March 13, 2020 + 2nd Week of Lent
Dear People of Hope,
We wrote earlier this week about our response to the unfolding news of the coronavirus COVID-19. As you know well, it continues to unfold quickly. In times like this we can move to panic or fear, or we can lean into God’s love and wisdom, and the strength and power of Christ’s community. We’re opting for the latter. This has prompted our leaders to discern next steps for our congregation.
Heeding the guidance to practice social distancing, recognizing our responsibility to those who are most at risk and vulnerable, consulting with medical personnel in our community, seeking to contribute to the health of our congregation and the wider community, we will suspend in-person worship services (Sundays and Wednesdays) through April 1. At that time, we will reassess the situation. Ideally we’ll be together on Palm Sunday, April 5. In the near term, this Sunday, this includes cancelling our programming like both worship services, Sunday School, Sunday Forum, fellowship, musical rehearsals, Bible study, etc.
We are new to the world of online worship, but will experiment with sharing the service via Facebook and YouTube at 10:30am on Sunday. Additionally we’ll seek to post an adapted bulletin and ideally a YouTube link on our website. We’ll also try to record elements of the service and share CDs with some for whom these computer technologies aren’t as comfortable. If possible, try to join us virtually.
ULCH meetings, programs and gatherings will generally be postponed or will shift to electronic venues like Zoom audio/video calls through April 1. Connect with staff and leaders to learn more. PEASE Academy and our other building users will be alerted to our decisions and will have the space to make their own choices. This means that the church will be open less than usual; please call ahead. University Lutheran Church of Hope staff is working at church (612-331-5988) and at home. If you have a pastoral care concern of any sort, are feeling isolated or are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll also be seeking to find ways for people to support one another with phone calls and prayer. This is the time to connect. If you need to reach out to our staff and leaders, here is our contact information:
Pastor Jen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 612-227-9673
Pastor Barbara, email@example.com, 970-901-7189
Gayle Bidne, firstname.lastname@example.org, 763-213-7874
Zach Busch, email@example.com, 262-366-2489
Nick Tangen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-808-7067
Congregational President Tim Abrahamson, email@example.com, 612-414-3532
Congregational Past President Carol Flaten, firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-399-2421
The following activities are postponed: this weekend’s bread bake, Friday’s Crafters group, Saturday’s Dust and Beauty cleaning day, and Packs and Paddles at Central Lutheran. The Confirmation Mini Retreat will meet by Zoom.
We encourage you to continue being generous with your offerings and giving. For some this may mean sending in contributions, others choose to give online or through auto-withdrawal. Thank you.
The physical act of being together is vital for our souls, we know this. And, yet, we also know the resilience of community and the power of the Holy Spirit, particularly in challenging times, to draw us together in love even when we can’t be as physically present. Please hold in prayer those most vulnerable, our health care providers, our leaders at every level, many feeling the stress of adapting routines, students who are away, the homeless community, and one another–for we are Christ’s body, Christ’s hands and feet, Christ’s voice and heart.
In deep gratitude and Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Jen, Pastor Barbara, Zach, Nick, Gayle, Tim, and Carol
You can download our earlier statement from March 11th below