June 21, 2020
Dear siblings in Christ,
Grace and peace to you from our Redeemer! To be physically together again is what we crave. I can’t help but think of that line, “don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” We will see that day again, and we will take another photo to commemorate the joy that I’m sure will be quite manifest.
So, why are we not resuming in-person, indoor worship? Businesses have been opening up. We can eat at restaurants again. Gov Walz says we can resume at 50% capacity. So why the wait? Well for a few reasons.
One: the mountain of information the subcommittee (Connie Miller, Lon Christianson, Orin Jensen and myself) has been pouring through has brought of number of things to our attention. For instance, the time factor. The longer a person is in the vicinity of another, the greater the risk to exposure. So passing by someone in an aisle at a store poses less of a risk compared to an hour in a sanctuary. Another example, indoor versus outdoor. According to Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, an American infectious disease epidemiologist, regents professor, and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, the aerosols, which is how the virus is being spread, disperse more quickly outside, whereas indoors they can hang in the air for a longer period of time. If there is not a good ventilation system in a building, such as HVAC, again you are increasing the danger. Our Bishop was one among many that attended a Zoom presentation on May 5 in which Dr. Osterholm spoke about COVID. This is what he shared from the doctor:
“He stressed the long-term nature of this global health crisis and the importance of our taking steps to mitigate the rapid spread of the virus. He stressed that “we live in virus time and the virus will continue to seek out and attach to humans.” Today it is the number one cause of death in the USA, surpassing for example cancer and heart disease. Aerosol spreading through coughing, sneezing, talking, singing is the deadliest form of transmission. If you could use a glow light to see the particles in a room where people were in, even hours after you would be very surprised at the aerosol particles left there. We have to really think carefully before bringing people together in rooms, even with physical distancing and no touch, such as the choir members in a church in Seattle.”
Here is a recent interview with Dr. Osterholm:
We are working on trying to assemble what we would need for outdoor worship, but it is taking time. We do not have a portable sound system and FM transmitters are on back order. We would need one or the other because otherwise no one would be able to hear the service that well, and for some likely not at all due to wind and being near the highway.
Two: worship indoors would not be as it had been before. Starting out, we would not have communion. We would not be able to sing. There would be no fellowship time. We would have to maintain at all times a 6-foot physical distance from everyone who is not from our own household. And of course, those who are high risk as defined by the CDC (so anyone over the age of 65, anyone with underlying health conditions, anyone who is sick or a combination of any of those factors) is asked to stay home to keep themselves and others safer. This is 85% or so of our congregation. This is in addition to the requirement to wear masks the entire time.
Three: News reports and anecdotes from across the country also give us pause. For example, very recently, after resuming in-person worship, a priest in Owatonna tested positive for it and so two churches had to cancel mass for the time being. As you may have heard, cases in Texas, Florida and Arizona have skyrocketed in the last 3-4 weeks, and some additional states have also seen increasing case counts. A colleague recently shared that her sister, who lives in Yuma, AZ has come down with an infection after a major surgery and one of the hospitals has 1,000 patients and are at capacity. They cannot admit any more people. So people need to find another hospital. And in talking with other faith leaders in the Bemidji area as well as in our conference, most congregations are waiting to resume in-person, indoor worship and are continuing to creatively offer worship in other forms.
Four: We have been keeping track of cases regionally, Cass, Hubbard and Beltrami counties, and across the state. We continue to see an increase. In Beltrami county alone, in a 7-day period it went from 15 to 21 cases. We live in rural communities. Our hospital capacity is even less than urban areas, and yet we live in a resort area where people are coming for anywhere from a weekend to the whole summer. The numbers will only continue to rise, and it’s difficult to say how badly those spikes will end up being and if our hospitals will end up being overwhelmed.
We know it’s been hard. We know there is a great yearning to return to the building. But we also want to be safe. We see what we are doing as loving our neighbor and trying our best to care for one another. Not just those who are part of our congregational life and mission, but our neighbors who are frontline workers as well.
We ask for your continued partnership in being patient and prayerful alongside us. And that together, we lean into the One who breathed life into dust, who died and rose for us and all of creation, and who daily empowers us for worship and service.
SUNDAY WORSHIP 10:30 AM
SUNDAY SCHOOL 9:30-10:15 AM (During the school year) TLC is continuing to suspend in-person worship, but is still offering e-worship which can be found under the Ministry drop-down menu along the top. (Please see 6/16 News Update below for more details.)
Secretarial Office Hours are Monday, Thursday & Friday: 9 am - 12 Noon. If you need immediate pastoral care call Pr Amanda at 751-2841.
Our aim is to have E-Worship available by the usual time we would worship in person, however, if you don't find it by 10:30 am Sun, please check back later.
7/2/20 NEWS UPDATE
July 5 & 12 Worship Opportunities
Since Pr Amanda will be on vacation July 5 & 12, you are invited to worship with other local congregations. Below are a couple of options.
1) Hope LC, Walker: You can access YouTube worship video links at https://hopelutheranchurch-walker.com/ on the homepage, or at 8:30 am on Sun you can livestream it from your computer or smartphone at leechlaketv.org or watch it on channel 21.5 from your TV.
2) First LC, Bemidji: two options
a. You can access YouTube worship videos any time after 8:30 am on Sun from http://www.flcbemidji.org/. Scroll down to the middle of the home page to find the link (you don't have to subscribe to watch). Or you can listen live at 8:30 am from one of these stations: 94.3 fm, 1300 am, Paul Bunyan TV
951 (to listen thru the TV) or Paul Bunyan Fusion 1051.
b. You can check out the 10 am drive-in worship @ the Bemidji fairgrounds and listen through your car radio (a number of local ELCA clergy take turns leading this service).
6/29/20 News Update:
WELCA Bible Study, Men's Breakfast, and Crafters, are invited to start meeting again beginning July 1, if you so desire, while following these guidelines: inform the TLC Office (335-8899 or email@example.com) at least 3 days beforehand (date, time, and room you'll be using), maintain a 6-ft physical distance, wear face masks, frequently wash/sanitize your hands, stay home if you are feeling ill, and keep track of who attends so if anyone ends up testing positive, others can be promptly informed. Thank you!
6/16/20 News Update:
Grace and peace to you from God our Savior!
The subcommittee met this past Sun June 14 to determine whether we will resume in-person, in-door worship on the 21st. Due to continued concerns about safety and in consultation with other Rostered Leaders, we have decided to wait to resume in-person, in-door worship. We are in the process of looking into obtaining an FM transmitter for outdoor worship in the parking lot, but that will take some time, so we are looking at potentially the end of July/beginning of Aug. We will continue to offer e-worship during this time.
We know it has been tough and that you want to gather. So, we are inviting you to join one of three small groups. You would bring your own chair, wear a mask, and would meet with others outside the church building. We are aiming for these to begin next week, Wed June 24 at 4 pm, then each group can decide from there the day and time that best fits them. Each group will be limited to 10 people or less. We are asking that you please sign-up beforehand. One group will be a free-form type where the group itself will decide what the content will be, or perhaps it will just be a time to gather and visit with no structure or specific topic, another group will focus on finding gratitude and joy during this time, and the third will carry a devotional emphasis. If interested, contact Pr Amanda via email, FB or phone call. We are hoping that these small groups can be a way of feeding that need without compromising safety too much. A more extensive letter about the information that we've been basing our decisions on will be coming out later. Thank you!
4/24/20: Weekly devotions and E-Worship can be found under the "Ministry" tab along the top.
As the church, it is absolutely vital that we still worship and receive the gift of God's word, especially in times such as this. And as the church, we are called to serve. In concern, particularly for the most vulnerable and those who are affected by closures, we continue considering ways we can still share God's abundant and healing grace with our neighbors.
Let us pray: (Intercessory Prayer in exceptional times provided by Lutheran World Federation)
In times of restraint and physical distancing, when the body of Christ cannot meet in one place, we gather through the Holy Spirit in our many different places – house, apartment, room – and call out to you. Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
Give courage and wisdom to national governments and local authorities to enforce public health regulations for the welfare of all and increase efforts to stop the spread of the virus that affects every human being. Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
Breathe a spirit of love and self-discipline into your church that it continually promote and protect regulations and restrictions for the well-being of all. Strengthen our witness to embody examples of compassionate self-restraint. Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
God, have mercy! Heal the sick, strengthen the elderly and vulnerable, protect all from the spread of COVID-19. Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
God, have mercy! Support and protect all health care workers and all who serve the sick and those at high risk of infection. We remember in particular refugees and those serving them today. Reinforce all agencies that support public health. Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
God, have mercy! Comfort and uplift those who are alone, isolated, oppressed by solitude and anxiety. Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
God, have mercy on the whole human family and on your creation, especially hear our specific prayers that are now spoken out loud or in the silence of our hearts (…) Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
Fill each and every heart with that trust in your grace that frees us and binds us together in communion in the one body of your son, Jesus Christ. Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
Send your Holy Spirit. Renew your church in its prayer and in solidarity with all its neighbors. Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
Remember in your mercy all those who have died and will die today. [pause] Hear our cry, O God, Listen to our prayer.
Trusting in your great compassion and unconditional promise always to be with us, we pray. Amen.
Trinity Lutheran Church
PO BOX 788
6810 Hwy 2 West
Cass Lake, MN 56633
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