Pastoral Letter: March 17, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of Christ the King Lutheran Church,

After the counsel provided by our Synod Bishop, as well as medical and government authorities, and with the affirmation of the Christ the King Lutheran Church Congregation Council, we have decided that as of today, all public assemblies, including worship and smaller group meetings, are suspended until further notice. We are compelled by Christ’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves by joining in the effort to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus and to stop the pandemic. At the same time, we are a faith community dedicated to being A Healing Place, uniquely theologically centered in the Lutheran tradition which holds that the church exists where the Word is proclaimed and the Sacraments are rightly administered. For us to keep all this together in this unique time of crisis, we are taking the following steps.

About Worship
All indoor public assembly worship is suspended for this time being. This includes the rest of the Lenten Midweek Services and Blues, Brews, and Real News.  However we will offer the following opportunities for worship.
On Sundays at 11:00 am a Service of the Word will be streamed via our Facebook page and via YouTube. The links will be posted on our website and sent to you as reminders via both our email delivery systems. This service will include a liturgy, the assigned scripture texts, a sermon, prayers, and hymn singing. We expect to hear you from wherever you are! Following this, at Sunday Noon and weather permitting, an abbreviated liturgy of The Eucharist will be hosted outside on the back parking lot lawn. There people can still practice safe-distancing to participate and receive communion as a community OR we can and will provide “Drive-By Holy Communion” in both parking lots at 12:30. Yes, really, because, in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words regarding ministry in  a time of such challenge, we believe that the church must show up in the world as a “field hospital.”
We will also produce a midweek meditation with music, scripture, reflection, and prayer to be available online. That will start next week. If there are many who would like to pray together more often, we can arrange that too on Zoom.

Community on Zoom and Our New “Zoom Bible Study”
Zoom is a very user-friendly medium to meet in “digital space.” You don’t need an app for it necessarily (though that always makes it easier). Whatever activity we can host online will be on the Zoom platform. That includes the Friday Bible Study, starting this week! To participate, you need a computer with audio and video camera on. You can do this with a smart phone, too, if you have downloaded the Zoom app. Everyone will be able to see and talk with everyone in the meeting. To participate, you need only to click on this link. We will go live at 10:15 AM on Fridays (that will give you time to get used to the platform).
https://zoom.us/j/582514386?pwd=b3BRSm5oN0RzVjRqUi9wRHlJN2dQUT09 If for some reason for the Friday Bible Study you still need the Meeting ID and Password, the ID is 582-514-386 and the PW is 473540. If you do expect to participate, please let Cheryl Gaspard know at ctk@ctkelc.org, and she will send you the scripture lessons ahead of time.
Adult Forum, Luther League, House Church, and other activities all also can and will be hosted on Zoom. Watch for instructions from the leaders of your interest groups. The Adult Forum themes for Sundays will be maintained at the usual time (well, sort of) at 10 a.m. This Sunday, March 22, at 10 a.m., Pastoral Intern Sergio Rodriguez will present on Zoom on the topic of “Millennial Spirituality.” What better way to come to know a leader in religion and digital space than to “be there” with Sergio! That link will come to you in the end of week event reminders.

Pastoral Care
I was much inspired by our Young Adult/Young Professionals Group meeting (on Zoom) last Sunday evening when two suggested and all affirmed that they take up the church directory and just start calling people to check-in. Beautiful! We all are here for each other in this time when we can take up more the joy of being Christ’s Body. Your ministry staff, of course, is keen about this. We will be in regular touch especially with the more vulnerable members of our congregation. If particular pastoral care visits are needed personally, including bringing Communion, we will be there not necessarily with bells on, but with gloves and masks and the warmest hearts. We have in place good systems to keep tabs on us all as an outreaching mutually caring Healing Place. That includes getting supplies and groceries to those who can’t get them on their own. And where pastoral care is urgently needed, do not hesitate to inform, especially when death draws nigh. We can provide care and can arrange funeral or memorial services for small family situations. Unfortunately, larger funeral or memorial services that involve a large assembly must be planned for only after the crisis point of the pandemic has passed.

Our Congregation’s Financial Health
This will be a challenging time for us financially. But this congregation is resilient and generous. While we are reducing on site time for staff, we will continue to pay all salaries. We likely will not receive the lease/rental income expected in our normal budget. We will take all steps necessary to reduce expenses in other ways (utilities especially). Nevertheless, your regular support or support as much as possible will keep us keeping on. If you are not in the Simply Giving plan of automatic withdrawal support, you can sign-up for that on the CTK website. And if this time means that you must redirect more of your resources to your own health, we honor that and want to further help you however we can.  Please let us know. For such times as these we are blessed to be able to sustain an Emergency Relief Fund.

Finally
Just as the early church went out into a wary public with Holy Communion even under the name of “The Medicine of Immortality,” we are here for each other and the world as a 21st century spiritual field hospital. Pray for each other, please. Pray for your ministry staff. We will pray for you We will maintain this holy community with you for the healing of many. To that end, please do attend to the much shorter communications to come (!) as we work our way through this complex time. And after it all, we expect to celebrate together one of the biggest Resurrection Worship events we will have ever known as the spiritual community of Christ the King Lutheran Church. Pass it on!

With and in the Profound Love and Peace of Christ,

Pastor Duane and all Your Ministry Staff