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Notes from the Pastor

posted Jul 1, 2020, 6:37 AM by Mary Margaret Barnoff   [ updated Jul 1, 2020, 6:39 AM ]

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,


It’s been quite an interesting time recently.  The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about some radical changes to the ways in which we live, work, gather, and worship. As we’ve recently moved into the “green” phase of the economic reopening plan, and as our congregations have begun to resume worship, we’ve done so with some changes in place, which will probably have to remain in place for some time.

Even before the pandemic had hit, though, the leadership of the three congregations in the parish had been discerning the best way forward for the parish in light of the changed situations in which we found ourselves. The arrangement of worship times for the parish with Mount Zion, Trade City at 8:30 AM, Mount Zion, Airport Road at 10:00 AM, and First English at 11:15 AM, is not working well, which has contributed to decreased attendance throughout the parish. The congregations’ councils are working to determine how best to respond to these changes, and how we might be able to restructure the parish to best accommodate you and your families.

On Sunday, March 1, the Joint Council of the parish met to address our current situations. Among the options we discussed included changing worship times; meeting for worship on a different day; and having overlapping worship times with some services being led by lay Eucharistic ministers. Another option which was discussed was ending the parish arrangement and having the three congregations go their separate ways. 

Because we know that we don’t have all the answers, we'd like to hear from you. We realize that worship times may not be the only factor which can impact worship attendance; if you have any feedback, whether negative or positive, about the Sunday worship schedule or about other factors which have impacted your life as part of these congregations, please let either me or one of the congregation council members know. The Joint Council will be meeting again on Sunday, August 30 to go over the feedback from members of the congregations.  In order to be able to make sure that the councils have enough time to go over everyone’s feedback before that meeting, we’ll need to have your feedback on or before Friday, August 21.

As we go forward with this process, I can't guarantee that we'll be able to craft a Sunday morning schedule which will fit everyone's wishes and needs, but we'll do our best to let everyone's voices be heard.

If you'd like to sit down with me and talk about the Sunday schedule, or any other matter, I'd be glad to sit with you and listen.  Either send me an email (, or give me a call or text me (814-299-5369) and we can set up a time. All of the council members are also available to receive your comments, or you can send them to us in writing.  All that we ask is that your feedback be submitted with your name attached.

Thank you in advance for your help as we discern how best to continue our lives together as the Church and as the Punxsutawney Area Lutheran Parish.

In Christ,
Pastor Russ