March 17, 2020
Dear Peace family,
Following much time praying fervently to our merciful God, examining the guidelines and mandates issued by our government officials, and consulting with our church staff and other leadership, we have made the difficult and yet necessary decision to suspend all scheduled church events, meetings, and activities effective immediately through at least April 4. This includes all worship services, Bible studies, Sunday School classes, meetings, and other scheduled church activities. It also includes the classes, childcare, and activities of our Little Lambs Academy.
Notes regarding and related to this action:
1. My intent is to record services of Scripture readings, messages, and prayers, which can then be viewed online at the times of your choosing. Also, I am looking into doing a "live service time" on Sunday mornings, giving us the opportunity to share that time online together. We will share links to these online services via email, Facebook, and on our church website (peacelutheran.org) when they are made available. Also, we will be posting links to devotional and other material for individual and family use to help keep us rooted and fed by God's Word. We intend to mail printed service and other material to those who do not have computer/online access.
2. The temporary church office hours will be 9:00 am to 2:00 pm Monday through Thursday, effective immediately. The office will be closed on Fridays. If you need to contact me in an emergency, please call me on my cell phone (309-269-4295).
3. I will be available, by appointment, to offer the Lord's Supper at the church on an individual/family basis, if you desire to receive it as such. Please call the church office (262-679-1441), my cell phone (309-269-4295), or email me (email@example.com) to schedule a time to receive the Lord's Supper. In light of their vulnerability to the COVID-19 virus, communion visitation to our homebound has been suspended.
4. The publication of the April edition of Peace Notes has been postponed.
5. As I mentioned in this past Sunday's sermon (the audio of which is now posted on our website), we remain the "hands of Christ." Because of this, we are assembling a team to check in on the well-being of our Peace family members. This could involve such things as making phone calls, sending cards, running errands, and other offerings of love and service. If you are interested in serving as the hands of Christ in this way, please contact the church office by phone or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have additional ideas for serving God's people during this time, please let me know, and we can explore them. Creativity is indeed welcome!
On a personal note, in 24+ years of pastoral ministry, I have only had to cancel services three times prior--one Sunday due to a crippling ice storm and two separate midweek services due to snowstorms. The decision to cancel worship services, and even other church activities, ultimately was made in light of our Lord's directive to love and care for one another (John 13:34), after much prayer to God and discussion with my dear church staff members, with heartache and even a few tears. But our merciful God, who has promised one day to wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 7:17), is the same One who promises us that He will be with us all at all times, in all places, in all circumstances, no matter what they may be--even a serious, frightening virus pandemic.
"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'" (Isaiah 43:1-3)
In His love and mine,