August 12, 2020
Dear friends in Christ,
I want to give you an update from the church offices. We don’t get a chance to see each other as much as we might want, and with recent events, that time has become even more limited.
I wonder if all this points out how our lives have changed, and our moods as well. Some of us have become more entrenched in our homes, and trips to the grocery store or visits to friends, or larger gatherings are met with trepidation. Do you wonder, even as I do, if living in fear will be woven into our DNA? On the other hand there are those who seem capable of dismissing the warnings and moving forward as if all will be fine. These are not character flaws to be judged. They simply reflect how we are wired differently. It is what makes living together in community both challenging and joyful.
All this is to say that as a congregation, I hope we can follow a course that will offer a safe place where we celebrate God’s love among us. That has meant being fluid to the events as they arise. When a member of our congregation contracted COVID, we shut down our Sunday services. We hope to resume on September 6 with another outdoor Eucharist. We are monitoring how COVID is moving in the upper Midwest and the state of Wisconsin. As the numbers change, the vestry and I, together with the diocese and health department, will respond accordingly. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for all to keep up by reading your mail, or electronic mail.
Be it St John’s, or the many school districts, or other institutions in life, we all need to ask how we move forward. As a Church, we do not have the option to simply close down until it is over. We must continue to press on the Kingdom, we must continue to make Christ present for each other and the world. Maybe the traditional vehicles for doing this are not available, and that includes the regular Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. But we can and must pray together and find ways to open our arms to those who feel alone or lost in this time.
With that in mind, I am asking the vestry to reflect on how we build upon what we have done thus far during the COVID season. How do we use Zoom, Constant Contact, Websites, email, mailings through the Postal service to build a new culture for worshiping, fellowship, and stewardship of each other and our world? How do we encourage and engage all people in this journey of life and love? I ask you to consider this as well.
There is no map to all this. But there is a vision – to restore all people to unity with God and each other. To paraphrase Paul, nothing can keep us from doing this, not even COVID. With faith in God, love for all, and the imagination to find new ways to live and walk with God and each other, we can do this. Together!
August 1st, 2020
After much deliberation and prayer, and in conjunction with several church leaders, I have decided to cancel our Sunday services until September 6th. Weather permitting, we will have this service outside on the church lawn by the patio. Masks will be required and social distancing will be followed. We were notified on Friday night, July 31st that a member of our congregation tested positive for COVID-19. That person was self-quarantined but has now been cleared. I was tested for the virus on Thursday morning, August 6th and I am Covid-19 free.
We are taking these actions for several reasons. First, it provides the greatest level of safety to our members. We will have the entire church cleaned once more before we resume services. We will avoid physical contact for the time once more. Second, I believe it crucial to send a message that while offering Sunday services is desired and important, we will do everything in our power, and act with urgency, when confronted with this type of report. We are in this for the long haul.
The Sunday service online and on cable channels is still available, and you are encouraged to take advantage. Remember on Wednesday nights, we have Evening Prayer via Zoom, and on Sundays at 11 am we have coffee hour on Zoom as well.
Please keep each other in your prayers. If you need anything or have questions, please feel free to contact me by email or phone.
Yours in Christ,