Pastor B.J.’s Update

Hi Everyone:

We are moving forward with our plans to begin a limited opening of our sanctuary on Sunday morning, July 12. In preparation for this first in- person public worship in four months: we have removed most of the chairs (leaving 40), we have put a “sign in” protocol together, we have given (and will be reminding everyone) of the rules of engagement and singing; and, we have put together cleaning protocols to keep our space safe. Fighting Covid19 is everyone’s responsibility and as a faith community we are working to protect all of you.

Here are some critical guidelines:
If you feel sick, headache, cough, temp, etc: we love you but please stay home and worship on the live feed.

In the building wear a mask at all times. The virus spreads best in enclosed spaces among folks who are not wearing masks.

If you are going to sing, sing through your mask – the worship team will be kept at least 12 feet from the nearest congregant.

Keep your hands clean: we will have soap and water in all the restrooms and hand sanitizer in multiple locations.

Even though we have not seen each other in a while, no hugs, handshakes, or physical contact.

Together we will get through this.

Here are some things happening at Erwin First:
Worship this Sunday is about hospitality and remembering to welcome even those we feel uncomfortable around: look at Matthew 10:40-42.

Here is the link to Sunday’s worship:

On July 5, I am beginning a series titled “Seven Letters for Seven Churches” taken from Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. Each of these congregations in the first century have lost a critical element of the Christian faith and John, the author, shows them how to be restored.

Pastor Karen and I (and the rest of the worship team) will be taking a week off – June 29-July We are prerecording worship for July 5.

Welcome Oliver, born June 18 to Brent and Charlotte. He weighed 8 pounds 1.9 ounces and was 21 inches long. Mother, son, father and big brother are all doing fine!

THIS SATURDAY we are having a clean out day at Brown Memorial beginning at 9:30. If you would like to help we can always use a few extra hands. Let me know. You’ll need to bring your own gloves and mask.

FROM HELEN: I want to let you know that Patrick got married to his fiancée, Elizabeth (Liz) yesterday. Due to the pandemic, it was only immediate family, with Liz’s grandfather officiating. It was lovely and no rain. They plan a one-year anniversary reception next year. Congratulations Patrick and Liz!!!

Many of you know Lori who has been the mission coordinator at Brown Memorial for the past few years. Lori has been offered a part time appointment at the Ira United Methodist Church (Ira is northwest of Baldwinsville off 370 West). She begins her new position on July 1. Quincy will be assuming the responsibilities of the Mission Coordinator as well as coordinating the new West Side food center at Brown.

GOOD NEWS: Bob reports that his surgery for pancreatic cancer was a success and he was declared cancer free this past week. Bob will be returning to Syracuse from Albany later this week.

An Experience of the Spiritual Disciplines will begin July 6. An outgrowth of the 30 day experiment, we are launching a study and laboratory of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline at 5:30 on July 6. This is a journey through the 12 classic spiritual disciplines from mediation and fasting to simplicity and celebration. If you want to join us in this 13 week journey, LET ME KNOW. Purchase Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline available through Amazon and other online outlets, read the first 2 chapters, and join us via Zoom on July 6.

IN OUR PRAYERS: Continue to pray for Bob as he heals; pray for Susan’s grandmother, Rose, who fell and broke her hip last week; pray for Peggy (from Brown) who is battling cancer; pray for my niece Corinne who was diagnosed with MS this past week; pray for our shut-ins and those in managed care; pray for our country amid the Covid 19 pandemic; pray for our leaders to make good decisions for all the people; pray for those who are working for justice; pray for all of us in these uncertain days.

WE NEED A TECH TEAM: Rod has set up our live streaming audio/visual “studio” and is looking to train some folks on how to use the equipment. This will be helpful when Rod needs to be away and it is always a good idea to share the ministry. If you are interested please let me know at Rod has begun training the first volunteers and there is room to train a few more.

VIRTUAL CHOIR – after our rousing success with “All in All” we are putting together a second virtual choir for Father’s Day. If you would like to join the choir with voice or instrument please contact Pastor Karen at for more information and the recording track. We will be doing Siyahamba. We need all recordings by the end of this week!

WE NEED YOUR HELP: We are looking for a new Director for the Erwin Nursery School. The position is posted on Indeed. Feel free to share this link with your friends who might be interested:

We are receiving resumes and are getting a look at some viable candidates. Keep this process in your prayers. Interviews will begin the first week of July.

Gethsemane United Methodist, (1700 Butternut Street, Syracuse, NY 13208), in keeping with its mission to connect people with God and to connect with the community, has embarked on a new community project in the form of a neighborhood thrift shop. Before the COVID-19 Pandemic restrictions and guidelines, we had earmarked the last week in August for the opening.

We are hopeful and are working to meet our opening day of August 28 pending the directive from our government officials. We are reaching out to you soliciting your help for clothing and small household items that are in GOOD condition.

If you or anyone you know would like to donate any of these items please call Gethsemane UMC church office at 315-479-7971 or email and let us know.

RESTART is relocating to the former Onondaga Hill United Methodist Church building at 4845 W. Seneca Turnpike. Arrangements have been made with the team that is planning to plant a new congregation/ministry as an outreach to the OCC community for the use of the basement and side rooms for the storage of furniture and other household goods that Restart works with!! In late July, Restart will need to move all of their supplies from the former James Street UMC building (which has been sold) and will need many hands to make it work.

Parting Thought
One of the often ignored concepts we find in the New Testament is the idea of radical hospitality. Jesus says, on more than one occasion; when you throw a party, don’t just invite those who can reciprocate. Instead, he says, invite those who cannot do the same for you. In multiple places in the New Testament, we are reminded that the Christian movement is for everyone and it calls us to pay special attention to the poor, the broken, the outcasts – all the religious people of the time wanted to ignore or leave out.

The first to hear of the birth of Jesus are social outcasts (the shepherds); Jesus uses the hated Samaritan to be an example of virtue; Jesus touches the leper and many more untouchables. Jesus makes space for everyone. We can even see this in his 12 Apostles who come from widely diverse backgrounds: fishermen, tax collector, student, member of a radical political faction, etc.

Radical hospitality reminds us to receive the prophets (even though they are often uncomfortable people); to welcome those who are shining examples of goodness (the righteous) even though they often make us feel uncomfortable; and to give cold water to the “little ones.” Little ones can mean children but most scholars suggest it is a reference to the least, the last, the lost.

We are called to be a community that welcomes all and invites all into a life giving, life changing, and life transforming relationship with Jesus!

Online giving is now available through our website

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NOTE: there is a 1% cost for payments from the donor’s bank account and a 2.9% fee added to credit or debit card transactions. The fee is deducted from the donation: (American Express transactions are 3.5% + $0.30).