Our response to COVID-19

Further changes will be announced in worship or on Facebook, via email, and in the newsletter.
Dear friends,
I’m going to get right to the point and list how we are responding to the threat of COVID-19. You should know by now from other sources that this is a very contagious virus. It is important for you to stay diligent in keeping your distance from others, washing your hands (for 20 seconds! try singing Happy Birthday twice or Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing), avoid touching your face, stay away from those who are sick, and stay home if you are sick, among other actions. Especially if you fall in the vulnerable population of older adults (elderly and those over 60!) and those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, please take extra precautions. The CDC website says that if COVID-19 hits our community, it could last for a long time. Please see the CDC website for more information. Symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing these symptoms, do not go to the hospital; call your doctor. 
Please remember that your prevention is not just for you, it is for the sake of the community. What you do yourself affects those around you! We are finding out just how true this is.
Here is a brief list of our steps at Lord of Life so far:
  • We have put together a Response Team (myself, Deacon Heidi, Jerry Ethridge (newly elected Council President), and Carla Lich (our Parish Nurse). We plan to meet regularly to assess our response as a congregation. If you have concerns, you may go to any of the team members. Please keep in mind that we are trying to make the best decisions with the resources and information we have. We know we are not going to please all people. It is clear already that some of you think we are not doing enough, and some of you think we are doing too much. That is just going to be how it is throughout this pandemic. We are trying to do the best we can.
  • We empower you to make choices for yourself! If you think we shouldn’t be doing what we are doing, then don’t come. Not because we don’t want to you here, but because you have agency to make choices for yourself. Be smart.
  • We have discontinued the meal on Wednesday. For now, you may bring your own and we can eat together, but we won’t serve food. 
  • At this time we will still have Wednesday Worship.
  • At this time we will still have Sunday Worship.
  • We will continue with not shaking hands and trying to reduce our contact with one another. For those that need the contact with others (like hugs), please ask people for permission before contacting them. Let’s not assume everyone wants to share germs. The CDC is asking us not to. 
  • We will continue to leave the baptismal font empty. 
  • We will continue to reuse bulletins and hymnals, but we will be having separate sets of copies for each service. It is thought the virus can last on some surfaces for up to 4 hours. That means by the next Sunday, they should be safe to use again. If you are uncomfortable with this, please take your own copy and try to remember to bring it back (we will also make new copies as needed).
  • We will have offering collection in one stationary place (how/where is yet to be determined).
    • This might be a great time to utilize our electronic giving, if you are not already! You can use it for recurring donations, or one-time. Sign up here or talk with Treasurer Rusty Morse.  http://www.thelordoflife.org/offering/
  • We will continue to have only bread (wafers) for Communion. I know not having the wine/juice is upsetting for some of you. Theologically it is not problematic, as we believe Christ is fully present in both kinds – bread and wine. It is still a full meal with all the benefits and gifts. Wine itself as an element is not the problem; it is that any kind of distribution of it carries risk because there is no way to distribute without guaranteeing that we won’t touch each other or touch something someone else has touched. Deacon Heidi and I have spoken about this at length. I am unwilling to take what I feel is an unnecessary risk within our Communion meal. You can disagree with me, and that’s okay. Please know that I do not prefer it this way, nor am I happy about this, but this decision is made in the hopes of protecting you, our people.
  • At this time we are leaving it up to each group’s discretion for whether or not to meet. Some groups have decided to keep meeting with some changes. Others have cancelled meetings. Once again, you have agency to skip out if you do not feel comfortable participating, for your own safety or on behalf of others. 
Some people have asked about having our worship broadcast online. Having audio or video of our services has been on my radar since early on in my time here. The problem is that it is not as easy as it seems. There are formatting and technology issues, as well as copyright issues when it comes to broadcasting music. And a bigger issue of having someone else handle all of those things, including posting, etc. However, a letter came out this week from ELCA churchwide with instructions on how to stream our worship. We are going to attempt to use Facebook Live on Sunday for broadcasting our readings and sermon (doing only this avoids the copyright stuff; though we will have to mute during the Gospel Acclamation). We have no idea how this will go (it might be terrible!), but we want the experiment so we can decide if we will try it again as the virus threat continues. Please feel free to send us your feedback after Sunday. I believe the video will stay up for a while after we have recorded it.
We will also continue to post our sermon transcripts on the website (you can access them through each of our blogs – www.thelordoflife.org). I will add a link on the homepage to the most recent ones so they are easier to find. 
We spoke about many of these things at our Council meeting last Tuesday. We did not come up with a game plan together. Some of this was in place before that meeting; the rest has come into play since. (And a side note, we elected our new officers on Tuesday. Congrats to our new team! President Jerry Ethridge, Vice President Tim Mraz, Secretary Tony Vader)
Should you discover that you have been in contact with someone who is infected, please stay home. If you or anyone in your household or regular contacts become ill, please stay home. The incubation period may be as long as 24 days, which is what makes this so difficult.

This conversation is ever-evolving. We are trying to be smart and proactive, not just reactive. I know that some of you will complain that we are doing too much, and some will complain we are not doing enough. That is a reality of life for centuries (we heard about the Israelites complaints in the wilderness today in Exodus 17!). Please know that we are doing the best we can in our attempts to protect you. Please actively work to protect yourself and, in doing that, protect the vulnerable in our community.
Pastor Kirsten