General Church News
Out of an abundance of caution – and with a heart to protect the congregation – Church Council has decided to close Asbury’s building and is cancelling all on-site gatherings, including worship services, for the next 2 weeks, effective Saturday, March 14 and continuing through March 28, with a goal to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Further evaluation will take place based on how the situation develops during that time period. An online-only worship service will be streamed at 10 AM on Sundays for these 2 weeks. Please visit asburylv.org/coronavirus for more information and for ongoing updates.
Palms and assorted spring flowers will decorate the church during the Easter season. You are invited to make a contribution toward the display or place a
plant in the Sanctuary that may be picked up after the 11:00 AM service on Easter Sunday.
If you are willing to make a donation, please complete the Easter Flower form and return it to the church office.
Shellie Fritchman Hired as Administrative Secretary
Asbury’s Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) is pleased to announce the hiring of Shellie Fritchman for the role of Administrative Secretary, the position long-filled by Sara Brown, who is retiring after 26 years of service at and ministry to Asbury Church. Shellie begins her full-time role on Monday, January 27. She comes to Asbury after most recently serving as the Office Manager for the JCC Early Childhood Program. Shellie is a member of Christ Lutheran Church, Allentown, where she also works as part-time staff in the Family Ministries area. Please stop by the office to both thank Sara for her faithful, loyal service to Asbury and to welcome Shellie!
INTERNATIONAL STUDIES SCHOLARSHIP: The objective of this $3,000 scholarship is to provide opportunities for students to study internationally and to develop an appreciation for other cultures and other countries. The scholarship is available for juniors, seniors, or graduate students who will be studying outside of the United States for a full semester. Specific requirements// Applications (hard copies available in the Church office).
THE CLARKE ENGINEERING & MUSIC SCHOLARSHIP FUND provides grants for Asbury Church college juniors and seniors who have declared a major in engineering or music. Guidelines and applications for Clarke grants are available in the Church office. Application deadline for the 2020-2021 school year is Wednesday, 4/15/2020.
THE HARRY & MOLLIE DILCHER TRUST provides grants for deserving Asbury Church college and university students. The Center for Scholarship Administration (CSA), a non-profit, independent organization is the Facilitator of the scholarship fund. Applications will be accepted beginning 1/28/2020 and are due 3/26/2020, and may be found at www.csascholars.org/dilcher. For more information, please contact Ellen Holder (firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-268-3303).
UMW CLARA D. KOCH STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP: Applications for the UMW student scholarships are available in the Asbury church office. Completed applications are due no later than Wednesday, 4/15/2020 for the 2020-2021 academic year. Please return completed applications to the UMW mailbox in the church Work Room (located on the lower level near the church office). To qualify, the applicant must demonstrate: scholastic achievement and motivation for continued education, leadership, good citizenship, and Christian service to his/her church and a definite financial need. In addition to Asbury members, UMW scholarship applications are also available to members of Salem UMC, LaTrinidad UMC and St. James AME Zion Church – all in Allentown, PA.
More scholarships are also available through the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. Click here to learn more.
Special Announcement from Pastor Eric
|Asbury has hired Stephanie Cramer as the new Director of Youth Ministries at Asbury. Stephanie was a licensed local pastor at a church in Iowa for the past two years and she recently moved to Bethlehem with her husband Tim and their two children Lucas and Tom. Stephanie and her husband have Master’s Degrees in World Christianity and she has entered the process for Elder ordination within the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. Stephanie will be introduced to the congregation at each worship service this Sunday. I hope you will join us to welcome Stephanie this Sunday, January 19.
Grace and Peace,
A Note from Stephanie:
I have been married to my husband Tim since before Y2K. We have two children, Lucas and Tom, and have recently moved into the area. I was a French teacher for 14 ½ years, with the majority of those years at Biglerville High School near Gettysburg, PA. I retired from teaching to attend seminary full-time, having no idea why I was in seminary other than I loved all my classes. Tim and I both graduated in May 2015 with a master’s degree in World Christianity. At that time in our lives we were struggling to find our place in the church and in the world so we moved the family to the Republic of Ireland and attended classes at Trinity College in Dublin. You could say I was running away from God. I refer to 2015/2016 as My Jonah Years. How often we take what God places before us and run in the opposite direction! After Ireland we ended up in Iowa and fell in love with the United Methodist Church. It was in Iowa that we finally began to understand God’s call for us to enter into ministry. I am always humbled and amazed at how God never gives up on us even when we have given up on ourselves. Tim and I entered the process for Elder ordination and served as pastors in small churches in western Iowa for two years before moving back to Pennsylvania this past August.
I am excited to continue my journey here at Asbury in service to our youth and the entire community of Asbury. Having lived in many different states, countries, and cultures I look forward to sharing the unending ways God has us and all of his creation in his loving care no matter how we choose to walk our personal path. Blessings and encouragement for an amazing year 2020.”
The issue of human sexuality has been a much-debated topic within the United Methodist Church (UMC). This year’s General Conference, which sets the policy and direction of the UMC, will continue to explore how the denomination will move forward despite differing theological viewpoints. The most recent proposal, which is expected to be considered at the May 2020 General Conference, has recently received a lot of media attention because the proposal would result in a split of the denomination. The proposal, entitled “Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation,” however, is only one of five plans to be considered and voted on at General Conference.
At Asbury, our focus is to be a welcoming community that seeks to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ as we seek to change lives and transform communities. You can view information about the most recent proposal as well as the other plans below:
If you have any questions, we invite you to reach out to Judy Ehninger, an Asbury member who is also a Lay Member of Annual Conference. Also, watch for dates for opportunities to discuss this and other General Conference resolutions.
Looking to find a place you can belong? For a way to be connected, use your gifts and talents, or dive deeper into scripture? Learn about the many groups of Asbury – and how you can be connected to them – at our Ministry Fair on Sunday, February 23 between morning services.
Save the date: Asbury will be holding a Ministry Fair on Sunday, February 23, between morning services. This event will be a great way to get more information about and get connected to groups and ministries of the church. If you’re a group leader and want to have a representative from your group at the fair to share information about your group, contact the Spiritual Focus Team at email@example.com. More information to come!
Our schedule over the next few weeks has some changes due to the holidays. Please note the following:
Tuesday, December 24
Christmas Eve Worship at 1 PM, 3 PM, 4:15 PM, 7 PM, and 9 PM (visit asburylv.org/christmaseve)
Wednesday, December 25
Sunday, December 29
Worship: one service at 10 AM in the Sanctuary
No Children’s or Youth Sunday School
No Sunday Night Dinner
Monday, December 30
Last day for hand-delivered contributions for 2019 (see asburylv.org/yearendgiving)
Tuesday, December 31
Last day for 2019 contributions (non hand-delivered only – see asburylv.org/yearendgiving)
Wednesday, January 1
Happy New Year!
Sunday, January 5
Worship at 9:30 AM and 11 AM (no 8 AM or 5 PM services) (see asburylv.org/blackandwhite)
Sunday School at 9:30 AM
No Sunday Night Dinner
The following is a letter from Tim Lebrecht, Chair of Asbury’s Church Council:
Several weeks ago we had a Congregational Chat to get feedback on the facility closure and door locking policy that was started in September. I thank everyone for sharing their thoughts and stories – both positive and negative. The door locking and facility closing time were rolled out as part of the safety and security process within the church. The feedback was clear that we had enhanced security, but at times was at the expense of accessibility of the facility. To better address the balance of security, accessibility, and hospitality, a joint meeting of the Trustees, Church Council and the Spiritual Focus Team (a new group focused on the health of small groups within the church) was held.
I am glad to report that we have come to a compromise and believe this will better allow us to further the mission of the church while maintaining the safety and security of those using our facility. Effective January 1, 2020, we are making the following changes:
· The building closing time will be 9 PM, moved back a half-hour from the prior 8:30 PM. A request is made that all groups attempt to be finished by 9 PM.
· For groups with Asbury members that have a need to stay past the 9 PM closing time, we have created a way to allow that exception: those groups can identify key people within their groups to be trained on how to close the area of the building their group is using. These people will be trained on the closing procedure, which is currently being drafted by a joint team of the group that met on November 26 and will be administrated by Asbury’s Business Manager.
· Doors will remain unlocked until 8:30 PM. Upon the locking of the doors, the custodians will start the facility closure procedure.
· The lights in the parking lot are on a timer and will remain lit until a time that will be between 9:30 PM and 10 PM.
We believe this will allow the mission of Asbury to be furthered and allow us to be a better host to those using the church facility. Further communication will come about this change. Thank you again for your feedback to this point, and please continue to provide insights and feedback by contacting myself and other members of Church Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Lebrecht, Chair of Asbury’s Church Council
Join us on Sunday, December 22, as we celebrate the retirement of Sara Brown, Asbury’s Administrative Secretary of 26 years. Sara will be recognized in each of the worship services and honored with a cake reception between the morning services in the Community Room. Please stop by the celebration in the Community Room and thank Sara for her work, share a piece of cake, and fellowship!
As has happened in the recent past, some Asbury members have again reported receiving emails from someone posing as Pastor Eric asking for help with a project. When replied to, the person asks for gift cards to be purchased and that the person purchasing will be reimbursed by “Pastor Eric” at a later time. Unfortunately, this is a common scam where the emailer poses as a person familiar to you and claims to need your help to assist others, but in reality this is the work of a scammer seeking financial gain for themselves. This is not a result of an email hack. These emails originate from accounts that are designed to appear to be from Pastor Eric, but are not actually from his account. Pastor Eric – the real Pastor Eric – will not make these requests and will ONLY contact you via his official Asbury email account (email@example.com). PLEASE make sure that you check the originating email account before replying to any email that seems suspicious. If you have questions as to whether an email you receive from Asbury is legitimate, please contact the church office in person or via phone (610-398-2577).
Thanks to all who helped decorate Asbury’s building for Christmas last Sunday (11/24)! The time and heart you gave is much appreciated!
Saturday, December 7, 2019
Advent Celebration is our kick-off into the season of preparation of the coming of Christ. Join us as we celebrate this season of joy, wonder, and awe; and that our Savior would come in a humble manger to save us.
Youth Ministries’ Spaghetti Dinner
Served 5 PM – 6:30 PM, Wesley Center
Fellowship over dinner (beginning at 5 PM; concluding at 6:30 PM) in the Wesley Center. Together we will enjoy a free-will donation spaghetti dinner prepared and hosted by Asbury Youth Ministries. Donations will benefit the Youth Ministries’ annual High School West Virginia Work Week mission trip in July.
Advent Celebration Worship Service
6:30 PM, Sanctuary
Following dinner, join us as we celebrate the beginning of the season of Advent with a service in the Sanctuary featuring hymns, a message from Pastor Eric, and music from the Chancel Choir and Apostle Ringers.
Get more information on all Advent and Christmas events at Asbury at asburylv.org/Advent.
The display of colorful poinsettias in the Sanctuary and throughout the building during the Christmas season is a tradition at Asbury. We invite you to be a part of this tradition by ordering a poinsettia in honor or memory of a friend or loved one. Poinsettias may be picked up after the 9:00 p.m. service on Christmas Eve.
The deadline for orders is Monday, 12/2/2019.
Visit asburylv.org/poinsettias to access the order form, which can be dropped in an offering plate or returned to the church office.
The Jubilation Ringers and the Pennsylvania Flute Choir will present a Christmas concert
“Christmas Is in the Air” on Saturday, December 14 (snow date: December 21) at 4:00 pm at
Asbury United Methodist Church, 1533 Springhouse Road, Allentown. Tickets are $10.
The ticket order form may be downloaded from jubilationringers.asburylv.org. For more information, please call Carol Lenhart.
Meals are an opportunity to break bread and fellowship together. Sunday Night Dinners are a great place to share this opportunity with others at Asbury; and to allow you to attend evening worship (5 PM Open Door) and then take part in a Sunday night small group. Dinners take place in the Wesley Center and are free-will donation.
Every effort is made to make food items without gluten, nut, or extraneous ingredients where possible. If one has dietary restrictions let the kitchen staff know and theywill endeavor to create a complete meal for you.
Please note there will not be dinners on November 10 or December 1.
Donation buckets are located in the donation bin closet (across from the church office) as well as outside of the Worship Center on Sunday mornings.
As many of you know, we began a capital campaign last October to raise funds for specific building projects including a new roof. And I am excited to announce that we have recently made significant progress in our Capital Campaign. We’re so grateful for your generosity, and, in particular, there was one large donation that we want to specifically say “thank you” for: an anonymous family who gave $50,000.
The family made such a substantial contribution because Asbury Church has impacted their lives in so many ways. They believe that they were the beneficiaries of a prior generation of faithful givers and they want future generations to have that same opportunity. They want Asbury to be a place that continues to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Along with the gift comes a challenge. The family is challenging us – the congregation – to collectively to match their donation. If you would like to respond to the challenge, you can give by check or electronically. All donations made toward the challenge by check should include the words “challenge match” on the memo line. If you give electronically look for the “challenge match” on the list of funds. Gifts of any size are greatly appreciated.
In order to keep the Capital Campaign projects moving forward, we are encouraging you to rise to this challenge by January 31, 2020. Please prayerfully consider your participation and thank you for your support of this important project.
Grace and Peace,