A congregation of the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA

287 Shells Church Road

Grantville, Pennsylvania 17028

Church Office:  717-469-2586



                            July 22, 2020

The Feast of Mary Magdalene 


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


I pray that you are all staying safe, healthy, and keeping the faith during this time of pandemic and ever-changing regulations that face us. You all remain in my daily prayers.


Last evening, the Parish Council of Shells Evangelical Lutheran Church met in a Special Meeting to discuss a letter from The Rev. Bishop James S. Dunlop, bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA, that was sent to all congregations of the Lower Susquehanna Synod following the Governor’s restrictions on in-person gatherings last Thursday. In spite of the Governor saying that religious institutions are exempt from the restrictions, the Bishop urged congregations of this Synod to limit indoor in-person worship gatherings to 25 people or less and outdoor in-person worship gatherings to 250 people or less. He also asked that all office staff work from home as much as possible. The Parish Council took the Bishop’s guidance and made an amendment to the Shells Lutheran Church Pandemic Plan that was mailed out earlier this year. Office hours will be limited for our Administrative Assistant and me and the worship schedule has been adapted.


The updated Pandemic Plan is included in this mailing as a reference for you. 


Office hours for the Administrative Assistant will be Monday and Wednesday from 9am-Noon. The church phone will be forwarded to her cell phone and you can reach her via email 


At this time, my office hours will be by appointment only. My plan is to work from home as much as possible and spend minimal time in the office. I am most willing to make home visits so please call to make an appointment. I can be reached via email or phone at the contact information listed below my signature. 

The updated worship schedule will be as follows:


Saturdays at 7pm - Outdoor Vigil Liturgy of Holy Eucharist in the Parking Lot

     Beginning on August 15

    • Please bring a lawn chair and practice social distancing. 

    • No masks are required (please wear your mask until you find a place to sit).

    • We will sing at each liturgy and have accompaniment from our Director of Music one Saturday per month (all other Saturdays we will sing a cappella). 

    • Each Saturday night worship will be live-streamed on Facebook.

    • If there is inclement weather, worship will be live-streamed on Facebook from inside the Church and not be open to the public.

    • NOTE: We will gather for an outdoor Liturgy of Holy Eucharist in the parking lot on July 25 at 7pm in spite of the August 15 start date listed above. 


Sundays at 9am - Live-Stream Liturgy of Holy Eucharist in the Church

        Beginning on July 26

    • Worship will not be open to the public and only available via Facebook live-stream or the Church website.

    • Following the live-stream worship, the Pastor will be at the entrance of the Church from 10-11am distributing Holy Communion. There is no need to make an appointment, simply drive up to the handicapped ramp to receive the Sacrament. 


Wednesdays at 9am - Live-Stream Liturgy of Holy Eucharist in the Church

        Beginning on July 29

    • Worship will not be open to the public and only available via Facebook live-stream.


In-person Bible study on Mondays at 6:30pm will be postponed until August 17 and we will gather in the Pavilion. Wednesday night 6:30-8:30pm Pavilion Fellowship will be canceled on July 29 due to VBS and will resume on August 5. Wilderness Escape Vacation Bible School will be held on Facebook Live ( from 6-7pm on July 26-30. Plan to pick up your VBS Kit before worship on July 25 (6-7pm) or after worship on July 26 (10-11am). Please sign up for VBS online: 


On a personal note, Kristen and I will be moving in early August to our first home, located in Lower Paxton Township. We are very excited! We appreciate your support over this last year or so and look forward to living closer to the community we serve. Because of the move, I will be on vacation the first two weeks of August with the exception of Sunday and Wednesday worship. I plan to attend a Continuing Education Retreat on Lutheran/UCC Dialogue at St. Augustine House Lutheran Monastery in Michigan from August 24-28. If the Governor places Michigan on the list of required self-quarantine upon returning to Pennsylvania, I will cancel the Continuing Education trip. 


I ask for your prayers for the Church of Jesus Christ, our congregation and its leaders, the world and our nation, and for all who suffer in any way. We are all in this together and, through the grace of God, we will defeat this virus.


I look forward to seeing you for the Saturday evening outdoor worship and hope that you will continue to be faithful in viewing the live-stream Sunday and Wednesday liturgies. If you are unable to receive Holy Communion after the Sunday 9am Live-Stream Worship, I would be most willing to make other arrangements for you to receive the Sacrament. The Church, the Sacraments, and the Word of God are ESSENTIAL. May God be with you as we walk this troubled road together in Christ. 


“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26). 



Your servant in Christ,

The Rev. W. L. Barnes, III, STS



Liturgy of Holy Eucharist 

Sunday and Wednesday at 9am

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287 Shells Church Road

Grantville, PA  17028