Hope Is Here

Christmas at Avery UMC
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On Site Christmas Eve Services Canceled

Earlier this week, Church Council decided to cancel the previously planned on site Christmas Eve services at 5 & 7:30 pm. While churches are exempt from Governor Wolf’s orders on Thursday, Dec. 10, we believe that it would be unsafe and unwise to hold in person gatherings in our sanctuary at this time.

 

This was not a decision any of us wanted to make, yet we feel it is the necessary and correct decision. Throughout this year, we have chosen to act with an abundance of care, making the health and safety of you, your family, and our community our highest priority.

 

With this cancellation, we will not hold in person worship of any kind through at least January 10. We will continue to re-evaluate every few weeks, and follow the guidance of state officials, conference leadership, and public health experts.

 

If you ordered a Home for Christmas Box, you have a DVD of a pre-recorded Christmas Eve service for this year. That service will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel starting Monday, Dec. 21. A link will be emailed out that morning. Additionally, we will post a premiere of the service on our Facebook page at 5 pm on Christmas Eve. We invite you to join others in gathering virtually and watching together at that time.

 

If you do not have a DVD and wish to receive one, please let the church office know by Thursday, Dec. 16 at noon. We are currently working on getting DVDs to church members we know who do not have the capability to watch online. If you know of someone who may require this DVD but won’t receive this news, please let the church office know ASAP.

 

One of our Conference leaders shared these words in an email sent out on Monday:

 

I am convinced that there will come a time, after a safe vaccine has been widely implemented, when all of us will look back upon this long and difficult season and pray fervent prayers of thanksgiving for the extraordinary way in which God brought us through it. “It was painful, even heartbreaking at times,” we will say to one another in that day. “But none of it was meaningless. None of it went wasted. And now, God has redemptively woven even the ugly threads of COVID-19 (the grief; the loss; the suffering; the financial hardship; the isolation; the rancor) into the beautiful tapestry of grace that God is committed to making out of our history.”

 

Indeed, God is carrying us through this time. May we recognize the blessing of that presence – a presence most deeply felt at Christmas, when Emmanuel – God with us – is born. Have a safe and blessed Christmas.

 

Pastor Erik

Christmas Candle Pictures due Dec. 20!

Forget to text or email a picture or video of you holding your Christmas Eve candles sent out with your Christmas letter? Text or email them to Pastor Erik (412-480-7938, erik.hoeke@gmail.com) by Dec. 20! We’ll compile them in a video to share online on Christmas Eve. Share your light with others this Christmas so we can enjoy seeing each other’s faces!

 

Poinsettia Pick-up

We are deeply grateful for those who ordered poinsettias in honor of or in memory of loved ones this year. Since we won’t be hosting Christmas Eve worship in the sanctuary, these poinsettias are now available for pick up from 9 am to 1 pm on Dec. 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 29, & 30. If you need to pick them up at a different time, call the church office to make an appointment for pick up.

Red Poinsettia
A Season of Giving
Christmas Presents

Trinity West Gifts

Every December, Avery UMC helps several local families from the elementary school across the street with Christmas presents. The gift tags are in the welcome area of the church. If you wish to participate without coming to the church building, contact Laura Stainbrook (724-747-8409, lstainbrook60@gmail.com).

Smiling Senior Woman

Gifts for Shut-ins

Each year we give Christmas gifts to our shut-in members of the church. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 15. Make checks out to Avery UMC. Mark all donations Shut-in Christmas on envelope or on check memo line. This is a very important mission, as some of our Shut-ins aren’t getting visitors because of  the pandemic. Let’s show our love and support!

Wrapping Gifts

Wrapping Paper Sale

Everyone needs wrapping paper this time of year! A church member has donated dozens of rolls of paper, and we are selling them at $5/each. All money collected will go towards paying off the loan for our roof replacement in 2018, which is down to less than $2,000. The rolls are in the church welcome area with a donation box nearby.