Last Sunday, July 5, we held CLC's first in-person worship service since Wednesday, March 11. It was very different. But it was still a positive, life-giving experience of gathering around the gospel in community.
Here is what we learned:
It was too hot at 10:30! We don't like to sit on lawn chairs in a parking lot. People moved to the shade on the lawn. It feels weird to stay in your car at church. We like the earlier times best. We loved gathering together -- even with people we don't know. Most people wore a mask. There was a great positive spirit of community and spirit of keeping one another safe!
Here are upcoming changes:
One early service at 9:30. Worship platform faces the parsonage lawn. Lots of shady seating. Parking places near the worship platform for people in cars. (See graphic.) FM 91.3 will be available. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Lanes nearest the church closed. Food & supplies drive continues.
Here is what was reinforced:
1. Worship is core and central to being "church"
2. The gospel is the message uniting church
3. Church is an incarnational ("in the flesh") experience
4. Methods change. The message remains the same.
5. Our church cares for people (including keep one another safe)
6. All of life points us to OUR need for the gospel
Here are some reminders:
Feeling ill? Stay home.
Covid symptoms? Stay home.
Immuno-compromised? Stay safe.
Not ready? Online worship continues.
Drive-In Worship Plans
We're excited! We're starting "Drive-in" outdoor worship. It begins Independence Day weekend, Sunday, July 5. Worship will be at 9:15 & 10:30 a.m..
See the map for where to park and sit. It'll be great fun! It will be led from a big stage with an outdoor sound system. It has been way too long since we gathered as a congregation. We can't wait.
Questions? Here are some FAQ's:
Q: How will I be able to hear?
a. We'll have a big outdoor sound system.
b. We'll use an FM transmitter that you can tune into in your car.
Q: Where do we park?
a. The north parking lot will have 50 parking spots in five rows facing the church
b. The overflow parking will be along the Old North Main St.
Q: Will there still be online services?
Yes. In addition to the outdoor services, both a Festival and Horizon worship service will be streamed online at the new times (Horizon Sat. 7pm, Sun. 10am & Festival 8:30am)
Q: Can I sit on the lawn?
Yes, you can sit on the parsonage lawn as long as you social distance, keeping families six feet apart.The best seating on the lawn will be nearest to the gaga pit.
Q: How will I be able to see?
All the parking will have cars facing forward toward the church in straight lines. See the map. There will be three "exit lanes" after worship to allow quick turnover between services.
Q: I'm ready to help. Who do I contact?
Q: Will there be a worship guide / bulletin with words?
Yes, it will be available online, accessible through your phone.
Q: Will there be bathrooms?
Bathrooms (upper level lobby & middle) will be available. Entering the church will be mask-only, socially distanced. One person per sink in the bathroom at a time.
Q: Will there be KidZone?
No. Gathering children together is still outside guidelines.
Q: Can I get out of my car?
Yes, you may sit outside your car as long as you stay socially distanced.
Q: If I'm not getting out of my car, how do I hear?
The FM station will be given and you should be able to hear fine in your car.
Q: What if it rains?
a. If there is a chance of rain, worship will be led from the parsonage porch.
b. If there is rain or the likelihood of heavy rain, we'll cancel.
Q: How will I be able to see?
A big flatbed truck will be used as a stage (courtesy of Dale & Nancy Anderson).
Q: What if we run out of parking places?
a. Please reserve a spot among the 50 spots in the north parking lot so that you know in advance if there will be a place for you.
b. You can park in the overflow parking along the street and still hear via FM or the sound system.
c. You can sit on the lawn.
d. We're offering two services (9:15 & 10:30) to offer more places in the lot and on the lawn.
Q: What about masks?
Please wear a mask if you're out of your car.
Q: Why start on July 5?
a. We do outdoor worship on July 4th weekend most years.
b. That's a great weekend for a test run!
c. Personnel - that was the first weekend where we had the team leaders available at the same time.
d. It's a great weekend for a party!
e. Make worship a part of your independence day weekend celebration!
Q: How will we do communion?
Bring your own elements. Bread and juice. If you bring wine, transport it in the trunk.
Q: Can my small group start meeting in the church?
By reservation with Mary Chapman, small groups can begin meeting in the church effective immediately assuming they use masks and remain socially distanced. Meetings are only in the assigned room. Rooms will be cleaned between meetings. Only groups, 10 people or less, may meet at a time. Why? That is currently the state guideline set by the MDH.
Q: Is the church "open"?
Call or email Mary Chapman (689-1211, MEC@cambridgelutheran.org) to arrange a time if you need something from the building. There are no front desk volunteer receptionists available and no date when that will begin.
Q: When will indoor worship begin?
a. We've "pencilled" in an August start date. That will be reviewed by the church council at the July meeting.
b. Festival worship will be at 50% capacity. Horizon worship will be at 40% capacity due to social distancing between chairs.
Q: Will the outdoor worship be Festival or Horizon worship?
It will be the same sermon at all services. It will be the Horizon worship team leading the worship music. Our Festival Traditional Worship Service leaders, Michelle Trunk and Aaron Knudsvig, have recommended that we begin with Horizon worship. A much lower percentage of Festival Traditional Worship Service attenders have indicated that they are ready to return.
Q: Why wear a mask?
Universal masking can reduce the spread of the virus. Masks are an expression of love for our neighbor in case we may be (inadvertently) spreading the virus. To a lesser degree, they also help protect the individual wearing the mask.
Q: Feeling sick?
Please stay home. Keep others safe in case you have something that you might spread.
Q: Are the softball teams playing?
Softball teams have been authorized to play under the name of the church only if MDH guidelines allow. That begins June 24.
E-News Article – Thursday, June 18, 2020
by Pastor Andy
When "drive-in" outdoor worship begins July 5, we'll start with Psalm 40:
I waited patiently for the Lord,
he turned and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of despair...
He set my feet on solid ground
He steadied me as I walked along.
3 I will sing, sing a new song
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
The story of the people of Israel in the Old Testament is this: Tired of waiting. When will God save us? When will redemption come?
The story of the people of a covid-world is this: Tired of waiting. Sick of zoom. Sick of restriction. Sick of fear. Sick of... When will this end? When will redemption come?
A question: What has God shown you? What is God doing within you? How is God shaping you?
Perfecting polarized political opinions is not an answer to this question. Naming where our neighbor is wrong is hardly a spiritual act. The answer is turning to the Lord in our time of need. And learning to stay closer to the Lord. Repentance = change your mind.
to the staff and volunteers who have pivoted our church to digital. We have near zero budgeted funds for tech staffing and nothing in the job descriptions of paid staff. We are a volunteer driven organization. People have stepped up and pivoted in a huge way. Thank you to Matt Braaten and Bill Carson, assisted by many others. We're thankful.
A Pastoral Letter Regarding Reopening
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Dear Friends at CLC,
I am writing to share with you an update on the question of "reopening" as it applies to our church.
During the past week, the guidance for churches regarding "reopening" has been revised a number of times. On Monday, May 18, the "Stay at Home" order changed to "Stay Safe." Yesterday, a new change was announced allowing 25% occupancy beginning Wednesday, May 27. That is an increase from the maximum of ten people put into place May 18.
This past Monday, May 18, the church council and the pastors discussed in detail the question of when and how to re-open. That council discussion included business people, medical professionals and law enforcement personnel.
As before, we are interested in allowing people to worship again as soon as we can feel we can do so responsibly. Three words describe our approach to reopening:
- Measured, not rushed.
- Cooperative, not confrontational, adhering to the guidance of our elected officials.
- Joyful, looking forward with hope-filled anticipation to the day when we can return to worship. Being dispersed has given us greater appreciation for being together in person, helping us experience the "truth" of our incarnational theology.
That said, our church's size, multiple services and (expected) response will shape when we will be able to responsibly return to in-person worship. Be expecting surveys from the church helping us understand what numbers to prepare for. Our return to in-person worship will almost certainly be at a later date than churches which are significantly smaller.
To provide guidance, we are developing a document to outline the path to return based on the 25% capacity limit and accompanying guidelines. It will also include incremental phases of re-opening (though not with dates) leading toward full in-person worship.
I invite you to refer to my column in the May 14 e-news (cambridgelutheran.org/e-news) for the specific guidelines required for reopening (masks, distancing, etc.).
This approach is in alignment with similar congregations, within and outside of Minnesota, with whom I have been in conversation. There is much collaboration happening among church leaders as we prepare for this reopening and it is bringing us closer together across all traditions and across geography. Pastor Emily and I have also heard from many members of our congregation who are supportive of our approach. We understand that people's levels of comfort toward returning vary widely, everything from "immediately" to "not for a long time."
Our approach in all of this needs to be "love for neighbor." Specifically, a) Care for the most vulnerable; b) Follow the best medical advice; c) Take no unnecessary risk. We have to act based on what we discern is safe, faithful and responsible. We also need to remember, support and pray for the vast number of small business owners and employees who have lost jobs and income in this shutdown.
As we've continually reminded ourselves, we are still doing God's work even when we're not able to gather for in-person worship. The church is not closed. It has been deployed. As we look forward to gathering again in-person, in the meantime, we trust that God is still directing and guiding us, inviting us to continue to faithfully carry out the work of the Gospel in these circumstances.
As always, feel free to reach out with any question or comments and blessings to you on this Memorial Day weekend.
Update Emailed to Congregation
Thursday, May 21
From Pastor Andy
Ten “Building” FAQs
Acts 2:46 - “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”
Two comments on church buildings:
last church in the Chicago suburbs had no building. We met in homes. We
held worship in a school. “Church” cannot be equated with bricks and
For about the first 400 years of Christianity, the Christian church did not have buildings. That was illegal. What happened? Christianity boomed. It grew exponentially. What can we learn from that during this short period without a building?
The most important question for our church right now is NOT: When will the building open? (That would be nice.)
Today’s most important question is this: What is the Lord calling you to be and do as a follower of Jesus in the midst of a pandemic?
Your family and friends will note and remember your response for decades to come.
The most frequently asked questions I get are “building” questions. Here are some answers (as things stand now). Circumstances continue to evolve. Short answer: Safety is the primary guide.
Q1: Is the church building open?
A: Staff work from home. The building is open to essential staff. Staff may access the building on a limited basis. Dropping something off that requires in-person meetings can be arranged by calling the church.
Q2: Is anyone at the church building?
A: Mary Chapman, Finance Manager, is considered essential personnel. She works at the church limited hours. The building is checked daily by custodians.
Q3: Does anyone answer the phone?
A: The phone is answered M-F for limited hours. If you leave a voicemail, your voice mail is emailed to staff members. If you want to email directly, a staff directory is on the website. There is always a pastor “on call” whose number is accessible by calling the church.
Q4: When we reopen, what will that be like?
A: See last week’s May 14 “E-news” for a list of all of the required precautions necessary for building to operate within existing guidelines: masks, physical distancing, disinfecting.
Q5: Will the new May 18 “Stay Safe” order allow the building to open?
A: The building is not open yet. The “Stay Safe” order allows groups of up to ten to assemble with masks and social distancing. Under consideration is the effectiveness of small groups six feet apart all wearing masks the entire time.
Q6: Are “parking lot worship” and outdoor worship being considered?
A: Yes. The logistics of bathrooms (or not), keeping people distanced and providing quality sound/experience are the challenging being explored.
Q7: When the Minnesota guidelines allow more people, will we be holding worship in the buildings?
A: Yes. It is dependent on following the guidelines provided. This may include seating in both rooms (Sanctuary & Commons) for one service through video overflow. This may include (free) ticketing through eventbrite to regulate the number of people.
Q8: What do I think about the Catholic bishops plan to defy the government order?
A: I’m unaware of the circumstances behind their need to defy the order. Some news sources have also identified that Lutheran churches are also defying the order. Please note that these are churches in the Missouri Synod, not the ELCA (which Cambridge Lutheran is a part of.) Our approach is collaboration with government officials, not confrontation. Council member Sheriff Chris Caulk has been involved in all reopening discussions.
Q9: Will we continue to live stream worship even after we reopen?
Q10: What are other churches doing?
A: Churches are all crowdsourcing their responses. There is widespread sharing and discussion. There are state guidelines and Lutheran recommendations for churches considering re-opening. These are freely available for those interested. The Director of the Center for Infectious Disease at the U of M is a Lutheran in Minneapolis. He shares freely his expert opinion about the potential dangers for churches.
Early in the shutdown, one pastor defied the order saying that God would protect his church and that they need not fear the virus. They held worship. The pastor caught covid and died.
Early in the spread of the virus, in Washington, a choir speculated that the virus was still about 100 miles away and they’d be fine. They met. There was a carrier. Soon, many people had it. Some died.
We love our neighbor best by taking precautions to protect our neighbor from potential harm.
- Pastor Andy
God Squad - Helping Our Neighbors
We want to do whatever we can to help and support our communities. In light of Covid-19, we have put together a team to help serve our neighbors in need. If you are interested, or even would like more information, please fill out this form, and we'll get back to you shortly.
God Squad Sign-Up:
Online Worship Only Until Further Notice
|Festival Worship Sunday 8:30 a.m. & 9:30 a.m.|
Horizon Worship Saturday 7:00 p.m. | Sunday 9:00 & 10:00 a.m.
Join Us Here:
Afterward, worship will be posted on our website here:
Here are two things you can do when you tune in:
a) Start a "Watch Party" by clicking on that button which invites others. We are a church that includes others.
b) "Share" the video on your page. That also invites others.
Local Cable TV Broadcast – Midco Channel 10
Festival Worship Service – Everyday 10:00 am and Wednesday 7:00 pm
Horizon Worship Service – Everyday 11:00 am and Wednesday 8:00 pm
Philippians 4:19 teaches, "And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." That is good news!
Four Ways to Participate in the offering
a) Old-Fashioned: Mail your offering in to 621 Old N Main St, Cambridge, MN 55008
b) Text Messaging: Text 763.325.1924
c) Online: Secure giving through Vanco
d) Easiest: Automated. Call Mary Chapman, 763.689.1211 to set it up
Questions? Answers are HERE or cambridgelutheran.org/donate or call the church
Parents, you've seen the information sent out about how to participate in KidZone online. Questions? Email Amy Huntley, AJH@cambridgelutheran.org
This pandemic is a major interruption in our lives. But let's see how this strange new set of circumstances can help us learn how to strengthen ourselves in the Lord, strengthen us as families, as people learning to pray and as people who REJOICE in all circumstances.
Are You Receiving Church Emails?
If not, get added by emailing INFO@cambridgelutheran.org. Sometimes emails end up in a "spam" folder. If you aren't getting it, add email@example.com to your Contacts List and/or check the "spam" email folder and move the email to your "In Box" and this will take care of it for the future.
From Pastor Emily
Message to the Graduates
Looking through my Facebook timeline, I was reminded that I graduated from seminary three years ago, and I’ll be honest that it brought up a lot of feelings; feelings for this years’ graduates. From preschool, to middle school, to high school, and beyond. Graduations don’t just celebrate accomplishments, they mark milestones, they mark next steps. Certain graduations like high school and college mean that students are sent out into the world to pursue their plans.
I know that this school year has ended with so many disappointments. From prom, to graduation, to summer plans cancelled, to missing your friends. I don’t have anything to offer you other than empathy and admiration. You have all handled this so well. In a way, you were sent out earlier than you were supposed to be. You were asked to navigate things that many adults have a difficult time with.
When Jesus sent out his disciples to share the good news to the world, it wasn’t in a great climate either. Many of the places the disciples were sent to, they were not welcomed with open arms. Being sent out is never an easy thing. But Christ continues to send us out into the world to be examples of God’s love to others, whether you’re five, twelve, eighteen, or older. We are so proud of you, Class of 2020! Congratulations!
Update Emailed to Congregation, Thursday., May 14
From Pastor Andy
When Will We Re-open?
The most important thing from the perspective of our church family is remembering this: The church is not closed. The church has been deployed.
Our primary ministry is as people of God serving God by serving people as we are led by the Holy Spirit. We serve in our roles as parents, as family members, in our jobs, as friends and as citizens.
Our ministry is not merely what we do in church. Our ministry is what we do as a followers of Jesus Christ. The church is with you. It goes with you wherever you go. Why? Because the temple of God is the Holy Spirit which resides in you, in all believers, scripture teaches. Martin Luther called this the "priesthood of all believers."
You have a ministry! You are gifted! So, don't forget: The church is wide open for business. The church is not closed. The church has been deployed.
Questions? The two primary questions I'm getting:
1. When will the building re-open?
2. What will it be like?
I'd like to address those here. As you well know, opinions about all of these questions span the gamut. During April and May, Pastor Emily and I have been doing the following as we prepare to answer those questions:
a) Staying in contact with Sheriff Chris Caulk and law enforcement;
b) Monitoring the guidance of the governor and the state;
c) Watching what is happening in the schools,
d) Spending time with other local pastors to confer;
e) Watching what is being learned from those churches (primarily in Texas) which have been re-opening as well as those in Texas which have decided not to re-open for worship;
f) Participating in groups planning the steps necessary to re-open the building;
g) Staying in touch with medical personnel serving on the front lines and offering guidance;
h) Listening to business people anxious to re-open, concerned about the costs of not opening.
We hear you. We are listening.
And while we will never find full agreement, we empathize with each of your individual situations. As we've seen, there is a wide spectrum of opinion about opening from opening everything now to waiting until there is no danger. That is a wide spectrum.
So, what will we do?
The church will open when the following pieces are in place:
a) The governing authorities have given permission and guidelines
b) We feel we are prepared to open safely in accordance with medical and safety recommendations
c) The Church Council votes to open
d) We have the necessary volunteers trained, ready to make it happen
e) The congregation is ready to gather again
We know that there are some people who were ready yesterday! We know there are some who will take a long time to be ready, for various reasons (including age or underlying condition).
What will re-opening look like?
Based on our work paying attention to the steps being taken by churches already opening, the following are among the recommended steps that will need to followed as part of a safe re-opening:
a) Arriving early to worship so people entering are six feet apart. (Can Lutherans even actually arrive early?)
b) Masks worn by all participants with masks available for those arriving without, and hand sanitizer stations
c) Single entrances in and out with all doors open
d) Fill the worship space / sanctuary front to back
e) 2-3 seats open between each family
f) One empty row / pew between every row with people
g) Limit seating to approximately 1/3 of the worship space capacity (due to spacing)
h) Bathrooms limited to one person per sink
i) Children sit with families rather than participate in KidZone (until approved for gathering)
j) No congregating in areas where you are closer than six feet to others
k) Services separated by enough time to allow disinfectant of all fabric seating
There are other items as well. It seems weird for a "congregation" to have a "no congregating" rule!
As you can imagine, for a while it won't seem much like church as we've known it. Questions are welcome as to the rationale behind each of those steps, and as to why they are being recommended.
But it is worship, whether we have a mask or not. Whether we're together in person or in spirit. Whether the Holy Spirit is at work in families of five, groups of 10, groups of 100 or large church services.
God is good. God is at work. We're lucky to get to be a part of what God is doing. Dont' miss what God is doing.
So, while we prepare for re-opening, we're also taking daily steps to improve and expand our digital discipleship approaches, both for the short-term and long-term. Our methods may have changed. Our mission remains the same.
Thanks for your partnership in ministry.
From Pastor Emily
Putting “Loving Our Neighbor” in Action
The Old Testament lists 600+ laws that the Jewish people were supposed to live by. How lucky then, are we, that Jesus narrowed those down to two. It doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. The two commandments that Jesus narrowed all of those laws down into are pretty big. Jesus said; “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-38). Now, we all know that loving the Lord is a pretty big thing. It’s the greatest commandment! It’s huge! So how much weight does the second command have when Jesus says, “And the second is like it.” Meaning, it’s also a very big deal.
Right now, right this moment, this is what we’re being asked to do. We are being asked to put our neighbors before ourselves. That is what all of this shelter-in-place and social distancing is for. With a virus that can be present without any symptoms, the best thing we can do for our neighbor, the most loving thing we can do for them, is to stay away from them. I read this great line on Facebook the other day; “We stay apart so when we gather again no one is missing.” Right now, loving our neighbor means staying away from them. And I know that sounds counterintuitive. I know that when we’re scared and anxious, the last thing we want to be is alone, away from people we love. But the good news is that none of us are truly alone. God walks through this with us.
Update Emailed to Congregation, Thursday., May 7
From Pastor Andy
Uff Da! Our Mission, Methods & Message
Job, the character in the Old Testament, got his chance to ask all the big questions. I guess now we’re getting ours.
One morning, our family is on vacation during spring break (in Bloomington). The next morning, Friday, March 13, I’m writing an email to the congregation suspending in-person gatherings for at least two weeks. Seven weeks ago!
Our mission remains the same. Overnight, our methods had to change. No longer able to do what we’ve always done, people would be soon asking:
Did my church help me experience God’s presence?
Did my church reach out to me?
Did my church help me help people?
Did my church help me grow spiritually in this difficult season?
Did my church welcome, invite and include outsiders?
New methods we’ve adopted to meet our mission:
Virtual Church (Worship): Five services using traditional and contemporary formats offered multiple times including communion using both current and pre-covid recordings. If the resurrected can walk through walls to meet his disciples, he does the same today.
Community Care Callers (Fellowship): 47 Community Care Callers called 851 families. The message: We love you. How are you? Can we help you? How can we pray for you? Our prayer list tripled. Every family was invited to participate in (or even lead) a small group. We’re now calling again.
The God Squad (Ministry): Twenty-six people volunteered to be on call to meet needs as they arise in a wide range of serving roles to directly help people in their time of need. Volunteer and financial help are available.
Digital Presence (Discipleship): The future is digital. This forced us to catch up. Zoom groups, social media, occassional morning or evening prayer services on facebook, daily e-devo, weekly podcast and Alpha online. Other courses are under consideration.
Welcome Outsiders (Evangelism): This needs work. Ahead of other churches our size -- 66% of larger ELCA congregation were not live streaming weekly prior to the shut-down according to one survey this week; we have for years -- our new front door (digital ministry) has to be entirely rethought if we’re going to reach the 60% unchurched population of Isanti County.
God is good! Covid is not secret punishment.
God is present! God can do a new thing in our most difficult moment.
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly!” - John 10:10
- Pastor Andy
From Pastor Emily
You’re Doing Just Fine.
I’m so tired of seeing articles all over the internet that say things like; 10 Ways to be Productive During Covid-19! or Learn a New Language While You’re Stuck at Home! The productive German in me wants to pack every single moment with results-driven work. How many books can I finish in one week? Can I make only from-scratch dinner every night? How long does it really take to knit an afghan anyway? (For answers on that last one, see my Facebook page.) The problem with this way of thinking is that when you start feeling overwhelmed by all the unknowns, you feel guilty for not being as productive. I’m assuming this feeling is relatable.
Here’s the good news- You’re doing just fine. In fact, better than just fine, you’re doing great! You are handling this situation the best you can. No one is an expert at how to get through this. No one knows all of the answers. But here’s what I do know. Here is one solid, immovable fact: You are not alone. The God who loves you walks with you in all things, this too. Your house has toys and homeschooling papers everywhere? You’re doing great. You’ve reached the end of Netflix? You’re doing great. You’re calling your kids five times a day because you need interaction, and you think you might be annoying them at this point? You’re doing great. Spend time in scripture. Spend time in prayer. Spend time reaching out to others. We’re doing great.
Update Emailed to Congregation, Wed., March 18
|From Pastor Emily
In light of our recent call for social distancing, and having to suspend worship services at the church, we are working around the clock to figure out how to best connect with you all, as well as share the good news of Jesus Christ. Here's just a short list of things to look forward to in the week ahead.
Tonight (Wednesday, March 18)- You won't want to miss Dr. Michael Chan's message on Galatians 5! We'll be posting it to both your Facebook page as well as to our website at 7 pm this evening. Dr. Chan is a dynamic speaker and a professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary (yes, he had me as a student in a class called Lions and Eunuchs, and Kings, Oh My! A Study on the Book of Daniel).
This Week- We will be posting daily devotionals, prayer prompts, and faith-based materials to give you hope and comfort.
Sunday- We will be coming to you Live via Facebook Live at a time yet to be determined (we'll let you know).
We are also in process of formulating plans to serve needs as they arise. We will be keeping you up-to-date on ways in which you can serve through our church. Two things that are developing.
We continue to think and plan on how to best do ministry in our community in the midst of all of this. Keep an eye out for future emails with more information.
Also, please let us know how we can be praying for you at this time. You can reply to this email, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us through Facebook.
Have a blessed day,
Update Emailed to Congregation, Monday, March 16
Dear Friends, "As I have loved you so you must love one another," said Jesus. (John 13:34)
The big question is this: How do we love one another in the midst of a global pandemic?
The big opportunity is this: How do we learn better to BE the church even without MEETING as a church?
The big difficulty is this: People can be spreading covid-19 and not even know it, putting the neighbors we love at risk including at church!
The big ask requested of us is this: The World Health Organization has asked groups like our church to act quickly to limit the spread of coronavirus (in order to "flatten the curve" allowing healthcare providers to keep up) by doing the following:
a) "Social Distancing"
b) Limit Social Contact
As Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared today: "We must take decisive action to curb the spread of this pandemic and protect the health and safety of Minnesotans. That’s why I’m ordering a partial closure of restaurants, bars and places of public accommodation and amusement, such as fitness centers and movie theaters, by 5 p.m. tomorrow [March 17]."
Keeping with those goals, the pastors, staff and leadership have been reviewing what steps we can take as a church to reduce / slow the spread of the coronavirus. We have been in consultation with medical professionals from our church (including my wife Alison, a Fairview geriatric nurse practitioner who is dealing with the pandemic as it affects seniors). We are tracking the recommendations of the CDC.
The following steps are in alignment with their recommendations:
+ As previously shared, worship on Sundays will be ONLINE only, live streamed via Facebook HERE and then later posted to our webpage under the WORSHIP tab HERE. What that worship experience will be is still emerging.
+ Staff will work remotely including pastoral care. A guide to staff contacts is found on our website HERE. You may contact staff via the information there. The church will not be open during normal office hours for the reasons stated above as office staff and volunteers will be working remotely. If you have a need and don't know who to speak with, call the church at 763.689.1211 and if someone doesn't answer, follow the prompts to leave a message.
+ Ministry programming is temporarily suspended including all children's and youth programming for the same reasons that our local school district #911 has suspended classes on-site. We're asking people NOT to meet face-to-face for the reasons listed above.
+ Alternative means of discipleship and learning are being explored. Ways to serve those in need are also being explored, as previously mentioned.
+ We are postponing the new capital campaign that had been previously scheduled. A global pandemic is simply a bad time.
+ Committees, groups and ministry teams are encouraged to meet remotely rather than face-to-face. Pastor Emily has prepared a guide for groups to use a free teleconference service and/or Zoom, a free video-conferencing service. Pastor Emily is happy to send it to anyone requesting it.
+ Pay attention to those in your sphere of relationships who may need support, attention and communication. Call people. Check in on them.
+ We are asking all groups to adhere to these recommendations
+ During this time period, the lower level of the church will be closed. Cathy Bolton, one of our custodians who served in the school district for many years, will be initiating a deep cleaning of the lower level of the same sort done in the schools. It will remain closed until this episode has passed.
We do not come to these conclusions lightly. Asking people NOT to meet is typically the last thing that churches would ever do. However, this is what is being recommended by our own people and by experts on pandemics. So, we ask your cooperation even if it is inconvenient or interferes with other goals and missions that we may share.
Three Quotes I'm Finding Helpful:
1. The Apostle Paul on rejoicing: Philippians 4:4-5 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."
2. Michael Leavitt writing about society's response: "Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after will seem inadequate."
3. Seth Godin on being generous: "For members of the public, staying at home and sheltering in place isn’t selfish, it’s generous. Social distancing helps keep the virus from infecting others at the same time that it flattens the curve of the spread of the pandemic, giving health facilities a chance to provide care over time."
No doubt you've read of the other churches (nearly all the larger churches) taking the same steps that we are.
May we understand that our actions today may help save lives tomorrow. I'm sure we'll all in favor of doing that.
I'd like to close with the "Prayer of Good Courage." It is the prayer which my father and grandfather concluded all of their sermons:
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
PS - Feel free to pass this email on to people at church who may not be aware of it.
WORSHIP ONLINE ONLY THIS SUNDAY, March 15
The following email went out to the congregation on Friday evening, March 13, 2020.
Friends, Last Saturday we shared steps we had taken to reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This weekend, we will expand that effort by holding regularly scheduled worship services ONLINE, NOT as a gathered community at the church building. (This includes NO KidZone, Financial Peace, Alpha, First Communion or other Sunday groups.)
Going forward, please watch for communication from leaders of your ministries. Each ministry will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis as far as meeting.
No doubt you're aware that, today, both the governor and the president declared states of emergency for our state and nation. As citizens, and as a church, we want to do what we can to follow those guidelines to work toward care for our neighbor through actions that prevent the spread of Covid-19.
For some people, including those with impaired health, the coronavirus has caused fear and anxiety because of its potential to spread. In all things, we are to begin with scripture. 2 Timothy 1:7 declares, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." We always walk forward with faith in the one who has already demonstrated his love for us.
It is rare as a church that we say the best thing we can do is NOT meet together in God's presence. However, that is the case here.
What We Are Doing:
+ Temporarily suspending worship services (both Sundays and Wednesdays) until further notice. We will review this decision no later than March 27. We are one of many Minnesota churches doing the same.
+ Livestreaming an abbreviated worship experience at 10:00 a.m. each Sunday. Pastor Emily will be preaching this Sunday, 10:00 a.m. on our Facebook livestream fb.com/cambridgelutheran on the topic of hope in the midst of crisis. (If you like our page, a reminder for the live stream will appear in your notices.)
+ Looking at ways as a church that we can especially care for people who are in need of support.
+ Evaluating on a case-by-case basis whether individual ministries will be meeting.
+ Note: If your ministry involves a large number of seniors (65+) - the group identified as the most at-risk from this virus - you can safely assume your ministry will not be meeting (i.e., NO PrimeTime Seniors, no senior communion services, etc.) Be watching for communication from ministry leaders.
+ Increasing our ministry of prayer and intercession for the world and for one another.
What Can You Do?
+ Join us on Sundays at 10am for worship.
+ Pray for everyone involved. Be specific about what you're praying for.
+ Be safe. Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Follow the CDC guidelines. Stay home if you're not feeling well.
+ Look for people in your sphere of influence that you can love and care for as the hands and feet of Christ.
+ Continue to support the mission and ministry of our church. You may give offerings online HERE from the link at
http://cambridgelutheran.org/donate or via text giving (763) 325-1924 (free one-time setup). You may also set up automatic giving through the office by calling 763.689.1211. Questions are addressed at cambridgelutheran.org/donate
+ Share with others (who may not be online) that we're suspending worship services and various ministries. There is always someone who doesn't get the message.
We don't know how long this will last.
We encourage and challenge every person in our church to determine who they can care for in the midst of this crisis. Christians have always made a difference by reshaping their circumstances.
Dating back to examples of long ago, such as the plagues in Europe and other situations of societal distress, it has been the church of Jesus that steps into the midst of challenging circumstances to be change agents who make a difference for good when it feels like hope has been lost.
That is our (your) calling and challenge as a follower of Jesus Christ.
What Remains the Same?
As for now, office hours and other functions of the church will continue as normal until further notice. All activities are under review. Questions? Call 763-689-1211.
I share with you this news in the spirit of love, not fear. Again, 2 Timothy 1:7 declares, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
As graphs showing cases from around the world show, this virus is spreading and growing exponentially. So, let's be diligent in containment and mitigation.
Our mission, identify and focus in life is Jesus Christ. In every circumstance, he is help for living and hope for life.
Thank you for making our congregation a vital and effective outpost of ministry in the name of Jesus.