Response to Covid-19
March 18, 2020
To All of Our Beloved Members of Redeemer Lutheran Church,
Our Church Council met this past Tuesday evening. We discussed the pressing situation of the Corona Virus, Covid-19, that is threatening the health of so many people across the globe. As this virus continues to spread across our country we took note that the governor of our state, and the president of our country, are calling upon us to practice “social distancing” and effective acts of good hygiene.
Our NALC bishop, Bishop Selbo, also calls upon us to “use wisdom” that is fitting to our setting, and to do what we would think to be best for our people. More specifically, our bishop calls upon us to “err on the side of good health practices”, and to “care for those who are isolated.”
After much deliberation of various pros and cons, our Church Council voted unanimously to close Redeemer Lutheran until the end of March. Thus, in keeping with the call of our governor and president, and the call of our bishop, we instruct our members to stay at home as much as possible. That, along with the practice of good hygiene, are the hard-learned lessons that are being lifted up from the countries of China, Iran, and Italy. This is how they have managed to come out of the devastating effects of this virus upon their people; and, this is how to avoid its devastation in our own country and community. We cannot emphasize enough how important these two steps are (social distancing and good hygiene). This is not just for your own well-being. It is for the sake of so many in our church and in our community who would suffer great and even grave harm, from this spreading virus.
With this decision to close, there will be no church services on Sunday, March 22nd and 29th. All meetings, gatherings, and practices are included in this cancellation. And since we cannot prepare for the Easter Breakfast, that also is canceled. The community Mid-week Lenten Services have also been canceled. Please refer to our church web site, and Facebook page, for future guidance regarding this closing. The closing might have to continue through parts of April. If this ends up including Good Friday and Easter, we will plan to hold those services later.
Our church’s Executive Committee, and our Church Council, will continue to meet by phone conferences; dealing with the needs of this unprecedented situation. The church office will remain open, perhaps with more limited hours. Yet, at any time, please feel free to call Pastor George with your questions, concerns, or suggestions. To keep you informed, future decisions, and other information, will be posted on our church’s web site; and various items might be posted on our church’s Facebook page. Also, Church Council members will be in phone contact with as many of our church membership as is possible.
Also on our church’s web site, we will be posting the Sunday mornings’ Scripture lessons, the prayer of the day, and a brief Pastor’s message. Other postings of
reflections, prayers, and lessons might also be done by particular members of our church leadership. If you need “hard copies” of such items, please let us know and we will try to accommodate you.
Even though Memorial Hospital is closed to all visitors, including pastors, Pastor George will make visits when called upon, and when the situation allows for it. Otherwise, pastoral connections can be done through phone contacts.
Three concerns regarding this closure were discussed by our Church Council. First and foremost was how to maintain some form of ministry with Redeemer’s members. As we strive to make creative use of phone calls and our church’s web site, we ask you to do the same. Please make use of these two forms of being connected in the midst of the need to practice social distancing. When your Church Council member calls you and your household, please take the time to talk with them, and feel free to share your concerns regarding this situation with them. And again, feel free to call Pastor George.
Second, when the need for closing is over, please come back to church. Regular church attendance is made secure through a habit of practice. As we need to be closed, do not let this tempt you to break your habit of faithfulness to our beloved Redeemer and its worship services and church ministries. How good it will be for each of us to hold onto our longing to be with each other once again when this crisis is over. So, please, daily keep other members, and Redeemer as a whole, in your prayers. This too, we cannot emphasize enough of how important and meaningful your prayers are!
Third, as we are closed for a period of time, which may well need to be extended, utility bills and other financial matters will continue to come in as they normally do. Our closing for the sake of the healthy well-being of our church member will, without question, cause a significant financial strain on our church. So our Church Council asks all of households to send in their offerings by mail; or, sign up for the church’s program of electronic giving. This will help us, when the time comes to reopen, to be able to open our doors without a financial debt hanging over our beloved Redeemer Lutheran Church. So, please, continue to support your church.
This is unprecedented territory for us. Such can cause overwhelming concerns. Yet, we have our fellowship and mutual support to encourage and strengthen us. And, let us remember the words of our Apostle Paul: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). We are never alone, we stand together, and our Lord is with us. Let us keep in contact with one another by phone and web site technology. Let us help one another in whatever safe way we can. Let us keep praying for one another. And let our Christian love for one another “cast out all fears” (I John 4).
In Prayer, and with the Peace of Our Lord, Jesus Christ,
Pastor George and All the Members of Redeemer’s Church Council