St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
980 Bridle Path Rd Bethlehem, PA. 18017
Orthodox Church in America

Below is a list of annoucements that have been emailed to our distribution list, with the most recent announcement at the top.  Our Frequently Asked Questions Section can be found at the bottom of the page.



Week of August 10, 2020 Updates from St. Nicholas

(Email sent 08/10/2020 at 10:50 am)

Parish Faithful,

Below please find a summary of services & events for the upcoming week.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

          7:00 pm – Great Vespers (Live Stream)

Thursday, August 13, 2020

          12:00 pm – Deadline for RSVP for Divine Liturgy on Saturday or Sunday

Friday, August 14, 2020

          7:00 pm – Great Vespers – Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (Live Stream)

 Saturday, August 15, 2020

          9:30 am – Divine Liturgy - Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos - Families with children are encouraged to attend Divine Liturgy on Saturdays (Live Stream will also be available)

               - All Parishioners must review and follow the St. Nicholas Church Reopening Guidance

          10:45 am – Communion for Parish Children (Wait outside the main Church Doors)

          6:00 pm – Great Vespers (Live Stream)

Sunday, August 16, 2020

          9:30 am – Divine Liturgy (Live Stream will also be available)

               - All Parishioners must review and follow the St. Nicholas Church Reopening Guidance

          10:45 am – Communion for Parish Children (Wait outside the main Church Doors)

In Christ,

Jennifer N. Bzik

Administrative Assistant



Green Phase Updates from St. Nicholas

(Email sent 06/28/2020 at 11:30 pm)

Dear St. Nicholas Parishioners,

The state of Pennsylvania has moved to the “GREEN PHASE” of COVID-19, and now St. Nicholas parish will implement new guidelines for church attendance.  The primary difference between the “YELLOW PHASE” and “GREEN PHASE” guidelines, is the amount of people that can attend church.  Therefore, please keep the “YELLOW PHASE” protocols that you originally received for a detailed reference.

Moving to the “GREEN PHASE” means we will no longer limit attendance for Divine Liturgy to 25 people or use the Group A - K and Group L – Z process to sign up for services.

Beginning July 4th, Fr. Matthew will offer 2 Divine Liturgy services each weekend with up to 48 attendees per service. One Divine Liturgy service will be held on Saturday at 9:30 am, and the other one on Sunday, at 9:30 am.  Parishioners will sign up for one service each weekend.  Families with children are encouraged to attend Divine Liturgy on Saturdays.   Access to all other areas of the church remain restricted.  Currently, Vespers services are available online. 

The church Administrative Assistant will send an email the Monday before Divine Liturgy services. You must RSVP to indicate if you will attend Divine Liturgy on Saturday or Sunday.  Provide  the day of the service you will attend, your name and the names of all family members that will attend by noon, on Thursday, of that week.  “Maybe attending” is not an option.  All RSVP’s will receive a confirmation to attend services by Friday.  If you do not receive a confirmation, do not attend services.

We will continue to emphasize the safety and well-being of our laity and clergy until a vaccine is available and will do this by following best practice protocols for both Divine Liturgies on Saturdays and Sundays.  Without a vaccine, we must prepare to take decisive action in the case of COVID-19 flare-ups and implement continuous best practice recommendations by state/local government and health authorities.

To help mitigate community exposure to COVID-19, continue these best practice measures when attending church during the “GREEN PHASE”:

  1. Please arrive at the church no later than 9:15 am to participate in a temperature and health screening check before Divine Liturgy.  The doors will be locked, and no one will be admitted after 9:30.
  2. Wear a mask.
  3. Practice social distancing before, during and after services.

While we follow these temporary guidelines for as long as necessary, our continued hope and prayer is to return to normal participation in liturgical worship and parish life. 

You will receive updated communications as protocols change.  Please direct questions to the Administrative Assistant, Jennifer Bzik, at Assistant4StNicholas@outlook.com.

Yours in Christ,

St. Nicholas Parish Council

Reactivation Committee

(pdf copy of the Green Phase Updates from St. Nicholas)



Parish Children Receiving Holy Communion

(Email sent 06/13/2020 at 12:15 pm)

Dr. St. Nicholas Parishioners

An important reminder for Parishioners with children.

Children, not attending the Divine Liturgy, can receive Holy Communion after the Liturgy has concluded and participants have left the church. A Parish Council member will open the doors and the Pastor will provide Holy Communion on the front steps of the church. (If inclement weather, communion will be provided in the Narthex.)

To receive Holy Communion, please arrive and plan on waiting outside the church entrance at 10:45am.

Yours in Christ,

Parish Council – Reactivation Committee



St. Nicholas Reopening Guidance

(Email sent 06/07/2020 at 11:20 pm)

Dear St. Nicholas Parishioners,

The St. Nicholas Parish Reactivation Plan developed by the Parish Council has been accepted and approved by His Eminence, Archbishop Mark and reentry to the church is ready to be implemented.  As we prepare to reopen the church for worship and liturgical services, we will return to a different environment that emphasizes the safety and well-being of our laity and clergy.  

Reentry guiding principles, recommendations and protocols were derived from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Pennsylvania state government and the Holy Synod of Orthodox Bishops.  Without a vaccine, we must prepare to take decisive action in the case of COVID-19 flare-ups and implement continuous best practice recommendations by state/local governments and health authorities. Therefore, we must maintain resiliency and flexibility in our plans and mindset. Ultimately, we are all accountable for doing the right thing at an individual level with regards to following protocols and policies and established church attendance norms.  

While we will follow these temporary guidelines for as long as necessary, our hope and prayers are to eventually return to our normal participation in liturgical worship and parish life.  

Please carefully read the St. Nicholas reopening protocols that are being used in the state of Pennsylvania’s “Yellow Phase”.

CHURCH ATTENDANCE PROTOCOL AND GUIDANCE PLAN – “Yellow Phase”

  • Parishioners should be in good health if planning to attend church services. The elderly and those with pre-existing or underlying health conditions (i.e. heart disease, cancer, asthma, diabetes, impaired kidney function) are recommended, but not mandated, to refrain from attending services in the church, and should continue to view services online.
  • Parishioners will bring their own mask or face covering. ALL parishioners MUST wear a mask or face covering before entering the church, throughout the service and when exiting the church.
  • Parishioners are required to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of Divine Liturgy.  Late arrivals will not be allowed to enter the church.  Temperature screening and a health questionnaire will be done upon entering.  If you have a temperature or fail the health questionnaire you must go home.  Please do not come to church if you are sick. 
  • Front doors to the church will be the only ENTRANCE and EXIT.  For parishioners with special needs, the attending Parish Council member will direct them to an alternate entry doors.
  • Hand sanitizer will be used upon entering the church.
  • All parishioners attending services MUST follow 6-foot social distancing protocols. 
  • Parishioners will be ushered to a pew by a Parish Council member. 
  • Parishioners will follow the designated traffic pattern for ENTERING and EXITING the church and when receiving Holy Communion.  
  • A collection basket for donation envelopes will be placed in the Narthex.  All donations are to be in an envelope and properly marked. NO cash change will be available for candles or otherwise. 
  • Candles will be pre-placed in candle stands for parishioners to light. Parishioners are to maintain appropriate social distance during candle lighting.
  • Church bulletins, notebooks, sign-up sheets, liturgical books, pamphlets, and children’s books will be removed from the Narthex, candle desk and pews, to prevent handling. 
  • Children who are realistically able to stay with their parent and wear a mask or face covering throughout the length of the service are permitted to attend.  There will be no common areas (including the vestibule, Narthex, hallway) for children if they feel the need to leave the pew.
  • The CDC recommends that children under 2 should not have their face covered by a mask or other covering, therefore, children under 2 will not attend services.

RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION

  • The Pastor will stand on the first step of the altar to deliver Holy Communion.
  • Upon reaching the chalice, the communicant will breathe in, remove mask, tilt head back with a wide-open mouth and receive the Gifts.
  • The Pastor will “Drop” the Holy Communion into their open mouth without touching their lips.
  • The communicant will use a disposable paper towel to wipe their own lips. The towel will be placed in a basket. The pastor will reverently burn all paper towels after the liturgy has ended.  
  • There will be no blessed bread and small cups of wine distributed after Holy Communion at this time.
  • Children, not attending the Divine Liturgy, can receive Holy Communion after the Liturgy has concluded and participants have left the church. A Parish Council member will open the doors and the Pastor will provide Holy Communion on the front steps of the church. (If inclement weather, communion will be provided in the Narthex.)  

PARISHIONER HEALTH AND SAFETY 

  • Parish Council members will be in the Narthex before, during, and after Liturgy to assist with all protocols, guidance, and questions.
  • Due to seasonal changes the air conditioner will be on.  Dress appropriately as social distancing may require that you sit near the air conditioning vents.  Personal items such as sweaters and coats will be kept with you in the pew. 
  • Restrooms are to be used for emergencies only.
  • Restricted areas will NOT be accessible: Fellowship Hall, Kitchen, Hallways, Church Offices, Basement, Choir Loft, Elevator, and Stairwell.  
  • The church and areas used/touched by parishioners (i.e. handrails, pews, and restrooms) will be cleaned after each service by designated parish personnel.

YOU MUST SIGN-UP TO ATTEND SERVICES

  • The “YELLOW PHASE” protocol allows for a total of 25 people to attend services.
  • Divine Liturgy will be served on Sundays. Parishioners will be divided into 2 groups by their last name: GROUP 1 = A through K, and GROUP 2 = L through Z
  • GROUP 1 will attend on the first Sunday Divine Liturgy is served. GROUP 2 will attend the next Sunday Divine Liturgy. The alternating pattern will be continued until a full congregation is allowed. 
  • The church Administrative Assistant will send an email to GROUP 1 or GROUP 2 the Monday before liturgy. You must RSVP and provide your name and the names of all of family members attending, by noon on Thursday of that week.  “Maybe attending” is not an option.  
  • All RSVP’s will receive a Confirmation to attend services by Saturday.  If you do not receive a confirmation, do not attend services. 

CHURCH AVAILABILITY FOR PRAYER AND CANDLE LIGHTING

  • The church will open for designated times for prayer and candle lighting during the pastor’s office hours.
    • Wednesday 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
    • Friday   9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Parishioners can schedule appointments at 30-minute increments (15 min prayer, 15 min to sanitize). To schedule, contact Fr. Matthew by phone or text.  Upon arriving at the church for you scheduled time, call Fr. Matthew and he will open the Main Fellowship Hall Doors for you to enter.

SCHEDULING CONFESSION AND SPECIAL SERVICES

  • Contact Fr. Matthew to schedule a time for Confession.  Confessions may be done by phone or in-person.
  • All special requests for services (Baptism, Panikhida, etc.) must be approved by Fr. Matthew. The Parish Council President must be informed.

Please keep the YELLOW PHASE protocols handy for quick reference as we all learn to navigate the new guidelines. You will receive updated communications as protocols change.  Please direct questions to the Administrative Assistant at Assistant4StNicholas@outlook.com.  

Yours in Christ,

St. Nicholas Parish Council

Reactivation Committee

(pdf copy of the St. Nicholas Reopening Guidance )



Helping Our Parishioners

(Email sent 04/24/2020 at 2:40 pm)  

Chris is Risen!

Dear Faithful of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Parish,

Like many across the nation, our community continues to abide by the PA state to stay at home and socially distance ourselves to help prevent the further outbreak of COVID-19.

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.

As a reminder, 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



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