Update on COVID-19 Response
March 13th, 2020
Grace and peace friends,
On Friday, March 13th, Governor Tim Walz issued a peacetime state of emergency for Minnesota. The goal is to limit large gatherings over 250 people. It is also recommended to limit, “events with more than 10 people where the majority of participants are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.” The majority of our church body falls under people who are a high risk for severe illness. So in the interest of everyone’s safety and helping contain the spread of the virus I have decided to suspend worship for two weeks.
So we will not have worship on March 15th and March 22nd.
I have been wrestling with the reality of the coronavirus this week as disruptions in our world come closer and closer to home. Finally, a friend told me to “accept it,” and so I have. The Management Team and I have been monitoring the situation, and will continue to make decisions in the interest of our community in regards to worshiping together. I strongly urge anyone who is at a higher risk for severe illness to stay home!
On that note, I also want to offer help. As this pandemic continues to get closer and closer to home, being quarantined is a reality we may all have to face soon. If you need help getting food, toiletries, etc., please reach out! Call the church, call Pastor David, email Francine, leave a message, send smoke signals, connect in any way you need! I am hoping to have a list of people who may need deliveries and am looking for volunteers to help make these deliveries if necessary. If you need assistance, or are willing to assist, please contact the church.
When I think about the coronavirus and our Lenten theme of incarnation, I think this moment is a time when Jesus’ call to love our neighbor as ourselves can be lived out. For some, loving your neighbor may be staying inside. For others, loving your neighbor may be helping deliver food to those who are more vulnerable to the illness.
There will also be several disruptions to our regular worship service/style for the foreseeable future. We are implementing the guidelines recommended by the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health:
– Keeping safe distances from people
– Covering coughs and sneezes
– Washing hands for at least 20 seconds and using hand sanitizer when needed
– Encouraging people to remain home if they feel ill or have flu-like symptoms
– We will not offer communion or coffee/snacks after worship
– Passing of the Peace will not be practiced with shaking hands or hugs, but instead a wave or hand on the heart to convey the message of welcoming.
– We will not pass the offering plate through the worship service, but will instead have it set up so people can make an offering without touching the plates, or we encourage people to give online!
We are all entering a new space of ministry together! I leave you with words of a fellow pastor that helped me this week:
Since I’ve not pastored people through a pandemic before, I don’t know all the answers. But I’m paying attention to science and praying for wisdom. Together, we’ll take courage, be patient, consider the least of these, and press onward while loving our neighbors.
– Your Pastor
P.S. Wash your hands!!!!“
I hope we can continue to move forward together, please check our website or our Facebook for updated information, call your fellow members of Gethsemane to share the news, and if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. Reach out. I am here as your pastor, we are all here as the church.
Pastor David Hodd
March 13th, 2020