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Checking In

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It was only three weeks ago that our world began to change dramatically, and what seemed like a brief temporary measure now is likely to go on for much longer. With Governor Hogan’s recent stay-at-home order and the Bishop’s instructions to the churches, this crisis has meant that even the smallest gatherings at our church will not take place. This has been a disruption in our lives like few we have experienced. There is a lot of fear and anxiety going around, but as with any challenge, there is an opportunity to produce some good.

Some of our older members may remember the sacrifices caused by the Second World War: the scrap metal drives, the victory gardens, the rubber rationing. Those sacrifices forged a generation committed to service, civic duty, and the best virtues we as a nation can display. 

We are in a time of crisis not seen since those days and in a time that demands of us sacrifices on a level, and in some cases beyond, those of WWII. For we are being called to sacrifice our social lives, our work lives, our economic lives, and, in many ways, the world we had become accustomed to. But we are being called to make this sacrifice in order to save as many lives as possible from the scourges of a hitherto unknown virus that wreaks havoc on the most vulnerable among us.

Jesus taught us, “No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.” By sacrificing our social, work, economic, and communal lives, we demonstrate a powerful love—a love that Jesus calls us to share. That does not mean it will be easy; doing the right thing rarely is. But it means that there is some good that may yet emerge from the present crisis: a new generation that has learned the virtues of self-sacrifice, civic responsibility, and commitment to protecting the “least of these.”

In the meantime, we will do the best we can to maintain community in this difficult time. We continue to have worship services you can access online or by making a telephone call. You can sign up to have bread delivered for our love feast in lieu of communion. And we’re making adjustments to having palms for Palm Sunday and offering ways to participate in our Palm Sunday passion play.

This will not be an easy time. But as people of faith we were never promised an easy time, only that whatever the road we would have to walk down, God would be with us. And in that recognition of the solidarity of God, we have our hope.

I remain incredibly proud of the way this community has taken action to protect the most vulnerable among us and has been willing to try new ways of being in community, from online programming, to Zoom meetings, to more frequently checking in with one another by telephone. This community has modeled this self-sacrificial love in a way that declares the power of the Gospel to a broken and hurting world.

With continued prayers for you, our community, our nation, and our world, I remain

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Mark Schaefer
Pastor, Cheltenham UMC

Joining in Worship

By Phone

You don’t have to be tech savvy to be connected to your community. You can do so right from your landline telephone or mobile phone.
  • Dial in to Sunday Worship. Call (301) 715-8592 and then enter the code 418 392 652# on your touch-tone telephone. This will allow you to listen to the worship service and contribute by sharing announcements or prayer requests. 
  • Hang out in Office Hours Wednesday Afternoon from 2–4 p.m. Call (301) 715-8592 and then enter the code 493 671 679# on your touch-tone telephone. This will connect you to our conference call where you can talk with the pastor or anyone else who’s connected.
  • Ask the pastor to call. If you’d like me to call, respond to this e-mail and let me know a time that works for you. You can use the website to do it online, or you can just call me at (202) 486-6061.

By Smart Phone/Computer

If you’re comfortable using technology, there are some other options available.
  • Watch worship on Facebook Live. You can watch our Sunday worship services on our Facebook page at You don’t need to have a Facebook account to do this, as our page is public and the live-stream is public.
  • Participate in Sunday worship via Zoom. The Zoom app (download here) allows you to join in worship in a group video conference call. This allows you participate in the service by sharing announcements, prayer requests, etc. Now, you do not need to be visible (you can turn off your camera) and you cannot be seen on the Facebook live feed (that's a different camera we’re using). If you choose to be visible on Zoom, you can only be seen by the other participants in the group. To join in next Sunday’s worship through Zoom, visit
  • Hang out in the Office Hours Wednesday Afternoon from 2–4 p.m. You can use Zoom to join into office hours. This is a fun opportunity to connect with me and with others who are calling in or Zooming in. If you use Zoom, either on your phone or computer, you can turn on the camera and we can all see each other. You can also use it without the camera on and be no less connected.
If you have tried the technology and it didn’t work for you, please let me know. I am, and others are, happy to help folks to set up their phones and computers to get connected. These are stop-gap measures we’re taking, to be sure, but even in temporary circumstances, we don’t want anyone to be left out.
We are looking to do an excerpted Passion Play reading to close out worship on Sunday. The following roles are available! (You must be on the Zoom call to do so since you can talk all you want to the Facebook feed, but no one else will hear!)
Email Pastor Mark if you want to be a part of the play at

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. Ordinarily that would consist of the distribution and waving of palms as we would celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem before his passion. However, as we are not meeting in person or using the sanctuary, our usual practice will not work. We have combed the scriptures and found that only the Gospel of John refers to "palm branches," Matthew says “branches,” Mark “leafy branches,” and Luke doesn't mention any kind of branches. So, with this in mind, I am encouraging everyone to bring whatever kind of branches you want into our worship and shake them enthusiastically as we sing All Glory, Laud, and Honor and Hosanna, Loud Hosanna.

Next Sunday would normally be Communion Sunday. However, given our inability to meet in person, it will not be possible to celebrate communion. (Theologically, elements cannot be consecrated remotely.) However, there is another ancient tradition that we can do: the Agape Meal or the Love Feast. Our own Amber Reamy has volunteered to make bread for the love feast and to deliver it to anyone who'd like to receive it. Use the link below to sign up. Please sign up by Thursday, April 2 to ensure plenty of time for preparation.
Contact: Amber Reamy,
Sign up for Bread Delivery
Learn more about the Love
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