This page has official pastoral messages from Pastor and/or the church council in relation to COVID-19. These will also be communicated via other channels, but here they are in case you would like to reread them.
May 20, 2020
Grace and peace to you from the Triune God. It has been two months since the leadership team of this congregation made the difficult decision to move all of our ministries online and cease all in-person activities. This decision was done out of love and care for our community and our neighbors. Shortly after that decision was made, we witnessed our country and world be ravaged by COVID-19. Slews of emergency orders, federal legislation, school board decisions, summer camp closures, and public health recommendations have turned many of our lives upside down.
It is with this same commitment to loving and caring for our community and neighbors that your leadership team wishes to communicate that we will continue to worship online and virtually at least through the end of the summer, refraining from in-person gatherings.
As I write this letter to you, I can feel tears welling up from within me. I miss you. I miss our gathered community. I miss the laughter and silliness of our children. I miss the smiles exchanged after worship. I miss singing with you all and praising God. I lament the many ways that you are grieving and missing what your lives looked like just a few short months ago. We are called as Christians to make difficult decisions for the sake of the common good. As disciples of Christ, we will experience suffering. And yet, Christ suffers with us.
This decision was made in consultation with church officials, national church bodies, and public health experts. The realities are that what the church does together in worship are some of the most dangerous activities for viral spread: gathering many different households together in a common space for a length of time to speak, sing, and share a meal together. We have seen churches around the country that have reopened in the past few weeks and needed to close again due to their members becoming infected, leading to quick spread and death.
As a church, we are a people gathered around God’s Word and the sacraments. We have been faithful in centering ourselves around God’s Word these past two months, and will continue to do so. I would like to assure you that I am working diligently on a plan to celebrate and share Eucharist with you this summer, as soon as legal provisions allow.
Thank you, dear church. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your financial generosity. Thank you for your engagement. Thank you for your patience. I’d like to invite you to contact me with any questions you may have. I will also carve out some time during our Zoom coffee hour this Sunday (May 24) after worship to answer any questions you may have.
I would like to leave you with the words of Jesus to his disciples in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In the deep, abiding love of Christ,
March 19, 2020
March 18, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 16, 2020
Check out a short video message from Pastor here, and see his email to the community below.
Grace and Peace to you from the Triune God,
I pray this email finds you well in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. First, hear this: you are not alone. Though you may be experiencing social distancing, loneliness, visitor restrictions, anxiety, and fear- you are not alone. I commit to praying for you daily and working to meet your spiritual needs. You have a dedicated staff who are committed to supporting you during this time. You have an incredible team of lay leaders who are committed to re-imagining how we can be the church together during these times. Most importantly, we have a God who is always with us. We have a God to knows the depths of human emotions. We have a God who is present and listening to our every need. We have a God who continually tells us to “Fear Not.”
The situation with COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Within the past 24 hours, we have seen all schools in New Hampshire and Vermont be ordered to close for three weeks. We have seen businesses make similar decisions. Churches are also making difficult decisions. I know how this can seem very worrisome. However, I invite you to be inspired by the incredible displays of social solidarity and common care for our community. So many groups of people are coming together (though not physically) to support our healthcare workers, first responders, and hospitals to “flatten the curve.” Instead of fear, I invite you to turn to awe. With the help of God, we can make decisions to care for one another in these times. As such, I would like to communicate some decisions from our leadership:
- In holy solidarity, we will temporarily suspend gathering in person for worship for the next two weeks. This means we will not physically gather for Sunday mornings or Thursday evenings.
- In holy solidarity, we will temporarily suspend all in person gatherings sponsored by our congregation. This means we will not physically gather for book studies, committee or team meetings, meals, rehearsals, prayer groups, etc. We will move as many of this activities to online as possible. Please be in touch with Pastor for support in this!
- In holy solidarity, our building will be closed to the public and we will suspend other group gatherings in our space.
- In holy solidarity, we will continue our Friday meals to ensure those experiencing food insecurity are fed. There will be some changes to procedure here.
- Check our website’s Virtual Church Portal! Here you will find updates, announcements, and virtual church resources for your use at home. Here, (on the resources page) you will find many resources for sustain your spiritual life in the days ahead. You will also find ways to serve.
- Join Pastor for “Virtual Office Hours” via Zoom by clicking this link. This is a video conferencing platform where we can gather to chat, check in, pray, etc. All ages welcome! For now, Pastor will have office hours on Monday 3/16 from 2-3, Tuesday 3/17 from 9-10, Wednesday 3/18 from 3-4, and Thursday from 11-12. (Please note, Pastor is always available, but these will be “public” office hours)
- Follow us on our Facebook Page and Facebook Group for updates, too!
- Reach out, phone a friend, write a letter, stay connected, check in on others. This is the way that we can be the church!
Right now, we are hoping (and planning) to gather for worship on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020. We will communicate as the situation evolves. Finally, friends, I invite you to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, ideas, prayer requests, etc.
Fear not, dear church, fear not!
Pastor Kyle Seibert
March 13, 2020
As we work to be the church in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have developed a way to try to connect people willing to assist their neighbors who are self-isolating with individuals who are self-isolating and need critical supplies, such as medications or food.
If you are either able to assist or seeking assistance, please fill out this form.
March 11, 2020
We are indeed living in times of great uncertainty. The unknowns about COVID-19 have caused great anxiety among some of us. Oil price wars have sent global economic markets into a roller coaster of fear. Politics and blame rage around us. The result is often to strike fear into our hearts. I offer you the words that Jesus uses most often in scriptures, “Fear not.” The church is called to respond with wisdom, prudence, and to carry out our ministry faithfully. As Christians, we are called to care for our neighbors. We do this by being grounded in facts and stopping myths. We refuse to give into xenophobia. We boldly proclaim that the current public health concern is NOT evidence of God’s wrath, punishment for sin, or divine vengeance. We do this by responding in Christian love.
What does this Christian love and care for neighbor look like for us? It means taking seriously the recommendations by the authorities. We have increased our disinfecting of surfaces of the building and are encouraging hand washing. Hand sanitizer will be available during worship. We have offered alternatives to shaking hands and hugging during the passing of the peace and greeting one another. I invite you to also be a faithful steward of your own health and that of your neighbors. If you are feeling unwell, please contact your physician and stay home from worship. If you are immunocompromised for any reason or are especially vulnerable, you are empowered to make personal decisions about your attendance. Bishop Hirschfeld is the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the Diocese of New Hampshire, a full communion partner of the ELCA, and often provides leadership for Lutherans in New Hampshire. Following his Pastoral Directive, we will begin distributing only the consecrated bread of the Eucharist and make some changes to the ways we remember our baptisms at the baptismal font. If you have a particular pastoral need, please be in touch with Pastor directly.
We will continue to monitor the recommendations from officials and keep you informed as any decisions are made.
March 4, 2020
Rest assured that Pastor is staying up to date with current CDC recommendations and the recommendations of bishops to ensure safety as we gather together as a community. All communion servers sanitize their hands right before serving you communion, hand sanitizer and soap is available throughout the church, and our sextons are taking extra care to sanitize surfaces. Currently, the CDC recommends hand washing as the best precaution- which is not an escalation of precaution at this point. Please respect others’ desires to refrain from a handshake during the passing of the peace or offering greetings. Peace to you!