Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Dear friends in Christ:
As discussions continue across the globe and especially throughout our nation as to how best to handle the current threat of the COVID-19 virus, we have been busy with discussions at our congregation as well. As always, we continue to place our hope and our trust not in our own efforts to save or to heal, and not in any human effort to divert disaster. Instead we place our hope and trust in our God and Savior who has rescued us in Christ and delivered us from every disease just as he promised, whether in this life or in the life to come (Psalm 103:3). May God strengthen us as we face the weeks and months ahead. May he continue to keep us safe as we pray for our nation and our loved ones, for our leaders and our government, and for those who put themselves in harm’s way simply out of love for their neighbor. God be praised for all that he does in these difficult times, and for all that he does through us.
Yesterday evening, and again this morning and afternoon, our Board of Directors met to consider what steps we would take at our congregation to ensure our members’ safety and how best to proclaim the Word on a regular basis, as Scripture directs us to do. First and foremost, we want you to know that we recognize how fluid the situation is as our president, our governor, and our local officials guide us and make recommendations and various mandates. We will continue to monitor the situation as a Board on a daily basis, and we will continue to update our members regarding any long-term decisions that are made. The Scriptural principles that our leaders are wrestling with are love for the neighbor to help them bodily and spiritually, honor and obedience to the governing authorities whom God has established, and reverence and devotion for the Word and Sacraments which Christ has given us to gather around.
Keeping all of these principles in mind, and in light of the recent decisions by our governing officials, we have decided to suspend all local events and services at Grace over the next two weeks. The Board of Directors will continue to monitor the situation, discuss our congregation’s role in our community, and meet again the week of March 30th
to re-evaluate and make decisions regarding Holy Week worship. In lieu of local services, we will post supplemental devotions and sermons; please look for those on our website at www.gracepdc.net
, under the tab “Learning Opportunities/Sermons & Bulletins.” For other livestreaming services around our synod, please visit yearbook.wels.net/streaming. Catechism materials will be sent out to instruct our students at home during these coming weeks.
Our main concern is for the spiritual welfare of our members, as well as for their physical safety, as we honor the third commandment and the fifth commandment together. If you need pastoral counseling during these times, please call Pastor Naumann at (608)-306-1011. He will also try to keep office hours on Wednesdays and Sunday mornings, or would be happy to arrange an in-home visit and devotion. If a communicant member desires the Lord’s Supper, private Communion for members is also available. However we can best serve you with the Word, that is what we want to do.
During these difficult times, we are led by the Psalmist to confess, “My times are in your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant. Save me in your mercy” (Psalm 31:15-16).
With that confession in mind, we join the hymnist in saying, “My God will never leave me, And I will not leave him; A light my God will give me In pathways dark and grim. He reaches out his hand, His mighty power sharing, My burdens ever bearing Wherever I may stand” (Christian Worship 418, stanza 1).
God be with us all.
Pastor Naumann & Board of Directors
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Dear friends in Christ:
During these uncertain times, we want to encourage everyone with the good news of the gospel as well as make a few announcements regarding schedules at Grace. As God directs in Scripture, we are praying for our local, national, and global government and leaders. We are praying for those both directly and indirectly affected by the Covid-19 virus. As we consider the changes to our social lives, we especially want to respect and keep safe those who are at higher risks for serious medical complications. We trust that our Lord and Savior who won our salvation will also take care of our physical needs. While these temporary social changes may alter our Lent and Easter celebrations this year, they can never change the outcome of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We praise the God of our salvation, and our hope is in him.
As we seek to keep our church and communities safe during this time of crisis, we also want to make our place of worship a place where we can gather for comfort and strength from God’s Word and Sacrament, and we hope that we can continue to proclaim sins forgiven in Christ to as many as are able to come. That being said, please note the following announcements:
- For the foreseeable future, we plan on continue our Sunday morning worship at 9 am. If there are any changes to this, we will let the community know as quickly as possible.
- We encourage everyone, members and non-members, to use common sense about attendance. While we want as many in worship as possible, we also want you and others to feel safe about gathering for worship. If you are sick or showing symptoms of any virus, we strongly encourage you to stay home and hear the Word of God through devotions and online resources by our church or our church body.
- To assist those who are unable to attend, we will do our best to post bulletins, sermons, and audio content as we are able. Please check our website regularly for such updates and content.
We will also make a few smaller, temporary changes to our worship service to help ease any uncertainty about attending:
- We will no longer pass the offering plate around so as not to pass germs. Instead we will simply gather the offering on the back table as you walk in.
- We will not offer the common cup for communion, but only the individual cup until further notice.
- The pastor will simply offer a greeting to people as they enter worship and leave worship instead of offering a handshake to as to limit contact and spreading of any germs.
On the evening of Monday, March 16th
, our Board of Directors will meet and discuss what other changes, if any, ought to be made, including any scheduling changes moving forward. For midweek events such as Wednesday evening Lent worship, Bible classes, and catechism class, assume they are still on unless you hear otherwise. We will again make any announcements as quickly and broadly as possible.
We thank you again for your cooperation, and in all things we trust our loving God who promises to be with his people no matter what they face. Our eternity is secure in Christ, and our salvation is won. God bless us in Christ.