No indoor gatherings
In mid-March we began meeting online/by phone for weekly worship. We thought it would be temporary, and it is, just not as short-term as we expected. We will continue this practice through the summer, adapting and including other creative ways to worship and be together. Each month we will reassess the question of indoor gatherings and meetings inside our building.
During this time:
- We’ve worshiped together each Sunday at 10 am
- We have been holding weekly online coffee hours Tuesday at 9 am
- Our hospitality teams are staying in touch by phone, email and online
- Session is meeting every Tuesday at 4 pm
- We are staying connected through Daily Devotion emails
- We are praying for each other, calling each other, finding ways to bless each other (driving by and honking on birthdays!)
- We had an online Memorial Service for John Stork
- Connections Coffees meets monthly online
- Adult Confirmation has been meeting every two weeks online
- We have welcomed three new members, Bill, Erica and Rachel
- We started our Middle School Confirmation class
- We are preparing to confirm our high-schooler
- The youth are fundraising for camp
- Ava has been tending the milestone jar. In this time there have been birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones of loss and grief, joy and celebration, and we have shared them with each other (Additional milestones have been purchased because we ran out of the initial stash).
- We’ve shared prayers, and Kingdom of God sightings with each other weekly.
- We celebrated Good Friday and Easter, and are preparing for a special Pentecost service.
- Work has been steadily moving forward to make our basement a preschool space that will be used starting in the fall. This will include an accessible basement entrance, an additional bathroom with a shower, and an outdoor play area.
Discernment and Decisions
Session’s job is to discern how God is leading us. Right now, this work combines paying close attention to the guidance of our state health officials and our own presbytery and denomination and to the needs and circumstances of the congregation, guided by prayer, scripture, and our congregation’s own sense of identity, calling and mission.
Our congregation’s wisdom includes:
- We shape our life together around worship, hospitality and sabbath. How are we called to live these right now? Especially, how can we practice hospitality (mutual receiving and welcoming of each other) when many of us feel isolated and lonely? How can we offer hospitality to the community? What are the needs and invitations around sabbath in this time? What creative ways of worshiping might open up to us when we’re forced outside the walls of the traditional sanctuary setting?
- LNPC is guided by these four convictions:1- God is doing something here and now that incorporates the past and leads us into the future. 2- We are exactly the right size and make-up, and have all the resources we need, for what God wants to do in and through us. 3- Each person participates from their own particularities and passions. 4- We are all ministers - we all share the work of the church. These are especially meaningful and important touchstones for us right now!
- We believe the Church is called to embrace the leadership and care of the most vulnerable among us. What are the needs rising up among us? How can we give voice to each other, include everyone, and empower each other as ministers? How can we practice belonging to each other in this time when our typical ways put one another at risk?
- We discerned this year that our building is central to our mission. How does this look right now, and in the coming days, weeks, months and years? (Current example: Owen and Maisy’s piano teacher recorded the opening and closing portions of an online recital in our sanctuary last Friday).
Throughout history, there have come significant global events and particular world-shaping moments that obliterate the status quo and shift life onto a different plane for a time. We are living in one of those moments. One day we will look back at all the ways it changed us, and marvel at what God did.
In the midst of these times, the Church is forced/called to return to its core identity and purpose and truly be Church. So, just like we always have, and also in brand new, completely different ways, that is what we do. We watch for God, we help each other practice our belonging to God and one another, and we join in God’s work in the world right here and now.
We look forward to what the Spirit will do and through us in this time.
In gratitude, trust and courage,
Pastor Kara Root, Pastor Lisa Larges, Clerk of Session Lisa Johnson and Ruling Elders Brian Rainey, Sue Goodspeed, Susan Hensel, Joyce Tesarek, Amy Leafblad, Jason DeBoer-Moran
Our decision-making process:
- We are committed to keeping each other, and those with whom we share our space, as safe as possible. We believe we all belong to each other, and that means we are responsible not just for our own well-being, but our neighbors as well, especially the most vulnerable among us.
- Gatherings of people indoors, in close proximity for long periods of time, with singing, talking and touching, are the most contagious environments. For the time being, we are not permitting indoor gatherings of any size groups in the building. (Exempted: construction crews at work). If there is something that warrants a significant shift in this policy before September 1, we will let you know.
- Session is staying current with all new public health and safety information and recommendations.
- As we consider what building use will look like in the coming phases, in addition to our commitment to caring for one another and our community, other factors come into play. Policies and practices will need to be instituted around proper cleaning and sanitization of public areas and restrooms, liability and insurance questions, procedures for group behavior (masks, social distancing, food-related rules, etc.) and plans for contact-tracing. (For example, with even small groups, requiring shared contact info so that when/if one person becomes sick, the conveners of the meeting can let each participant know they were exposed). At each new phase, we will share updated expectations and policies.
- Addressing building use again in September will give us a better big picture about the behavior of the virus in the Twin Cities and best practices for moving ahead with indoor gatherings. It also allows us to give our current attention and focus to caring for each other and our community in the present needs and circumstances.
Talk to us!
If you have unusual requests for building use that do not involve group gatherings please don't hesitate to ask. (eg., two siblings in one family recorded themselves on the sanctuary piano for an online recital, a teacher recorded a video in the space to be shared online, etc). Please reach out with other questions or ideas.
If you'd like some more detailed background information, the following is helpful.
- This video of a conversation (half hour) with medical expert Dr. Michael Osterholm with the ELCA Lutheran pastors in the Minneapolis Synod in early May.
- This article, by a microbiologist/immunologist and professor of biology explains how the virus spreads in various environments
- This guidance document put out in early May by the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.
- This document from our national office released in early May - pages 4-12 give specific practical considerations and guidelines.
- These original CDC Guidelines for Reopening America, which included Faith Communities, before they were removed from the document.
- This reflection on the Church’s calling of waiting.
- This reminder about Church, after some bumpiness in an online worship service.