Out of love and concern for each other and our fellow citizens,
and to help prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus,
St. Paul's has suspended ALL worship services,
meetings, and other activities until further notice.
Click on the following links for Pastor Carter's updates
on the way St. Paul's is adapting its ministry
in response to the COVID-19 virus.
The most recent update is pasted below.
We are streaming all of our services on Facebook Live at https://facebook.com/stpaulsbrownsville/live Click on the link to watch the services live or to view them later. Services begin Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. The stream will begin a few minutes before 9:00. (You do not need to be a Facebook member to access these videos.)
We now have DVD copies of all the worship services we've livestreamed
since last month. Please let us know
1) if you'd like a copy to take to someone who isn't able to
watch our services online;
2) if you know someone you'd like us to deliver these DVDs to
because they can't watch our services online;
3) if you'd like to help us deliver these DVDs to people who
aren't able to watch our services online.
Upholding God's Truth and Proclaiming God's Promises
May 24, 2020
Dear members of St. Paul’s,
Council of Elders Initial Discussion
about Returning to Worship
Very early in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, I saw several versions of a Facebook post that asked people to pray for their pastor because “he’s never led a congregation through a pandemic before.” Today, I ask you to say a similar prayer, not only for me but also for our Council of Elders, but for a slightly different reason: none of us has ever led a congregation through a plan to return to worship safely after suspending services to help prevent the spread of a pandemic.
When the Council of Elders began the discussion of what such a plan might look like here at St. Paul's at their videoconference meeting Sunday night, they had already spent some time at home reading up on the guidance offered by local, state, and federal health officials to protect each other and our community, especially those who are most vulnerable, from the harm the virus can cause. They had also read several documents offering guidance specifically for churches, including a very helpful set of articles from WELS Congregational Leadership entitled, “For Such a Time as This,” that also included suggestions other ministry during this crisis.
After spending more time at their meeting getting their heads wrapped around the things that we could and should consider as we make plans to worship together again, they decided on a course of action that included several specific things they could do to help get us ready for that day.
Contacting the Congregation - The members of the Council of Elders are in the process of contacting about 75 active members of the congregation to get a sense of their thoughts and concerns as we make plans to worship together again. We’re not thinking of these contacts like taking a poll to decide what the congregation should do. Instead, we’re thinking of them like one-on-one open forums to get a read on what the members are thinking about and concerned about as we put together a plan. By the time you read this letter, many of those contacts will have already taken place.
Getting Things in Place - We will work on ordering things we’ll need to have in place before we can set a date for when to begin worshiping together, like cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, gloves and masks; scheduling a deep cleaning of the entire facility; and extending the computer network into the sanctuary and finding different way to set up the camera so that we can continue the livestreamed services right away. Finalizing Decisions - There are many options we could consider for all the things that we could do in the sanctuary and in our worship services to observe the social distancing, sanitation, and hygiene that all the health agencies and other resources are still very strongly encouraging to help contain the spread of the virus. We spent time at Sunday’s meeting talking about some of those options, but we’ll need to make final decisions on all of them before we proceed.
Communication - Once those decisions are made, we’ll share all the details of our plans with the entire congregation, both by email and letter, so that everyone has a good understanding of everything that will be different when we gather again, as well as a few ways that you can help.
Training – We’ll need to schedule some time(s) to train members for some of the things that we’ll need to do to prepare for worship that are either things we've never done before or things that we’ll be doing very differently than we’ve ever done them before.
Once we know that everything listed above is in place - or at least have a good idea when they might be in place - we'll be able to put all these plans in motion and announce a date when we’ll return to worship.
Please keep the Council of Elders in your prayers as they work on these plans. And pray that God blesses those plans and keeps us all safe and healthy as we implement them. Until then, we’ll also pray for you. We’ll pray that the Lord would keep us all in his Word and keep strengthening our faith through that Word during this time when we aren’t yet able gather together.
Worship This Week and Next
We have scheduled our next quarterly pulpit swap with St. Luke’s for this Sunday and next. Like we did in March at the beginning of the pandemic, we will conduct the services both weeks at St. Luke’s. Both services will be broadcast on St. Luke’s Facebook group page. We plan to share the stream on our Facebook page, too. Pastor Carter will preach an Ascension sermon this Sunday, May 24. Pastor Schwartz will preach a Pentecost sermon next Sunday, May 31.
Confirmation - June 7
Dawson Lammers will profess his faith in Jesus as his Savior and his unity with our congregation and its teachings in our livestreamed service on Sunday, June 7. We have invited his parents and his sisters to be in the sanctuary that morning, but we ask everyone else to plan to watch the service online. His examination will take place with his classmates at St. Luke's at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3.
All our services are and will continue to be streamed at www.facebook.com/stpaulsbrownsville/live. If you are not able to join us for any service while it’s live, you can also watch it later at the same link. You can find the worship folders for these services and the Sunday bulletins at www.stpaulsbrownsville.org. Click the link for “News & Worship Folders” along the left side of the page and then the link for the worship folder or bulletin you’re looking for.
Serving Each Other and our Community
In the last week or so, we have been able to use some of the money in our Social Needs Fund to help three different people who are facing financial difficulties. Please contact Pastor Carter or Jerry Schmidt if you become aware of anyone else in the congregation or community who may need help. Please also consider special gifts toward the Social Needs Fund at this time. While the fund has enough in it now to handle any requests in the immediate future, it would be a good idea to be prepared in case our economy isn’t able to rebound as quickly as we might hope and more people find themselves in difficult situations.
We are now making DVD copies of each worship service available to anyone who doesn’t have access to the Internet. The Council of Elders also approved using Memorial Fund money to purchase several portable DVD players for folks who don’t have access to our services on the Internet. So far, we’ve had six people request those DVDs. Please let us know if you can help deliver them to anyone.
Christian Family Solutions wants WELS members to know that they have counselors available for anyone that may be struggling with the impact the virus and our attempts to slow its spread might be having on their lives, their livelihoods, or their families. Many health insurance companies are waiving co-pays during this public health emergency. Christian Family Solutions is also waiving co-pays through June 15. Visit christianfamilysolutions.org for more information. Other resources for dealing with the stress caused by this crisis are also available on the home page of their website.
Until we are able to implement these plans and gather again for worship, may God be with you all.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Bill Carter
Copyright 2020 St. Pauls Lutheran Church and School. All Rights Reserved.