An Update Regarding COVID-19 for the SCA Family

Updated: July 16, 2020

Thursday, July 16, 2020

 

Dear SCA Family and Friends,

 

Psalm 23 is among my favorite of the Psalms.  I love the opening of verse one, which sets the tone for both the Psalm and my perspective.  “The Lord IS…”. Three simple words that can flood our hearts and our perspectives with hope and courage.  It’s a short and powerful reminder that in spite of what this world produces, what does or does not happen, who lets us down, or what struggles we face - the eternal, standing truth will still be that GOD STILL IS.  The Psalmist goes on to declare some of the ways God cares for us and “still is” in the midst of life’s challenges.  He is my shepherd, He leads me, He guides me, He provides for me, He refreshes me, He renews me, He comforts me, He prepares for me, He anoints me, and He overcomes my life with His goodness, His love, and His faithfulness.  There is not one part of life and its challenges or surprises that changes the reality that GOD STILL IS.  This is a truth that extends far beyond the current world crisis of COVID-19.  This is a truth that is intended to reach into the depths of our souls and soak the deepest, the weariest, and the darkest parts of our lives with the love, care and faithfulness of our Savior.

 

Yesterday Governor Wolf announced new guidelines for the state of Pennsylvania in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.  Included in his announcement was the restriction of gatherings to groups of no more than 25.  From the very beginning of the US outbreak, both local and state leadership have declared that churches are both essential and exempt from government guidelines and restrictions.  Their only request was for churches to be wise in how we go about ministering to our congregations.

 

Here at SCA we have been very intentional to use care and caution in our re-gathering process.  Just last week we added the guideline for individuals to wear masks when not at their seats in the sanctuary.  With this in mind and the continued care we give towards minimizing the spread of germs, we have decided to continue offering our in person service along with the live-stream each Sunday.  Additionally, we have resumed our mid-week gatherings at 6 PM. 

 

For the remaining Wednesdays in July and August, we have planned several outdoor connection opportunities.  Most of these will take place on the upper athletic field (behind the church).  We have also planned two more times of prayer and worship (Wednesdays, July 29 and August 26 @ 6 PM) outside of the Municipal Building downtown.  These times of worship and prayer are great opportunities to pray for our nation, our community and our local police department.  All of these events and their details will be communicated via text, email, bulletin and Facebook.  I hope you and your loved ones will be intentional to join us for these.

 

Remember, our world and the guidelines on how we go about life as we know it may change from day-to-day, but as followers of Christ we keep our outlook and our actions anchored in the reality of who God is.

 

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 23:6

 

  

Onward Christian Soldiers,

Pastor Steve Silliman

Thursday, July 9, 2020


Dear SCA Family and Friends,

This coming Sunday marks one month since we resumed our in person services. While I’m grateful for those attending in person, we are all one family, whether worshipping in person or worshipping online.

When we first resumed our in person gatherings, I shared with you some guidelines we put in place that are intended to help minimize the possibility of spreading germs and maximize our efforts in care for one another. These include things like social distancing, spacing between family groups, refraining from hugs and handshakes, and the frequent utilization of the many sanitation stations located throughout the building. Included in those guidelines was the optional use of masks. As the leadership team and I continue to pray for wisdom, guidance and protection for the SCA family, we feel it is necessary to adjust the optional use of masks.

Starting this Sunday, July 12, we ask that all who attend in person wear a mask to and from their seats in the sanctuary. Once seated you are free to remove your mask and participate in the service as you normally would. At the conclusion of service we ask that you again wear your mask while moving outside to continue visiting and connecting with the SCA family. We don’t plan to “police” people with this guideline or turn individuals away who are not wearing a mask. We have disposable masks available at the Welcome Center should you forget yours at home. Currently we’re asking you to follow this guideline for the remaining Sundays in July and we will then re-evaluate any necessary changes or updates and communicate those with you. These updated guidelines will also be used by the SCA Youth ministry in their weekly gatherings on Wednesdays.

Additionally, we continue to use extra care to ensure our facility is properly cleaned and sanitized before and after each of our gatherings. If you are returning from out of town, I would encourage you to review the CDC recommendations for where you have traveled. As you have heard repeatedly, wash your hands with soap frequently, especially after contact with others and after sneezing or coughing. If you are feeling ill, it is advisable to stay home and receive the proper care. These are each small but significant steps we can each take in our care for others and ourselves.

As we continue our journey together in these unique times, I want to end by reminding you of what I wrote in my first letter to you, dated Thursday, March 12, 2020:

“I would encourage you to think as a follower of Christ with regard to all of the information you hear. Psalm 91 reminds us of God’s constant care and the peace He gives as we allow our hearts and minds to be at rest and trust Him in all situations. This means we make decisions based on faith, not fear. Decisions based on faith are still wise, not reckless; they are still thought out, not careless. However, the basis of how we approach life is faith in a God who is bigger and greater than all that we face. This current situation gives us as followers of Jesus a great opportunity to let Jesus shine into our world that most often lives by anxious fear.”

Shine Jesus shine… through me, through your church, in our community, and in our world.

With Love,
Pastor Steve Silliman

Thursday, June 4, 2020


Dear SCA family and friends,


If you joined us for our live-stream service this past Sunday, you would have heard the exciting announcement that we plan to resume our physical gatherings on Sunday, June 14! Trisa and I look forward to that Sunday as we come together (in the same room!) and worship Jesus as one. Keep in mind, the live-stream service will continue as well. This has become a very effective ministry tool we intend to keep offering. I know some will want to continue worshipping with us via live-stream for a season rather than joining us in person - that is okay! Whether you’re watching online or worshipping with us in person, we are still the body of Christ.


As we all prepare for Sunday, June 14, let me remind you of a few things I mentioned this past Sunday. We will have signage with significant details for all of us as gentle but important reminders regarding sanitization, distancing, and masks (optional). I encourage you to remember that everyone is in a different place when it comes to being back in public, the relaxing of social distancing, and protective guidelines. It is so important that everyone feels welcome and at home when coming back through the SCA doors. That means we must all move with abundant grace and patience. As Romans 14:7 reminds us, we don’t live for our lives alone, we need to be considerate and gracious towards others (my paraphrase).


In these first few weeks back, we will not be offering the SCA Kids ministries. Parents, I realize it can be challenging to have your children with you in service and we want you to not worry if your child gets fidgety or you feel the need to step out of service with your child for a few laps around the halls. The service can be heard over the hallway speakers so you can still listen in. The excellent resources and lesson material that Pastor Melissa and her leaders put out each week to parents will still be available. If you haven’t yet gotten these, please communicate with her to get on the mailing list.


For now, I’m encouraging you to continue the mid-week time of prayer (Wednesdays, 7-8 PM) from home. Feel free to invite others over to join you! Starting Wednesday, July 8, we will begin some family style gatherings that will enable the SCA family time to connect, visit and pray together. Watch for more details as the date gets closer! 


I ask you to continue to pray that the elders, pastors and I all have wisdom in planning out the final details of these first few weeks back together. We look forward to seeing you in person soon! Until then, may “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face towards you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26



Many Blessings,

Pastor Steve

Saturday, May 23, 2020


Dear SCA Family,

 

By now most of you have heard the President’s announcement regarding places of worship being considered essential and receiving permission to open.  Additionally, it was announced yesterday that Centre County will move to the green phase of reopening on Friday, June 5.

 

From the very beginning of the US outbreak, both local and state leadership have declared that churches are considered essential, but to be wise in how we go about ministering to our congregations.  I also know that in past weeks, both at the beginning of the US outbreak and as recent as last week, religious gatherings have become spread points for the virus.  My desire through all of this, not just this season with COVID-19 but also every season, is to move with wisdom, be Christ like, and honor those above us as leaders, and those around us as neighbors and friends.

 

In the past some have asked me how we as Christians put into practice the promise of God in Psalm 91:3 that says, “…he will save you…from the deadly pestilence.”  Their question is asked in sincerity, wanting to live out faith in God’s provision and protection, but also with a desire to be wise in what they do.  My answer has been to direct them to Psalm 91:13 that says, “You will tread on the lion…” and then tell them I doubt any of us would rush to the zoo with our families if we knew the lions were loose. God gives us both promise of protection as well as wisdom to use, and He intends for us to use both.

 

I know not everyone will agree with this, but we’re not planning to start physical gatherings this weekend.  There are a lot of things to consider and the elders, pastors and I have been and continue to pray, talk, plan, and then pray some more. We have already started working on a re-gathering plan and a potential timeline of what that could look like.  My hope is to give you a more defined date in the next week or so as to when we will physically gather again, as well as some different things to expect in those first few weeks back.  It is our hope and desire to have services resume in the very near future.

 

For now, if you’ve been thinking the church is closed, I encourage you to change your perspective. Our method has been different for a season, but the Church and its mission move forward.  You are the Church.  I am the Church.  Let’s let His Spirit fill us and guide us as together we seek to lift Jesus up in the State College Area and beyond.

 

Trisa and I, along with the leadership team, look forward to our re-gather date with great anticipation!

 

Love,

Pastor Steve

Wednesday, May 6, 2020


Dear SCA Family,


By now, you’ve most likely heard that Governor Wolf has announced for portions of Pennsylvania to reopen, beginning this Friday, May 8. While Centre County is included in the counties of Pennsylvania that can move out of the stay-at-home order, there are certain guidelines he has given to continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Among those guidelines is a limitation on large group gatherings. While we do look forward to the day we can meet again as a church family, we realize the current guidelines do not yet allow us to safely gather as we normally would for services on Sunday or Wednesday.


Until that day comes, we do plan to continue offering all of the online services and resources that are available through the church Facebook page. Remember, you can access the church Facebook page even if you do not have a Facebook account. Please visit the church website (www.scassembly.org) for a full schedule of all the weekly postings.


Beginning on Monday, May 11, the church office will again be open. I am also working with the leaders to create opportunities for us as a church family to periodically pray together, while maintaining the recommended social distancing guidelines. I will announce the dates and details of these opportunities during our Sunday morning live stream and mid week video update.


While we continue to wait and look forward to our day of re gathering, please continue to pray from your homes on Wednesdays from 7-8 PM. Use this time to call out to God for the healing our land and for Him to send revival to our nation.


Recently I have been reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 8:18, where he writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Elsewhere he calls our current struggles “light and momentary” (2 Cor. 4:17). It’s very easy to get focused on our current situation and forget that it is light, momentary, and not even worth comparing to the glory and work that God is bringing about through it. As I have said before, these are interesting times! But let’s continue to keep our eyes and hearts focused heavenward, looking for ways we can each let Jesus shine through us in this current season.


Trisa and I, along with the entire SCA leadership team, love you, we’re praying for you, and we look forward to gathering with you again soon.


Many Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Dear SCA Family,

As we continue to operate within the guidelines for our community in regards to the COVID-19 concerns, my hope was to resume our Sunday gatherings by Sunday, April 5. However, due to the current restrictions and recommendations, we are unable to restart our regular schedule of services on that date. Until a date is determined for us to gather publicly again, please be intentional to tune in to the following weekly opportunities. All of these are available through either the church Facebook page or the respective ministries Facebook pages:


Sunday 10 am - Livestream of service | SCA FB page

Tuesday 9 am - SCA Kids lessons | SCA Kids FB group

Wednesday Connections:

  • 9 am - Video update/prayer focus | SCA FB page
  • 10 am - SCA Youth devotional | SCA Youth FB pageIGTV
  • 6 pm - Worship session | SCA FB page
  • 7 pm - All church prayer & communion time | individual homes
  • 8 pm - Chi Alpha Zoom gathering | access code emailed weekly

Thursday 9 am - SCA Kids devotional | SCA Kids FB page


If you are unable to connect online, please communicate with the church office through email (info@scassembly.org) or leave a message at the church office (814.238.3800), and one of the staff will contact you. Additionally, if you have any needs that you’re unable to meet (ex. groceries, RX refill), or anything we can join you in praying for, please let the church office know.


These are interesting times, but they are also times in which Jesus can shine brightly through His church! As I mentioned on Sunday, March 15, as followers of Jesus, we choose: faith over fear, prayer over panic and hope over hopelessness.


Trisa and I, along with the entire SCA ministry team and staff, love you, we’re praying for you, and we look forward to gathering with you again soon.


Until then, may “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face towards you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26


Many Blessings,

Pastor Steve


Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Pastor Steve and Trisa released a video update on Facebook where they discussed how we as Christians may reach out to our world during this time. Click the link to listen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


Pastor Steve released a video update on Facebook detailing things here at the church as well as a call to prayer on Wednesday nights from 7-8pm. Click the link to listen.

Saturday, March 14, 2020


Dear SCA family and friends,

 

After my previous communication with you this past Thursday regarding our current plans for service, Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement suggesting large gatherings of 250 people or more be postponed or canceled.  Additionally he asked religious leaders to use discretion to limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in their congregations and communities.

 

I realize that State College is a global community.  With this weekend being the time that most travel home from spring break, the Elders and I believe it is in the best interest of our church family and community to heed our governor’s advice and not have our services on Sundays and Wednesdays as we normally do. We will still have service, but it will look slightly different for at least the next three Sundays.  We look forward to physically gathering with you again on Sunday, April 5, unless otherwise notified.

 

Starting tomorrow morning (March 15) at 10 AM, there will be a livestream on the church Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/StateCollegeAssembly/). The livestream will be the first thing that comes up on the page as you scroll down.  This can be accessed live even if you do not have a Facebook account and will be accessible after it is over through the media tab on the website.  The livestream will include a complete time of worship led by Pastor Melvin and the worship team, and I plan to speak as I normally would on a Sunday morning.  I strongly encourage you to join us by turning on the service and having those in your home join us as we worship and focus on God together.   Don’t sit and treat the live stream as a show or entertainment, but actively engage in worship as you would if you were in the SCA sanctuary. 

 

Parents, this is a great opportunity to lead your kids in learning who God is apart from just a church service.  Remind them that we are still worshipping as a church family.  Use this time to invest in the faith and biblical worldview of your children and teens. For those with children in the SCA Kids ministry, during this period of not publicly gathering, Pastor Melissa will email out curriculum each Monday for you to use with your children at home.  Please take time to do the lessons with your kids.

 

Currently the church office will still be open, so feel free to call (814.238.3800) with questions or for prayer.

 

Finally, above all things, remember to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

 

Many Blessings,

Pastor Steve and the Leadership Team

Thursday, March 12, 2020


Dear SCA family and friends,

 

Like you, we are trying to stay informed about the latest developments and impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including how it affects our local community and family of faith.  We will do our best to communicate with you about decisions we make that impact the SCA family.

 

First, I would encourage you to think as a follower of Christ with regard to all of the information you hear.  Psalm 91 reminds us of God’s constant care and the peace He gives as we allow our hearts and minds to be at rest and trust Him in all situations.  This means we make decisions based on faith, not fear.  Decisions based on faith are still wise, not reckless; they are still thought out, not careless.  However, the basis of how we approach life is faith in a God who is bigger and greater than all that we face.  This current situation gives us as followers of Jesus a great opportunity to let Jesus shine into our world that most often lives by anxious fear.

 

I ask you to pray for the global family of believers.  The SCA family is a global community with many different nations represented each time we gather.  Please take time to pray, not just for your immediate family, but also for our faith family. With Penn State University moving classes to online, some of our students will not be back to State College for a season.  Pray for provision, wisdom, peace, and protection for all who have been impacted. If you have family members being affected by the Coronavirus, please let us know at the SCA church office so we can join you in praying for them.

 

As this relates to our weekly gatherings, we will continue to assess things and make decisions as needed.  For the time being, we currently plan to have our regular Sunday and Wednesday gatherings.  If we reach a point in where we feel gathering is no longer the wisest option, we will communicate this with you through all of our regular channels (ex. Facebook, website, text/email blast).  Now would be a great time for you to make sure all of your contact information is up to date in the Elexio database.  This can happen by accessing your information directly or contacting the church office.

 

Additionally, we are giving extra care to ensure our facility is properly cleaned and sanitized before and after each of our gatherings.  As you have probably heard repeatedly by now, wash your hands with soap frequently, especially after contact with others and after sneezing or coughing.  If you are returning from out of town, I would encourage you to review the CDC recommendations for where you have traveled.  When we do gather we should minimize physical contact, which includes hugging and handshakes. If you are ill it is advisable to stay home and receive the proper care.  We can all do our part in being responsible.

 

Should we reach a point where we need to postpone a gathering, we intend to offer an online gathering that will include worship, the message, and the other key details you would find in one of our Sunday morning services.  Should that happen, we will communicate “how to” instructions at a later date.    Many of you already give online through the Elexio app or through recurring giving on the church website.  If you haven’t, you can easily access that at any time or use regular mail as well.  If you’re currently unable to join us for services, remember each week we post the message video and audio podcast on the church website under the tab labeled “media.”

 

We are doing our best to stay up to date and will continue to have conversations with those in the medical community for advice and input.  But most importantly, we pray, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and look for His wisdom and peace in all situations.

 

Many Blessings,

Pastor Steve and the Leadership Team