Church Building Closed: Services & Meetings Suspended
Dear St. Paul Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We have been working to determine the best response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With so many of our fellow churches closing during this time, we, St. Paul executive council members, have chosen to suspend services and meetings indefinitely – until determined safe by governor’s orders.
Many factors went into making this decision. Some of those factors were… We have several members of our faith family who have been identified as more vulnerable. There is continuing uncertainty about how the virus is transmitted/spread and therefore best practices to contain and mitigate the virus are not assured as being effective. Concern over the potential for our first responders and medical services to become quickly overwhelmed.
We are all seeking ways to stay healthy and safe while continuing with our service, worship, and fellowship as children of God together. The discernment around all of this is important work, and we pray that God continue to be with us as we look towards the coming weeks.
We will update our information as credible material becomes available. Hopefully, we will be together physically sooner than later.
Staying Home & Staying Connected
As so many of our members and friends are in the high-risk category for COVID-19, we believe it is in the best interest of our congregation and our community to suspend gatherings at this time. We recognize that during this time, many might find themselves feeling isolated, and we want you to know that your church family is still here for you, even if it is via phone, email, or online.
Please consider connecting with at least one or two other members from our church directory via phone and asking them to regularly check in with you as well. This may be daily phone calls or every other day. Please let us know who you’re connecting with regularly (at least weekly) so that we can make sure no one is being left behind. Consider this time as a time to get to know better one of your siblings in Christ.
Though we aren’t meeting physically, I encourage you to regularly schedule prayer Sunday mornings, knowing that many are praying at the same time.
Worship @ Home
We will be streaming worship online through the St Paul Lutheran Castle Rock Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/St Paul Lutheran-Castle Rock on Sunday mornings as well as daily for prayers/devotion.
Offering @ Home
To continue with your offering, checks may be mailed to the church office at PO Box 847. The opportunity for the church to fall behind in meeting financial obligations could potentially happen quickly, so please continue tithing.
The church office is closed indefinitely. The phones will be forwarded to our administrative assistant, Geri. (or call her directly at 360-274-8848 and leave a message, if necessary) Essential tasks may be completed at the church building such as executive team meetings, emergency maintenance, staff needs, etc. Pastor Norm will be available via appointments.
During this time of anxiety and worry, prayer is so important. Pastor Norm will regularly be inviting members to send in prayer requests and to join in communal times of prayer via email, phone, and Facebook. The importance of prayer cannot be overstated. It is how we practice our restored relationship with God. We may even find new ways of ministering through prayer to better meet each other’s and our community’s needs.
This is a forced change in how we “do” church. It is opportunity to minister in different and varied ways that we haven’t done before. Romans 8:28 gives you and me the assurance that God can work all things together for good. Though, this is a time that, I didn’t see coming, God was not surprised. Let’s us use this time as a time to listen to God and each other in a way that expresses value and worth to all.
We are establishing a contact list where regular phone contact will be made with all our members. I hope during this time we might deepen relationships and better understand the gifts, needs, and passions present in our faith community.
Once again, this is an opportunity to do ministry differently and potentially more effectively as we, by faith, step into the newness of our situation.
We continue to pray for all affected by COVID-19, for those who are self-quarantined, for those who are experiencing isolation, anxiety, and fear, we lift all afflicted to our Lord in prayer. Know that you are not alone, God is with you and we are in this together. Please call, email, and reach out as you need.
Pastor Norm Arnold
For more information on the Novel Coronavirus, please
visit https://www.doh.wa.gov/emergencies/coronavirus and for the most up to date information for our county please
visit http://www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/205/Health-Human-Services . You can also find resources from our denomination, the ELCA,
I want to acknowledge my appreciation for Pastor Megan Filer of Bethany Longview, who allowed me to use her letter as an outline and even plagiarize some of her writing. Her actions enabled me to react much quicker to our congregation’s current needs. Thank you!