Staying Vibrant Despite the Virus

This last week has been filled with change—rapid and profound change.  So, I want to begin by reminding you of what will change and what will not change, both in our personal and families lives, and in our life together here at Light of Christ.

What will not change here at Light of Christ is who we are and what we do.  We are still God’s beloved children, living as God’s beloved community, and caring for God’s beloved creation.  We were named and claimed, called and chosen in Baptism.  Our identity in Christ is constant amid all life’s changes.

As God’s beloved children, we still seek to be Christ’s living, loving presence in the world.  We still seek to love more like Jesus loves: to forgive more like him, to serve more like him, to pray more like him, and to give more like him.  That is especially true now, when our faith and our church is as important as ever.

Conversely, we will not be defined by a virus.  We need to deal with this virus, but we will not be defined by it.  We will not crawl into a hole and hide; we will not put the brakes on our mission and ministry; we will not hide our light under a bushel.  

What is changing, however, is how we live as God’s living, loving presence in the world.  We need to think and act creatively, imaginatively, and courageously as we continue to carry out the tasks that the Lord has given to us.  The “who” and the “what” is not changing; the “how” is.  

Love is always free to improvise.  We see that again and again in our Lord’s ministry—he had great freedom to love the person in front of him, in any given moment, in whatever way he knew was best.  We have the same freedom—to love the Lord and to love one another, especially the most vulnerable, in the way we believe is best for them and most pleasing to the Lord. 

The Church Council met on March 17th and decided that we will follow the recommendations/guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and the MN Department of Health as closely as we can.  That means, at least right now, that we will not hold gatherings of more than ten people and that in any gathering we keep a “social distance” of at least six feet.  

•    Virtual Meetings    The Church Council, and our Committee, Task Forces, Staff and all other meetings will be held “virtually” as much as possible.  When we do have “in person” meetings we will practice the recommended “social distance”.  

•    Zoom     We have purchased a “Zoom” subscription which is intended to be used as the platform for “virtual” meetings throughout our congregational leadership.  Please contact Terri in the church office for scheduling and details.  

•    Staff Working Remotely   Staff members will be set up to work from home and will do much of their work remotely with my approval and under my supervision.  Our office hours, and office presence, will be reduced to Monday-Thursday 8:00 am-2:00 pm, and Friday 8:00 am-noon.

•    Communications   We will be using all of our communications platforms to inform you of what is happening in a timely and comprehensive way – the website, our Facebook page, YouTube, email, e-blasts, the Beacon, texts, and telephoning.  One change we are making right away is that we will be publishing The Beacon every week now (rather than every two weeks) and we’ll be sending it out on Monday, both by email and by snail mail for those who are not online.

 

•    Online Sunday Services     Our Minneapolis Area Synod Bishop, Ann Svennungsen, has directed all the congregations in our Synod to suspend in-person worship services through the end of April.  Therefore, we will continue to conduct online worship services at least through April.   Our Sunday services can be found here.

•    Online Lenten Services    Wednesday night Lenten services will also be recorded and posted on our website so that you can watch them beginning on Wednesday evening of any given week.  Our Lenten Services can also be found here.

•    First Communion Services  scheduled for March 22 and 29 are postponed until the restrictions on large group gatherings are lifted.

•    Confirmation Day Service  scheduled for April 19th may is also postponed until the restrictions on large group gatherings are lifted.

•    Adult Choir and the Praise Team will not be rehearsing.  Rehearsal will resume once we are told that it is safe for groups larger than ten people to meet.

•    Daily Devotions    Katie Kohler, our Worship and Music Director, and I will be posting a morning devotion five days a week – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—which you can find on our website.  These devotions can be found here.

•    Prayer Requests    Please submit prayer request and thanksgivings for our Sunday services by emailing them to Pastor Kuenzel's church email at locpastor@frontier.com.  These prayers and thanksgivings can be for you and your family, for our ministries here at Light of Christ, or for needs in the wider world.  If you submit them by Wednesday at 9:00 AM they will be included in the service for the coming Sunday.  

We will be updating this section regularly with online resources that are pertinent during this time. Please feel free to share ideas with our staff as well! We hope these links will support you in faith and help with some ideas during this time at home. Blessings!

•    Sunday School, Spark, and Confirmation instruction will be held via “distance learning” to the extent that it is possible and feasible for us.

•    Kids Connect Time   Kirsten Kelly, Cat Borman, and Kim Wortz will be posting a “Kids Connect Time” activity at least five days a week.  These activities can be found on YouTube and Facebook.

•    High School Fellowship will not meet in person but will meet “virtually.” 

•    Confirmation Retreat   The Confirmation retreat, scheduled for April 4-5, has been postponed.  

•    Worship Notes   Confirmation students can continue to complete Worship Notes by watching our online Sunday Services on YouTube

•    Generosity    Please continue to give generously.  If you are not using online giving this is a wonderful opportunity to try it out.  You can also mail your offering to the church office or drop it off during regular office hours.

•    Contingency planning   Given the potential economic impact of the coronavirus, the Church Council will draw up contingency plans for our spending/expenses for the remainder of the year, for example, if our financial giving is 90%/80%/70% of our projected estimate of giving for 2020.  

 

•    Pack the Pews     Please continue to bring groceries for the “Pack the Pews” campaign and drop them off in the Fellowship Hall during normal office hours. Given the economic downturn food insecurity will grow.  

•    Fifth Sunday Offering     In addition, please give generously to our Fifth Sunday Offering this month which is being donated to help support the Senior Dining Program at the Delano Senior Center.  Since the Seniors cannot eat together at the dining center our donation will be used to help purchase food and meals for the senior adults who normally come to the Senior Center.  

•    Medical Vulnerability     A priority for Light of Christ during this time is to pay special attention to our senior adults.  We will provide them with timely written/printed communication (especially if they are not online).  We have volunteers willing to connect with a phone call to assess additional needs such as possibly running errands for essential items including groceries, health & personal needs, prescriptions, etc.  It might mean helping them with navigating online ordering of items or other specific assistance they may request.  

The same will be true of any families we can help, at Light of Christ and in the community, who may be “home bound” because of a coronavirus infection.  Please contact Jinnelle Weis by email at locvolunteer@frontier.com or by phone at 952-250-5527 if you need help, or if you are available to help those who cannot or should not leave their home. 

•    Financial Vulnerability    The economic downturn will leave many families struggling financially.  We are exploring ways in which we can help these families through a time of underemployment or unemployment.  

 

•    Building Usage    As of this writing, none of the outside organizations that use our building will be using it in the foreseeable future.  The one exception is AA and Al Anon.  Our one request of them is that they follow the CDC and MN Department of Health guidelines for small group meetings.  

•    Building Cleanliness     Paul Gabrelcik, our church custodian, is currently at work to do a deep cleaning of the entire building and all the furniture, with special attention to doorknobs, handles, faucets, and any surface that is repeatedly touched. We will also be asking anyone who comes into the building for any length of time to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer when they enter the building and again when they leave.  

 

Since our staff will be doing much of their work remotely, we want to make sure that you can easily reach us.  So here are our work email addresses and preferred phone numbers.

Catherine Borman, Associate Director of Children and Family
locfamilies@gmail.com            612-423-2616

Paul Gabrelcik, Custodian      612-816-9377

Debbie Johnson, Bookkeeper   612-747-7063
locfinance@frontier.com

Kirsten Kelly, Director of Children, Youth and Family
locchildren@gmail.com            612-220-7464

Katie Kohler, Director of Worship and Music
locworshipmus@gmail.com        763-2385159

Bruce Kuenzel, Pastor         
locpastor@frontier.com         505-412-3013

Terri Reuter, Office Administrator
lochrist@frontiernet.net        612-419-3272

Jinnelle Weis, Shared Ministry Director
locvolunteer@frontier.com        952-250-5527

Kim Wortz, Associate Director of Children and Family
locsundayschool19@gmail.com   952-457-9253