This has been one of the saddest days of my life.
It started out OK. I left early this morning for a circuit meeting in Overland Park. We had text studies on Hebrew and Greek portions of the Bible and talked over a recent paper on the role of men and women. We also talked about the fallout of the Coronavirus. We all concluded that we would continue to have worship services as long as we could.
I got home in time to conduct a conference call for another Math teacher at NELHS. The call meeting went well, but afterwards we were informed that NELHS would be canceling classes as of Friday and attempting to continue with online classes. The staff is determined to do the best they can. Pray for them.
This led to me check to see if any details about public gatherings had changed here in Wichita. They had. The “recommendation” to not have public gatherings of over 50 people had now become a “mandate” in Sedgwick County. I started to come to grips with the fact that since we have over 50 people at almost every one of our services, we would have to suspend worship indefinitely.
Admittedly, I’ve been concerned about where this virus was taking us. But, honestly, I didn’t think it would come to this. For the first time in my 32+ years of ministry, I won’t be conducting services on Sunday mornings (or Wednesday evenings).
I spoke with the Board of Elders this evening, and the decision was made to suspend services until further notice. We also decided the following:
- I will be sending out another email to all members with a link for WELS congregations that stream or record their worship services (a service that we do not provide but will look to add in the future).
- I will be sending out written sermons for Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings for now, with the possibility of recording devotions/sermons/weekly updates in the near future.
- Members will be encouraged to mail their offerings to the church or to give them online (the link is listed below).
- Midweek activities (such as Bible Information Classes, Confirmation, Mailing Volunteers) will continue. The church council will also meet on Sunday, as scheduled.
- Easter for Kids, scheduled for April 4, has been canceled.
- The Vision-Traction Organizer seminar this coming weekend has been postponed to June 26-28.
- Easter invitations will not be sent out with the uncertainty of when services will resume. The Easter breakfast has also been canceled.
- I will make myself available for visits either at members’ homes or at church for anyone who wants to visit and to provide the Lord’s Supper.
- The child care center will remain open until the Health Department tells us otherwise.
As I mentioned in Sunday’s sermon, the Lord will use even this virus to “display his glory.” For the time being, that glory may seem hidden, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. God just hasn’t chosen to reveal it yet.
Until he does, we’ll trust him. We’ll serve him the best way we can. And we’ll continue to preach his saving gospel. It’ll just be done in a different way for a while. But, rest assured, we will continue to be blessed. That’s God’s promise.
But I’m still sad. For me as a pastor, Sunday morning worship is the highlight of my week. I get excited about spending time with the body of Christ, knowing that through Word and Sacrament, God is blessing his people. So I selfishly ask you to pray for me. Pray for our church. Pray for our world. And I’ll continue to pray for you.
I will continue to share more information as it becomes available (it seems to change several times a day!). As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns. Above all, let me know when I can come visit you. I still need to be among the Lord’s people.