Dear Friends in Christ:
I’ll begin with a good word from Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” In these times of transition and uncertainty, God is faithful to His people, and our prayer is that we would always remember that.
At the Church Council meeting last night, Council voted to follow the recommendations of the CDC and our Northwestern Ohio Synod Bishop and suspend in-person worship through and including April 5, Palm Sunday. We plan to resume regular in-person worship activities during Holy Week, IF the virus situation has cleared.
All outside groups and activities that use the building are suspended as well, with the exception of one Twelve-Step recovery group and the monthly neighborhood dinner on March 25. That evening, we will be distributing bags of staples and maintaining appropriate distances, and our guests will not be in the building.
Communication with the congregation has been a bit challenging as things have changed quickly. We have the options of the mail, email, the church Facebook page and website, and phone calls. PLEASE share your email with the church office if you are a user of email by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Communications may come through email, and you may need to check your spam filters.
On Sunday, March 15, we ventured into the brave new world of live-streaming a worship service. We are going to continue to do that (and yes, we know there were glitches!) and improve the experience each time. Plans are to stream Sunday service via Facebook Live or YouTube, and to create a worship service that has both traditional and contemporary elements. On Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., Pastor Tom James of Eastminster Presbyterian Church is going to stream the study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer using the Eastminster United Presbyterian Church Facebook Live feature.
One serious concern at this time (in the midst of all the other serious concerns!) is the financial situation we face. Experience shows that many people do not choose to support the ministry of their church if they are not attending actual, physical worship. This means that we could quickly be $30,000-40,000 in the red without the regular and faithful support of our members. Yet the work of our church is continuing within the new parameters we face. Please consider making your contribution electronically at this link, or mail your contributions to the church office. Extra contributions are always needed and appreciated.
We are all in new territory. But God is always faithful, and we can rely on his care for all of us.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Beth Giller and the Church Council of St. Mark Lutheran Church