March 13, 2020
Dear Good Shepherd Lutheran Congregation,
As you know, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are writing this letter to inform the congregation how we are addressing the current situation. Please be aware that the situation is very fluid, and our actions and decisions are subject to change. The LCMS has published some useful information to help congregations at this time at https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/resource-helps-congregations-plan-for-widespread-illnesses/
First of all, our priority is the spiritual well-being of everyone in the congregation. At these times, remember to make time for prayer and devotional life. Also make time to hear and read the Word of God wherever it would be available safely to you, particularly at home if leaving the house is not an option. Pray that God would be merciful to us, keep us safe, and allow us to serve one another where possible.
Secondly, we also prioritize the physical well-being of everyone in the congregation. The government and health officials have put out recommendations that we should follow, and they will continue to recommend actions as the pandemic progresses. As of now (Friday morning),
the Sangamon County Department of Public Health is recommending against indoor gatherings of 250 people or more. These recommendations may change, as they possibly could reduce the number of people who meet together in one place. If necessary, we will adjust public worship schedule accordingly. We will monitor closely the government regulations regarding public gatherings.
During this time, communication is key. Diane is sending emails to many of you. We have a congregation Facebook page with about 250 followers. If you are not receiving these, please check with the church office to receive them. If you know someone who doesn’t receive the updates, please communicate with them.
To stop the spread of disease, we will not be shaking hands with each other. A friendly nod or wave is sufficient. We will have soap and sanitizer around the church so that everyone can keep clean hands. In consideration of other members, please stay at home if you have a cough or are otherwise sick. We do not want to spread disease in the congregation, especially if we have members who are elderly or immune-compromised. Similarly, someone who wants to avoid crowds and exposure to contagions should avoid church for the time being. Some of our extra activities at Good Shepherd will be temporarily suspended. One of these activities is the Mid-Month Meal for March 15, which will be suspended. Other activities that are suspended will be communicated accordingly.
There are several alternatives to Sunday morning worship if you are unable to go. Worship Anew is a Lutheran service broadcast at 7:30am Sunday on WCIX 49 or
https://worshipanew.org . The Lutheran Hour ( https://www.lhm.org/ ) broadcasts on the schedule below:
WLLM 105.3FM Sun 7:00 AM, WLLM 105.3 FM Sun 7:00 PM. WLUJ 89.7 FM Sun 1:00 PM,
WTIM 870 AM Sun 7:30 AM. WTIM 96.1 FM Sun 7:30 AM
We will continue with serving Communion during worship service, both chalice and individual cup. While there may be concerns with the chalice regarding possible contagions, there hasn’t been any evidence to show that the chalice is unsafe. However, please act according to your best judgment and conscience with regards to Communion. If you feel uncomfortable or wish to refrain from the Sacrament for a short while, that would be fine. We are considering ways to help out members of the congregation who are in need of groceries and supplies if they are unable to go to the store. This could help those whose health would be
compromised by infection as well as those who may be quarantined or under observation and unable to leave their house for an extended period. The details of this plan are still being worked out, trying to balance the need, the available help, and the safety of everyone involved. The pastors will be able to visit with the sick as their time allows, although some of the sick may be quarantined. Please be aware that the pastors themselves could be sick during this time.
We have two pastors, so that allows us a little leeway as far as having backup. However, it’s possible that one or both of the pastors may be unavailable for a given Sunday. In that case, it would be possible for elders to lead a service of the word with hymns. Our pastors may also be called on to help other congregations whose pastors may be unavailable.
Please feel free to reach out to the pastors, elders, leadership, or the church office with any questions or concerns. We will do what we can to keep everyone in communication.
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
The Peace of Christ be with you during these trying times,
The Pastors and Elders of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Sherman, IL