CHURCH UPDATE - CORONAVIRUS
FAITH ELCA CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE - PLEASE READ BELOW
Dear friends - taking an abundance of caution to protect our commmunity during this pandeminc, all activities at Faith Lutheran Church, including our weekly worship, are suspended until April 1st and possibly longer. Please check our website frequently for updates. The peace of God be with you all.
Hello Faith Family,
As stated yesterday our Executive and Pastoral Teams continue to monitor the rapidly evolving situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. This morning we received notification from Bishop Deborah Hutterer recommending that all ELCA congregations of the Grand Canyon Synod suspend public worship gatherings, events and meetings beginning immediately until at least April 1, possibly longer.
Out of an abundance of caution we have made the difficult decision to follow her guidance. Effective immediately Faith Lutheran Church will be suspending all worship services, public gatherings, events, and meetings until April 1st or until further notice.
We urge you to call those who may not have email to inform them of this latest news. We will have a representative on campus tomorrow morning to notify any visitors that may arrive, or those who have not received the message.
Please continue to monitor your email and the church's social media pages for the latest updates. Please see the communication from Bishop Hutterer below.
Yours in Christ,
Saturday, March 14, 2020
To Pastors, Deacons and Congregational Councils of the Grand Canyon Synod
Having prayerfully considered our current situation with respect to COVID-19, in conversation with bishops from the wider church, and in light of the quickly evolving nature of this pandemic, I am recommending that all ELCA congregations in the Grand Canyon Synod, regardless of location or number of congregants, suspend public worship gatherings, events and meetings beginning immediately until at least April 1, possibly longer.
Our church polity doesn’t permit me to issue a mandate, this recommendation comes at my strongest possible urging in light of all current available information. I trust you as congregational leaders – pastors, staff and Council – to consult with one another as you make decisions and implement plans in your particular context.
You have heard me say that we are better together for the sake of the Gospel, and the way we can be better together with our local communities, our nation and our world is to reduce all possible risk of transmission of this virus about which we still know relatively little and which can be lethal for our most vulnerable citizens. We must act in solidarity for the sake of the neighbor. To think “this doesn’t apply to me and my community” does not take seriously enough our responsibility to the neighbor under these circumstances. I realize that some congregations already have plans to still gather this coming Sunday: if so, please take maximum care to ensure the safety of those most susceptible to this illness.
Let me be clear: this time of social distancing – or better said, physical distancing – does NOT mean we are suspending being the church! On the contrary, this means is that we become church in new ways. It’s ironic but true that the best of who we are as church has always flourished under adversity. How will this moment invite us to reframe who and why and how we are as Christ’s Body for the life of the world?
Here are some steps to take during this period:
- Plan ways to foster spiritual life and a sense of community that don’t involve being in the same physical space. This may be an opportunity to deepen relationships as we reach out to each other more intentionally and as we engage in a pause from our relentless pace to reflect on God’s presence with us in Christ.
- Be creative in planning for virtual/home worship experiences. In lieu of a service of Holy Communion, help reintroduce people to varieties of a Service of the Word. Consider a Lenten focus on prayer, fasting and self-reflection. Start thinking about how to frame a Holy Week experience that people can experience in their homes or what an Easter experience might include if we are not able to gather together.
- Rostered leaders can consider ways to share devotions or sermons online or through enews options.
- Consider how to provide care for vulnerable members and neighbors. What can be done to be sure that we as the church are tending to the needs of those most impacted by this crisis?
- Imagine new ways to be church for the life of the world in your context in this moment. If our times of worship have always been about equipping the saints for their ministry, how do we now unleash that potential?
Here are some ways the Office of the Bishop will support you:
- We will invite the Deans to weekly conference check-in ZOOM meetings both to receive updates from every congregation and to help problem solve. A member of the Office of the Bishop staff will participate in each ZOOM.
- We have a page on our website for resource sharing and idea exchanges, seeking to address particular issues as they arise.
- We may hold webinars to keep folks updated as this situation evolves.
In the midst of it all, we will care for one another, we will pray for one another, and we will be Christ’s Church.
May God grant us wisdom, and grant us courage for the facing of this hour,
The Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer, Bishop
Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA
1819 E. Morten Ave. Ste 100A
Phoenix, AZ 85020