These last few days have felt like years. Opinions range from “Nothing is wrong and you all are crazy” to “We’re never going to survive.” We’ve gone from no guidelines in MN to restrictions on gatherings of 250, to the closure of schools, to restrictions on gatherings of 50, to restrictions on gatherings of 10 for the next 15 days. A good pastor friend of mine has said, “Never waste a good crisis.” Today is a day when we can be particularly and peculiarly Christian in the way that we spend our time, the way that we demonstrate our values, and the way that we love our neighbor.
What we’ve done so far. Community leaders met and formed a network of communication among our Janesville community organizations. We have a Janesville website on COVID-19 matters. Our Foodshelf has stepped up to change protocols so that they can be safe and meet what will be growing food needs in the coming days (and possibly weeks or more).
Our school had a Teacher Workday on Monday and one final class day for students on Tuesday. On Monday, the teachers made a plan for flexible / distance learning and on Tuesday, they distributed packets of work, explained the rhythm of instruction for the coming weeks, and had a final devotion for kids. This will be a combination of paperwork sent out, video chat, chatroom, and phone conversations. Our school is following the guidance provided by Gov. Walz and is shut down at least until March 27. Unlike some public schools, March 17–28 will remain class days for us.
Our church took precautions with last week’s Sunday services, and we have suspended Wednesday and Sunday services for the next two weeks, while offering a live-stream option on Facebook and continuing to burn DVD’s for use on the local access cable channel.
What we’re doing. Our school has instituted flexible / distance learning and will be in contact with families and students on how to improve wherever improvement may be needed. Our pastors gathered with circuit pastors on Tuesday and formed this statement of consensus: We will take into account the CDC guidelines and continue to provide opportunities for Word and Sacrament ministry to our congregations.
Our church office has begun regularly calling members, beginning with our oldest and most vulnerable members. We have asked elders to call all those on their member lists to check on them. Our Youth Ministry has been doing the same with youth.
We have postponed our Annual Meeting indefinitely and will be using the Elders meeting to consider how to abide within CDC guidelines while continuing to provide opportunities for Word and Sacrament ministry. We realize the economic toll that this situation takes on businesses, people, and communities, and the church is not immune to it.
What we hope to add. We hope to add Bible study opportunities to our social media presence. We also hope to provide a regular devotional time each day. We finally hope to provide opportunities to allow people to love their neighbor, even when they cannot physically come near that neighbor.
What we ask you do. We ask that you would 1) Engage with your church: worship and study your Bible however you can, 2) Engage with your neighbor in appropriate way and listen for needs your church can help fill, and 3) Engage in giving so that your church and school finances might stay healthy.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther