“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant...” Philippians 2:4-7a
While we prepare for a tentative return to worship on the weekend of May 24th, your pastors, elders and church staff are guided by this principle: “O ur Shepherd is committed to providing safe, sustainable, spiritual and sacramental care in community.”
We recognize that there are as many opinions on how and when to reopen as there are people, maybe even more opinions than people, since our minds change so often in this uncertain climate. People, government officials and congregations are landing all over the map regarding when, where, and how to reopen. All the more reason for us to share how we are making decisions as we continue to SHARE LIFE WITH OUR SHEPHERD in a home-based fashion online and in-person.
We will follow the directives of the Governor and our local Health Department. We encourage all of our members to abide by the Governor’s current recommendations:
○ Those 65+ and those with underlying health conditions to follow Governor’s recommendations such as stay-at-home, opt for home based worship services, etc.
○ Expect and encourage use of face coverings
○ Encourage frequent hand washing and sanitizing ○ Encourage safe social distancing
○ Encourage no interpersonal contact
You can see the Governor’s R EVISED GUIDANCE FOR PLACES OF WORSHIP, to see measures Our Shepherd is taking to protect those who decide to come to in-person worship. For those who don’t feel safe returning to in-person worship, we will continue to provide weekly home-based worship on our YouTube channel.
Your pastors and church staff have been working very hard and putting in long hours to provide spiritual care through our home-based worship, study materials and community work. Driven by our love for you, our calling from God and the growing needs of our community-spiritual, emotional, financial, relational, physical-we recognize the need to focus on what’s most important.
As we make decisions, we are mindful of our responsibility. Recognizing our limitations, we intend to make decisions and put into place practices that are sustainable. Please pray not only for the work we do, but for God’s wisdom and discernment for your pastors, staff, elders and church leaders.
Thankfully, Christ is with us every step of our way. As we were reminded in worship last week, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,” Romans 10:8 Also, “ we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” Ephesians 4:15b Because of the abiding presence of Christ, and His Spirit working in our lives, we are confident of God using this time to grow each of us spiritually. We will continue to provide home-based discipleship materials for members and families to encourage your walk with the Lord. Facebook live Sunday School, small groups, and Theology Goes to the Movies will continue. We will not return to Sunday School or Bible studies at the church when in-person worship resumes.
The gift of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament is a special aspect of our Lutheran understanding, theology and practice. As we ease back into in person worship, we know this is a big motivation for many to come to worship. While the sacrament is important, it is not a requirement of faith. We respect everyone for their view on this matter. We are glad to offer communion to those who come to in-person worship and understand that many may stay away for some time, and that’s perfectly ok.
Those who return to in-person will notice many changes. Our schedule is different. We will ask members to RSVP for worship. Seating will be spaced for safe social distancing. As we continue to prepare, look for regular updates by email, mailings, and Facebook.
Here is our weekly in-person worship schedule beginning May 23:
Saturday 6:30 pm contemporary
Sunday 8:00 am traditional
Sunday 9:30 am contemporary
Sunday 11:00 am traditional
We prepare for our return to in-person worship thanking and praising God for His presence among us and love that transcends space and time. Please pray for your pastors, staff, elders and leaders as we continue to care for our community.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Daniel Lepley