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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“When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13

This line from Jeremiah was written to a people in Exile who just got news that they weren’t coming home anytime soon. In fact Jeremiah warns them that they will be in exile for 70 years. But he offers them home that after that time, God will bring them home and restore their fortunes. Talk about a Messy Middle! Jeremiahs’ message is a kind of ‘bloom where you’re planted.’ and I think it’s a message we need to hear today. We still don’t know how long this pandemic will go one, we don’t know how our world and our church will be fundamentally changed. But I think we can heed the call to seek the Lord with all our heart. God is not far from us, and He wants to be found. What does it mean for you to look for God today?

-Pastor Travis

New Sunday Adult Seminar

July 12th to August 2nd – Online via Zoom Sundays at 10:30 am

It seems that every where we look right now there are conversations about race, policing, and protests. For the next four weeks, let’s explore together common topics about race, the current events of today, where our faith and the ELCA affect our views of race, and finally steps to move forward. You are encouraged to pick up a copy of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, but it is not required. It is a great introduction to this topic and is a well-balanced book based on research rather than opinion. Let’s tackle this difficult topic together as people of faith and followers of Jesus Christ.

July 12 – “How did we get here?” A look at current events, important terms, and the ELCA’s “Freed in Christ, Race and Ethnicity” Social Statement

July 19 – “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” Understanding Identity Development in Kids, Teens, and Adults

July 26 – “What about Latinx and Other People of Color?” A Discussion on Race Relations in General in America

August 2 – “How does one even become ‘anti-racist’?” Signs of Hope and Steps to Move Forward

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 843 6443 9242

“I called to the Lord out of my distress, and he answered me;” Jonah 2: 2

Love your enemies said Jesus. And God said it before him, maybe not in as many words, but in his directions. He told Jonah to go to Ninevah. The city was filled with people who posed a threat to Israel and Jonah didn’t seem to want anything to do with them. He understood them to be a bloodthirsty lot who left monuments to the torture and slaughter of those who opposed them. It would seem that Israelites had good reason to fear the Ninevites so Jonah had made up his mind not to go to Nineveh, he would not warn them of any destruction that might be upon them. Jonah experiences some trials in the middle of his detour from Ninevah and as he prays to the Lord the response comes that he is called to go to Ninevah and proclaim the message of the Lord. When he does this, the king of Ninevah calls for his people to turn from their evil ways and the hearts of the Ninevites are changed, they come to understand what it means that God is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

I wonder where you find yourself in this Jonah story? Is it similar to Jonah, not wanting to go and make nice with your “enemy”? Is it as one of the Ninevites who will stand opposed to anyone who has views that differ from our own? What proclamation of God’s word will turn our hearts to love our enemies and to repent of our own evil?

-Pastor Carrie

“I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed” 1 Samuel 24

This week we’re walking with David in the Messy middle after he was anointed by Samuel but before he was crowned king. David was chased in the wilderness by Saul and given a chance to kill him in a cave. But David didn’t do it. Why? David didn’t believe he had the right to determine Saul’s fate, that right belonged to God alone. David respected the office of King, even when the King was trying to kill him. David was humble, he was patient and he trusted the Lord to deliver on God’s promises in God’s time. I want to learn how to be like David when life is difficult. To be humble and patient and to trust in the Lord.

-Pastor Travis

Something New

We tried something new last week with outdoor midweek communion on the front lawn. Over 217 attended 3 services on a beautiful Wednesday. Here are a few photos!

Learn With Me

In my own hometown, Superior, Wisconsin, there was exactly one black family, the Turner’s. They owned the Billings Park cafe. The “other side of the tracks” was the North End of town where most of the low-income housing was. I would say the income disparity created a wider divide growing up for me than race did? (Which is funny in itself since we too lived paycheck to paycheck, but, my parents owned their home.) It isn’t to say racism didn’t exist, because with one black family in town, who everyone knew, you can bet that if an unidentified person of color showed up somewhere eyebrows were raised. I remember lots of slurs that if I heard people using today would immediately lead me to call them out. But I don’t think it was until I went to college that I had any real sense of diversity beyond the different Scandinavians and some Native Americans I grew up with.

I have a lot to learn on how to be an ally to people of color. While I would like to believe I’ve always recognized that and tried to be “a good person” I’m realizing now that complacency is not okay, but growth and vulnerability are.

Pastor Carrie

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