Monday, June 28th- Posted by Pastor James
Hello everyone, and this message is for Union Presbyterian Church. It is Monday, June 28th. Session met yesterday. Acknowledging that Covid-19 positive rates and hospitalizations are so incredibly low in our region and leaning heavily on the Worship Survey that was filled out by many of you, Session has decided to move forward to bring us back together for one worship service. The worship survey results indicate that the a very large section of the congregation want to try an earlier service time. So, Session has decided to try a summer worship time here at Union of 10 AM. We hope that you will test out this earlier worship time this Summer and let a Session elder know what you think as Session considers adopting this new time permanently.
Next week, July 4th, because of the holiday weekend, there will be no Sunday School. But there will be one indoor service at 10 AM.
The following week, July 11th, we will begin our summer Sunday hours in earnest, with Sunday School for all ages at 9 AM and one inside service at 10 AM. We are calling our special July 11th service, “Welcome Back Sunday!” There will be a special children’s message, we will sing some of our Congregation’s favorite hymns, and will include a special prayer of thanksgiving for God allowing us finally to be all back together again! We hope that you will be able to make it for this very joyous Sunday!
Please note, that during the month of July, Session decided that we will still require masks during our 10 AM service. We realize that there are many different views on the usefulness and need of masks in our congregation (there’s lots of different views about it among Session members too). Session simply wants to help those coming inside to worship for the first time in many months to feel welcome and comfortable. We hope you do too.
Have a wonderful week everyone!!!
Monday, May 17- Posted by Pastor James
This message is for Union Presbyterian Church. This is Pastor James and Happy Monday, May 17! As I am sure you are all aware, this last week the CDC and Governor Cooper changed the rules regarding wearing masks indoors. I don’t know about you, but I thought this was WONDERFUL news! It is yet another sign that things are headed in a positive direction toward a day when Covid-19 is completely behind us. Both the Governor and the CDC allow most businesses and organizations to decide for themselves what the mask policy should be for their operations moving forward.
Yesterday, Session looked hard at this issue and decided that it would be best for our church to continue requiring masks at our 11AM Indoor Worship Service for the time being. There are 2 reasons I believe this might be the best decision for us:
Currently well over 2/3rds of our congregation have not been inside the building for Sunday Worship in over a year. Many businesses and restaurants have been operating almost normally for many months. I would imagine that removing masks in these settings would feel like the next logical step. But I remember the first time my family started eating inside at restaurants again. It took some getting used to! From the initial worship surveys we’ve gotten back so far, it appears that as a church we are very close to coming back together inside for one worship service. Session still wants to provide a little more time for members and friends who have not yet done so to be able to express their feelings by sending in their survey. And then wants to use that information to help come up with the best plan possible to get us all together again. Based on conversations and the surveys we’ve received so far, we know that making masks optional would definitely be a road block for many to coming back inside.
Also, over the next few weeks, we have a couple special events during the 11AM service that might encourage some who have been attending the 9AM service to join us at 11. We would not want these individuals to feel like they needed to miss these special events because of their mask preferences.
For those who are attending the inside service, Session thanks you in advance for your understanding. Hopefully, like me you are looking forward to the day when we can be worshiping all together again! I hope that day will be very soon!! Remember, if you are uncomfortable wearing a mask at 11AM, you are also welcome to come to the outdoor service at 9. Thank you all and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or one of our Session Elders. Have a great week!
Tuesday, December 8- Posted by Pastor James
This message is for Union Presbyterian Church- this is Pastor James and it is December 8. Looking over Covid-19 hospitalizations in our region and following the plan put together by Session- Sally McGinnis, the Clerk of Session, and I have had to make the disappointing decision to cease our Indoor Services through Christmas. As soon as hospitalizations drop and stay lower in our region, we will start up indoor worship again.
Please note that this decision does not affect outdoor events or smaller group gatherings at the church. We will continue to have worship outdoors at 9 AM (you can join us in a lawn chair or even from inside your car if you need to). We still will have our Tuesday Morning Bible Study, Choir, and committee meetings. The church office will remain open. Weather permitting, we still plan to have our Outdoor Nativity this Sunday at 6 pm and starting this Sunday, we will have sign-ups available for you and your loved ones to participate in our Christmas Eve/Day Station Service. However, at this point we are not planning to hold the 8 PM Christmas Eve Indoor Service.
Although, we are needing to temporarily step back from our indoor services at this time, we will be keeping a careful watch on our county’s numbers. Please contact Sally McGinnis or myself if you have any questions. Thank you and stay safe out there.
Tuesday, May 19- Posted by Pastor James
Hey everyone! If you hadn’t heard, our phone tree system became unworkable last week. We have only just gotten it up and running again. It was REALLY broken so it is not the question of if there are any mistakes in the newly compiled database, but how many mistakes there are. If you did not receive the message posted here on a phone number you want to receive phone tree messages on, I am so sorry! Please let the office know so that we can add the number. And I would encourage everyone to use this message as an excuse to call a couple of your closest church friends to make sure that they actually received the message!
However, the primarily purpose of the message is to remind everyone that we have the opportunity to begin worshipping together again this Sunday, May 24. We will be gathering together for worship OUTSIDE at 10:00 AM. Worship will be in front of the youth building and people are asked to bring their own chairs and shade/umbrellas if needed! Please remember, that although the drive along the church building to the youth building is closed due to some driveway construction, the drive alongside the manse is still available. For any reason, if you feel a need to park close to our worship service site, we encourage you to come and park anywhere behind the church or next to the field. Please remember that during worship we will be observing appropriate social distancing between families and if you would like to wear a mask you are welcome to. By this Thursday on our website, there will be a new button and link called “Outside Bulletin.” This will be the bulletin used for outdoor worship. You could simply access it at worship from your tablet or phone. In the same place on our website, there will also be available a print friendly pdf that you can download from your home computer to print and bring if you would rather have a paper copy.
If for whatever reason you need to or wish to continue to worship from home, we will still have our interactive worship bulletin available through our webpage. You can access the link to our interactive bulletin through buttons and menus titled “Sunday Online Worship” or “Sunday Online.” I am so excited to see those who can make it this Sunday at 10:00 am!!
Saturday, April 25- Posted by Pastor James
I hope that you have had a wonderful day. In Psalm 46:10 it says, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
This next week Union Church will be offering 3 different ways for you exalt God from your homes. On Sunday, join us for online worship using our website’s interactive bulletin. You can watch a video of the sermon and Scripture, read a special pastoral prayer, sing along to the linked worship songs, and even join in with the pastor and his family as they sing “The Gift of Love.”
This Tuesday you can join us for our second online Bible Study at 7:00 pm using Zoom. We will be discussing chapters 6-10 of John. The codes to get into this Zoom meeting are also on our website.
Then this Thursday, we invite you to join us for a weekly prayer conference call. Those who call in will have an opportunity to share their prayer requests and then we will pray together. All you need to join us for prayer is a phone! You can get the phone number to join us from one of our session elders, the pastor, or by calling the church office! We hope to hear you then!
Have a wonderful weekend!!
Saturday, April 18- Posted by Pastor James
I hope you are doing well today and that you are having a hope and joy filled Saturday.
Theologian and Christian author Philip Yancy once wrote: “Jesus did not give the parables to teach us how to live. He gave them, I believe, to correct our notions about who God is and who God loves.”
This Sunday, during our online worship service, we will be beginning a 4-week sermon series on a few of the parables of Jesus. As Yancy writes, these parables are not just some of Jesus’ teachings about how to live a good life but have the possibility of turning our lives completely upside down. You can access our interactive bulletin on our website at:
This week the service we still have a video of Pastor James’ Scripture reading/ sermon, links to music you can sing along with, and the liturgy. But starting this week we will also be including a link to a children’s video that goes through the parable and a special written pastoral prayer that you can pray with your loved ones.
Also, please remember that we will be having our first online Bible Study for the first 5 chapters of John this Tuesday at 7 pm through Zoom. You can find the access codes and information for where we are at in John at our website at:
For those new to Zoom, this Monday there will also be instructions at that same spot on the website for how to use Zoom and an additional code to use to practice using the program on April 21, at 6:30pm (30 minutes before the first Bible Study). We hope you will consider joining us!
May you have a blessed weekend!
Tuesday, April 14- Posted by Pastor James
One of the consequences of all this social distancing, is a feeling of isolation from one another- particularly church family. This message is to communicate about 2 new ways we hope to help with that here at Union: (1) a new way for us to pray for one another, and (2) a new 21 day virtual study on the gospel of John.
First, I think it is very important for us to continue to pray for one another. On our webpage we’ve added a new link called online prayer list. This is a password protected page where Nancy or myself can list the names of people in our congregation or community who are in need of payer. We invite you to share with Nancy, one of our elders, or myself any names you would like added to this prayer list. Also please let Nancy, an elder, or myself know if you would like the password to access the prayer page!
Secondly, we invite you to join us for a special 21 day brand new devotion and Bible Study starting tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15. The devotion is called: “Pictures of Jesus thru the Gospel of John.” Each weekday (M-F) we encourage you to read 1 chapter from the Gospel of John. Then read the devotion that will correspond to that day. You can link to these devotions from Union’s Facebook Page or from our webpage.
Each Tuesday, starting April 21 (a week from today), we will have a Zoom meeting at 7 pm, for all who are interested in talking about what we have read. This is a great opportunity for us to be able to see each other’s face as we spend some time in John’s Gospel together! To join us for the Tuesday conversation you will need to connect your smart phone, tablet, or computer to the zoom website or download the free zoom app. You can download Zoom from zoom.us/download.
Then join our discussion next Tuesday by putting in the appropriate codes, which will be the same every week!
Meeting ID#: 795-0277-8022
Password: John1-21 (no spaces)
You can also join through typing in the URL: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/79502778022?pwd=RThONW1WYzVJTG9oUnluT2JLYzlyQT09
We encourage you to use these two sources to stay connected with us in the coming weeks!
Saturday, April 11- Posted by Pastor James
Happy Almost Easter! In the 8th Century Greek Orthodox Christian Monk and Poet, John of Damscus, wrote these words as part of the longer Easter Poem… They are powerful:
Now let the heav’ns be joyful!
Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph,
And all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen
Their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen,
Our joy that hath no end.
This Easter Sunday in accordance with state law we will once again be encouraging people to worship with us online using our interactive worship bulletin. However, please note that Sherry will have a special flower arrangement out on the cross at the road that you can drive by to enjoy and we welcome people at their convenience to come add a flower to Union's Easter cross.
In the weeks to come I pray that our words and actions may exclaim, “He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!!”
Friday, April 3- Posted by Pastor James
How are you doing today? Does it feel like its almost Palm Sunday in your neck of the woods? This Sunday morning we invite you to join us online for our Palm Sunday Service. You can access it through our webpage at www.unionpresbyterianchurch.com. Just hit the big red button labeled Sunday Worship.
If you would like to have palms to wave during the service we invite you to stop by the church tomorrow, Saturday the 4th sometime after 12:00 noon. Palms will be in a vase next to the wooden cross by the road. Take as many as your family needs. The palms will keep better if kept cool or in water. The cross will also be decorated by Sherry and so please drive by and be blessed. Also, while you are getting palms you may also wish to pick up worship music CDs and DVDs (for adults and children). These will also be at the foot of the cross.
During Holy Week, feel free to stop by the church. Although the church building may be closed, our outdoor grounds are not. We will have our Easter Flowered Cross out in the front of the Sanctuary that you can decorate, you could take a walk through the cemetery, or take a few moments in one of our gardens.
During Holy Week we also encourage you to check out the daily video devotion Pastor James will be posting. I hope your Palm Sunday and Holy Week will be be ones filled with joy.
Friday, March 27- Posted by Pastor James
Session has communicated by phone and determined that at this time, the church will comply with Gaston County's Stay at Home Order. Our interactive worship bulletin (including liturgy, songs, scripture, sermon, and pastoral prayer) will be online early Sunday Morning so that you are able to worship as a congregation from home. If you are more at risk for this virus due to age or health issues, the session strongly encourages you to stay at home… please call the church- even if you just need something from the store. A church Elder is MORE than willing to get you what you might need.
If you would like some Christian home entertainment. Sherry has made available numerous copies of several of our recent VBS DVD’s and CD’s for children and some worship music and church anthems on CD’s for adults. This music is available in a basket for any interested at our church’s main entrance.
Because we are in such uncertain times and there is a lot of anxiety and fear out there… I thought it only fitting to end this message with one of my favorite Psalms. This is Psalm 62: 5-8.
5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.
May we all find our true refuge in Christ during this challenging time. Be safe everyone.
Tuesday, March 24- Posted by Pastor James
How to continue to give during the Covid-19 crisis.
As I have been calling some of Union's more vulnerable members of this recent Coronavirus, I have been asked by several people on how they can still give to the church during this crisis. I just wanted everyone to know that we have 2 ways that you can still give. You can give by mail or you can drop off tithes or offerings directly to the church.
Our mail will be checked daily in the coming weeks, so if you mail in your giving in to our address: 5615 Union Road- zip code 28056- your giving will be fairly secure.
Another option you have is to bring your giving to the church. The finance committee has attached a locked mail box to the rail outside the children’s wing entrance. Feel free to drop off your giving to this box. It too will be checked daily.
Thank you, and please call the church office if you are in need of anything in the days and weeks to come.
Monday, March 16- Posted by Pastor James
This message is for Union Presbytery Church. It is Monday March 16.
After hearing the recommendations from the state and county, advice from our Presbytery, and after being in communication with other local churches, the Session of Union has made the following decisions…
First, all church programs going forward have been postponed for the foreseeable future. This includes choir, youth, Sunday school, Bible Study, women’s circles, men events, and committee meetings. The one exception for this is the church work day for this Saturday. This event will still happen from 9-12 because it is outside. If you would like to lend a hand but would like to do it when there are less crowds, please contact Jason Cabe or Charlie Nelson to see what you might be able to do before Saturday.
Second, until the circumstances in our region change dramatically our plan moving forward is to have worship only on upcoming Sundays at 10:00 am. We plan to have worship outside in the field in front of the youth building (rain or shine). We invite those willing and able to BYOC (bring your own chair) and BYOUIN (Bring your own umbrella if necessary). For those unable to attend worship, there will be a link on our webpage to the Scripture, sermon, liturgy, bulletin, and music every Sunday afternoon so you can worship from home.
Also, for the near future there will no longer be dedicated office hours at the church. However, our phones will be monitored every day. If you are in need physically or spiritually (or just would like someone to talk to) please call the church office. If you call anytime in the morning or afternoon, you will get a call back by the evening of that same day. For whatever reason, if you have needed to isolate yourself or family, our elders can help by bringing you some of the staples that you might need and try to be of assistance in any way they can.
Finally, we invite you to check out our webpage or facebook page every day. I will be posting a daily devotion which you can use and there will be a prayer available for you to incorporate into your daily devotion time. During this troubling time, we are encouraging every church member to take a moment at 7:00 pm to pray. It’s a way for us to be together, even when we can’t physically be together.
Friday, March 13- Posted by Pastor James
I am sure that if your household is anything like mine- there is a great deal of concern about the continued growth of the current coronavirus, Covid-19, here in the United States. It is something that the Session of Union Church has also been taking very seriously.
Because there have still been so few cases found in immediate region of Gaston, York, and Mecklenberg counties- Union worship services and events are still on as scheduled this Saturday and Sunday. This includes:
-Blade sharpening and vehicle checks Saturday the 14th
-Sunday school and worship on Sunday the 15th
-FFF luncheon following worship on the 15th
-Please note that Bingo at Terrace Ridge has been cancelled Thursday, March 19, due to the extra caution being taken at our local assisted living facilities.
However, at all upcoming church events we are encouraging people to stay home if they feel sick or have compromised health conditions and for those who are able to come we encourage them to wash hands often and thoroughly, to refrain from shaking hands (consider bumping elbows instead), and to put a little extra distance between family units at these events.
The Session will put a firm plan in place this Sunday for dealing with the effects of Covid-19 moving forward. The plan will have details on (a) how the church will function differently when there are more cases in the area, (b) what we will do if schools in the area are closed and if our community is more "locked down," and (c) how through this entire troubling time the church will make itself available to help and care for church members and individuals in our community who need to be in isolation.
This is not a time to panic, but it is a time to be concerned, to plan/prepare, and to pray. Thank you and be safe out there!