Summer Covid-19 Plan

In conversation with recommendations from the synod, the state, our insurance company, an excellent video by Dr. Osterholm, and members of First Lutheran we offer the following plan for our ministry this summer. We hold in tension the priorities of health, spiritual nourishment, and the mission to equip our members to be fully committed followers of Jesus. While this is our plan, we recognize that facts on the ground may change and so we reserve the right to adapt to meet new challenges. Our primary motivation continues to be the greatest commandment given to us by our Lord Jesus, that we would love one another as Christ has loved us.

This virus is deadly. It is now the number one cause of death in the United States. It is spread primarily through aerosols (think the dust particles you see when sunlight streams through a window). The most dangerous place to be is indoors with a crowd of people. Masks, handwashing, and physical distancing are the best ways to prevent infection. With all that in mind your council, pastors and staff have developed the following plan for the summer. We recognize that summer may be a lull in the virus’s spread and that the fall may lead to increases that will require us to adjust our plan accordingly.

  1. We will hold a monthly outdoor communion service.
    a. Wednesday – June 17, July 15 & August 12 , 9 am, 12 pm & 6 pm
    b. It is possible to hold 100 people socially distanced on the south two sections of the front lawn. The service will be very short: a reading a word, prayers, some music, and holy communion. (30 minute service +distribution).
    c. This is an experiment.
    d. Masks will be required; chairs will be set up following physical distancing requirements.
    e. Those who are sick or particularly vulnerable should not attend.
    f. If the weather is unsuitable, we will reschedule.
    g. Please let us know that you plan to attend either via the connection card or a phone call to the church office, so we know how many to set up for.
  2. We will open our building to 12-step groups. We will require that they wear masks and maintain physical distancing as well as sanitize the room upon their departure. Most 12-step groups will meet in Luther Hall.
  3. Small church groups of ten or fewer are welcome to resume meeting in the church building.
    a. One group per level of the building may meet at a time – Gathering Place and Fireside Room for instance.
    b. No card groups may meet; they are not able to socially distance and the shared cards create a possibility for contamination and spread.
    c. All groups shall wear masks and socially distance.
    d. The leader of the group will write down names and phone numbers to assist with contact tracing in case that becomes necessary.
    e. The church will not provide coffee service; no shared food or drinks in groups are permitted.
    f. Groups will be asked to sanitize upon leaving, and supplies will be made available.
    g. Members of the group will be asked to wear masks, remain six feet apart, and sanitize the room before leaving.
    h. Groups larger than 10 may meet outdoors with permission of pastors.
  4. We will continue to provide online Sunday worship services in lieu of physically gathering for worship on Sundays. We are following the Synod recommendation to refrain until at least August 31st. Council will continue to monitor conditions and evaluate our response.
  5. Summer Online Sunday School
    a. Begins on June 7th and will continue through August 16th
    b. All classes (K-12) will follow the summer sermon series.
    c. Pastors will create a “Questions/Prompts for the Home” to go with the message and reading for that day. Youth staff could also create a craft or project to do at home.
    d. Elementary Sunday School classes will meet via Zoom on Sundays at 10 am, 11 am, and 6 pm. Middle School Youth Group meets at 4 pm and High School at 5 pm.
  6. Youth Groups
    a. Groups of less than ten, with permission from parents will meet outside, socially distanced with masks a few times a month, perhaps even weekly. Hula Hoops to be used for protecting personal space. “Hula Hoop Huddles” will be especially aimed at middle school age youth.
    b. Hiking in small groups of less than ten is permitted for high school youth, with their parents’ permission. Masks are to be worn, social distancing practiced. Families must provide their own transportation to and from trailhead.
    c. There will be no mission trip. We will re-evaluate any type of service project in mid-July.

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From the Pastor

How do we respond to the killing of George Floyd? How do we respond to the protests that followed? How do we respond to the destruction of property that is happening? We all have our opinions and our knee jerk reactions. But let’s stop and ask how our Lord and Savior would have us respond. Too often in these situations when emotions run high and our echo chambers take sides, we forget that we have a Lord, that we follow Jesus. Where is Jesus leading us?

A Christian is called to compassion. Think about your own response, your own emotions. Are you being compassionate? How do we show compassion to the family of Mr. Floyd? How do we show compassion to the protesters? How do we show compassion to law enforcement? How do we show compassion to law breakers? How do we show compassion to the African American community?

The word compassion means literally “to suffer with.” God showed compassion to humanity by coming to us in Jesus and suffering with us. God suffered betrayal, oppression, injustice, violence and murder. Jesus lived a life of compassion. He always had his eye on those who were being oppressed. In his day it was Samaritans, women and children. He spoke harsh words to those in power like Herod and the Pharisees and his own people. But to those who suffered oppression he showed mercy, grace and love. He used his power to bridge divides and offer healing. He never retreated to the safety of his tribe; he never circled the wagons; he always crossed over in compassion and love.

Jesus invited us to follow him and his way in the world. We must therefore condemn racism in all its forms. We must listen to the African American community with compassion and the desire to understand their experience. We must acknowledge the ways that those of us who are white benefit from being in the majority. If we have voice and power, then we must use that to serve our neighbors who are ignored or silenced. And we must confess our own sins of commission and omission. We ask God to forgive us and we repent. That is the Christian way, the way of Jesus.

What would it be like to have an officer have his knee on your neck until you died? What would it be like to be so angry at the oppression of your people that you wanted to march in protest? What would it be like to be so frustrated by injustice that you wanted to destroy something? What would it feel like to live in constant fear that a minor infraction could lead to your death?

I don’t have the answers to systemic racism in American. But I think, at the very least, we can start with compassion. We can suffer with those who are hurting and put ourselves in their shoes. Maybe then we can be part of the solution. In the end it is only God who can change the human heart. May God transform us again and transform our hearts and the heart of this nation. May we all see and treat each person as a fellow creature made in the image of Almighty God.

-Pastor Travis

Evil Be Gone

“Say a prayer for my neighborhood tonight please. It’s under siege. They are finding hidden accelerants all through the neighborhood, at businesses, in yards, in alleys. We’re an hour away, but still terrified. Also maybe a prayer for some peace for me and my family.”

This was how the week started on Sunday evening with a text from my best friend from college. Her family lives in Minneapolis now, just blocks away from the corner where George Floyd was murdered. So I took a deep breath and thought of the Holy Spirit blowing on what was Pentecost Sunday and I prayed for my friend, for all the families in her neighborhood, for George Floyd and those that loved him, and for the breath of the Holy Spirit to sweep in when we can’t breathe.

For the last few days I have been looking at some of the upcoming lectionary texts and this one struck me for the time and place that we are living in today, the text is from Jeremiah the twentieth chapter, here is verse eleven:

“But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.”

In the verses beforehand Jeremiah feels the pain of rejection from those who do not want to hear what he has to say. It reminds me today of all the times and places when the people have spoken out and still haven’t been heard. Yet even in the midst of this rejection, persecution, injustice; the final verse of the passage tells us that glory belongs to the Lord and only to the Lord shall we sing praises, “For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.” And so we pray today that evil be gone.

-Pastor Carrie

“Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.”

We are starting a new sermon series called “the messy middle.” We begin with the story of the middle of Joseph’s life. After the coat of many colors but before he was in charge of all of Egypt. The middle is a hard place where there aren’t easy answers or a clear road ahead. It feels like that’s where we are now, not just with the pandemic, but with the state of racism in our country. Usually when I’ve read this story of Joseph I’ve thought of myself in his shoes, and that’s been helpful. But today I wonder if I have more in common with Potiphar than with Joseph. I’ve never been a slave. I’ve never been sold out by my family. I’ve never been in jail. As I read this story today, I feel God encouraging me to think of those who have slavery in their not too distant history, who feel betrayed, who’ve been in or threatened with jail. That’s not a thought journey I want to be on, but one that God has put me on this week.

-Pastor Travis

Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

This has been a challenging week. I feel like that is an almost weekly lament in this pandemic life, but this week, it is the naked truth. While we put together two beautiful worship services, continued with the regular work of the church, and put in motion a plan for the summer, it also seemed like the world continued to move into deep despair. We passed the 100,000 mark in deaths related to the Coronavirus, we face deep divisions in how we as a nation or a locality handle the messy middle of a pandemic, and then we witness the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer. What is going on in this world. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

At the top of this blog I shared with you the verse from Micah. I wonder what it will take for us to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly. I’ll tell you I feel like I’ve seen just the opposite of these requirements of the Lord this week. My heart is heavy, which for me is a sign that I have work to do. It’s time to do more listening and learning, and to use my voice, (my voice of privilege) to bring justice, kindness, and humility to all the work I do as the Lord requires of us.

Last Monday we had 13 youth affirm their baptism. In the time leading up to that we had conversations with each of them and took the opportunity to remind them of the responsibilities that we are entrusted with in the gift of our baptism. Let me just share with you the final few lines of what those responsibilities are: “you are entrusted to…proclaim Christ through word and deed, care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace.”

It’s time for us to remember these promises and to live into them each day as we die and rise again in Christ through our baptism. Where are the places and what are the ways you remembered your baptism today? I hope that you can find ways to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly in this world as we cry out: “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

-Pastor Carrie

FROM THE ARCHIVES – 1918 INFLUENZA PANDEMIC

A week or so ago Pastor Travis asked me if there were any records indicating what might have happened at First Lutheran during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. So – I put on my mask, rang the bell by the “Round Desk” door and checked the archives.

Unfortunately, our weekly bulletins did not begin until 1925 and there are few records before that. However, we do have the minutes of the Ladies Aid Society from 1890 – 1949. During 1918 the ladies met twice a month.

The minutes for the September 24, 1918 meeting cover general routine matters. But then, turn the page in the Minute Book and read: “No meetings during October, November and December on account of the flu epidemic.” Meetings resumed the following January, 1919 – with the laconic statement “This is our first meeting since the flu epidemic. The meeting was called to order by the president and opened in the usual manner.” One further note mentioned, “Not being able to elect officers at the regular time [December], we proceeded to elect them.”

Additional information for the last months of 1918 is provided by the Colorado Springs Gazette. An article for October 5, 1918, headlined, “Drastic Closing Order Issued to Avert Influenza Epidemic,” noted the following:

“The most drastic and all-embracing closing order ever given in Colorado Springs was announced last night by Dr. George B. Gilmore city heath officer, after a conference with a committee of the El Paso County Medical Society. The order, which is intended to avert the outbreak of a general epidemic of influenza in the Pikes Peak Region, closes all schools, theaters, moving picture houses, the college, and every public meeting place of every character. There will be no church services tomorrow and pool rooms and other amusement places will be closed until further notice. Dr. Gilmore’s action was not intended as a final resort to meet a critical emergency but as a preventive measure which was better enforced now before the epidemic became general. . .. The health department, in effect, was said to be ‘locking the door before the horse thief arrived.’ Dr. Charles F. Gardiner, president of the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Red Cross stated: ‘My opinion is well known. I think everything should be closed before the trouble starts, not after it is too late.’”

-Mike Olsen

This week we celebrate Pentecost a time when the first believers are filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and are charged with moving the church, through witness to Christ, to all the ends of the earth. The disciples who were gathered when this rush of wind came and the divided tongues danced as flames had been through a fair amount of trauma at this point. They were still gathered in a house, praying waiting for the promise of the Father to come, they had already been witness to Jesus death and resurrection and now as Jesus had told them the Father would come, they are waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.

The ruckus of the rushing wind, the flaming tongues resting upon them, and then being filled with a multitude of languages by the Holy Spirit who was now residing within each of them was not an act to be missed or ignored. When I read this it almost comes to me like a wake-up call, what do I miss when I’m so focused on what I expect to come next? In the last two+ months I would say that we’ve had some real lessons in learning that we don’t know what is going to come next, so we need to be open to the unexpected. That we might need to change our plans and our expectations mid-course and follow the breath of the Holy Spirit to live out our calls to bring the church to all the ends of the earth. Now is the time to remember that we are church together and we are church becoming, bringing the message of Christ to all the ends of the earth.

-Pastor Carrie

Attention Graduates

We would like to recognize all of our graduates!
 
If your family has a graduate from any school – high school, college, trade or nursing school,  email chris@flccs.net by May 29. Be sure to include any special honors, degrees or recognition. Names will be listed in the Ekklesia on June 3.

New Homes for New Beginnings

First Lutheran is beginning to clean out the Peel House of numerous things collecting dusts over the years.  Ryan, First Lutheran Sexton, was able to find new homes for 161 Banquet chairs went to a new wedding venue in Canon City. 100 plus Sunday School desks are going to a kindergarten class in Nogales, Mexico, as they have had nothing for years for the students. More chairs were donated to youth boxing club, supporting Colorado Springs youth! 

The old stuff will provide many more uses for generations to come! 

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