DUE TO RECOMMENDATIONS FROM OUR PRESIDENT TO LIMIT GATHERINGS TO UNDER 10 AND THE MANDATE OF OUR GOVERNOR TO LIMIT GATHERINGS TO UNDER 50 DUE TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS, THERE WILL BE NO PUBLIC CHURCH SERVICES, CLASSES, OR ACTIVITIES UNTIL AT LEAST APRIL 5th at 5:00 PM.
DESPITE THIS, “THE ONE DTHING NEEDED” REMAINS “THE ONE THING NEEDED"! PLEASE READ BELOW HOW WE PLAN TO CONTINUE THE MINISTRY OF WORD AND SACRAMENT DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES:
Dear members and friends of St. John,
The pastor, principal, president, and elders have consulted to address the recommendations issued by the President and CDC recommending we limit all gatherings to 10 or less people. While that is a federal recommendation, no doubt you have already heard that our governor has issued an executive order requiring that all gatherings to 50 or less people. The governor’s executive order lasts until April 5, 2020, at 5:00 pm.
While we did consider offering multiple worship services that would bring our gatherings to below 50, because of the recommendation of the President and the Centers for Disease Control to limit our gatherings to 10 or less, we have decided to cancel all public worship services, classes, and activities for at least 2 weeks. We pray that the public health strategies being implemented have worked to the point where we can resume our usual schedule soon.
From our WELS Conference of Presidents comes this reminder of the Scriptural principles involved in this situation:
- The Fourth and Fifth Commandments apply in a situation like this. We are to obey and respect the governing authorities as they carry out their God-given responsibilities, and we are to do all we can to protect our neighbors and keep them from harm.
- At the same time, the Third Commandment still also God certainly desires that Christian gather together regularly for worship.
- In limiting the size of worship gatherings, the government is not attempting to deny our freedom of religion. Rather, government authorities have issued mandates that they believe will protect citizens from harm.
- Since all of these biblical principles are valid, it is legitimate for our congregations to strive to comply with governmental regulations on the one hand and, on the other, to find alternate means to enable God’s people to be fed with Word and sacrament.
- Recognize that this is an extraordinary opportunity to let our light shine as congregations and their members look for ways to serve the people in their communities in Christian love.
While we are exercising care for our and our neighbor’s physical welfare, we certainly do not want to neglect our and our neighbor’s spiritual welfare, which is ultimately, most important. To that end, though we are unable to gather together, be assured the ministry of Word and Sacrament will continue at St. John congregation in the following ways:
- Pastor Mielke will be recording a service and sermon on video and this will posted on our Facebook page and website before Sunday morning.
- Copies of printed sermons and/or audio recordings on CD of the service will be available to those who prefer them.
- WELS Daily Devotions will be posted to our Facebook page daily.
- If the governor’s ban on gatherings over 50 is lifted, we may gather for a Palm Sunday service sometime the evening of Sunday, April 5.
- Please remember that your pastor remains available for private communion or other pastoral care. Please call him at 989-845-2600 or 989-845-5930.
- For the time being, by the governor’s executive order, visitation of persons in hospitals and other facilities is prohibited. A corrective change to the order allows pastors to serve those critically ill, but only those critically ill.
- Some of you have asked how to continue to bring your regular thank-offerings to the Lord to support His work through His church during this time
- You may mail them to the church (2290 Pretzer Road, Hemlock, MI 48626)
- You may use your bank or credit union’s “bill pay service” to have your offerings sent directly to the church. (There usually is no cost to you or the church for this service)
- You may bring them with you to God’s house when services resume.
- We are also looking into an online payment option, so stay posted for more information.
Hopefully, we have answered most of your questions, but if not, please don’t hesitate to call. Yes, there are hardships people are enduring, including us Christians who love to gather to worship, learn, and serve together. But as the people of God, the Church is more resilient than any epidemic/pandemic. The Church survived when churches had to close for a time during the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918, and it will survive the Covid-19 outbreak of 2020. Not even the gates of hell will overpower it (Matthew 16:18). Our God is still in control and still getting His saving work done despite this outbreak, and perhaps even through it. Just think what we have to offer a world so gripped in fear and worry and uncertainty: peace through Jesus, who is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:7). It is this never-changing Savior who gives us His never-changing promise: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives to I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid” (John 14:27), and then, the very next day died on the cross to reconcile us, sinners, with God and make it so. Look for opportunities to tell people what Jesus and His promises mean to you. Point them to our webpage and Facebook page and the resources that are there, or pick up an extra copy of a printed sermon for them to read!
Keep checking our webpage and Facebook page for updates! If you know of someone who doesn’t have access to these sources, please share the information with them.
In the Savior’s name and at His service,