St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
980 Bridle Path Rd Bethlehem, PA. 18017
Orthodox Church in America
Frequently Asked Questions about Covid-19 Precautions at St. Nicholas

Parish Faithful,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

In this time of uncertainty and stress, it is a blessing and a joy to be able to maintain our relationship with our parish family.

You may be asking how you might be able to do that while not being physically present for services, and what you might do to maintain participation in the life of the church.

Here we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their answers. I pray that they are helpful to you, and that they assist in your continued devotion to our Lord.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Covid-19 Precautions at St. Nicholas

 

Where can I find current information about Covid-19 topics relating to St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church?

We have established a dedicated page on our website for Covid-19 Information.  This page includes this FAQs document, as well as copies of the informational emails that are sent to our parish distribution list.  The FAQs will appear at the top of the page, with emailed announcements to follow.

 

How can I stay connected?

If you would like to be added to our parish email distribution list, please send your name and email address to Assistant4StNicholas@outlook.com.  Please also be sure to add that email address to your “safe senders” list so that our messages are not flagged as junk by your email provider.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact Fr. Matthew, or the parish Administrative Assistant, Jennifer Bzik.  Please keep in mind that during this unusual time, response times may be slightly delayed.

 

Is our Church open?

Due to the current circumstances, government guidelines, and out of an abundance of caution, the church building is currently closed to the public.  Whenever possible, liturgical services will be live streamed so that the faithful may continue to worship together as a parish.  (see below)  You can find information about which services have been cancelled and which will be live streamed on the Calendar Page of our website.

 

How can I participate in liturgical services? 

Whenever possible, liturgical services will be live streamed via YouTube Live.  Please keep in mind that circumstances may require changes to planned services with limited notice.  We will endeavor to keep our website current, in addition to sending emails with timely updates.

Please click the following link at service times: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxJHbi6f9gz3QgTQ2l3bITw

While following along with the Liturgy at home, please remember that we should behave with the same reverence and prayerfulness that we would at the Church building. Please turn off all televisions, phones, and all other distractions, so that we may all focus on praying the Liturgy together. 

For anyone who would like to receive holy communion, Fr. Matthew will be reserving the Lamb at the Liturgy, and those desiring can make an appointment with him to receive communion privately at some point during the week. 

 

Is the Bulletin still available?

Yes, you may view or print the bulletin for each Liturgy (Wednesday Presanctified Liturgy and Sunday Divine Liturgy) from the Bulletins Page of our website, and clicking on the appropriate date.  The bulletin will include the hymns and scripture readings for that service, along with our customary prayer lists, etc.

 

Which services are being live streamed?

We plan to live stream the following services:

  • Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesday evenings with the Hours beginning at 5:50 pm and Liturgy beginning at 6:00 pm
  • Vespers on Saturday evenings beginning at 6:00 pm
  • Divine Liturgy on Sunday mornings with the Hours beginning at 9:10 am and Liturgy beginning at 9:30 am

All Pan-Orthodox Lenten Vespers Services have been cancelled.

All Friday evening Akathist Services have been cancelled.

Please check our website Calendar Page for current information about services.

 

What will happen during Holy Week & Pascha?

We are awaiting further guidance from the Holy Synod regarding Holy Week and Pascha services.  We will provide updates as soon as they are available.

 

How can I receive the sacrament of Confession during this time?

During this challenging time, Archbishop Mark has given his blessing for Fr. Matthew to hear confessions remotely using a variety of technology including phone or video conferencing.  Please contact Fr. Matthew directly to make arrangements for confession.

 

How can I continue my Stewardship during this time of COVID-19?

Thank you to those who are continuing to give of their time, talent and treasure during this remarkable time.  Our community continues to reach out to fellow parishioners to provide assistance and to send their financial contribution to St. Nicholas.

COVID-19 is changing the way the world interacts and the church is not immune to those changes. Amid social distancing and shelter in place orders, St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church has moved liturgical services to a virtual form of worship.  As active parish members, it is important that we continue to pray, participate in worship, and continue to be stewards of the church and church community. 

During this time, it is important that we sustain financial stewardship.  The church continues to have financial obligations and despite virtual worship, your financial offering is essential to support the operational requirements of St. Nicholas.  

All financial offerings should be sent to:

          St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

          980 Bridle Path Road

          Bethlehem, PA 18017

To simplify sending your offering, consider donating bi-monthly or monthly.  Deposits will be made either once or twice a month so please allow additional time for your check to clear. 

 

Is there anything I can do to help?

Yes.  During these unique circumstances, it is important for us to:

  • Renew our faith and hope in God through prayer and fasting
  • Be of service to our fellow parishioners by reaching out to check in and have a conversation
  • Help those in our church community that may have special needs and request for support

An email was sent to the parish on Tuesday, March 24th regarding providing support for parishioners in need.  “While many in our church community have nearby friends and family to assist them during times of need, we do not want any of our parishioners to be overlooked if a need for food arises during the corona virus outbreak. 

Therefore, if a parishioner is not able to obtain food and/or does not have the ability to prepare it on his/her own, please contact Guliana Holobeny to make your needs known and to request assistance.

We will make every effort to help during these uncertain times, but please know, there may some situations that we may not be able to assist.”

 

With Love In Christ,

 

Rev. Matthew R. Joyner, M.Div

Rector

 

Bryan Distefano

Parish Council President



Keeping Up with St. Nicholas

(Email Sent 04/04/2020 at 6:00 pm)

Good Afternoon All!

As we settle into this “new normal” of communicating electronically, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone of some good practices for keeping up on announcements from St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church.  I’ve received several questions asking how I can make sure that you are all receiving my messages.  The short answer is – I can’t.  It is up to you.  Keep in mind that the purpose of a junk/spam filter is to allow email recipients to determine what content they want to receive.  Senders cannot control how your email program treats a message, but you can!

  • First and foremost – please make sure to mark Assistant4StNicholas@outlook.com as a safe sender.  Even if you have been receiving these announcements, I encourage everyone to do this to ensure that you do not miss any future messages.  Each email provider has a slightly different method for doing this, but I’m happy to try to help walk you through it if you’re having trouble.  Other tech savvy folks in your family may also be able to help.
  • Be sure to check your junk/spam folder periodically for any messages that may have been swept in there.  Many of our announcements include links or attachments, which are more likely to be flagged as junk/spam.  You may notice that I have not included links in this message, in the hope that it gets to as many people as possible.
  • If you know of anyone who would like to be included on our email distribution list, tell them to send me an email.  I update the distribution list immediately, so they will get messages starting as soon as I have their email address.  Please note – you don’t have to be a parishioner to get our emails.  Friends, family and anyone else is welcome as well!
  • When you’re chatting with parishioners and others, ask if they are receiving my emails.  If they are not and want to be, you can direct them to the church website which will have this email posted on the Covid-19 Information page.  You could also forward this email to them so that they have the info on how to stay connected.
  • I will continue to post all Covid-19 related announcements (like this one) on the website’s Covid-19 Information page.  The top section has our Frequently Asked Questions.  Below that you’ll find the most recent announcements, all date and time stamped so you can see when they went out.  The website is updated at the same time that the emails go out, so you can always find the most up to date information there.
  • If you use Facebook, make sure to like and follow the church’s page.
  • If you’re trying to reach me individually, the very best methods are email and text to my cell number (available in the directory).  With 4 kids under the age of 8 stuck in my house it can be pretty loud a lot of the time, and tricky to answer phone calls.  If you’d like to speak by phone, it works well to text or email me first and ask me to call you.  Then I can try to find a quiet closet to lock myself in and return your call.  LOL. 😊

I’m honored to have been trusted with the Administrative Assistant position at St. Nicholas, and happy to serve during this unusual time.  I hope to keep information flowing as smoothly as possible, and to keep our parish family as connected as possible.  If you have any comments or suggestions on things you would like to see, please let me know.

With Love In Christ,

Jennifer N. Bzik

Administrative Assistant



Weekend Services & Zoom Coffee Hour

(Email Sent 04/04/2020 at 4:45 pm)

Parish Faithful,

We are trying something new! After Sunday services, please join in for our first digital coffee hour.  When you click on the below link titled Zoom, you will be connected to the St. Nicholas on line coffee hour and your picture will pop up on the screen.  This will allow you to see other parishioners that you haven’t seen for a while!  Please click on the link at 11:00 am and don’t forget….. bring a cup of coffee!

Also – we will be live streaming Vespers this evening beginning at 6:00 pm and Typica beginning at 9:30 am on Sunday.

 

Click here for live stream of services: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxJHbi6f9gz3QgTQ2l3bITw

 

**************************************************

Bryan Distefano is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

 

Topic: St. Nicholas Church Parish Virtual Coffee Hour

Time: Apr 5, 2020 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

 

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/834337238?pwd=dUxMNHFDREx0cGI4bmZNNjVYNkhnUT09

Meeting ID: 834 337 238

Password: 286207

 

One tap mobile

+13126266799,,834337238# US (Chicago)

+19294362866,,834337238# US (New York)

 

Dial by your location

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        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

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Meeting ID: 834 337 238

Password: 286207

Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/adWGyTuhYh



Service tonight, and parish update

(Email Sent 04/02/2020 at 3:35 pm)

Dear to God, 

This is let everyone know that I will be celebrating Great Compline, with the Canon of St. Andrew, and life of St. Mary of Egypt, tonight at 7pm. This will be live-streamed on YouTube Live, which can be found here: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxJHbi6f9gz3QgTQ2l3bITw

Also, I have filmed a brief video to update the parish as to where we are currently with service cancellations. 

This video can be found here. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xthqEuvPTc

(Please note that around the 5 minute mark in the video, I misspoke when I said "anyone who would like communion... contact me." That should have been anyone who wants CONFESSION.)

If you would like to arrange for confession, please let me know as soon as possible, and we'll schedule a time. 

In Christ, 

-Fr. Matthew 



Tonight's Presanctified and Future Liturgy Information

(Email Sent 04/01/2020 at 1:50 pm)

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

Due to some new directives from the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops, we have made the decision to cancel all eucharistic services (Divine Liturgy and Presanctified), and Vespers until further notice. 

In place of these, I will be live-streaming Great Compline and Typica services with only myself in the Church. 

This will begin this evening at 7pm with Great Compline. 

The live stream can be seen here: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxJHbi6f9gz3QgTQ2l3bITw 

I remain your humble servant in Christ, 

-Fr. Matthew



Vespers & Liturgy Live Stream Info

(Email Sent 03/28/2020 at 2:20 pm)

Parish Faithful, 

We are back in business, so to speak, with our services and live stream! Now they will be on YouTube Live.

Please go to the link below at 6pm this evening for Vespers and 9:10am for Hours and Liturgy tomorrow.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxJHbi6f9gz3QgTQ2l3bITw

I hope that you will all participate in and enjoy the live stream services! 

In Christ, 

-Fr. Matthew



Service Cancellation

(Email Sent 03/25/2020 at 3:05 pm)

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, 

Some of you may now be aware that as of 8:00pm this evening, Gov. Wolf has extended the "Stay in Place" order to include Lehigh and Northampton counties. 

Obviously, as the parish is located within Northampton county, this order includes us and our activities. 

After consolation with Archbishop Mark and Bryan Distefano, we have made the decision to cancel the Vesperal Divine Liturgy which we had planned to celebrate and live stream this evening. 

I am asking that all of you celebrate this Annunciation by tuning in at 6:30 pm to the live-stream of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Mechanicsburg, PA, celebrated by Fr. Timothy Hojnicki, the link for that can be found here: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTukfd63Yye3EXrI2QFfTuQ?fbclid=IwAR3NRjO2Rg4QiwsYwfEdeS3tbrMsEB8l-pxYFUalbEOXNeCvsmVJyFN0tf4&app=desktop

The article from the Morning Call concerning Gov. Wolf's order can be found here: 

https://www.mcall.com/coronavirus/mc-nws-coronavirus-stay-at-home-lehigh-county-20200325-dkhvmywexrcfrj5h7wrzy2xzbu-story.html?fbclid=IwAR2XCYzffZDsxIEzsPsFBxI2gYygijZvs4Tdpma1ZcpQc7gLy2tgVR72S6g

May God Bless You all in this time, and I pray that the Lord is leading you all to use this time to grow closer to Him and to your loved ones. 

I remain, as ever, your servant in Christ, 

-Fr. Matthew



Providing Support for Parishioners in Need

(Email Sent 03/24/2020 at 7:05 pm)

Dear Faithful of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Parish,

As you are aware, our world is experiencing exceptional times. Like many across the nation, our community has been asked to abide by the recommendations of the PA governmental authorities to social distance and stay in our homes as much as possible to help prevent the further outbreak of COVID-19 (the corona virus).  

We realize these recommendations impact most everyone’s daily comings and goings, from healthy individuals, to those that are the least healthy.  While many in our church community have nearby friends and family to assist them during times of need, we do not want any of our parishioners to be overlooked if a need for food arises during the corona virus outbreak. 

Therefore, if a parishioner is not able to obtain food and/or does not have the ability to prepare it on his/her own, please contact Guliana Holobeny to make your needs known and to request assistance.

We will make every effort to help during these uncertain times, but please know, there may some situations that we may not be able to assist.

Christ is in our Midst!

Bryan Distefano



St. Nicholas Live Stream Information

(Email Sent 03/21/2020 at 8:35 pm)

Beloved parish faithful, 

Please forgive the lateness of this coming, however, as I'm sure you're aware it's been a busy week for me! 

As you are aware, the national, diocesan, and parish leadership, respectively, have had to make the difficult decision to cancel any "in person" Divine Liturgies. Therefore, we at St. Nicholas will be celebrating the liturgy via live-stream on the internet, with only myself, the deacon, one server, and one cantor in attendance on campus. 

Tomorrow we will be streaming the liturgy on Facebook Live, but starting Wednesday for Presanctified, we will make the move to Youtube Live. 

Please find the link for the livestream on Facebook Live here: 

https://www.facebook.com/stnicholasoca/

A note that only those with Facebook accounts can view this, so if you do not have one, please go to www.facebook.com and set up a profile, and then follow the above link once you have logged in. 

While following along with the Liturgy at home, please remember that we should behave with the same reverence and prayerfulness that we would at the Church building. Please turn off all tvs, phones, and all other distractions, so that we may all focus on praying the Liturgy together. 

For anyone who would like to receive holy communion, I will be reserving the Lamb tomorrow at the Liturgy, and those desiring can make an appointment with me to receive communion privately at some point during the week. 

If this is of interest, and you are available, my office hours this week are Wednesday Noon - 6, and Friday 9-1, please feel free to contact me, though I am available other times as well.  

May God richly bless you all, and may be bring us together to celebrate the Liturgy again soon. 

In Christ, 

-Fr. Matthew



Suspension of Services throughout the Diocese

(Email Sent 03/17/2020 at 8:50 pm)

Beloved Faithful of St. Nicholas,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I pray that this message finds all of you in good health, and that you will remain so, by the grace of God.

In these trying times, it is important for us to remind ourselves of the reality of the providence of God, and rest in the knowledge that all things and all of history are in His hands. Difficult as that may be for all of us.

As you are all aware, the responses of the government as well as the church to the Coronavirus pandemic have been widely publicized and shared, and they have been updated almost daily.

With that said, attached you will find the latest directives from the Diocese as well as from Metropolitan Tikhon.

In them, you will find that the leadership of the church has made the incredibly difficult decision that, for the health and wellbeing of all of our people, all liturgical services will be celebrated by clergy and servers only, with one or two singers. Everyone else is encouraged to remain at home, and participate via live stream online.

Once we get the livestream set up, I will send out instructions for viewing the services.

I realize that this is not ideal, and I’m sure that it only adds to the frustration you must all be feeling. However, until we are clear of this situation, we must do everything in our power to keep everyone healthy and safe.

You are all in my prayers, and I remain available for anyone who would like to talk about what’s happening, or anything at all.

Pray for me, as I will continue to do for you.

I remain as ever your humble servant,

-Fr. Matthew

 

***************

 

Dear to God,

Christ is in our midst! Please see the attached letter suspending public services throughout the Diocese. This decision was not taken lightly or without collaboration of the Holy Synod and the Diocesan Clergy.

 
Yours in Christ,

+Mark, Archbishop of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania
Orthodox Church in America
325 N Walnut St.
Bath, PA 18014-1201

(484) 281-3406

http://doepa.org/