All church activities are canceled
through April 5th.
There will be no Palm Sunday breakfast and no service at the church.
We will continue to post updates and keep you informed
during these difficult times.
In the meantime, let's keep checking on each other. Let's keep connecting. Let's keep praying.
We'll get through this together.
Letter from Pastor Mark Jensen:
Dear St. John's members and friends,
It's unsettling that the early days of Lent have overlapped with the emergence of the coronavirus here in the United States. Like many of you, I have been following news reports and reading reliable sources for the latest information. One particularly good source is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
As you know, we have cancelled Sunday School and worship for this Sunday, March 15th. This decision was made by council who received a recommendation from our Safety Committee. Our Safety Committee met today to offer additional recommendations to the council on a policy to keep our church as safe and healthy as possible against the Coronavirus. These recommendations will be brought to council for approval and then shared with the congregation.
Some of these recommendations include having Holy Communion at the railing with individual cups for the time being. Having ushers hold the offering plates at the back of the sanctuary at the end of worship is another recommendation. Members could put offering in at that time. Also, no passing of the peace is recommended for now. The committee is also asking for additional hand sanitizer to have in each pew for worship. Currently, hand sanitizer is difficult to find.
With all that we are facing, its important to focus on what Jesus says are the two greatest commandments: to love God and love our neighbor. One way to love our neighbor is to do what we can to prevent the spread of this virus. That means doing all the things you've been hearing about on the news. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Avoid touching your face. If you are feeling sick or are medically vulnerable in some way, please stay home. Even if your are feeling fine, now is a good time to limit your travel and movement in the community.
We will be making a decision on holding worship from week to week. Sunday School is cancelled for 4 weeks. There will be cancellations for upcoming meetings and group gatherings in the next 2 weeks. Please look for other cancellations on our Facebook page, Website, 69 News, listed on our answering machine, and in our bulletin and newsletter.
As the people of God, we know that staying connected during these difficult days is important. Here are a couple of things we are doing to help everyone stay connected at St. John's. First, we ask that you take time between 10:15-11:15 when we would normally be worshiping together to pray. Please pray for our world as we continue to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. Pray for our leaders. Pray for the care of our earth. Pray for those who are ill.... This week we pray for Kady, Karen, Carl, Gail, Jerry, Jim, Matthew, Mary, Pastor Uhler, Cythia, Bob, Sara, Emma, Steven, Harold, Clarence, Charles, Larry, Donna, Myrl, Ricky, Harvey, Fiona, and Anna. As always, include prayers for healing for others not on this list.
Another way that we can stay connected is through the Bible and message for the week. I will be posting a copy of my sermon by Tuesday on Facebook along with the Gospel for this weekend. Take time to read and think about the message for the week.
You're also invited to mail or bring your offering to the church office this week. Our office is open from 8:30 a.m-1:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday.
We started Lent on Ash Wednesday with a reminder of our mortality, a fragility that feels especially true in this moment. We also remember that we are held by God in life and in death. Even in the midst of fear and uncertainty, there are opportunities to bear witness to God's love and grace. As L. Roger Owens wrote recently in the Christian Century:
"Grace frees us to ask, What doe this moment - this reality- require of me? For some the duty will be - indeed already is - to exist as patiently and lovingly as possible in quarantine. For others it will be to show up, sacrifice the inclination to self-preservation, and care for the sick. For many, the moment calls for listening to experts and preparing thoughtfully, making sure there's enough hand soap, peanut butter, and Cheez-Its on hand to endure a governmentally imposed staycation. But in the midst of that work, the duty of the moment calls for something else as well: loving reality, even in its vulnerability. Especially in its vulnerability."
The Church Council, Safety Committee and I will continue to monitor developments and make decisions about our life together as we move forward.
I trust each of you to make appropriate decisions regarding your health and safety. Please reach out to me if it would help to talk about this situation. We're learning new details all the time, and fear is a natural response. Together we will pray and persist, trusting that God is with us always and remains the ultimate source of hope.
Pastor Mark Jensen