March 16: In-Person Worship Suspended
A PDF version of this letter can downloaded here.
March 16, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
At an emergency meeting this evening, the Congregation Council decided to suspend Zion’s in-person worship services effective immediately, and until further notice.
This decision was made based on the updated emergency precautions announced today by President Trump, as well as the strong recommendation of Bishop Regina Hassanally to all the congregations of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod. Your Council believes this to be a faithful and responsible decision based on the current guidance. As the situation and public health guidance evolves, we will continue to communicate with members via the church website and Facebook page, and will mail letters when appropriate.
We are also suspending all activities in the church building, including meals, Bible Studies, quilting, and meetings. While many of Zion’s groups are smaller than 10 people, we have chosen to adhere to the spirit of these restrictions in the hope that we can protect the vulnerable members of our congregation and wider community. We urge you to exercise good judgment and appropriate precautions in the coming days, particularly if you are over 60 or have an underlying health condition.
The church office will be closed to visitors through March 31, although Mary Gilman and Pastor Andrea will be working in the office at times. They will respond to phone calls and emails as promptly as they can manage. Nursing homes and other care facilities have already closed visitor access at this time, but Pastor Andrea will continue to provide pastoral care through phone calls, cards, and other options that may arise. As always, Pastor Andrea is available by cell/text (507-402-1114) if you have a pastoral concern or prayer need.
Though the building may be closed, our church is still open for business! After all, the church is not the building – it is the people of God living as the body of Christ in the world! Pastor Andrea will lead digital worship services on Wednesday evenings (6:45 p.m.) and Sunday mornings (9:00 a.m.) through our Facebook page. (You can find that link on the churches page: www.zionluthlakecrystal.org.) We will continue to podcast sermons as usual and post them to the website.
If our congregation experiences a death during this suspension of activities, we will follow best practices as developed by similar faith communities. When appropriate, we will offer a funeral service for family members only, with a memorial service for the public at a later date. No funeral meals will be served.
We are all aware of the economic uncertainty raised by the present crisis, which will impact our members and community. We are concerned as well for the financial stability of our congregation during this time. We will continue to provide ministry and trust God to provide what is needed for us to continue living out our mission to make Jesus known to all in our words and actions. We hope that those who usually give at worship through offering envelopes will mail those offerings to the church office (PO Box 236, Lake Crystal, MN 56055). If you have not yet considered eGiving, this may be an opportunity to do that. You can make a one-time gift or set up a recurring donation on the “Giving” page of the church’s website.
Your leaders will continue to monitor the recommendations of federal, state and county health officials. We ask that you continue your prayers for our community officials and the many organizational leaders in our community who are shouldering a particularly heavy load during this health crisis.
We are a community that is centered in the love and grace of God that is made known to us in Jesus Christ. Again and again, God’s messengers have declared, “Be not afraid.” In the midst of these fearful and anxious times, God is with us to calm our fears and equip us to love our neighbor as Christ has loved us. This public health crisis is also a spiritual crisis and each one of us is called to respond with the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
United in faith and hope,
Zion Congregation Council