Covid-19 Coronavirus Update

Changes to Our Ministry at Reformation Due to Coronavirus – March 20, 2020 Update

 

Dear Reformation family of believers, loved by God in Christ and precious to Him,

Last night (March 19, 2020), California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, issued a stay-at-home order, which took effect at midnight. The 40 million residents of our state are being asked to stay home and leave our homes only when necessary. The order will remain in place until further notice. Prior to that order, the CDC had recommended that groups over 50 should not gather. Later President Trump called for people to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. Our local officials have now prohibited all gatherings over 10 people until further notice. It is clear that the people who have been tasked with caring for those who are susceptible to this illness and who know the dangers of the novel coronavirus are taking all the steps they believe are necessary to try to limit and ultimately stop this terrible virus’ spread.

Earlier this week, the WELS Conference of Presidents, the body responsible for guiding and watching over the congregations of our synod so that our teaching of God’s Word and the practice of putting our beliefs into actions gives a clear, correct and consistent witness to the truths of God’s Word before the world, sent out the following reminders in response to the question: How will congregations handle government restrictions on public gatherings?

Various governmental bodies have either advised or mandated that no public meetings with more than 50 people be held. Additional restrictions may be imposed in the future. Some may be asking the question, “Is this a time when we should obey God rather than men?”

A couple things should be remembered.

The Fourth and Fifth Commandments apply in a situation like this. We are to obey and respect the governing authorities as they carry out their God-given responsibilities, and we are to do all we can to protect our neighbors and keep them from harm.

  1. At the same time God certainly desires that Christian gather together regularly for worship.
  2. In limiting the size of worship gatherings, the government is not attempting to deny our freedom of religion. Rather, government authorities have issued mandates that they believe will protect citizens from harm.
  3. Since all of these biblical principles are valid, it is legitimate for our congregations to strive to comply with governmental regulations on the one hand and, on the other, to find alternate means to enable God’s people to be fed with Word and sacrament.
  4. Recognize that this is an extraordinary opportunity to let our light shine as congregations and their members look for ways to serve the people in their communities in Christian love.

Today Reformation’s Planning Committee (PlanComm) met via teleconference and discussed what we can do and how we will adjust our ministry of the gospel in the light of the most current information, orders and recommendations issued by our government in response to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.  In his Word, the Lord has told us to obey the governing authorities. God also tells us to love our neighbor. As the WELS Conference of Presidents notes, the government’s current restrictions on public gatherings is not an attempt to stamp out our freedom of religion. They are acting in good faith, based on the best information currently available to them, to protect all the citizens under their care from harm. As a result, we are suspending all public worship services, Bible classes, meetings, and other gatherings, effective immediately.  We don’t know how long these restrictions will last.  But we have plans in place to make sure that your spiritual needs will be met.

We are adopting as our goal during this time: Every Home a Miniature Church. We will focus on the following three areas:

  1. Worship
  2. Growth and Encouragement
  3. Service

Worship

For Worship, we are planning to record sermon messages and provide Christian hymns and songs in some format. Early Sunday morning, we will send you an email with links so that when you wake up Sunday morning, you can click on the link and be spiritually fed at home. We are also looking at ways to share links to Christian songs for your worship and edification in the faith. In this way, we hope to make every home a miniature church during this uniquely challenging time.

Regarding receiving the Lord’s Supper – The sacrament of Holy Communion is a wonderful gift our Lord has given to his church to assure the penitent of the forgiveness of their sins, to strengthen their faith in God’s promises and to empower us for lives of Christian service that are lived in the joy of forgiveness and the certain hope of eternal life. It is the Lord’s will that we receive it “often” as Paul explained to the Christians in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11). To abide by the orders and guidelines put in place by our government, we will be offering Holy Communion in the following ways:

  1. Our elders will be available for home visits to bring the Lord’s Supper to you.
  2. Our pastors will be setting up online scheduling for people to make appointments to either come in to church for one-on-one meetings and/or the service of the sacrament in the sanctuary that will comply with all social distancing regulations. These timeslots could also be used for a phone call or video chat for those who would simply like to speak with one of our pastors or do not feel comfortable coming out at all. We will send out more information when this online calendar software is set-up. In the meantime, please feel free to email either of our pastors.

During this time, we will encourage online giving, so that you can continue to give thanks with your offerings to God for his great mercy and his provision of daily bread.  You can also mail your offerings to the church office if you wish. These gifts will enable us to continue to provide for the workers we have called to serve in our midst. In this way you show love for your neighbor and trust in the Lord’s promises.

Growth and Encouragement

For Growth and Encouragement in your faith during the weeks ahead, we are challenging every home to be a miniature church by taking part in a congregation-wide effort. While we cannot all come together physically during this time, we want to continue to follow the exhortation the Holy Spirit gave through Paul to Timothy: “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Timothy 4:13). The public reading of Scripture is one of the most ancient, time-honored practices of God’s people that is recorded in Scripture. It is a practice that is repeatedly described and commended at crucial moments throughout the Bible’s record of the history of our salvation, from the very beginning to the very end of the Bible. In fact, God’s people are specifically commanded to do this with devotion. “Devote yourself…” Paul tells Timothy. We are asking everyone in the congregation to devote themselves to this for the next 40 days. We are confident that the Lord will richly bless it!

To do this, we are planning to send out an email each day, starting next week, that will include the link to the starting point of that day’s section of God’s Word so that you can devote yourself to listening to the Word of our God. We are also considering adding a link to a Christian hymn or song that you could listen to in connection with that section of God’s Word. Music is one of the great gifts of God and has a unique way of bringing the comfort of God’s promises to our souls during difficult days, like the times in which we currently are.

Service

And then, as we think about service, let’s remember that in the midst of dark days the Lord is also giving us an extraordinary opportunity to let our light shine as a congregation of believers who trust his promises, his love and his provision of all that we need for faith and life. There are extraordinary opportunities for each of us to serve the people in our communities by reflecting Christ’s love to them.

To this end, we are working on creating an online Google form which we will send out that will allow all of us to sign up for ways that we would like to help others according to our time, abilities and comfort level. The same form will also invite anyone who has needs, especially our elderly members, to indicate ways in which they need help. Volunteers will then work to connect needs with offers to help.

Part of this plan for service will include recruiting a team of members to make “wellness check” calls to all the members of our congregation to see if there is anything that you need, physically or spiritually, that we can help to provide. They will then help to connect peoples’ needs with offers to help.

 

 

These are strange and difficult times – unprecedented in my lifetime. And yet there are opportunities here too. For one, you may have more time to spend with family. You can “unplug” and do things together as a family. You can make your home a miniature church by establishing the healthy habit of home devotions – an enriching opportunity to sit together and hear the calming, faith-strengthening Word of our Lord, who loves you, who cares for you, and who is both mighty to save and full of mercy and compassion. And he promises you he hears you and he will deliver you when you call on him in the day of trouble.

Reformation Lutheran is your home church and we will do everything we can to make sure you continue to know the love of Christ, your Savior, and be comforted by his promises as we continue to worship him, grow in him and serve him in our community and our world.

You’ll be hearing from us again soon.  Until then, please pray this prayer with me:

Almighty God, we come before you to plead for your protection and guidance. We acknowledge that nothing takes place on this planet without your observation and control and that even natural disasters and dreadful diseases are known to you. According to your gracious will, spare us and those we love from the discomfort of this coronavirus and especially from its more serious consequences. Give wisdom to health agencies in our community, our nation, and the world to work together to slow the spread of this disease, care for its victims, and discover a reliable cure. Move the forces of government to assist those affected by the disease and to coordinate a calm and fitting response. Let people everywhere acknowledge that we human creatures are not in control of life and death and that there is a divine power under whom we live and move and have our being. Bring us to our knees as we recognize your power and our sins. Then let Christian messengers around the world share the healing power of the gospel so that souls may be directed to your saving and life-giving love in Christ. During this troubling time lift our eyes to the cross of your Son to see your wisdom, power, and love; may that cross lead many to repentance and faith in Christ. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—

of whom shall I be afraid?

13 I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:1,13-14

 

Pastor James Werner

 

 

Changes to Our Ministry at Reformation Due to Coronavirus – March 17, 2020 Update

 

Dear Reformation Lutheran Church and School family,

The response of our local, state, national and world leaders to the coronavirus has been fast-moving and situation remains extremely fluid. As the people who have been tasked with protecting our communities, caring for those most at-risk from this virus, and as the people who have the most complete information about the dangers of the coronavirus, they are taking all the steps they believe are necessary to try to stop its spread.

Reformation’s leadership team continues to closely monitor the developments and will continue to make adjustments to our ministries. As a result:

We are cancelling the remaining midweek Lenten services and soup suppers (March 18, 25, and April 1).

All Life Groups, Bible classes, and our Kids4Christ Sunday School have been suspended until further notice.

The Reformation leadership team will be meeting via teleconference on Friday morning to discuss additional changes to our ministry program, including what format(s) we will offer Sunday worship in for the weeks ahead, how best to equip and encourage families and individuals for personal and family devotions and spiritual growth during this time, how we can best serve and meet the needs of one another and our community during this difficult time, etc.

In the meantime, here is one resource we encourage you to use today. It is a wonderful example of the kinds of resources we plan to continue sharing with you and your families in the days ahead. This one is from our friends at Time of Grace ministries:

"Spread Peace" Time of Grace Blog

Also, read on for a letter from our congregation's president, Shawn Bailey:

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear Reformation family,

I hope when you read this letter, I will have arrived safely back to beautiful San Diego from business travel in Australia. Since I am newly elected to this position and also because we are in the midst of some very trying times, I thought it would be good to write to the Reformation congregation at this time.

There’s no doubt that we will face some very tough challenges in our future as a congregation. How do we explain to a six-year-old that a “wet market” in China started a pandemic that translates into not being able to buy toilet paper at local grocery stores in San Diego? Does this make sense? I think it is important to remember that the “COVID19 virus” is not so much the enemy we are having to face, but fear and ignorance. We must seek and demand truth from reliable sources. Be quick to listen to the experts and be very careful and deliberate in our speech and thoughtful in our actions. We are very fortunate to have our faith as a Rock and Refuge at this time as well the opportunities that are presenting themselves to show God’s love and grace to others. Keep it simple and ask yourself: “What would Jesus do?” This is a great opportunity to crowdsource ideas on how we can take better care of our elderly and those with immunity challenges both in the congregation and in the community who are most at risk to this pandemic and whom we can help by following the best practices with personal hygiene and social distancing.

As a Reformation family, I am asking for all of your help in how we can help others. Did you hear about the surfer in Encinitas who created a spontaneous toilet paper exchange to allow those with extra to help someone in need who couldn’t find any for purchase? Have you seen the You Tube videos of Italians singing from their apartment homes to help cheer each other up during their national quarantine? Here at Reformation, can we create a food/hygiene pantry for those in need if we have some extra ourselves? Do you have skills that you can use as part of our I.T. team to help our teaching staff in using technology to reach students? I know we have folks with good ideas and talents that we can plug into our Reformation committees to show the best that Reformation is as we reflect the light of Christ’s love to each other and our community. If we have not met yet, please send me an email ( ) and introduce yourself and let me know how you might be able to serve or where you have some God-given talents that our ministry may be able to benefit from. If we have met, I just expect to hear from you :)

Finally, remember markets and crowds move on fear and greed and are often irrational. Our community will benefit from us applying our faith and the good judgment of best practices to the times in which we live. Living in faith not fear, let’s exploit the opportunities before us to create the world we want our children to live in.

Peace and blessings,

Shawn Bailey

President, Reformation Lutheran Church and School


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