06.12.20 |

    First UMC Hershey COVID-19 Plan for Reopening

    Dear members and friends of First UMC,

    These have certainly been challenging days.  While thankful for the technology which has allowed our ministry with one another to continue, nevertheless, I miss being with you physically.

     I wish to thank the church staff and lay leadership for their faithful and excellent work

    as they prepare for the gradual reopening of our church.  I’m especially grateful to Elizabeth Valentine Louder for coordinating and giving direction to zoom meetings for the purpose of developing guidelines for safe reentry.  In so much that I will no longer be your pastor as of July 1, I have invited your future pastor, the Rev. Troy Howell to be involved in these planning meetings.  Rev. Howell has already been involved with other churches in the Williamsport District and so brings helpful insights.

    May God bless you and keep you as you safely care for one another during these days of reopening and pastoral transition, 

    Pastor Chuck


    These are challenging times, and I want to thank Pastor DeShong for inviting me into the conversation with First UMC’s ministry staff and leadership as we move through Yellow Phase and eventually Green Phase reopening.  I affirm the desire to gather as the Church, and will partner with your leadership to do so sensibly and with safety and love for one another at the forefront.

    Pastor Troy


    The Administrative Council has received and reviewed the proposed Covid-19 guidelines for the church during the current yellow phase.  This was accomplished via group emails.  The comments I have received in response from council members have been very favorable, calling the proposal ‘carefully thought out,’ logical,’ and ‘thorough.’ The council also has affirmed by majority vote the naming of Elizabeth Valentine Louder as point person for leading lay members and staff through these crucial meetings on reopening.  We thank her for being willing to step up in this way.

    Craig Fasnacht, chairperson of the Administrative Council

    COVID-19 YELLOW PHASE Guidelines


    • Church building will remain closed
    • Worship will continue as an online video on YouTube at 10:00 a.m.
    • 2nd @ First Fellowship Class will continue to meet on ZOOM at 9:00 a.m.
    • Discovery Club and BOND ministry will continue bi-weekly via ZOOM
    • Age-appropriate small groups may meet outdoors at church or homes using guidelines below 


    • Church building will remain closed
    • Church staff limited hours with business via phone, email, or ZOOM
    • Encourage social media connections
    • Youth group hangouts will continue bi-weekly via ZOOM
    • Summer Jam (a family faith experience) via YouTube bi-weekly
    • Encourage small groups to continue to meet virtually via ZOOM or other platform
    • Age-appropriate small groups may meet outdoors at church or homes using guidelines below

    Guidelines for Small Groups meeting OUTDOORS

    • Please notify the church office at 717-533-9668 prior to a planned meeting
    • Please contact Mark Crowther to reserve church grounds for an outdoor meeting (Note: the church building will not be open for restrooms or other use at this time)
    • Anyone feeling ill, especially with fever or cough, must stay home
    • Anyone with significant exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in the past 14 days must stay home
    • At-risk individuals (elderly, immunocompromised, underlying health problems) should stay home
    • Group size must be 25 or less
    • Group leader must record and retain names and contact information of all attendees to ensure staff has ability to perform contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 diagnosis. Send attendance records to
    • Attendees must maintain social distancing (family groups stay 6 feet apart, no handshakes, hugs, or other close contact)
    • Attendees must wear masks/face coverings
    • Attendees should not share food or have any “common-touch” items
    • Singing is discouraged since it may increase the spread of COVID-19 by producing aerosolized particles
    • Handwashing or use of hand sanitizer should be done before and after gathering

    Looking ahead to GREEN PHASE

    Even though most of us are anxious to return to “normal” and anticipate Dauphin County entering the Green Phase in the near future, First UMC will not begin any major gathering in person until well into the summer.  We will continue to utilize official recommendations and monitor the spread of COVID-19 as we make decisions.

    Let us adhere to the “3 simple rules” of our founder, John Wesley:

    • Do no harm.
    • Do good.
    • Stay in love with God.

     We encourage you to check our website, Facebook group, and church emails for continued updates. Please know that our guidelines are intended to love and protect all of our members and guests, especially those most vulnerable to COVID-19.