15 March 2020
Dear St. Luke’s
I want to thank all of you who joined our online worship this morning at 10am. Our online assembly comprised our community in Chicago, old friends who have moved away, people using facebook for the first time, and worshippers from around the U.S. and the world. Being together, even in difficult circumstances, was a source of hope, resilience, and joy for me. Thank you.
If you missed the worship livestream, you can still watch it in two parts. PART 1 is here, and PART 2 is here. Follow along with the words and music of worship by downloading or viewing the Online Worship Guide here. I also encourage you to check out today’s sermon entitled “What It Means To Be Seen” by Pastor Nicolette Peñaranda, the third sermon in our Water in the Wilderness series.
Our small in-person worship team included myself, Pastoral Intern Elle Dowd, Cantor Bev Jedynak, and blessed Eric Halvorson who ran the livestream. They all did a great job with little notice and I thank God for them! We did experience some technical difficulties during the livestream that made it difficult for some people to access the stream. I thank you for your patience, and promise to learn and improve the online worship experience for the future. If you want to be part of the online ministry team, please write to me (pastorerin@stlukesLS.org) and let me know.
In the days, weeks, and months to come, we will see major adjustments in our routine as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although much about our daily lives is changing, I want to assure you of my confidence that here at St. Luke’s we can keep becoming a powerful church that transforms lives and changes the world. God has gifted our community with creativity, flexibility, solidarity, and mutual care. We have everything we need to keep being the church in new ways together.
In that spirit, the St. Luke’s Council unanimously approved the following community care measures today, effective through at least the end of March:
- Worship is online only until further notice. We will continue to figure out how best to do this, and God will be with us in our learning.
- Midweek supper/study is moved to Zoom. Zoom is an online video meeting software that will allow us to see and hear each other from our homes. You’ll receive more information later on how to use Zoom, including support with setting it up.
- Prayer Around the Cross is also moved to Zoom.
- Other small group meetings (such as W4, Table Talk, Bible Study, Antiracism Ministry, Confirmation, Let’s Talk About Death & Dying, Baby Shower, Church Council, etc.) will either cancel, postpone, or move online. Stay tuned for more details about what this will look like for your small group.
- Open chapel / office hours will be kept occasionally for those who wish to stop by the church for quiet prayer or conversation with the Pastor. If we are unable to celebrate communion for an extended period of time, communion may be available this way. People must maintain 1m of distance from one another when at church. More information to follow.
- Plans will be made in the next few days for community care ministry. We hope to be able to provide groceries, meals, or errands for community members in need, prayer/check-in partners for people who are homebound, and regular opportunities to connect with each other and resist loneliness. If you want to be part of community care ministry, or to make us aware of a need, please write to me (pastorerin@stlukesLS.org) and let me know.
- Other pandemic-friendly creative ministry opportunities are welcome and encouraged!
- The Town Hall originally scheduled for March 29 is postponed, to be rescheduled at a later date when we know more.
The fact is, these measures are difficult and sacrificial. They are also in line with both public health advice and the response of many other congregations like us in Chicago. We’re doing the right thing, but it is not easy. Please be gentle with yourself and each other in these days. Give each other a call. Go laugh or smile at old posts on our Facebook page. Sing songs. Read your Bible. If you’d like, email me to set up a time to check in about how you’re doing. I care about you.
In deep hope,
Erin Coleman Branchaud (she/her/hers)
Powerful church. Transforming lives. Changing the world.