Friday, March 13, 2020

A Pastoral Concern: A letter regarding Good Shepherd's response to COVID-19

Greetings!

By now, you are well aware of the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible, such as the suspension of professional and college sports and the closing of schools.  As of this writing, no one has ordered churches to stop meeting.  Quite frankly, I don't think they can ban it; it can only be strongly discouraged.  For better or for worse, we are not a giant group of people.  Any potential spread would be quite limited, especially if those who do not feel well would stay home and get the rest they need.  

We will, however, take some precautionary measures so that we do not put our Lord to the test or cause undue concern from our members.  We will take the following steps to keep our church as healthy as possible.

First, we will suspend all activities which are not specifically word and sacrament.  We will cancel the game night scheduled for Saturday, March 14.  We will cancel the Meet-Your-Neighbor breakfast scheduled for Saturday, March 21.  The Evangelism and Stewardship Committee meetings will be done via email.  Suppers before Lenten dinners will be cancelled.  

Secondly, since the life of the Church depends upon its connection to Jesus Christ, and since Jesus Christ comes to us only through the word and sacraments, Good Shepherd will continue to have Divine Services as regularly scheduled.  For our services, we are implementing the following precautions:
     1)  We will suspend hand-shaking, particularly as the pastor greets people at the end of the service.
     2)  We will suspend the passing of the plate for the collection of the offering.  Instead, we will leave a plate near the ushers' station for people to drop off their offering as they enter or as they leave.
     3)  We will try to make hand sanitizer available for people to use as they please.  (This may be hard to promise, as the hand sanitizers are getting harder to find.)
     4)  The pastor will wash his hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before the distribution of Holy Communion.  In regards to the common cup, there is no reason to suspend it, as many scientific tests have confirmed that the transfer of communicable diseases through the common cup are negligible.  For more thoughts on this, please see this blog post (http://lutheransubject.blogspot.com/2020/03/a-pastoral-concern-church-militant.html ).

If you should become ill due to the COVID-19 virus, please contact the pastor (248-719-5218, call or text), particularly if your situation becomes dire.  He will still provide pastoral care.

If you must worship from home, I commend to you several options.
1)  Check out the pastor's blog to read through a sermon.  If you have a hymnal, use the "General Devotion" order on page 150.  The lessons for each Sunday are also listed on page 163.
2)  Looking up a church service online can be done in an emergency situation, such as quarantine.  Please be aware that they are easy to find, but that they may not be trust-worthy, even if they bear the name "Lutheran."  One that I can recommend would be found here: https://www.trinitywaukesha.com/services or here: http://www.trinitywatertown.net/learning-opportunities/sermons/.  NOTE: These are for emergency situations.  The internet cannot replace real, live worship with real, live people, just as Skyping your loved ones is not the same as having them with you. 
3)  You can find comfort from hymns that were written by people who also were enduring great trials.  Many of them are found in the "Trust" section of the hymnal (hymns 441-451).  The Lenten hymns are always good, too.  For an example of some hymn stanzas which courageously confess the Christian faith, check out this blog post.
4)  The WELS Radio Hour broadcasts every Sunday at 10:30 AM on AM 1500 and FM 92.7.  You can also find podcasts here.

God bless you and keep you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder

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