March 13, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ!
I am writing you today to communicate recent decisions made by the Joy Lutheran church council based on recommendations from the office of the Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod of the ELCA.
Of course you have noticed the countless number of closures and cancellations throughout our local and national communities. There is a concerted effort to “socially distance” ourselves from each other during this uncertain time of viral fear. You may have seen the graph that indicates if we follow practices of protective measures we can potentially limit the impact of the virus so that our healthcare system will be able to offer a measured and reasonable response.
For us, as the People of God and followers of Jesus Christ, there are many things to take into consideration. First we are a community of faith. We know that even in our darkest hours of doubt and fear God is with us. We cannot allow the darkness to overcome the light. We know that Jesus is our constant hope and strength. And quite frankly we have been taught in God’s Word that nothing (not even a virus) can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. So whether we are here together as one or scattered throughout the earth, we are a community centered in Christ. Now and forever.
Secondly, as a community we are called to care for each and every member as best we can. As St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians we are one body. And when one member of the body suffers we all suffer. When one member of the body is in need or vulnerable, we are all in need and vulnerable. We are one. And we are called to care for each other.
And finally, you know with any big decision, we have sought out the guidance and the power of the Holy Spirit. I ask that you all continue to pray for leaders of our church and the whole church universal. Please ask God to give us wisdom, common sense, and most of all, a constant love that is centered in Christ.
All that to say, after prayerful consideration and much discussion, the church council has decided that we will be cancelling all worship services, actives, and events beginning Friday March 13th. This decision has not been taken lightly. The council president and many of our leaders have had sleepless nights. But the primary motivation is to protect and honor and love our community as best as we can. Please be kind and loving to our council members. And remember they are volunteers during an unforeseen difficult time.
Council will meet to assess the situation on Thursday March 26th.
There will be more information coming out in the days to come.
Joyful Mission Preschool will not be held on Friday March 13th and after the scheduled spring break the preschool will follow Douglas County School District schedule. If the schools are closed, the preschool will be closed.
The staff is meeting today to see how we can respond to the closure. We are working to create an alternative means of worship. We will be recording our weekend worship services, even though no one will be physically here. They will include music, a sermon, and prayers. Follow this link for the worship page: https://www.joylc.org/sermons. The worship will be posted by 10 am on Sunday. Of course, we can’t give communion through the computer, but Bishop Gonia suggests that we save communion for the moment we are reassembled as a community and can worship together.
We are thinking of ways to continue our midweek Lenten worships. It will be different, but we will try our best to honor God and feed our hungering hearts. If you have any great ideas to worship together, please feel free to contact me, email@example.com. We can all help to care for the spiritual needs of our community.
We are also turning to our Stewardship for All Seasons folks to help us understand and communicate about our offerings and giving during this time away. We know many of you may be facing financial challenges. Please understand that we respect and honor any decision you make. However part of our life together is sustaining the work we do here at Joy. More information will come from Stewardship for All Seasons and council.
There may also be physical needs during this time. We still want to love and care for all the people of God. So if you know someone who needs a contact from me or one of our care coordinators (Lois Tan and Sheryl Stenseth), please contact any of us. The email for the coordinators is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also you can contact me anytime through the church phone system. When you hear the message on the church voicemail, you can push 2 and that call will be routed to my cell phone during the closure. If I don’t answer, please leave a message.
And finally, I encourage you to think of creative ways that we can care for each other during this time. There may be people who could benefit from a shower of greeting cards. Someone may need groceries delivered to their door. Maybe someone you know needs to talk on the phone because they are lonely or afraid. What else? How can we be the community we want to be… the community God calls us to be… especially during this time?
A member of our church, Michele Templeman, sent me a bible verse she held onto during a difficult time in her life. It’s 2 Chronicles 20:12. “I do not know what to do, but my eyes are on You (Lord).” That about sums it up. We don’t know exactly what to do, other than what God has called us to do. Love and protect and care for the people God has given us.
So we will do that. We will do our best. We will love our God and each other.
As always, In Christ,