Dear Siblings in Christ,
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
These are interesting and, for most if not all of us, unprecedented times in which we are living. Now more than ever we need the hope and the promise of resurrection Christ gives. There has been much confusion, fear, minimizing of risk as well as inflating risk in our media, from our leaders, and within our own hearts and minds. The corona virus is now a pandemic and most of us have never encountered anything like this.
St. Paul reminds us that “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” Love and self-discipline are the most helpful tools we ordinary folks have at our disposal. There is not a reason to panic or overreact, but we do need to be sensible and look out for one another.
After prayerful consideration, and the urging from Bishop Gonia, the Council and I have determined that the best way to love our neighbors is to temporarily suspend all activities at Shepherd of the Hills until April 1. This includes worship services, education, ministry teams, and fellowship groups, and all outside groups that use our space. The decision was not an easy one, but we feel that this is the best way to protect the elderly and others at risk in our congregation and in the greater community. The Council will reconvene on April 1 to discern whether to return to regular activities. We will keep you posted at that time. Because of the short notice and people already here from out of state, we will hold Bob Dauel’s memorial service as planned.
BUT, the church will continue to function because you are the church. Church is not a building we come to, it is who we are. This is also an opportunity for drawing closer to our family members as well as an opportunity to expand our vision about what it is to be the church.
During this time of “physical distancing” we can still keep in touch by phone, email, social media. We can look after our neighbors who are at risk of severe consequences of this virus and everything else that is going around. We can offer to shop and run errands for the vulnerable members and our neighbors. I have heard the suggestion to purchase gift certificates to small businesses that might be missing out on revenue during this time of less public activity so that they will be able to serve. There are lots of other ways we can support one another and be stronger for it.
For those who have access to internet I will record sermons and post them on our website as well as some weekly devotional activities for home worship. I will still be available by phone or email, but think it is best that I not make home visits for the rest of the month except in extreme situations.
The business of the church will continue by the staff, however, the church will remain locked for your safety as well as that of our staff. For those of you who choose to give financially on a weekly basis, we encourage you to mail your gifts. We will also look into offering more ways to give online in addition to electronic transfers through your bank.
When this distancing period is lifted we will have a celebration to mark our coming together again for worship, details will come as we get closer to that time! I look forward to that day and will continue to hold you all in prayer.
Your Sister in Christ,
Pastor Chris Hjelmstad
Church services cancelled until April 18.
This includes worship services, education, ministry teams, and fellowship groups, and all outside groups that use our space