To our St. Peter’s Family,
The pastoral and administrative staff of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, along with the unanimous support of the church council, have come to the difficult but necessary decision to suspend in-person worship services, classes, and activities including Wednesday evening Lenten services and our three Sunday worship services for the remainder of the month of March.
The Ten Commandments are summed up by Christ in Mark 12 when He says, “The most important is this…’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31). A large subsection of our membership falls into the high-risk population identified by the CDC and while we know of no confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst our members, it is our responsibility as members of this community, as we fulfill our calling to love our neighbor, to do our part to limit the risk of spread and exposure. During this temporary adjustment to our services, our pastors will be offering a video-recorded worship service for our Wednesday night and Sunday services. The recordings will be released via email, social media, and on our St. Peter’s website during the normal worship time. For example, the Lenten service with drama recording will be available Wednesday afternoon and Sunday service will be available Sunday morning.
As a staff and church council we can say with certainty the decision to suspend in-person gatherings is in the best interest of our congregation and community. The current CDC guidelines recommends the cancelation or postponement of gatherings of 50 people or more and the White House is recommending gatherings be limited to no more than 10 people. We deeply value each member of our church and we strive to take the necessary precautions to keep you safe. We pray that these changes are temporary and that members and visitors of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church can gather in fellowship, worship, and praise very soon.
Below is a list of upcoming activities on the church calendar and their current status, the information below is subject to change. The staff will continue to communicate with the congregation regarding events, activities and scheduling changes. We are also including a list of online resources that will help you stay connected with St. Peter’s during this time of adjustment.
· Monday afternoon Coffee & Qs – suspended through the remainder of March
· Monday evening crafters – suspended through the remainder of March
· Tuesday morning men’s bible study at Denny’s – suspended through the remainder of March
· Tuesday morning Service Circle – suspended through the remainder of March
· Tuesday evening GriefShare – the spring session is canceled, meetings will resume in the fall
· Wednesday Soup & Salad Suppers – canceled for the remaining Lenten season
· Wednesday evening Lenten Service with drama – In-person service is suspended through the remainder of March, a modified worship service with drama will be available via video recording
· Wednesday evening Young Adults - suspended through the remainder of March
· Thursday evening adult choir rehearsal – suspended through the remainder of March
· Friday evening volleyball - suspended through the remainder of March
· Speak the Truth Conference on Apologetics March 20 & 21 – postponed, date TBD
· Sunday worship services (8:30am, 11:00am, 6:00pm) - In-person service is suspended through the remainder of March, a modified worship service will be available via video recording
· Sunday classes (Adult, WOL, children, and youth Sunday School; confirmation classes; coffee connection; nursery) - suspended through the remainder of March
· Son-Shine & Purest Praise rehearsal March 18 – canceled
· WOL Bible Study March 24 - canceled
· SHARE Brunch March 28 – canceled
· Seder Dinner April 5 – canceled, the pastors are discussing ways to offer a recorded Seder service, more details to come
Online Giving – Tithes & Offerings – Offerings can also be mailed or dropped off to the office
Pastor Ishimaru’s contact information – 303-261-7144 & firstname.lastname@example.org
Pastor Dapelo’s contact information – 319-883-2550 & email@example.com
Rachel Shewmaker’s contact information – 916-689-7300 & firstname.lastname@example.org
We are very aware that this entire situation is constantly changing and the recommendations from governing agencies, health organizations, and medical professionals are being released daily. The staff and members of council will meet (via email, phone, virtually) frequently to evaluate and reassess. We are committed to keeping our congregation protected and healthy and we thank you for your cooperation in this effort. Our member care team is making extra efforts to reach out and offer assistance to those in our congregation who are especially at-risk, vulnerable, or who are staying indoors to keep themselves healthy. Again, the Scriptures call us to help and support our neighbor and support them in their time of need. St. Paul reminds us in Galatians that “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:13), and that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
We are reminded of Luther’s words when dealing with the Black Death plague. He said: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 43, pg. 132).
Let us pray:
Almighty God, heavenly Father, have mercy on us in these uncertain times. Grant us faith and trust in You during this epidemic. Grant relief to those who suffer, and comfort all who mourn. Provide wisdom for our government and community leaders to do what is needful for the good of all. Sustain all medical personnel, that they would be Your healing hands for those who are sick. And cover Your Church with Your grace. Remind us “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love God in Christ Jesu our Lord.” And stir up our hearts to love and serve our neighbors in this difficult time. Help us to be careful and helpful, and turn our hearts daily to You in prayer, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, to whom all glory, power, and dominion belong. Into Your hands we commend ourselves, our body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with us, that the evil foe may have no power over us. Amen.
If you have any questions at all, please email or call Pastor Ishimaru, Pastor Dapelo, or Rachel Shewmaker.