From Pastor William D. Leitch

Here we are in June 2020 and I feel like I am at a busy intersection trying to turn “right”, but I don’t know if it is safe to turn.  Most of the traffic is easy to tell their intentions, but there is always the one who does not turn their turn signal on and the other who forgets to turn it off.  So, if you make your turn you are either pulling in front of an oncoming vehicle, or you sit and stay and miss an opportunity to move on.

So, here is our plan as a worship team who has been recording worship services on Tuesday mornings:  On Sunday, June 7, we will meet at the church at 10:00 am to record and upload the Sunday worship service rather than recording earlier in the week.  If COVID-19 takes a turn and gets out of our way, you are invited to come to worship with a mask and social distancing.  However, if COVID-19 even appears to be coming at us, please stay at home and we will publish the recorded service.  We want to say, “Come one!  Come all!”, but we can’t, and we need to play it safe for each and every one of us.  By changing the recording time to Sunday, the worship leaders are prepared to lead worship on Sunday when we gather together.

The Council, Worship Committee, ushers, and parish nurse have been working on Worship Protocols for when we gather again.  I have included a DRAFT of these protocols with this newsletter for everyone to read and make comments.  The protocols are written in chronological order for us to check ourselves and each other before we depart our homes, arrival in the parking lot, entry and exit of the church and sanctuary, and conduct during worship.  When we do choose to come back to worship together, it is your choice as to whether you are ready to make that move.  The good news is we will still record the service and you will be able to join us “virtually”.

Will we go to one worship service for the summer?  We have not gone to one service for the past couple of years.  Our worship team agrees that when we do open again, officially, we should have two services at 8:00 and 10:00 am for the summer.  That way we keep the numbers lower at each service.

I thank everyone who has been checking up on your neighbors.  You have been wonderful shepherds.  In March I called everyone in our directory.  Everyone had someone helping them or you were helping others.  Sometimes it is family and sometimes it is a neighbor, yet a member of Living Lord.  This has given me great comfort in knowing that we are in this together.  I have been checking in with you shepherds and sharing news and updates that help us help one another.

Worship Protocols

Background:   Worship has been suspended for several months due to the COVID-19 virus in order to protect one another from spreading the virus.  It has been determined that “Social Distancing”, frequent hand washing, deep cleaning, face masks, protective gloves, and other protocols help to reduce the spread of the virus.

Purpose:  To establish protocols/guidelines to follow when we return to worship gatherings of larger groups.  The virus will still be a threat and we want to establish disciplines that will keep everyone safe.  As a congregation, we need to know that everyone will be disciplined and respect the space and safety of everyone in order that we can see and hear one another as we give God glory.

Protocols:  These protocols are presented in chronological order from the time you prepare to come and worship until you depart from the church parking lot.

  1. Before departing your home:
  • Take your temperature. If you are 99 degrees or higher, please stay at home.
  • Wash hands.
  • Pack a face mask.

 

  1. Parking lot at church:
  • Put on face mask.
  • Keep at least 6 feet between you and others.

 

  1. Entering church building:
  • There will be no greeters.
  • An usher will open the outside door for you.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at the bottom of the stairs for you to use before touching the stair handrail.
  • There will be more hand sanitizer in the sanctuary.
  • Another usher, wearing gloves, will hand you a bulletin.

 

  1. Entering the sanctuary for worship:
  • An usher will seat you (Note: People will be seating with 6 feet separation.  People will be seated from the front to the rear in order to avoid repeatedly being passed by others entering.)
  • The offering plate will be placed at the entrance to the sanctuary to avoid passing the plate. An usher will bring the plate up during the offertory without passing the plate.
  • At the end of worship, the ushers will release you from the rear pews first to the front pews last.
  • We will not use and handle the hymnals; rather, all hymns will be printed in the bulletin. Since it is difficult to sing with a mask on, we will only sing two verses.  Hymnals will be removed from the pews during this transitional period.
  1. Holy Communion:
  • We will remain in the pews for Communion.
  • Bread and grape juice will be pre-packaged by Altar Care volunteers who will be masked and wearing protective gloves.
  • Ushers will extend the zip lock bags from each side of the pews to avoid extra handling.

 

  1. Choir and Bell Choir:
  • We will continue to offer anthems, solos, and other special music while observing the distancing and protection protocols. The Choir will not sing as an entire Choir.
  • The Bell Choir space may be modified to keep proper distancing and the passing to and from of the bells. The Bell Choir is looking at options, but may not perform for now.

 

  1. Departing the sanctuary and church building:
  • An usher will dismiss you one at a time. Depart to the rear of the sanctuary.  Go down the steps and exit.  Take your bulletin home.  Do not stop to converse inside the church.  Wait until you find a space in the parking lot that will not block others.
  • An usher will open and close the door.
  • By following these protocols after worship, we can reduce the deep cleaning requirements from touching surfaces in the church.

 

8.  Departing the parking lot:

  • After you are in your vehicle, you may remove your mask.
  • Do not approach vehicles when masks are removed. Keep at least 6 feet of space.  (Speak loud so folks do not need to come near!)

 

Exceptions:

  • If you need to speak to the pastor or other leaders in the church, arrange to reserve a space in an office, Fellowship Hall, or classroom ahead of time.
  • You may coordinate this with an usher for an unplanned meeting. This will give us accountability and those areas can be deep cleaned by our janitor.

Thank you for your cooperation.

 

VBS…Vacation Bible School had to be cancelled for this year due to the COVID-19 virus.

Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board.  Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant Contact.  We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church.  If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.

 

From the Outreach Committee Chairperson, Judy Shaffer

On our scheduled Bingo day, Lynne Walters took our already purchased table treats and put them together with some of the Bingo bag stuff, added a sweet note, and delivered them to the nursing homes.  In June, after the Niles Shepherd of the Valley facility gets finished moving to Liberty, with Lynne’s help we will be taking the puzzle books and a few other treats in our regular Bingo bags with a note telling the residents how much we miss them and that we will be back as soon as possible.  The best part of the things listed above is that there will be no cost to the church as all treats have been donated.  I would just like to add…what an adventure we are on, but remember we are on it together.  Stay safe and by the grace of God we will soon see each other again.

From the Parish Nurse, Dora Muller

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

The last couple of months have tested us all.  We have learned much on how the coronavirus can disrupt our lives.  With the virus, new words appear in our daily vocabulary.  Pandemic, epidemic, and endemic have become everyday terms we hear and see in the news.  Let’s start with the term epidemic, which means a sudden spread of a disease to a group within a specific population and location over in a short period of time.  For example, an epidemic results when several cases of influenza are reported for a small community during two consecutive weeks.  Epidemiologists classify 15 or more cases of influenza per 100,000 people as an epidemic.  The present coronavirus is considered a pandemic.  An epidemic can expand and reach the pandemic status.

This has occurred with the coronavirus, which has migrated from an original source and spread from person to person across the planet earth.  Of course, coronavirus is now considered a pandemic disease.  Here the pathogen or virus rapidly finds susceptive hosts or persons that become infected.  Coronavirus is difficult to control and predict.  Future outbreaks are challenging due to the fact that the mode of transmission is via microscopic droplets from person to person.  The next term is endemic, which means that the disease is prevalent to a specific geographic region.  For example, malaria usually occurs only in the tropics.  Thus, coronavirus is not an endemic disease.  Let’s continue to follow the guidelines to contain the pandemic as we are daily reminded that we are living in an extraordinary time where a microscopic virus has the power to disturb our lives as never before.

From Pastor William D. Leitch

As is our custom and has been the custom of the church since the beginning, we gather, have dialogue, and eat meals together.  However, we have been challenged during this pandemic.  Everyone I talk to feels isolated, perhaps lonely, and perhaps afraid.  Still, there is hope.

First, read from Acts 2:  The Fellowship of Believers

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

In spite of the initial feelings of fear and loneliness, I hear and witness your efforts to connect in new ways.  Karen Bandy has been calling everyone in her neighborhood flock.  When someone did not answer the phone, she was afraid for them and shared her concern.  Later, that person returned the call and learned how concerned she was.  I cannot help but believe that we are sharing our feelings a bit more and our true heart is being revealed.  I cannot help but believe that through this weird isolation we will come to understand how precious each and every one of us is to the Body of Christ, and that in spite of isolation, God will bring us closer together and reveal our faith in new and wonderful ways.

This was to be a time of transition for Living Lord, and I wanted it to be a time of gathering and sharing our vision of what Living Lord could do and be for the sake of the Gospel.  Nancy Walters was and is excited about making that happen.  At first, we feared that this pandemic had derailed our plans, but Nancy simply came and said, “How are we going to make this happen?”  Yes, she put it in the interrogative; however, her tone of voice was in the imperative!  In other words, Nancy was saying, “Let’s make this happen!”  So, Nancy is taking the input from our first Town Hall meeting, along with notes from the Council, and is writing a draft of a “Strategic Plan” for our Ministry Profile.  We will send this to everyone to read.  We will pray for everyone to respond with comments and additional input.  From this sharing and study, we will be prepared to vote to approve our congregational vision of who we are and our plan to be “Church” in our community.  I pray that this effort will bring us even closer together than we were before this pandemic.

 

Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board.  Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant Contact.  We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church.  If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.

From the President, Nancy Walters

Christ has Risen!  Alleluia!  April is almost over and spring is here.  Seems like it has taken longer this year than those in the past.  But we actually had a mild winter where the church lot only needed plowed one time!  I am surely missing all of you.  It will be so nice when we can actually meet in person.  I want to thank Pastor Bill for recording the services with May Love playing the organ.  Randall Beckley plays the piano accompanying his awesome anthems.  Lynne Walters has directed the bell choir members Rollie Walters and Ronda Leitch for Easter.  The church was decorated in the white paraments and the lily cross was erected in the front corner.  I have been working on our Ministry Profile using the input from our Town Hall meeting.  We are further behind than we anticipated, but hopefully we can catch up fast.  Please remember to send in your contributions.  Lynn has been keeping up with the postings.  Even though the thermostats have been turned down and we are not using as much electric as before, the bills are still there and need to be paid.  I want to thank Rollie Walters for waxing the floors in the narthex and fellowship hall.  The floors are so shiny that you may need your sunglasses!  I am sorry that I cannot give you a date for when we can safely return to church, but when we do I am hoping to see all of you there!

From the Parish Nurse, Dora Muller

“The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”  Gabriel Garcia Marques

The present global pandemic drastically changes the way we live.  The Coronavirus has made us domestic prisoners, or as they say in the military, solitary confinement, or “the hole”, in an attempt to halt the progression of the virus.  But, as a literary book worm that I am, one of my favorite books is “Love in the Time of Cholera” (or today “Coronavirus”).  I prefer “Love in the Time of Coronavirus”.  As the news of first cases of the virus reached us, we tended to believe, not in my backyard-NIMBY.  Despite China’s far away distance, we soon moved into a panic mode and started to hoard things in preparation for the end.  Hundreds of years from now this will be remembered as the “toilet paper crisis”.  Quickly the Coronavirus epidemic changed in status to a worldwide pandemic.  We have witnessed many changes, no more large gatherings or sporting events, and we have become a society of reclusion as if in a cloister.  Now is a time of reflection.  We need to maintain our physical and mental health and re-learn how to rely on our neighbors and community.  The desire to help others, keep in touch, and show appreciation is sky high.  My neighbor generously offered to bring me groceries, I write letters to my girlfriends, and the internet highway is busy keeping up communication with family and friends.  The fear of acquiring the virus has transformed us so that we build physical barriers or social distance between friends and family members.  However, it has helped develop closeness in the sense of caring for the well-being of the community and helping others during this time of social isolation.  From businesses to family members, the goal is to minimize the risk of the spreading the virus.  We provide a collective effort for the good of the community.  The lessons learned from this event are that we need to be prepared, remain healthy, rely on each other, keep our spirits alive, and learn to appreciate a slower pace of indoor life.  Remember the bygone era of board games, radio music, and just being close to those who are dear to us.  Oh yeah, we do have television today.  And, more important, be humble and give thanks for surviving another crisis.