our local context of New Castle County and the State of Delaware
3. Appropriate levels of vaccinations within our local church community members are met so as to provide safety for both those vaccinated and those who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated.*
*We are waiting on the determination of whether a vaccinated person can still carry and transmit the virus to an unvaccinated person
Vaccines will be discussed. You are not required to vaccinate. Your decision to vaccinate should not pressure others to vaccinate. Your decision to not vaccinate should not pressure others to not vaccinate. Again, vaccines will be discussed because they are our most viable option for returning to in-person meetings. And vaccines will provide the necessary safety for both those who are vaccinated and those who are not vaccinated.
Allow me to clear up two misunderstandings regarding HIPAA being applied to a church and also the idea that a church is subject to the same constraints as a public entity.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to disclosures made by employees, volunteers, and other members of a covered entity’s or business associate’s workforce. Covered entities are health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers who conduct one or more covered health care transactions electronically, such as transmitting health care claims to a health plan. Business associates generally are persons or entities (other than members of the workforce of a covered entity) that perform functions or activities on behalf of, or provide certain services to, a covered entity that involve creating, receiving, maintaining, or transmitting protected health information. Business associates also include subcontractors that create, receive, maintain, or transmit protected health information on behalf of another business associate.
Given this definition, employer-to-employee communications will most likely not be covered by HIPAA, and as such are not controlled by the HIPAA Privacy Regulations but other federal and state regulations may apply. This means also that a volunteer organization such as a church is also not covered by HIPAA.
Our church insurance, Brotherhood Mutual, also states that case law supports the notion that churches are not required to allow anyone to enter or remain on their property simply because their ministries are open to the public. We are not owned by the government but rather are governed by our own local church government by-laws. We are very much interested in welcoming the public but we are a private institution that operates according to it own by-laws.
My point in these two clarifications is simple. We are allowed to self-govern and self-determine according to the structure of our local church government by-laws. This is why I am making these decisions because the by-laws have made them my responsibility as pastor. This is also why we will not require you to vaccinate in order to attend church. But we will also not be opening our physical campus until we can do so safely.
We will be informally asking in general who has been vaccinated. You are not required to volunteer that information—ever. But the idea that vaccinations do not matter is false. Until we meet one of the above stated conditions, we cannot safely return. Vaccination is the most probable means of us returning to in-person meetings. For now, if you are willing to share that you have taken the vaccine, please let us know. At a later point, we may even send out an anonymous survey to gauge what percentage of our church community has been vaccinated. It will be anonymous. We will not be able to identify individual persons. This information is about us making an informed decision about when we have reached appropriate levels of vaccination within our local church community members so as to provide safety for both those vaccinated and those who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated. It is not about vaccination, it is about us returning to in-person meetings safely.
I am happy to meet with anyone who has questions or concerns. Please call the office and speak with our Executive Assistant, Joyce Allen. She will be happy to schedule a Zoom meeting with me where I can hear your concerns and answer your questions. Anyone who takes to the public forums of social media instead of speaking directly with me will not be responded to. This is not a correction of past interactions. It is direction for going forward. This is also not targeting any one person. If this applied to only one person, I would be speaking with that one person. I have never targeted individuals from the pulpit—physical or digital. Tonight applies to multiple inquiries and interactions and is relevant to the whole church and therefore is addressed to the whole church. In this ending phase of this season, it is critical that we not allow our weariness to distract us from our commitment to the body of Christ. Questions and concerns are welcomed, as they have always been. But they must be expressed in the appropriate manner and space.
While I have appreciated and used the wisdom and council of the pastoral team during this season, decisions regarding the pandemic and our response to it are wholly mine. I am responsible. I alone can answer for these decisions. And I do so willingly and gladly as I obey the instruction of the Lord through Peter to feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint but willingly, not for filthy lucre but of a ready mind. Church, the amount of stress, peril, criticism, and no-win situations that this season presents us with is without precedent. It is literally life and death. You could not pay me enough money to do this job. I serve you because He has asked me to.
So when will we return? I am hopeful that the July-August window will be possible. Our building renovations will be completed. But vaccines are the only way we can meet the July-August window. So what is your responsibility? Prayerfully and carefully decide whether you are willing to be vaccinated. If you are, do so as soon as possible. If you are not, pray for your brothers and sisters who are willing and then be patient. Give one another the freedom to choose in Christian liberty. In the meantime, stay faithful to the daily evening broadcasts. Attend your online small groups. Keep yourself and your family safe.
We will not grow weary in well doing. We will not faint. We will reap the rewards of this season. We will be Christians. We will continue to be a diverse community of believers who stay united through mutual submission one to another. Anything less than this is unacceptable. And when we fall short, we will call one another to step up, repent and forgive, and renew our commitment to being the Jesus-followers who are characterized by their love for each other.
Newark United Pentecostal Church
TUESDAY, MARCH 23, 2021
This April marks the 4-year anniversary of small groups at Newark UPC. Who, except God, could have known how important they are in the life of this church (particularly in this season of COVID-19)!
Allow us to review our history. In April of 2017 we began with small groups meeting once a month in homes for a meal, prayer, teaching, and discussion. In April of 2018 we continued this format but increased it to twice a month. When the pandemic shut down our in-person meetings in March 2020, we took the small groups online through Webex and then Zoom.
This initial hurdle of online meetings was steep. The whole world was forced to upgrade technologically, and Newark UPC did it with grit and determination and success. Now it is time to seize the opportunity presented by this threat and adapt for the future.
Through every stage of our growth and adaptation of small groups, we have desired small groups to be the primary vehicle of learning and community at Newark UPC. We also wanted small groups to be a weekly activity in the life of our church. With the advent of COVID-19 and moving our small groups online, we realized something: the online format was effective and efficient for prayer, teaching, and discussion. We believe this realization will allow us to take yet another step forward in our small group structure. Allow us to describe the new structure below.
Each year is comprised of four quarters. These four quarters contain 13 weeks for a total of 52 weeks in the year. Beginning in April, we will have small groups throughout the entire year. There will be no more Big Group Learning. Instead, each quarter we will meet online every other week in our small groups for prayer, teaching, and discussion (just as we have during COVID-19). All small groups will meet in the evenings (Tuesday or Thursday) at the same time and in the same week. When we are able to resume in-person meetings, each small group will use the in-between weeks for sharing a meal in homes, service projects, and outings. The pastoral team will provide oversight but these specific events will be determined, organized, and implemented by each small group. They will happen on the day and time chosen by the group. Some may be during the evening, others during the day, and even others on the weekend. Again, the small group will determine, organize, and implement these activities. Finally, the 13th week of each quarter will be a church-wide potluck held on the physical campus following our Worship Service.
Put simply, we will WORSHIP together on Sunday. We will LEARN (teach and discuss) together through our online small groups. We will PLAY and SERVE the community through our in-person small groups.
This structure will allow our small groups to be a weekly part of our lives. It will facilitate growth in the small groups. It will provide our teaching staff with a sustainable schedule (removing the impediment of distance and commute time) and the ability to fully participate in their own small group.
Again, all groups will meet on either Tuesday or Thursday evening. And we will use the same Zoom meeting space for all small groups, no matter which evening you meet. You can click the direct link here or use the Meeting ID: 829 1181 1361 and the Passcode: 944226. Also, in order to balance the teaching load, we will follow the below schedule:
Tuesday Small Groups
Newark 2 (including Bear 2 & Glasgow)
Thursday Small Groups
In summary, this new structure will be implemented in two phases. Phase one will be moving all online small groups to either Tuesday or Thursday evening. This will begin the week of April 6. Phase two will be implementing small group organized play and serving meetings once in-person small groups are possible.
If you have any questions regarding this new structure, please contact any member of the pastoral team and we will answer any and all questions you have.
We are so excited about what God is doing in our midst and we thank you for being an integral part of Newark UPC.
The Pastoral Team
TUESDAY, MARCH 9, 2021
Latest Communication from the Pastoral Team
(The text of which can be found below)
Greetings Newark Family,
What follows is an update to the previous letter sent in February regarding the departure of the Lugo family from Newark. As Desi and Rachel have followed the direction of the Spirit, knowing that the time in their current context was coming to a close, they did not have a clear picture of what was coming next. We are now happy to share some exciting news.
Desi and Rachel Lugo are now approved to serve with the mission work in Vanuatu. They will be working with missionaries Peter and Robyn Gration in the Bible school in Port Vila, as well as other ministry endeavors with the surrounding churches. This week their personal belongings are going into a storage unit in Newark, and they are headed to Arkansas to help Rachel’s parents transition into a new home closer to their church and family. During the next few months, they will also be traveling some to raise financial support for their mission’s budget. The Lugo 5 then plan to depart for Vanuatu in late July to serve for a minimum period of eight to twelve months.
The Lugos want to stress that Newark is still their home base, and while they will not be physically located here, this is still their church family. The Lugos will send regular updates from Vanuatu and they plan to return through Newark periodically. As was mentioned in the previous letter, Newark is striving to be like the Antioch church who worked as a team but also submitted to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Just as Saul was brought to the team for a season by Barnabas, there also came a time when the Holy Spirit instructed for him (along with Barnabas) to leave and engage the work that the Holy Spirit had called them to. In this spirit, we are sending the Lugos for their next assignment in the Kingdom.
As the Lugos prepare for the global mission field, we are planning another “Sending Our Own” service where we will commission them, partner with them financially, and pray for the Lord’s blessings on their ministry. Due to the pandemic and current church renovations the date of this service is not yet determined. Our hope is to conduct this service in person; more details will follow in a future communication.
While we are sorry to see the Lugos leave our area, please join us in celebrating what God has planned for their ministries. This is an exciting step not only for the Lugos, but also for Newark. We have always been a missions church. We are now entering a new phase as a sending church. We are sending our own to the global mission field.
The Pastoral Team
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2021
In the summer of 2017, we welcomed the Lugo family to Newark United Pentecostal Church. Over the past three and a half years, they have become vibrant and vivacious members of our community, contributing their dynamic and influential leadership to our vision and mission as members of the pastoral team.
In the fall of 2019, Desi consented to assume the role of our Connections Pastor and for the past 15 months has served faithfully and capably in that role. When I offered the job to him, I could only promise him 1 year. God was faithful and extended that period of service to 15 months. As we have cared for the congregation during this season of COVID, Desi and Rachel have played integral roles in our operation.
As we continue to move forward in the ongoing transition from a pastor-centric model to a team model, the pastoral team periodically takes time to discern our individual roles in the future of Newark UPC. During one of these seasons this past October, Desi and Rachel felt direction from the Lord that their time here at Newark was drawing to a close. While I personally am sad at this direction, the entire pastoral team (myself included) has committed ourselves to a posture of submission to the will and direction of God. And so, we submit ourselves to this discernment on the part of the Lugos.
As I have reminded you many times, Newark is striving to be like Antioch who worked as a team but also submitted to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Just as Saul was brought to the team for a season by Barnabas, there also came a time when the Holy Spirit instructed for him (along with Barnabas) to leave and engage the work that the Holy Spirit had called them to. We cannot become self-centered like Jerusalem but must always remain a sending church like Antioch. And so, we release the Lugos for their next ministry in the Kingdom.
Over the next few weeks, they will be selling their home and spending a period of time in Arkansas helping Rachel’s mom and dad transition into a new home close to church and family for their retirement years. Following this time of support for Rachel’s parents, they will proceed on to their next ministry opportunity as the Spirit leads them.
We wish them well and release them with blessings. They will forever be a part of us and always welcome to visit with us. We look forward to reports of their contributions within the Kingdom and will rejoice with them as God works through them.
While we are losing the Lugos at Newark UPC, they are not leaving the kingdom. Remember church, there is only one Kingdom and one King. And God has been so kind and gracious to make us all fellow members of that one Kingdom.
So now, even in this season of COVID, it is time for us to express through phone calls, emails, texts, and cards our appreciation for the Lugos. And we release them with the ancient blessing:
May the Lord bless the Lugos
and protect them.
May the Lord smile on them
and be gracious to them.
May the Lord show them his favor
and give the Lugos his peace.
Newark United Pentecostal Church
SATURDAY, JANUARY 2, 2020
New Year's Greetings!
2020 has passed and 2021 has arrived. We trust that you have had a safely modified but enjoyable Christmas holiday break. Thank you for allowing all the staff and contributors to our digital campus broadcast a break as well.
Beginning tomorrow, January 3 we resume our Daily Digital Broadcast (Tuesday - Sunday) at 7 pm. You can join us at our digital campus on either YouTube or Facebook. We look forward to seeing everyone again. Let the chat resume. Join us LIVE!
Our small groups also resume this week beginning on Tuesday, January 5. The lessons, schedule, and Zoom information (along with instructions for Zoom) can be found on our small groups page. If you have not yet joined a small group, please click here to join us this year.
The Pastoral Team
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2020
Greetings Newark Family,
As we enter the holiday season we have officially ended our online small groups for 2020. Stay tuned and check the Online Small Groups card for details on when small groups will begin in 2021. In December we have five special activities planned (click HERE for details) and we are excited about enjoying these with you! To give the staff a break during Christmas time, starting on Tuesday December 15th through January 1st, 2021 we will be airing favorite sermons from previous Wednesday and Sunday nights. We are maintaining the regular broadcast schedule of Tuesday-Sunday at 7 pm.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
The Pastoral Team
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2020
Dear Newark Family,
The Pastoral Team is continuously monitoring the status of COVID-19 in our area, the associated risk factors, and available precautions to determine the appropriate time for us to return to in-person services. As promised, this is your October update.
The State of Delaware is still in Phase 2 which means precautionary measures of social distancing, wearing of masks, good hygiene, frequent disinfecting of facilities, and reduced capacity for indoor and outdoor gatherings are in effect. In addition, and unfortunately, as of today’s report, Delaware is beginning to see an uptick in COVID positive cases. See link to the
State of Delaware here.
Besides effectively navigating the challenges of this COVID crisis, we have another hurdle to overcome before we can return to in-persons services. As many of you know, about a month ago, Middletown, Newark, and surrounding areas experienced tornados and extremely high winds. Our sanctuary did not emerge unscathed. Our roof was damaged which resulted in water getting into the sanctuary ceiling, carpet, and pews. We are working with our insurance carrier to determine the extent of the damage and scope of repairs which will include mold remediation. We anticipate that the repairs to our sanctuary will largely be covered by our property insurance. This obviously impacts our timeline for returning to in-person services. As of now, it is safe to say that we will not be able to return in October or November. As more definitive information becomes available, we will keep you informed as appropriate. Rest assured that we are doing everything within our power to return to in-person gathering as safely and swiftly as possible.
On a different note, Pastor Steven is back and as typically happens when he pulls away to spend time with God, the Lord has given him specific direction for Newark UPC. He will be sharing that with each of us in a video which you will receive this coming Saturday via text and email. What he will share was given to him this past July and has nothing to do with our physical campus. It is imperative that you set aside time to watch the video and be prayerful in your response. If you do not receive the video on Saturday, please contact Lela Cooper and she will make sure you receive it. Your patience and steadfastness during this trying time is greatly appreciated.
In your service,
The Pastoral Team
THURSDAY, JULY 30, 2020
Greetings Newark Family,
For the month of August we are going to do something different, something new! As we continue in this "shelter at home" mode without in-person services we need to stay connected and our church family needs some levity. Newark UPC, it is time to play.
Each week in August will have a different game and each meeting will have a "winner". After four weeks the winners from each meeting will then face off in a LIVE final tournament during our "Friday Night with Friends" slot at 7 pm on August 28th. The winner of the live tournament will win the coveted Newark UPC COVID-19 game trophy and bragging rights through at least the rest of the year.
Week 1: Bible Trivia
Week 2: It's Your Life!
Week 3: The Survey Says
Week 4: Name, Place, Animal, Thing
NOTE: we will continue to join Tuesday and Thursday
small super groups using the same Zoom meeting IDs as the last three months (this is a change from the last communication). The evening (7:30 pm) small super groups will stay at the same time, but the morning (10:00 am) groups will combine and meet on Tuesday only. We will not have breakout rooms, just one big happy family call during each time slot.
Newark UPC Connections Pastor
TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2020
Greetings Newark Family,
What an amazing time we are living in! This COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the pastoral team and our church family in ways that we could not have imagined. Yet during this season, we strongly believe that God is still at work, remains sovereign, and has good plans for us.
We are now over four months into this pandemic and the pastoral team wants to provide an update on our current discussions and plans. We miss all of you terribly and look forward to the time when we can reconvene in-person services. As a team, we have watched many of our ministerial friends and fellow churches experience outbreaks in their congregations after reopening and then moved back to online services. Our desire for in-person services must be tempered with wisdom and prayer about how best to proceed as we consider the health and safety of all.
Several of you have reached out to us inquiring about the results of the survey we took at the end of June. While those results did not determine our course of action, they were informative and helped us gauge how people are feeling. We gathered 108 anonymous surveys and of those results, the overwhelming majority are willing to check temperatures, wear masks, and physically distance if necessary, to resume in-person church. Singing and bathroom contamination are the most likely ways to spread COVID-19 and require extra caution, and are a challenge we do not yet have a solution for. The other highlight from the survey was how ready people are to resume in-person church services. 27% want to resume as soon as possible, 21% want to wait a little longer, and 52% want to wait until at least the beginning of fall or until most of the restrictions are lifted.
After a couple weeks of prayer and discussing at length the survey results, the logistics of planning a service that complies with the governor’s guidelines, and the current spread of the virus, the pastoral team has reached a unanimous decision. For the month of August, Newark UPC will not have any in-person services or small groups and will continue to utilize an online “digital campus” approach. This decision was not reached lightly, and we will reevaluate this position as we get closer to the month of September. Please continue to pray for the pastoral team that God will grant us wisdom and clear direction in the coming months.
We also ask that during this season all of you continue to be faithful to your church body in the avenues that are available to us for discipleship and connection. Every week, Tuesday–Sunday at 7 pm the pastoral team has a broadcast with biblical content designed to make you think and help you grow. On Wednesdays and Fridays these broadcasts are LIVE and include a 30-minute question and answer session. In this regard, you have more access to Bible content and opportunities to ask questions than ever before. Weekly discipleship and engagement with God’s word at Newark have never been stronger. Please pray for these broadcasts; we have many people viewing this content who are not a part of our church family.
For connection with your church family, we have weekly small group meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays in both the morning (10 am) and evening (7:30 pm). It is extremely vital to the health of your Christian faith during COVID-19 that you connect with your church family through these small groups. You should not walk alone during this season; you cannot serve God in isolation. Discipleship is both individual learning and collective growth and accountability. It is through our small groups that we stay connected, check on each other, pray together, study together, play together, and grow together. If you are not attending a small group right now, you are disconnected from your local church body and your spiritual needs cannot be met. To join a small group visit the church website at www.newarkupc.info, click on the “Small Groups” option and then choose the “Small Group Signups” card.
For our children and youth, we are very blessed to have Keiara Horn and her staff working every week to generate creative content. Each Sunday from 1–2 pm is a live online KBN class for ages 4–11, and each Wednesday at 8 pm is a live online youth class. For more information about KBN visit www.newarkupc.info/kids-hub. For more information about the youth class please contact Keiara directly at email@example.com.
NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS. The pastoral team understands that everyone is tired, many of us are struggling with loneliness, and we all miss each other. For the last four months our small groups have continued to pray together and study together. Now it is time to play together. In the month of August our small group focus is “play”, so think of your weekly sG meeting as a long overdue game night. We are both combining small groups and also planning weekly group games designed to help everyone laugh, share, and connect together in a light-hearted manner. Our Tuesday and Thursday morning groups are combining into one morning super group on Tuesdays at 10 am. Our Tuesday evening small groups are combining into one super group at 7:30 pm on Tuesdays, and our Thursday evening groups will do the same on at 7:30 pm on Thursdays. You will continue to join a Zoom call via computer, mobile device, or telephone. The meeting times are not changing (10 am and 7:30 pm), but the meeting ID #’s will change (more info on that coming soon).
Thank you for being such an outstanding church family. Thank you for your continued faithfulness during this incredible situation. Thank you for the continued prayers and support you have shown the pastoral team as we navigate these uncharted waters. Stay strong; we are going to make it through this together!
Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
The NUPC Pastoral Team
TUESDAY, APRIL 28,2020
Greetings Newark Family,
As we continue in this “Shelter At Home” season the pastoral team wants to assure everyone that we are still planning for our regular Small Group (sG) lessons in the second trimester of this year (May-July). However, the format and schedule will be different than what we have done before. After meeting together last week, the team also agrees that the Small Group Connect meetings are beneficial and will continue as well. Starting in May, sG Connect and sG Lessons will happen on alternating weeks.
What does this mean for you? For the remainder of this “Shelter At Home” period (however long that is) Newark UPC will have small group meetings every week. One week will be a sG Connect and the following will be a sG Lesson. The meeting times and WebEx locations are not changing. If you have been meeting on a Tuesday or Thursday morning at 10 AM or on a Tuesday or Thursday evening at 7:30 PM, you will continue to meet on the same day at the same time. Starting next week (May 5th) the sG Lessons will be posted on the church website (www.newarkupc.info) and as the lessons are taught, the teacher will also share the lesson on their screen.
If you have not already done so, please make a routine for you and your family so that the evening broadcasts and sG meetings are a regular, weekly part of your schedule. Since we are not meeting together in person on Sundays, the Word we are receiving six days a week at 7 pm and the fellowship with our small group family once a week is extremely vital. To put it another way – for this season, if you are not attending sG meetings then you are not attending church and connecting weekly with your family. We need each other. So please show up each week, and turn your camera on 🙂
Newark UPC Connections Pastor
TUESDAY, APRIL 7,2020
Greetings Newark Family,
In case you missed the announcement last Sunday, on April 12th (Easter Sunday) we will be taking communion online following the evening devotional at 7 pm. Please make plans now for this special time as we virtually come together and remember not only the sacrifice Jesus made at Calvary, but also as we look forward to the hope of his future return. If you do not have communion “supplies” and will not be going to a store this week, please feel free to substitute other items as you feel comfortable. The focus is our participation in the Lord’s Supper together, not the elements that we are using for communion.
Also, for many of us, Easter celebrations include specific family traditions and a special meal. As a way to help connect together, this Easter be sure to take pictures of your celebrations and family time. Please share these pictures on Newark UPC’s Facebook page and wish your fellow church family a blessed day. You can post well wishes, pictures of your family together, and perhaps even a short “hello” video.
I am also excited to announce a little competition as a way to incorporate some “play” into our community during this season of physical separation. If you have a special dish or dessert that you are preparing for Easter, please take a picture and write a sentence or two explaining how this dish/dessert is part of the way your family is celebrating Easter this year. Then head to the Newark UPC Facebook page and follow the instructions for uploading your post. The week following Easter we will repost all of these entries on our church website (www.newarkupc.info) and allow everyone a chance to vote on their favorite submission. (Hint: we can’t taste your food, so make it look as good as possible in your picture.) The entry with the most votes at the end of the week will receive a prize.
If you would like to enter the competition but do not have a way to post to Facebook, you can email a picture of your dish/dessert (along with a description) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who knows? If we have good participation with this Easter dish/dessert challenge, there might be another competition in the coming weeks…
As Easter approaches, I look forward to joining my church family for a time of communion, seeing Easter wishes posted to our church Facebook page, and looking at all of the yummy pictures of your food!
Newark UPC Connections Pastor
FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020
Latest Communication from the Pastoral Team
(The text of which can be found below)
If you have not heard, on Monday, March 16th, the governor of Delaware, John C. Carney, modified the state of emergency in several ways that will continue to impact our normal services. First, all meetings of 50 people or more are cancelled until May 15th -OR- until the public health threat of COVID-19 has been eliminated. Second, individuals at high risk for severe illness (including those age 60+ and/or with underlying health conditions) are “strongly encouraged” to avoid gatherings of 10 people or more. You can read the specifics of this modification HERE. In light of these changes, we will NOT have Sunday services, KBN, or small groups until after May 15th. This also means that April Big Group Learning is cancelled.
Now for some good news. This week several of our small groups met via a conference call for the sixth lesson in our Spiritual Gifts series. Even with some minor technical difficulties this worked surprisingly well. We want to give a special public thank you to our Newark 1 small group for being the first group to try this new method. This is especially impressive considering that this group is comprised of more mature members (Sis Jackie’s words) and if we stated their average age it would approach I-95 traveling speeds. Next week (March 22nd-28th) we will finish our final Spiritual Gifts lesson with the remaining small groups using the same format.
During this unusual time, we have an opportunity to try some new ideas. Right now, it is very important that we stay connected to each other, so starting in April we are implementing a weekly Small Group Connect. Using a conference call system, all small groups will meet every week, once a week, for one hour. We will check-in on each other, pray together, and spend time in “Family Talk” (think dinner table conversation at a large family get together). Details of how we will implement this will follow in another communication next week. NOTE: the Small Group Connect is in addition to the daily devotions posted at 7 pm.
Even in these unprecedented days, we remain committed to all making disciples of all. Disciples are made and continue to grow through WORSHIP, LEARN, SERVE, and PLAY.
Remember to WORSHIP the God who is above all and yet present with us through every trial. In everything, pray! Make your petitions known to the Father. Lift up your brothers and sisters. Ask for peace, comfort, wisdom, and courage. Give thanks for all that God has already done. Don’t worry—pray. Our God receives WORSHIP when we pray.
We also WORSHIP God in our giving. Even though we cannot gather together, we can still be filled with faith and place our loaves and fishes in the hands of our master to multiply. Please make contributions by mailing a check(s) to Newark UPC, PO Box 9938, Newark, DE 19714-5038. If you need to make cash contributions, call the church office at 302-738-7899 and request instructions. Regardless of how you contribute, please clearly communicate how much you are giving to which funds (tithes, offerings, missions). We know that some of you are being laid off and that will affect your giving. We have always asked you to give according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Nothing has changed. Pray, be generous, be consistent. God is our provider and he has always been faithful. Through your giving you SERVE God, your brothers and sisters, and the continued mission of the church. On behalf of our community, our missionaries, and the staff who SERVE you, thank you. Newark UPC, you are the greatest givers, and we are confident in your generosity in these times of trial. Thank you!
We will continue to LEARN together each day at the Gathering Hub at newarkupc.info. Beginning the week of March 22, we will resume having Monday as a Sabbath for staff. Though we will not have the Gathering Hub on Mondays, we will continue to gather the other six days of the week. We will join together at 7 pm Tuesday through Sunday to LEARN from the Word. Endeavor to join us live.
We will SERVE one another and PLAY together through our Small Group Connect. Stay tuned for more details about how this will work. If you are not already a member of a small group, contact our Connections Pastor, Desi Lugo. This time of social distancing is hard, but it also affords us the time to focus on and PLAY with our immediate family and friends. We do not have to neglect the extended family and friends of the church, but we should redeem the time given us with our family.
In this challenging time, establish new routines and live lives of Christian discipline. WORSHIP, LEARN, SERVE, and PLAY by praying, gathering, connecting, giving, and focusing. Be intentional with your time, your money, your attention, and your activities. Jesus promised us that he would not leave us. He has not left us. He is with us. Let us pray persistently, gather in new ways, connect creatively, give generously, and be intentional in everything.
If God be for us, who (or what) can be against us?
The Newark UPC Pastoral Team
SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020
We will have small groups this week, but in a different format via a conference call. Tuesday and Thursday small groups will still meet on their regular days, but morning groups will meet at 10:00 am and ALL evening groups will meet at 7:30 pm (following the daily message).
Please call 253-993-3497 at the appropriate time and after an introductory prayer you will be directed to "rooms" for your specific small group.
To access 2020 Trimester 1 Small Group Lesson #6 (Tongues & Interpretation) click HERE
Tuesday March 17, 2020
Thursday March 19, 2020
SATURDAY, March 14, 2020
Dear Newark Family,
What a wild ride this last week has been: the Wednesday announcement of COVID-19 (coronavirus) showing up in Delaware, the Thursday declaration of a state of emergency, and the Friday closing of public schools. Whew! The governors of both New Jersey and Delaware have issued state of emergency instructions. In New Jersey, public gatherings of over 250 people are banned. In Delaware, “non-essential” gatherings over 100 people are strongly discouraged. When public gatherings in Delaware do occur, the requested health guidelines include conditions that we do not feel we can adequately meet at this time.
In order to respect and cooperate with the government authorities placed over us as Paul and Peter instructed (Romans 13:1–5; 1 Peter 2:13–17), and to be conscious of the concerns of the larger community and our at-risk members, we are making temporary arrangements to continue to meet in creative ways, not in one place, but in one mind and in one Spirit. We do not act out of a spirit of fear, for the LORD is our refuge.
Until further notice, our worship services will be in a different time and format. We are asking everyone to join us Sunday on Facebook Live or our YouTube channel at 7:00 P.M. In addition, every day at 7:00 P.M. we will post an ongoing series of messages from the pastoral team. They will be 15-20 minutes in length with opportunity to pray and worship. These messages will also be archived and accessible at newarkupc.info under the “Gathering Hub” card. We will also be substituting online instruction in place of Kids’ Bible Night, which will be suspended for the remainder of March. This information will also be found on the “Gathering Hub” card.
Our current small group series on the Spiritual Gifts has one remaining lesson. In lieu of meeting in person, the remaining small group sessions will be available by conference call. While we will not be sharing our usual meal, we will still have the opportunity to pray and learn together. You will receive more information about this process shortly.
We also want to continue to worship in our giving. We are requesting that if possible, you mail your contributions via check, money order, or bank draft (please do not send cash) to the church at: PO Box 9938, Newark, DE 19714. We understand that this may not be your normal method of giving, but your cooperation will greatly assist our finance team. If this is not an option, you may also set aside your gift to God until we meet again for corporate worship. If you wish to discuss other options, please call the church at 302-738-7899.
As we adjust and adapt to this evolving situation, the pastoral team wants to encourage our church family that God is still in control. We realize that some of you will be relieved by this course of action, while others in the family will likely feel that this is an overreaction. We understand and respect both positions. This decision was not reached lightly but was the consensus of the entire pastoral team. Rest assured that the team continues to be available for support, encouragement, and prayer. We urge the stronger and healthier members of our congregation to defer to our brothers and sisters who are “high risk” due to age or compromised immune systems.
The good news is that this is a great time to let our light shine in our surrounding community. Please continue to pray and stay focused and aware of opportunities to witness to those who may be experiencing fear or loneliness in these unsettling days. Lead them to the Light that can dispel their darkness, and the Rock that provides a firm foundation.
Also, please stay in communication with each other so that we maintain connection. This is an excellent opportunity to try different methods of community as we live out our Christian faith. If you have a need, please call on us. Also keep monitoring Facebook and newarkupc.info for the most current information.
We stand as a family – together.
The Newark UPC Pastoral Team