** Due to our movement towards re-gathering for in-person worship, beginning November 8, we will no longer be recording “weekly update” videos for release each Friday. Our weekly eBlast is our best source of keeping on top of news and updates from Bethany. If you would like to receive our weekly eBlast, please contact the church office.
The Dream Again Team would like to introduce you to Bethany’s “Connection Groups.” This is an opportunity for fellowship with other Bethany friends using a video/audio platform called Zoom. The goal of Connection Groups is to help Bethany members connect with each other through fun, faith conversation, and prayer. We encourage all groups to spend time checking in with each other and praying over prayer requests.
Bethany Connection Groups are forming on a rolling basis. Complete the sign-up form by providing some basic information about yourself and your availability. A member of the Dream Again team will contact you. It is never too late to sign-up.
Faith at Home
Fun at Home
Family Photo Challenge
Try the family photo challenge (see the above tab)!
Animals, Animals, Animals!
Live videos from US Zoos
Learn at Home
A great resource for families with younger children while schools are closed.
A great tool for families learning how to navigate through this crisis.
Twelve museums around the world are offering free virtual tours!
Navigating COVID19 with Your Family
Lots of Resources
Rochester Moms (from Rochester MN) have put together an extensive list of resources here.
This is a great guide for talking with your kids about Coronavirus.
Here is a blog post for parents on managing anxiety during any number of life disruptions.
The complete guide and guidelines on COVID-19, and how to protect the whole family.
Our Ongoing Commitment
At Bethany Covenant, we are committed to caring for our congregation and community in all respects, including physical well-being. To that end, we are asking each of you to take precautions to keep yourself and others safe, especially in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Like you, staff and leadership is closely following the developments of the Coronavirus/COVID19 in the state of Connecticut and around the nation and world with concern. We are following the recommendations and guidelines from the CT Department of Public Health, Town of Berlin Office of Public Health, and the CDC. We have also spoken with a number of medical professionals, an epidemiologist, and other pastors to gain perspective on how to best address the challenging and evolving nature of this situation in our own community.
The Staff and the Council will continue meeting the spiritual needs of our church family. We are always available to you; this will not change. At this time, Bethany will remain open throughout the week and will continue to hold both Sunday services and mid-week programming; Berlin officials are not recommending the cancellation of public events or Sunday church gatherings. We are, however, preparing alternative ways to worship and provide spiritual nourishment and encouragement. We are monitoring CDC, Connecticut, and local officials’ suggestions on a day-to-day basis. As updates are available that impact Bethany’s schedule, we will inform everyone to the best of our abilities through email, social media, and online here at bethanycovenant.org. For those without email, we will send a letter and contact by phone.
During this time, here’s how we are committed to keeping our campus clean:
- Water fountains have been covered and made off limits.
- Our staff and volunteer teams will wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are sick.
- Our volunteers in Fellowship & Service, and those preparing communion, already wear gloves when they prepare food. In addition, for the present time, we will be serving prepackaged food as available, as well as coffee, tea, and cold drinks during our fellowship time between our worship service and Christian Formation.
- We have provided additional hand sanitizers around the church for everyone to use.
- In addition to our normal cleaning schedule, extra attention has been given to frequently touched surfaces including door handles and handrails.
- Little Blessings Preschool has begun spraying the children’s wing with Lysol each night and morning before students arrive to ensure cleanliness. Teachers are also taking additional precautions in each classroom.
- Beginning this Sunday, rather than passing offering plates through the pews, we will provide offering baskets located at the back of the sanctuary. Remember, you can also mail your offering to the church.
During this time, we are asking you to help stop the spread of the virus in the following ways, recommended by the CDC:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, which is still the most effective way of limiting the spread of germs.
- Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue or your arm.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and face with unwashed hands.
- Forgo shaking hands at church in favor of a wave, a friendly smile, and an encouraging word.
- Stay at home when you or a family member are sick. If you or a family member are sick and need to stay home during this time, we encourage you to listen to the sermon online. We do our best to have the Sermons posted by Tuesday afternoon.
- If you or someone you know test positive for COVID-19, please let us know so we can find a way to help, pray for everyone involved and take any necessary precautions here at Bethany. Additionally, if you live in or have been to an area with a known outbreak, we urge you to consider following the CDC recommendations for self-isolation.
- Please note that the State of Connecticut has opened a 24hour, multilingual hotline to answer any questions. Please call 211 for the hotline to answer any of these questions.
- Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and seek medical advice if you develop symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
Ways You Can Help
- Pray: Pray for those impacted by the virus, as well as their families and loved ones. Pray also for medical professionals as they care for the sick, and for those working on a vaccine and other ways to treat this virus. Pray for national and global leadership as they seek to find the best policies to mitigate this challenging situation.
- Serve: Look for ways to be Jesus for those you encounter during this time. Throughout history, times of challenge are when the body of Christ is at its best!
- Lead: The body of Christ is a people who, having given our lives to the saving work of the resurrected Jesus, lean into our collective responsibility toward the ‘least of these.’ As you carefully consider how you are going to interact with others, we encourage you to make your choices without fear, yet also with consideration for those you might encounter who are more at-risk than you are.
In Psalm 46, we are reminded that it is God who is our refuge and strength and our ever-present help in trouble. Remember that we are the body of Christ; we worship a God of hope and mercy, a God who loves us faithfully. In this challenging time, may we be hope to those around us, caring for each other and for our community. We need not be anxious or afraid, but with confidence may we use this opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus through our prayers and our care of others.
Update & Devotional from the week of July 6th
Update & Devotional from the week of June 29th
May 19, 2020
What are you waiting for right now? What are you “hoping” for right now? What’s the difference between hope and optimism? The questions posed in this devotion from The Bible Project both convicted me and energized me. Hope has felt elusive during these times, but this reminded me to redirect where I have placed my hope. I pray it does the same for you!
Genuine hope is a characteristic unique to God’s people. We have hope, always. Not hope that our circumstances will get better or change. Our hope, as the devotion says is in a person. It is in the character of a good God who promises to redeem our broken world. It is a big hope! Not one that is immediate or right around the corner, but well worth waiting for.
Those described as hopeful in the Bible are people whose circumstances showed little chance of improvement. But they continued to share a message of hope with others that looked to the (much) bigger picture. This is the kind of person I hope to be. This is the kind of community we have an opportunity to be.
May the God who gives us Hope sustain you.
May 6, 2020
Dear Bethany family,
Today’s devotional thought is from The Bible Project exploring the “Water of Life” theme throughout the Bible.
The video, Scripture and reflection questions are a timely follow-up to Pastor Craig’s sermons about the Israelites’ time in the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land.
May this “land between” be a time of transformation in our hearts, lives, and relationship with God, the only source of Living Water.
May 5, 2020
There’s no question that life is different now. How we shop for groceries; how we do school and/or work; how we greet people; how we exercise; even how we ‘do church.’ I now let my groceries “age or air out” in the garage before bringing them into the house. I now wash my fruits and veggies before I put them into the fridge, rather than waiting until just before using them. While taking my walks or when I encounter someone, I now put on my mask and move away to the other side of the sidewalk or into the street. And sadly, this now seems so normal. Yes, Life is different! Totally and completely different.
During these past weeks, we have all learned to make necessary adjustments to our lives, to our routines. Some of these with more kicking and screaming and “angst” than others. We share a same goal – surviving C-19. Yet how that plays out in our lives is very different from one person to the next. It’s not “One Size fits All.” Though we are all practicing Social Distancing and sheltering in place, we are NOT all experiencing it in the same way!
While some of us are wondering how to get a haircut, many who suddenly found themselves thrust into the role of teacher for a one room school house are pulling their hair out.
Like many, I took the opportunity this weekend to be outside. Walking, soaking up the warmth and sun, enjoying the beauty of my back yard and noticing how overgrown my garden had become over the winter and because of lack of attention these past several years. After I pulled weeds and other overgrown plantings in one section, I sat back to examine and enjoy my work. I also took pause. Phrases, questions, challenges that have continued to pop up in various conversations.
Don’t waste, this opportunity this pandemic.
What will you take away from this period of time? How will you be different or changed?
How is God speaking to you?
Where were those areas of my own life and devotion that also needed attention? It didn’t take long to identify what needed to be pruned in order to make room for new growth and healthier flowers in my garden. It was equally as obvious some of the areas that needed to be cleaned up, so that growth might take place in my own life.
Here are a few things I invite you to ponder…
- What are you discovering about yourself during the COVID 19 pandemic?
- How has the COVID 19 pandemic effected your relationship with God?
- Are their weeds in your own life that are choking out or hindering the growth of new growth in your spiritual journey? What’s one small change you want to make in your “post – COVID 19” life?
And may your garden of faith and trust grow and blossom!
Wednesday Family Resources
April 29, 2020
April 28, 2020
In what is called the Docklands of Dublin one can see a memorial to the Great Potato Famine of Ireland that began in 1845 and lasted for 8 years. During that time nearly 1.5 million Irish men, women and children died and another 2 million immigrated – many of them to the United States. Overall the country of Ireland lost nearly 25% of its population. According to one historian the Irish Potato Famine is the 10th most deadly in the history of the world.
Following that famine, in 1869, Kathleen O’Meara wrote the poem you see next to this devotion (submitted by Kristen Walsh – thank you Kristen). It is so surreal to see many similar responses and reactions from more than 150 years ago beginning with “people stayed home.” I noted three things that can trigger our devotional response to our current experience:
(1) What people did in midst of the famine. What are you doing amid the pandemic we are facing? What gives you joy, hope, and help?
(2) People’s actions when the famine was over. What they did differently when their hunger was satisfied. How do you think your life prior to COVID19 will be different following Covid19?
(3) While there was mention of religious activity (meditation, prayer) there was no mention of God. How has your relationship with God effected your response to the COVID19 pandemic? Also, how has the COVID19 pandemic effected your relationship with God?
Ponder these questions and your responses allowing God to illumine your minds and heart. Then meditate on Proverbs 3:5-6 . . .
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
And people stayed home
and read books
and made art
and learned new ways of being
and listened deeper
someone met their shadow
and people began to think differently
and people healed
and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,
dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
even the earth began to heal
and when the danger ended
and people found each other
grieved for the dead people
and they made new choices
and dreamed new visions
and created new ways of life
and healed the earth completely
just as they were healed themselves.
[Kathleen O’Meara, 1869]
April 23, 2020
Hello Bethany Family,
Today’s devotional thought comes from Holly Weiss. If you are trying to put a face to Holly, she directs the Chorale. She also is a vocal instructor and an author. She and her husband Ernie Whitehouse joined Bethany in 2012 after moving to Covenant Living of Cromwell. Holly wrote this last year during a difficult time in her life. It’s a message that can speak to us no matter where we find ourselves today. Whether this time of sheltering in place is an extremely challenging and stressful time as you juggle the many aspects of your life, job, homeschooling and the “new Normal”; or this time has provided you with more time freed up and less busyness or noise and clutter in your life.
I invite you to read the devotional and the Scripture. Then add your own statements of “I am …” For some, it may begin with a lament as seen so frequently in the Psalms. For other it will begin with praise and thanksgiving to our amazing God and the assurance of the ever-present love of God.
Indeed, each of us is a child of God!! Amen.
Thursday Devotions: Noah in Quarantine
April 16, 2020
Now that ‘social distancing’ is so much a part of our vocabulary, our everyday lives, have you ever noticed just how often we see examples everywhere? Certainly, on the news! But think for a moment about The Bible; it’s full of examples of social distancing … and not.
Look for a moment at Adam & Eve. Obviously, it was easy for them to practice social distancing, after all, who else was there? And then, look what happened when they got too close to the serpent. Wham!! (Ok, not the same yet…)
Pastor Chris has been helping us explore and walk with Daniel while he was in exile, living in a land between. Daniel’s was also an experience with social distancing.
And what about the Israelites? Think for a moment about how difficult it was for them while they were wandering in the dessert for 40 years. Social distancing? How do you ‘shelter in place’ and yet practice social distancing, 6 feet apart, with that many people and when everyone is living in tent? WOW!
Today’s devotional is about Noah. It comes from a collection of blogs, entitled “Faith in Quarantine.” Talk about shelter in place!!!
(You can read the devotional by clicking the button on the left, or even better, go to the source and read about Noah himself in Genesis 6:9-9:17, also available by clicking a button on the left)
As I thought about Noah and his experience of social distancing, I’m very grateful – VERY GRATEFUL – I didn’t have to do it with two elephants, two tigers, two bears, well you get the picture, two of every species. The litter boxes I have for my two cats is bad enough!! (and I sure hope my order of cat litter arrives soon!!)
Plus, I just have to say, if there had been even ONE snake, not to mention TWO, well I may have jumped ship!! Noah’s time in quarantine was his time of faith. I’m sure it wasn’t all fun and games, and certainly not sweet smelling, on the Ark!! True, they didn’t have to struggle with challenges of technology, yet they too experienced and struggled with boredom, loneliness and fear. How long would the storm last? Where would they end up? Would they survive? (Spoiler alert: they all survive, even the snakes!)
During this time of social distancing and for some even a more intense quarantine, Noah teaches us and challenges us. Storms come. What does this storm mean for your faith? Jordan, the author of the Blog, reminds us that “Faith is not always grand. Sometimes living a life of faith means doing the next right thing by taking care of what God has given you. For Noah, this meant his family, himself, the animals and the ark. For you it’s probably going to mean the exact same thing. Live out your faith by taking care of your family (spend time enjoying them), yourself (practice good self-care), your animals (spend some extra time playing with your pets) and your home (if God has blessed you with a place to live, take care of it). We like to do big new things, but we often forget that God desires us to maintain the things God has blessed us with.” What does this storm mean for your faith?
May God bless you and place a hedge of safety around your home and your loved ones.
Wednesday is for Art: The Artist Challenge
April 15, 2020
Calling all creative friends!
Some of our wonderful high school students have brainstormed an opportunity for you to use your artistic gifts to encourage others! In these days following Easter and simultaneously awaiting the end of quarantine, it seems only fitting that we reflect upon the great hope we have because of Jesus. We invite you to create something, in whatever artistic medium you prefer (drawing, painting, writing, music, etc), that reminds you of hope.
All ages and abilities are encouraged to participate.
Send pictures of your project to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, April 22.
April 14, 2020
Dear Bethany family,
Today’s devotional thought is another wise word from The Bible Project.
For some, this time of social distancing may feel restful because it leaves them with more time freed up. For others, it is not at all restful because family, work, or school expectations change.
However, when the quarantine is lifted, we all have the opportunity to bring lessons learned from the rhythm of quarantine with us as we resume “life as normal.” Practicing the biblical rhythm of Sabbath rest is certainly challenging, but it provides a rich opportunity for us to connect to the relationship God intended for us to have with God, others, work, and creation.
I invite you to read the devotional, Scripture, and discussion questions to explore how the theme of Sabbath is woven throughout our entire Bibles.
In the midst of uncertainty, I pray that you will find rest in the certainty that we don’t have to be in control because God is in control.
Alli Corriveau, Youth Director
Holy Week Update: Monday April 6, 2020
Wednesday is for Resourcing!
April 1, 2020
Last Wednesday, we shared with you many resources for faith, fun, and learning at home (see the resources tab). This week we wanted to share more about one of our favorites: the Youversion Bible app. This well-known website and app are actually resources from a fellow Covenant church (Life Church in Oklahoma). They have tons of Bible reading plans for kids, teens, and adults.
With Holy Week approaching, here are just a few we recommend. You can find them by downloading the app on your phone or via the links in the righthand column.
We leave you with a prayer:
“Oh gracious lord, thank you for warmly inviting me to approach your throne of grace in my time of need (Heb. 4:16), and for your divine ability to quiet me by your love (Zeph. 3:17). Though my future may feel uncertain, I take heart knowing that you are unchanging, everlasting, all-powerful, all-knowing, and reigning over all creation. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8)”. [By Meredith Hodge]
The Bethany Covenant church staff continues to be available to support and pray for you. We’d love to hear from you!
March 31, 2020
Today’s devotional thought is from The Bible Project. The Bible Project has created lots of wonderfully engaging and thorough resources for helping us understand the big themes in our Bible.
Today’s audio reflection, short video, Scripture readings, and discussion questions closely mirror our recent sermons on goodness and faithfulness. They consider the theme of God’s generosity throughout the Bible, and how that provides encouragement and inspiration for our lives as Jesus-followers during this unique time in our world.
Alli Corriveau, Youth Director
Wednesday Family Resources (March 25)
Dear Bethany Families,
As a brother, son, uncle, and father figure, it can be and has been a struggle to soak in all the information about COVID- 19. Many people struggle with understanding how to help one another, especially family and loved ones. I worry about what my nephew might hear from others that may cause him panic or fear. I do not want him to fear or worry about COVID- 19. I want him to live. I want him to learn to be cautious and what he can do to protect himself. I also want him to know that God is by his side always, even in times of struggle and fear.
There are some great resources for you on the resources tab, above. I hope they will help encourage and equip you to discuss COVID-19 with your child, as well as continue their faith and academic learning.
It is important for you as a parent to feed your faith as well as your child’s. I hope you will tune into some of the devotions offered by our Bethany pastors, found on this page (and past video devotionals can be found on the “previous updates” tab, above). In addition, here is a list of God’s promises to sustain you.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with prayer concerns, needs your family may have, and any additional ways that we can support you while you are at home. Alli Corriveau and I are both available to you.
Lastly, I encourage you to pray with your child and family members. As I have learned, it does not matter how you pray, it’s that you pray. God cares that you pray and give yourself to him. As Philippians 4:6 states “Do not worry about anything: instead pray about everything.” We will get through these tough times but only with God’s help.
I would like to leave you with a prayer:
“May today there be peace within. May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance. It is there for each and every one of you. Amen. [Teresa of Ávila]
May God bless you and your family and keep you safe.
Interim Director of Children and Families Ministry
Sunday Update (March 15)
We missed you all this morning, yet are glad to see that you are all taking the ‘social distancing’ seriously as we all do our part to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
As a staff we gathered to put together a devotional. As you watch it, we invite you to enter into a time of prayer. It isn’t meant to be rushed; we suggest that you occasionally hit the pause button, to better hear God’s voice.
The church office will continue to remain open daily 8:30 – 2:30. The staff remains available and here to serve. You can reach the pastoral staff via the office at (860) 828-3637 or by email at email@example.com.
God is strong and mighty, our refuge and strength!
Saturday Update (March 14)
We continue to pray, seeking God’s wisdom and peace in the midst of this pandemic. Following consultation with staff and numerous medical professionals (including an Epidemiologist), we have been advised to refrain from gathering collectively as a congregation at this time.
Therefore, for the remainder of this week, all services and activities at Bethany have been cancelled. This includes, but is not limited to:
Sunday Morning Worship
All Children’s and Youth ministries (Sunday and Midweek)
Wednesday Bible Study and Prayer Gatherings
Sunday’s Ted Yoder Concert (we are working to reschedule)
All music team rehearsals (worship team, choir, small ensembles, etc.)
We will continue to monitor on a week by week basis as needed. We will communicate by Friday concerning worship on the following Sunday.
Sunday has been declared a National Day of Prayer. Because we won’t be gathering together tomorrow for corporate worship, we will be sending a devotional to you midday on Sunday and invite you to join us and our nation in prayer.
The staff and church leadership continue to work on ways to reach out (without physically touching, of course) through devotionals and other resources. Now more than ever, we need to be the church actively caring for one another. The practice of “Social distancing” doesn’t mean that we stop caring for one another and others in our communities. The public health and governmental agencies are asking us collectively to seek social distance for a time, with hopes that the spread of this pandemic will greatly diminish.
We continue to brainstorm ways that we can serve our vulnerable friends and neighbors in both the church and in the community during this time. If you have suggestions or know of a specific need, please contact the pastoral staff via the office at (860) 828-3637 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what might be possible. God has a way of providing what we need when we need it; do not hesitate to ask.
The church office will continue to remain open daily 8:30 – 2:00. The staff remains available and here to serve. We’ll continue to post updates here, via email, and on social media.
May God Bless, stay safe, and of course, wash your hands frequently!
Friday Evening Update (March 13)
The staff and leadership continue to closely follow the developments of the COVID19 Pandemic, especially as it unfolds in our local communities. We continue to prayerfully seek God’s Peace on behalf of our Church and the many individuals who are directly affected, as well as wisdom, discernment, and guidance as to how to best proceed in uncertain times.
We trust everyone recognizes that the situation is very fluid. As of Friday afternoon, we have modified our schedule for Sunday morning. In such a time as this, there is great need to appeal to God for comfort, reassurance, and care. As such, our sanctuary will be open from 9:30 until 12pm for individual prayer, and the staff will lead times of focused prayer as a community at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30. To continue our posture of caution, childcare, fellowship time, and Christian Formation hour will not be offered this week. We will continue to follow the situation and confirm this by dinner time on Saturday.
We continue to encourage each of you to personally follow the guidelines of the CDC: wash your hands regularly, refrain from physical contact, and as you make decisions, keep in mind all those who may have more vulnerable or compromised immune systems. If you are sick or have health issue, we encourage you to remain safely at home.
We also know that the Church shines brightest in such a time as this. We will be in touch about ways that we can serve our vulnerable and neighbors in the community in need during this time. If you have suggestions or know of need, please contact the pastoral staff via the office at email@example.com.
Rich Laury (Church Chair) shared these words from a devotional:
When you’re facing tough times, worry is a natural human response. But, instead of worrying, God wants you to worship. One way you can worship God is by believing who he is and what he can do. In the book of 2 Chronicles, King Jehoshaphat and Israel found themselves in a tough spot. Three enemy nations were on their way to make war against them. Though he was afraid, the king’s first response was to gather his people to pray. He stood before the whole nation and prayed aloud. His prayer is a great model to show you how to pray when you feel stressed out and overwhelmed.
First, when you pray during a stressful time, remind yourself of who God is. Focus on his strength, character, and power. God can handle anything, including whatever you’re facing right now. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus says, “With God everything is possible” (NLT). (from “Pastor Rick’s Daily Hope”)