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COVID-19 Worship Guidelines

June 8, 2021

Thank you for your faithfulness over the past 15 months. As we continue down the road of becoming more and more open, we continue to follow the CDC and the State of Ohio guidance.  If you are vaccinated, there is no need to wear a mask.  If you are not vaccinated we ask that you continue to wear a mask.  We will NOT be policing you but will trust in your decisions as we continue to grow in love of God and of our neighbors.  The pew dividers are down and you are free to sit where you please; however, in kindness and care, please ask if you can sit next to someone as they might be trying to distance themselves yet. 

Again, thank you for walking with each other through the past year.  May God continue to bless His Church and to bless us, a wonder part of His Church.

November 10, 2020

We are back to gathering for worship with COVID precautions (wear mask, social distance, etc...) on November 15th.  Thank you for your prayers and understanding.

OCTOBER 28, 2020

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


I have tried to figure out how to write this but I am not sure how else to say it but this: COVID has come into our house.  This morning Tracy tested positive and I have been showing symptoms and am waiting for a doctor's order to get tested, if it is needed.  My family and I will be isolating for the next 10 days (minimum). 


After having some discussions with Pastor Jim, leadership, Cheryl Laux (our Pastor Parish Relations chair), and our District Superintended it is in the attitude of love and safety we will not be having Sunday services for any of our locations for the next 2 Sundays.  Barring any setbacks or flare ups, we will be back together on November 15.  There will be a recorded service that will be available on Sunday morning via Facebook, YouTube, and our Website (those links will be included at the bottom of this email). 


If there are any concerns you are encouraged to contact the PPR Chair Cheryl Laux at 419-852-6652 or email her at  She is happy to help with an concerns.


If you have any emergency pastoral concerns please call Pastor Jim at 269-365-7923. 


Giving can continue to be done in a couple of ways.  You can send it to your church by mail or give by our online giving option:  We appreciate the continued support of our ministries during this pandemic. 


We also would appreciate any prayers for our family especially that this does not affect Justine or Christian.  Also remember: Be still and know that HE is God. 


Please be safe and help keep others safe. 


Grace, peace, and health,


Pastor David




YouTube Channel:

September 10, 2020

Good evening! I hope your week is blessed and going well.


Leadership has decided to resume worship THIS Sunday.  We ask that if you decide to come back to Sunday worship this weekend and the following weeks, you follow these precautions put in place:


1. The most important: If you have tested positive with COVID or knowingly been around/live with someone with COVID, we ask that you refrain from coming to worship until 14 days AFTER the diagnosis day.  Each congregation in our charge has had someone who has been effected by this virus.


2. Wear a mask whenever you come into the building and leave.  You are welcome to take it off when you are sitting in the pew.  You are welcome to keep it on the entire time if you would like.


3. Continue to social distance.  Keep distance between yourself and other people.  Please do not linger in the sanctuary before or after the service.


4. Hand sanitizer is all over the sanctuary.  Please use if you think you need to. 


Thank you for taking the time and effort to love one another and keep each other safe.  Please continue to pray for our community, our country, and the world in the healing of this virus.  Continue to help one another.  God is good and walking through this with us. 


If you need to, free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


See you Sunday if you are able!


Grace and Peace,


Pastor David


August 13, 2020

Greetings in grace and peace through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


Just a couple of weeks ago, leadership from each church within our 3 church charge met to talk about our response as the COVID-19 positive numbers continued to rise within Mercer County.  We were unified in our decision that if our county would step up from Level 2 into Level 3 we would discontinue gathering for worship until our county would return to Level 2.  Mercer County went into Level 3 one week ago and we all agreed to meet this past Sunday in hopes that our Level wouldn't last more than a week AND to better communicate with the congregations what the plan would be if we continued in Level 3.


As expected, we still continue to be in Level 3 in our county; therefore, we will be cancelling all worship services until our country returns to Level 2.  My hope is that this is only for a week or two.  Some counties who were previously a Level 3 were able to bring themselves back to a Level 2 within 2 to 3 weeks.  I pray that Mercer County comes together and can do the same thing.


We ask that if you are able to, please continue to give your offerings to your local congregation.  You can do so by sending them via mail or through online giving that we set up in March.  You can access that at this link: 


Also please use our website as a hub and it can be reached at this link: There you can access our Sermons, devotionals, Facebook page, our YouTube page, Online giving, as well as our prayer wall and updated information. 


Our sermon will be available on our website, YouTube, and Facebook by 8am Sunday morning.  If for some reason it is not there, that means I am having some trouble. 


I know this is not what most, if not all, of us want.  We want to be together.  Let us continue to do what we are able to in order to get back to that.  I encourage you to wear a mask, if you are able to, wherever you go.  I don't like it and don't want to but I know too many people who have had a harsh reaction to this virus and they all have said the same thing: "It is nothing like I have ever experienced before."  Continue to use sanitizer and keep your distance.  Finally, let's show the light, love, and hope of Jesus Christ because that is what will defeat hate and division. 


Pastor Jim and I are available via phone, text, or email if you need us.  Please contact us for any prayer or support.


Know that you are loved and prayed for.  More importantly, know that Jesus is walking through this with all of us.  May his grace and peace keep you grounded in Him.


In Christ,
David Porath


**Please note: As of now, pictures are still a "go" for Aug 25 and 26.  Lifetouch has a rigorous sanitizing plan that I feel very safe with.  Since there will be less than 10 people in the building for pictures, I feel we can continue to follow through with this pan.  Keep a look out what Lifetouch will ask you to do in order to help keep the areas sanitized as we come and go during those days. 


August 6, 2020- Mercer County Level 3

Grace and peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


A little over a week ago, the committee consisting of leaders from all three churches met and made a decision that if Mercer County reached level 3 we would take action to return to online services on Sunday mornings.


Today it was announced that Mercer County is now at a level 3.  After phone conversations this afternoon we have all agreed to the following:


We WILL meet this Sunday for worship at all three churches for this week only.  In the past month, some counties that were raised to level 3 stepped back into level 2 within a week.  We are praying that this will be the case for Mercer county. However, if we are still in a level 3 on Thursday next week (August 13) we will NOT meet in person for our services on the August 16 and the sermon will be released online via Facebook, YouTube, and our Website. We also will not meet for services until Mercer County is back to level 2. 


Our decision was based on hope that this level is short lived and we are able to communicate Sunday the plan in person since not every one is on email, on social media, or visit our website.


A few weeks ago, Bishop Palmer of our West Ohio Conference informed clergy that when in level 3 to keep activities to the minimum and urge the use of masks.  If our county goes into level 4 he will be encouraging churches to once again suspend in service worship. 


The decision to be proactive comes from the leadership that came together in a collaborative effort.  It has been a true honor and joy to work side by side with these people to further God's kingdom in an efficient and safe way during this time.  Not every decision is easy.  Not every decision is unanimous.  I believe that every decision we are united in and I thank God for that. 


We will continue to mass communicate through email, on Facebook, and through our website.  This is the fastest and most efficient ways we can do this. 


With all of that said, please allow yourself to be encouraged by a couple of scriptures. Meditate and pray these when you feel frustrated, angry, or even depressed during this time:


First, the psalmist tells us "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.” (Psalm 46:1)


Secondly, Jesus reminds us to "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." (Matthew 6:31:34)


Let us continue to first seek God above all things, lift each other up in prayer, love and serve each other without condition.  Faith, hope, and love.


May the peace of God which transcends all understanding be with you,


Pastor David Porath

Pastor Jim Stilwell


Church COVID Committee Team:

PPR Chair: Cheryl Laux

Fort Recovery Chair: Mike Walter

Erastus Chair: Dick Berkenstock

Coldwater Chair: Scott Ault

Special thank you to Dean Schaller, Coldwater Lay Leader, who filled in for Scott during last week's meeting. 



June 2, 2020- Back to Worship


Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

I am so excited to announce that we will resume gathering to worship in person this Sunday, June 7, 2020.  It has been almost 3 months since our last in person gatherings.  Three long months.  As God led the Israelites through the wilderness, He too has led us through this time.  And I for one am thankful it was 3 months and not 40 years!

With that said, the science experts, doctors, and our Bishop continue to caution us on our steps forward as communities begin to open up.  So our Sunday morning services will look a little different.  We will be taking steps that we hope will keep you safe and feeling safe.  Here are steps that we are asking you to take in order to help keep your friends and loved ones safe while coming to Sunday morning services.  All these are part of the guidelines our Bishop has handed out for the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church.

  • If you do not feel safe to come back… that is ok! The choice is entirely yours. We are live streaming the 10:30 Coldwater service in its entirety on Facebook.  The sermon is posted on our website usually by Tuesday morning.

  • If you are not feeling well, especially carrying a fever, we ask that you do come on a Sunday morning.

  • There will be no in person adult or family Sunday school or classes at this time.We will continue to have a Wednesday evening ZOOM Bible discussion online.

  • Social distancing. Please continue the practice of social distancing of 6 feet or more from each other. Every other row will be marked off in order to help keep that distancing while in the sanctuary.

  • We ask that you arrive to the service no earlier than 15 minutes prior.

  • Masks are recommended by the Bishop.  You can take them off when you are seated.

  • There will be hand sanitizer available and it is recommended its use upon entry into the sanctuary.

  • As you arrive, remember to keep your social distancing and go directly to a seat in the sanctuary. It is very important that fellowship is done at a 6 foot distance.

  • Once you have your seat, it is important that there is no wandering around and everyone finds a seat and stays by their seat. Once at your seat, if you wore a mask, you may take it off. We want you to be as comfortable as possible. We will be able to spread out pretty good in our sanctuary.

  • We ask that there be no handshakes or hugs. I know this will be hard but let us continue to love each other by doing what we can to make every feel safe and welcome.

  • Only one family per row please. If you do not live with someone, please do not sit within 6 feet of someone. This is all part of social distancing practices. If you are a family of 6-8, the row is yours. If there is someone or a family in half a row, please use the other half and distance yourself.

  • Singing will be minimal to begin. We don’t want you to not sing, but if you do sing along please keep it minimal. Studies have shown that loud singing can project droplets 2-3 times further than talking.

  • When the service concludes, we ask that you leave from the back rows to the front to leave the building. This help provide minimal contact with others as we leave the church.Please do not stay in the sanctuary when you are dismissed.

  • Pastoral meetings will continue to be done by appointments during the week or via telephone. We will continue to avoid home visits unless absolutely necessary.

  • There is a box to place your offerings into as you enter the sanctuary.  Online giving is also available.


For some this may seem like much.  For others this may seem like not enough.  Please know that we have heard every voice and have weighed them all within our discussions and decisions. 

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, you can call or email anyone on your leadership team as well as Pastor Jim and me. 

I am very excited to be back together.  It might be a little different but we will be together and the Spirit of God continues to be with us.


In His Grace and Service,

Rev. David Porath


Pastor Parish Relations Chair: Cheryl Laux- 419-852-6652; email:

Fort Recovery Council Chair: Mike Walter- 419-852-1968; email:

Erastus Council Chair: Dick Berkenstock- 419-942-1702; email:

Coldwater Council Chair: Scott Ault 937-260-1677; email:

Pastor Jim Stilwell: 269-365-7923; email:

Pastor David Porath: 937-622-2125; email:

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