by: Christian Ilten
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace and Peace in the Name of Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
As you most certainly know by now, our governor’s most recent order has again curtailed indoor worship, but we have been allowed to continue worship in an outdoor setting. While we are certainly heartbroken by the fact that we will not be joining together indoors, especially during this time of the church year, we are energized and committed to provide Word and Sacrament to God’s people gathered here, both in-person and online. It’s important to remember that we have not been ordered to cease worshipping our Lord; we have simply been ordered to do it in a way that falls within the guidelines developed by our state and local public health agencies. Our rented canopy on our front lawn has continued to be invaluable in regards to our having the ability to continue to engage in outdoor worship quite comfortably.
Because we have not been able to get all of the logistical details worked out in order to offer night-time worship outdoors, tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Eve service will be livestreamed only, at 7:00 pm on Facebook and the church website. We urge you to join us for this important service, as we call to mind the rich blessings that our Lord has showered down upon us. In spite of the current circumstances in which we find ourselves, we have much to be thankful for!
We will keep you posted as we are able regarding upcoming midweek Advent worship services as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship services.
We will continue holding two outdoor services this Sunday and each Sunday moving forward, at least in the short term:
• 8 am, with traditional hymns, and
• 10 am, with contemporary praise music
As we have done since we were able to come back together, we want to make two things clear:
1. This worship format is only temporary. We look forward to the time we can return to our regular worship with more songs, a fuller liturgy, Hand Bells, Choir, and other special music. That time is coming.
2. Although we have been cleared to worship together in this outdoor setting, there are guidelines that must be followed; also, simply because we can gather for worship does not mean everyone must gather for worship. We will deliver the live stream broadcasts of both Sunday morning services each week, so if any of the following circumstances exists, please stay home and join us from the comfort of your living room:
• If you or anyone in your family has been exposed to someone with COVID-19;
• If you are not feeling well (cough, chest congestion, fever, etc.);
• If you have a pre-existing condition that might put you at risk for contracting COVID-19 (compromised immune system, cardio-pulmonary condition, etc.);
• If you are simply fearful or apprehensive of the risk involved.
We will also continue to abide with the guidelines established by the CDC and local officials, which seem to be shifting constantly. In order to do so, we have to continue to place certain limits on worship, including but not limited to the following considerations:
1. Face coverings are now required for the outdoor service. Please be sure to also wear your face covering when entering and exiting the worship space or when walking or standing closer than 6 feet to other worshippers. Also, if you would be more comfortable in your own portable chair than the ones provided, please feel free to bring one;
2. Social distancing protocol must continue be followed; to accomplish this the outside chairs will be set in such a way as we are able to maintain 6 ft. distancing between individuals and/or family units;
3. For the time being, the nursery will remain closed – there will be no child care available during worship and there will be no “in-person” Sunday School;
4. Without specific permission to have larger numbers in attendance, we will continue to limit the numbers of those in attendance due to CDC and local guidelines. Those attendance limitations are as follows:
• 8 am Outdoor Worship – 100 attendees allowed
• 10:00 am Outdoor Worship – 100 attendees allowed
The sign-ups will be the same format as the last several weeks, and you can find the sign-up link here:
Please be sure to sign up only one person/family per space, indicate the specific number that will be in attendance, as well as listing the names of all that will be in attendance. Please do not bring additional worshipers with you that have not signed up to attend; once we reach the limit of attendees at each service we cannot allow any additional people into the worship space.
Through this difficult time, we will continue forward with an abundance of caution, patience and love. Remember that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Please be gracious and understanding toward one another, since many of us may hold differing views regarding some of the guidelines we must follow. This is temporary, and God will lead us through it. So if we are to err, let’s err on the side of grace. Continue to pray that God’s Word be heard by a world that needs it so badly.
His perfect peace be with you today and always. Hope to you in worship this coming Sunday, and hope you will join us for the livestreamed Thanksgiving Eve service tomorrow at 7:00 pm.!
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Eric and Pastor Pat