March 17, 2020
Suspension of Lent Midweek and Sunday Services through April 1, 2020.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord,
It is with heavy hearts that we, after conversations with the Head Elders of Peace and St. Matthew, together with their understanding and support, are suspending our gathering for services for the next two weeks. Therefore, we will not hold either the noon or evening services tomorrow, March 18, nor Sundays or Wednesdays up through, and concluding Wednesday, April 1. We will also evaluate how we proceed from there for observing Holy Week and Easter, depending on what the situation is with COVID-19 and our area at that time. Our LCMS Mid-South District President, Rev. Dr. Roger Paavola, also communicated with us today, making the same recommendations and encouraging our congregations to follow the guidelines of our government, who are also God’s servants for our good. (Romans 13)
While at present, there is not an active COVID-19 case in Faulkner County, due to the new guidelines put forth on Monday, March 16th by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the President, and the Coronavirus task force, limiting public gatherings to 10 people or less for the next two weeks, we are suspending gathering for worship for the next two weeks. They would like us all to limit our gatherings to 10 people or less for the next two weeks so that our healthcare system can “get ahead of the curve” concerning this issue and assist in the containment of the disease. While there are certainly benefits of gathering together, we feel that there is a greater benefit by not giving the COVID-19 an opportunity to be passed along or received by our gathering in larger public groups, and thus prolonging the effects of this worldwide pandemic disease. We would feel worse knowing we potentially contributed to the pandemic’s spread rather than helping curtail its devastating wake.
We will be looking at ways for the Body of Christ to be enriched in our families’ homes and in the community as we continue to worship our Risen Lord and Savior. Jesus promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church, and He also said to not put the Lord our God to the test when tempted by Satan. We will be sharing various resources and ways that we as pastors will be available for pastoral care during these uncertain earthly times. We continue to live as the Lord’s people, not giving in to fear, but trusting the Lord and using His gifts of wisdom and prudence. Please keep your eyes open for future communications from us. We also encourage you to check on your neighbors’ needs, especially those who are elderly and/or have health conditions that may be more easily compromised with the spread of this virus. If you become sick, please let us know so that we can also keep you in prayer and provide what pastoral care we can for you and your family.
One such online resource for you and your family that we already have available is free access for you to Scriptural video resources you can use at home and send to friends and others for use from Right Now Media. St. Matthew’s members can also access this through Peace’s account. Peace’s custom invitation URL is: https://www.rightnowmedia.org/account/invite/peacelutheranconway
Prayerfully, please stay safe and be healthy. Know that above all, we want you to be in good health and good spirits. But, in all things, we are in the Lord’s hands and we will be bold to be His people for others, without fear, no matter what is happening in our world.
“But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing….Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11, 16-18
Pastor John Gierke and Pastor Mark Tooley