Return of Worship Gatherings in the Sanctuary
We are excited to announce that council at their August meeting voted to resume worship gatherings in the sanctuary starting, September 13th! Under the current guidelines by the governor we can have 25 people in the sanctuary at one time. If we have more than 25 people who wish to attend the 10:15 service we will offer a second service at 8:30 AM.
If you plan to attend worship please sign up through the office by the Friday before the Sunday service.
Before signing up please review the recommendations that council approved for in worship gatherings in this month’s newsletter.
Announcement about our
September 30, 2020
Karen Hamm, who is our Safety Committee Chair Person made several suggestions regarding changes to our current worship recommendations following our first worship gathering in the sanctuary on September 13th.
Council discussed her recommendations at its meeting on the 28th. As part of our discussion we also talked about our insurance, CDC guide lines, state guidelines for indoor gatherings, worship guidelines from the synod, and an article from Betsy Morgans.
Here is what the council decided.
1. We are going to allow people to softly speak the congregational parts during worship.
2. The recommendation for no congregational singing will stay in place.
3. We are going to offer Saturday night worship beginning in November. People need to sign up by the Thursday before.
4. We are going to continue to stay with 25 people per worship service.
5. Next month the council will discuss whether or not the pastor, organist, sound people, and the ushers are to be counted as part of the 25 people for worship.
6. We are going to let people sit together if they are part of the same "social bubble,” or “pod." People need to let us know when they sign up for worship that they wish to sit together.
7. All other recommendations such as social distancing, and wearing masks are still in place.
Council will continue to review the worship recommendations at their meetings.
ELCA World Hunger Zoom Virtual Event
September 24, 2020 @ 7:00 PM CT
Click HERE for more information and registration!
Below are helpful resources for anyone who needs help during this difficult time:
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