From the Pastor’s Study

Last month I bemoaned the new term, ‘social distancing’, making the case that it should have been ‘physical distancing’.  I’m at it again, challenging the phrase ‘new normal.’  This is used to describe practices that we’re encouraged (if not commanded) to take in response to the dangers of COVID19.  We’ve heard suggestions that there will be a permanent ‘culture of masks’, and that we’ll never shake hands again.  Such practices, we’re told, are the ‘new normal.’

Normal?  What’s normal about keeping six feet of distance?  Never making any physical contact?  Having to raise your voice to be heard through a mask?  This isn’t normal or healthy behavior, and I resist labeling it as such.

Rather than a ‘new normal,’ I will speak of a ‘new temporary’.  The virus has been slowed down, but hasn’t gone away; and I understand the need to continue to do some unnatural things to keep it in check.  But these are strange and contorted practices, which I look forward to discarding in the (hopefully) not too distant future.  I’m thinking that at some point I might have a bonfire for my old masks (anyone want to join me?).

Sadly one of the things that is appearing on the ‘new temporary’ list is a warning against group singing.  It is becoming clear that the primary way COVID19 spreads is by the fine droplets and aerosols we all produce when speaking up and singing out.  The recipe for passing it around is confined space plus extended time plus close proximity.  This creates the opportunity for a person to get enough of the virus into your lungs to take hold and do real damage.

So we have to take effective measures to hinder the transfer.  When in public we need to wear masks that cover one’s mouth and nose to disrupt that transfer, especially cutting down what an infected person might put out.  Keeping that six foot distance and being in spacious, well-ventilated areas also dilutes any virus that might be present.

We are planning to offer worship services in our sanctuary starting on July 5, and will be observing the ‘new temporary’ practices; you will find the list below.  We will continue the Facebook live stream (and we are working on a better internet connection at the church for less ‘hiccups’).

These new services will feel cramped, limited and abnormal (which is what they are).  None of us will be happy about that; but we are offering the services as a temporary measure.  We continue to look forward to the day when we can speak face to face, give handshakes and hugs, and sing out our praises together.  Do not give up hope; make the best of what you can do today, and continue to do good to everyone you meet.

  • Pastor Ron Troup


If you are sick, please stay home! This covers both symptoms of COVID19 (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, etc.) and any other illness (you don’t want to risk catching COVID19 if you are already ill).

We will make sure that our entryways, hallways, bathroom and sanctuary are clean before our services.

If you are using the elevator, please do not crowd yourselves in; just one household at a time.  Consider using the Second Street entrance if you are able.  You are asked not to socialize with other households while arriving and entering the church or when leaving after the service.

Everyone will be required to wear masks as you enter and move around the building, and if you are speaking or singing.  (The exception to this will be worship leaders on the platform.) We will have masks available if you forget yours.  (You may remove your mask if you are sitting with your household group and are quiet.)

We will have hand sanitizer available.  Bulletins will be ‘self-serve’ in the pews; offering plates will be set out for your giving as you leave.

Every third pew will be available for seating; we will ‘rope off’ a safety space of two pews between them.  You are asked to sit only with members of your house-hold. 

We will not have ‘Greeting One Another’; and other parts of the service may be shortened or eliminated.  When we share communion, we will use prepackaged elements.

<>< Pastor Ron Troup

Faith UMC, Sunbury, PA –

203 Arch Street (corner of 2nd St.)

PO Box 387, Sunbury, PA  17801

(570) 286-6301 – ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Faith United Methodist Church • 203 Arch Street Sunbury, PA 17801 • (570) 286-6301