FROM PASTOR MEYER’S DESK: You may have noticed that we did not put out a newsletter for the month of May. The reason for that, of course, is obvious. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic and the governmental guidelines that it brought with it, it’s been virtually impossible to have any activities at the church, much less to plan any activities. But during an Elders meeting on May 19, we made some decisions that we want to apprise you of. Hence the purpose of this newsletter.
First of all, let me say how much Pastor Mike and I miss all of you. To not be able to visit people in the hospital, the nursing home, the assisted care facilities, and even members’ homes has been very difficult to say the least. The same holds true for preaching to an empty sanctuary and conducting some classes or virtual gatherings by Zoom or Google Hangout. And let’s be honest, as wonderful as it is to have all this technology available to us so that we can at least be able to view our pre-recorded worship services on our web site or Facebook or YouTube, nothing can replace the personal encounters that we so enjoy and appreciate on Sunday mornings and other times we gather for worship, Bible classes, or fellowship activities.
We learned a lot from the survey that we recently sent to our congregational households. (By the way, thank you for the incredible response to that as we had more than 190 people fill one out!) But one of the things that came out of it was the strong desire that an overwhelming majority expressed of getting back to in-person worship as soon as possible. Trust me when I say that your pastors and Elders would like nothing better than that. But we feel we need to do it as safely as possible while staying within the framework of the guidelines that state and federal leaders are handing down to us.
For example, at a recent meeting with some of our fellow Lutheran pastors, two of which had attended a seminar that was given by an organization called Alliance Defending Freedom, we learned the difference between transient and congregant situations. Some have wondered why Wal-Mart can stay open while churches and other businesses like restaurants must remain closed except for drive-thru purposes. Well, a lot of it depends on whether the place in question is a transient or congregant facility. A transient business is one in which people are constantly moving in and out while a congregant facility is one in which people congregate for a period of time in a closed setting. When I heard that explanation it made a lot of sense to me. Obviously the virus is going to have the opportunity to spread more quickly and easily in a congregant setting as opposed to a transient one.
Another interesting item that came from the Alliance Defending Freedom organization had to do with liability. They said that if a church or business were to ignore the guidelines handed down by the governor and open their doors to more than the currently mandated 10 people and someone were to contract the virus, if that person decided to sue the church, the Alliance Defending Freedom representatives said that they would not offer any assistance or defense to them because basically they wouldn’t have a legal leg to stand on. The church would be on their own. And if it was proven in a court of law that they had knowingly violated that order, the church and in particular the Elders would be held liable. Interestingly one church in our area did this recently and opened their doors with 97 people in attendance between two services, only to have three Elders resign.
Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to do. Our survey revealed that while many are eager to get back to church immediately or at least as soon as possible, others expressed a more cautious approach that would make use of wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, and having plenty of hand sanitizer available throughout our facilities. So we simply ask for your continued patience and prayers as we seek to navigate our way through these uncharted waters.
Which brings me to one very positive thing that came out of our Elders meeting on May 19. One bit of information that the survey revealed is that people are hungry for the Lord’s Supper. I can’t tell you how gratifying and heartwarming that is for me as a pastor. I suspect that once we get past this pandemic this Holy Supper will never again be taken for granted. So starting on Tuesday, June 9, we will be offering Holy Communion in our sanctuary on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Elsewhere in this newsletter you will find the specific instructions on how we plan to do this and what it will require of you. So please pay very close attention to those guidelines, especially how to schedule a time online during those three-hour windows when Communion will be served.
Let me close, then, with that powerful biblical promise that the Apostle Paul shared in that great 8th chapter of Romans, verses 38-39 where he says: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Hoping to see you very soon!