My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

As you know, we did not meet together physically for worship this past Sunday. The reasons for this are very simply to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus.

 

Last night (Sunday night) the CDC made the recommendation that for the next 8 weeks in-person events that consist of 50 people or more people be canceled or postponed throughout the United States. There is some specific guidance for schools, institutions of higher education, businesses, and faith-based organizations.

 

As of a few hours ago (Monday, 2pm Central Time), the White House held a press conference encouraging schooling to happen at home, to stop all unneeded travel, and to not gather in groups of 10 people or more for the next 15 days. These strict guidelines are an effort to slow the virus in the next two weeks before U.S. Hospitals are overwhelmed.  While we will most certainly be dealing with this virus for the next several months, I can say that these 15 days will be some of the most important as the labs and equipment needed to test for the virus become more widely available.

 

I highly recommend that you follow these guidelines. As I said on Sunday, even if you are not personally worried about your health, the goal here is to prevent spreading this virus to someone else who may not survive it.

 

Because of this, I am letting you know that we will not meet at St. John’s Lutheran church for ANY but the most necessary activity for the duration of March. This includes confirmation, Bible studies, social groups, and, sadly, worship services.

 

I do not want you to be without spiritual care during this time. I encourage you to call and text each other, checking on each other’s health and lifting each other’s spirits. I encourage you to join in listening on the radio Sunday mornings for the service. I will continue to share God’s Word and comfort with you, we will simply use a different medium for a while.

 

I have said previously that in situations like this, conditions and information change hourly. I will do my best to communicate clearly and consistently what is going on, both on a national level, but also with our own local family of faith.

 

For right now, please allow me to share some resources with you.

 

  1. To listen to the Church service, please listen to KULP radio on 106.7 FM OR 1390 AM at 10:00am Sunday morning.  If you do not have a radio, you can download an app called ‘Simple Radio’ for Android devices, or for Apple Devices.  Install the app, and search for ‘KULP’ with the search function at the top of the screen.
  2. For the latest status on Church Services, please visit https://stjohns-wharton.org/corona (the page you are on now) for updated information. Click HERE for a link with a printout of each week’s worship service for you to follow along. This will include the readings, hymns, prayers – everything I have in front of me with my folder that I use to lead you during the worship service. I will attempt as best as I am able to keep this page updated with the information that you need to know.
  3. If you just wish to hear the sermon, please visit https://stjohns-wharton.org/sermons for recordings of the sermon. I typically have these uploaded within an hour of the end of a service. I will also continue to record and publish our mid-week Lenten service sermons there.
  4. On that same page with the sermon recordings, there is a PSA on the Corona Virus. This 13 min clip outlines what the virus is, why we take these measures, and suggestions from medical staff on how to treat yourself when you do become ill. If you cannot find it, please search for ‘psa’ on the sermon webpage.
  5. Even if we were still gathering together, one area where the transmission of the virus is possible is when we count and organize the offerings. And, unfortunately, the church still needs to pay bills, insurance, maintenance and more during this time. We respectfully ask that you consider giving your offerings through this link: https://stjohns-wharton.org/giving so that the congregation can continue to meet her financial obligations without putting our volunteers at further risk.

 

I personally will continue to monitor the situation, follow news reports, read the CDC releases, communicate with the Church Council and Elders, and then with you.

 

Any and all of you are welcome to contact me via email (‘Pastor’ at the church website ‘stjohns-wharton.org’) or my cell phone with voice or text (979-488-4560) at any time. If your call goes to voicemail, please do leave a message and I will get back to you rapidly.

 

I finally ask you to join with me in a prayer to our Mighty and Gracious God, who is the source of all healing and comfort.

 

Almighty God, heavenly Father, give us grace to trust You during this time of illness and distress. In mercy put an end to the pandemic that afflicts us. Grant relief to those who suffer, and comfort all who mourn. Sustain all medical personnel in their labors, and cause Your people ever to serve You in righteousness and holiness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

I remain your servant in Christ Jesus our Lord,

 

Pastor R.W. Lutjens

St. John’s Lutheran Church, Wharton

979-488-4560 (cell)

979-532-4522 (office)