Dear New Hope family and friends,
Tonight is our last midweek Lent Service, and like the previous two, it will be posted on the church website early this evening.
In the last Covid-19 specific email we outlined how all worship services would be online through to, and including this evening's. We have now made it to the end of that initial window of time and both federal and state authorities have extended our 'shelter in place' instructions through to April 30. This of course is sad news, even as we all have come to comprehend why this is so.
So, for the time being, we will continue with the suspension of our public services - continuing to offer worship services online.
With holy week beginning this Sunday with Palm Sunday, here is an outline of what you can expect:
- Palm Sunday Worship - April 5 - online.
- Maundy Thursday Worship - April 9 - online - in the Taizé style
- Good Friday Worship - April 10 - online
- This will be in conjunction with Immanuel Lutheran GR, New Hope, and 5 other churches.
- This is a Tre Ore - a collection of mini services that focus on the seven words of Jesus from the cross.
- Easter Sunday - April 12 - online.
In recent days, I - Pastor David - have received several ideas via email from some of you offering ideas of ways we can get together without actually being together (sitting in our cars in the parking lot for an amplified service, for example). I promise that we will explore these ideas and if we find one we feel we can make use of, we will. Please don't be offended, however, if we don't. The considerations and complexities of such gatherings demand a great deal of respect and an exceedingly cautious approach.
In recent days, I am also hearing about how so many of you are praying for each other - as asked! I praise God for that. Please keep this up. Please use your phones to reach out to each other. Suddenly the phone call has become very personal!
Finally, as a community we will also find a shift in our prayer request in the coming days. There was a moment for all of us when we knew no one with Covid-19. Now the prayer requests for people we know are starting to come to me. Possibly we could soon be praying for one - or more - of our own. So let us begin praying even now. We pray for those with Covid-19. We pray especially for all those people in health care and human care vocations who are on the front-lines. May the Lord heal the sick. May he grant strength to those who labor. And in the face of all weakness, may we all together repent of our own participation in a fallen and rebellious world, call to God for a savior, and celebration the savior he has given for us and all the world - Jesus Christ His Son our Lord!
If you have any questions, please do reach out to us.
May the Lord bless and keep you.
Scott Eisen (Congregational Chairman),
Alex Ancinec, Dave Butler, Paul Bybee, Eric Mis, and Andy Retberg (New Hope Elders)
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On Monday, March 23rd a new order came from the MI Governor's Office that all people are to shelter in place through April 13th, 2020.
Here is what remains the same for New Hope:
- Through this period of time, our worship that had previously been moved online will remain online. You can look for a Lent service each Wednesday evening of Lent, and a Sunday worship service each Sunday morning. Both can be found on this site's homepage.
- All other public activities are a combination of cancelled, postponed, and suspended until further notice. Again, you can find the that full calendar of events on this site's homepage.
- You will continue to get all-church emails. You can sign up for those at the bottom of this site's homepage.
- Pastor and Elders will continue to make phone calls reaching out to you.
- Jesus loved you yesterday, and he loves you today, and he will love you every tomorrow both in this life and in the life to come! (Hebrews 13:8)
Here is what is changing on account of the new Shelter In Place orders:
- As much as possible, staff will be working from home. You can still reach pastor at email@example.com, or by leaving a voicemail at church: 616.669.2790.
- In large part, pastoral care is considered 'Essential Worker' care even under this state order. As such, if you need to talk with Pastor David, meet with him, etc., it is very possible that this can still take place. So please reach out as you have need.
Here are some ideas of what you can do:
- Pray and care for neighbors. Whether you realize it yet or not, suddenly phone calls have become very personal again. So pick up those phones and reach out!
- Pray and care for your brothers and sisters in Christ at New Hope. You will receive more concerning this very soon!
- Blood Donations are still a dire need in our region. That need has been exacerbated all the more by the outbreak of Covid-19 mostly on account of slowing donations. So, give if you can give! This is still considered 'essential work' and 'essential travel'. You can find out where and when to give HERE.
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With THIS LINK you can read about worship over the next couple of weeks. In short, respecting the authorities limiting all gatherings to less than 10, we are cancelling our public worship services between now and April 1, and are taking them online (the home page here). It is our hope that we will be able to resume public worship service as early as Palm Sunday - April 5. May the Lord bless and keep us all!
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Dear People of New Hope,
In conjunction with the elders, and the chairman of the council, I come to you with an update concerning our congregational response to the Coronavirus and how it will be effecting our life together in at least the coming week.
First, please know that the mood of all our conversations leading up to this point have been utterly calm. We hope that you will hear that tone here also. We are calm, we are attempting to be responsible and responsive, and we are doing our very best to make choices based on quality information from county, state, and federal agencies along with information from our local school systems and the Michigan District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
Second, following numerous overlapping recommendations from each of those sources we are implementing the following changes for at least the next week. (You can expect a weekly update with any additional changes.)
- We will continue our regularly scheduled worship services on Sundays and Wednesday evenings here in Lent, but will postpone all other regularly scheduled activities.
- Postponed activities include: The Family Game Night (tonight, 3/13), Bible studies at church, the 9a Bible Study hour on Sunday mornings, our normal volunteer staffed nursery on Sunday mornings during worship, our normal food/snack and coffee time after worship, and this Wednesday’s (3/18) Lent meal from 6-6:45p.
Third, concerning our worship services:
- If you are not feeling well, we encourage you to stay home, rest up, and get to feeling better.
- Acting on numerous recommendations, we will refrain for the time being from hand-shaking. If you are a hugger, it is recommended also that you forego these for a time.
- As always, soap will be available in each restroom.
- Bottles of hand sanitizer will also be available in numerous places around the building.
- We will not pass the offering plates. Rather, we will either have individuals bring their offering forward, or have the plates on chairs at the back of the main aisle.
- In services where the Lord’s Supper is offered we will be changing our practice. Instead of kneeling in groups at the communion rail, there will be a receiving line in front of the communion rails. You can receive the host placed into your open hands, and then receive an individual cup in our common fashion. The difference is that those receiving will be passing by the communion assistants in order to receive the Lord’s Supper. In all instances, both pastor and communion servers will be washing/sanitizing their hands prior to serving the Lord’s Supper.
- We will forego the fellowship snacks and coffee after worship. Members are certainly more than welcome to stay around and visit as normal.
- After each public gathering, we will take the time to disinfect a variety of surfaces that are commonly touched.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of this you can personally contact me, pastor. Please call 616.669.2790 and leave a message for me if I am not immediately available. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please know also that Spectrum Hospital has a great website offering helpful suggestions for staying safe at home and out in public. You can investigate those resources HERE.
Finally, I do look forward to seeing you Sunday in worship. We will pray, prepare, and take all the best precautions in all the right areas of life. But ultimately our life, hope, present, and future are safely in our Heavenly Father’s hands through Christ Jesus his son!
May the Lord bless and keep you.
Scott Eisen (your congregational chairman),
and your elders (Alex Ancinec, Dave Butler, Paul Bybee, Eric Mis, and Andy Retberg)