Dear friends and members of Desert Hills Lutheran,
Today we are starting something new, a daily e-update from your pastors. I will start today, and tomorrow Pastor Ken will send you a note. We realize that we are going to have to work hard to be in contact while our worship times are suspended. Social distancing is not the same as social isolation. It is physical distancing that is being encouraged until this virus has run its course, which it will.
We will stream a Lenten service for you today, and then this weekend, we will stream a Saturday worship service and a Sunday worship service. The services will be about 40 minutes and will include the basics of our services. Pastor Ken will be preaching, and our appropriate musicians will provide music for the respective days. We will continue this through March and probably April. It is very likely that our Easter services will be streamed as well.
We are beginning to put together a care strategy, so that our most vulnerable members can be contacted and kept in the loop. You can help with this by reaching out to your church friends during the next 90 days.
We will only have two groups meet at church for the foreseeable future: our church council and our finance committee. Both groups will assess financial giving and staffing during our time of quarantine.
What about Holy Communion? We will have to do as the early Lutherans did when first coming to America, wait for a large enough gathering and for a pastor to officiate.
I’m going to ask, as an offering of solidarity, that you join me in prayer every day at 9:30 am (one of our Sunday worship times) and 5 pm (one of our Saturday worship times) to offer a prayer for Desert Hills Lutheran Church, a prayer for our country, and a prayer for our world. A prayer might look like this: “Heavenly Father, we face uncertain times, but we know you walk with us through this. We pray for our church, our country, and our world to stay strong through this crisis. In Jesus name, Amen.”
These are exceptional times. Few of us have ever been through something like this. Yes, there have been virus outbreaks, but this one is attacking the whole planet, and no one seems to be immune. We are doing the best we can here at your church. We will work very hard for you and for our community.
Please look for the streamed services starting tonight and this weekend. Our building is being sanitized, and we will not open again until further notice. However, I, Pastor Ken and the staff will keep you apprised of new information.
And, one final item; today, March 18 is the 41st anniversary of my ordination. On March 18, 1979 I was ordained at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Mound, Minnesota. I never dreamed that I would be a pastor this long or be a pastor of a great congregation or that I would be pastoring a church with no live weekly worship services. Hang with us and me; this too will pass. Our God is a great God.
Desert Hills Lutheran Church and the Coronavirus / COVID-19
The health, safety and well-being of every person who walks in our doors are of utmost importance to us. Being a community of faith, we are working diligently to learn the facts associated with the Coronavirus. Information is evolving one day at a time. We are planning and making decisions based on the potential risk to our community. This communication is to inform you of where DHLC stands, at this time, with regard to the Coronavirus.
DHLC is monitoring several organizations for direction and guidance on what to do and communicate regarding this virus including:
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
ELCA - Grand Canyon Synod
ELCA - Churchwide Organization
Local, state and federal guidelines and recommendations about the Coronavirus/ COVID-19.
To date the risk of spread in Pima County, as listed on the Arizona Department of Health Services, is still listed as “minimal.” However, if it does spread it is expected to spread fast. With our community demographics, we want to be as proactive as possible to get out ahead of it. Below is a list of the things DHLC is doing and what you can be doing during this uncertain time.
Cautionary Actions DHLC is Taking
- Cancelling all worship services, events and meetings beginning Saturday, 3/14 through Tuesday, 3/24 when the council will meet, review the state of the virus and make plans according.
- Posting automatic hand sanitizers at each entrance for use into and out of our building when it opens again.
- Sanitizing all surfaces inside the church.
- Sanitizing pew backs (often used for assistance in standing up).
- Sanitizing all door handles at regular intervals.
- Temporarily removing all hymnals from the pews.
- Temporarily removing all pens and pencils from the pews.
- Encouraging everyone to minimize handshakes and embraces. No one will be offended if you’d prefer to bump elbows or wave vigorously to express happiness to see one another.
- Temporarily suspending all food services.
What You Can Do
- If you are sick, stay home. Main symptoms of this virus include fever, coughing and trouble breathing.
- Wash your hands many times a day for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water.
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough and wash your hands after.
- Use the hand sanitizer.
- Bring and use your own pens.
- Watch for updates in our E Quail and on our website.
- Make your contributions through the mail or online. If you need directions, please contact the church office.
- Stay informed through the CDC, WHO and Arizona Department of Health Services websites: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019, www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019, www.pima.gov/COVID19 and AZDHS.gov.
- Pray for the welfare of our congregation, community, country and all those who serve in the capacity of caring for the ill.
We will keep you posted as additional or different information becomes available. The bottom line is we want you do to what you feel comfortable doing.
If you feel you are at risk, make the best decisions about what is right for you.