WBLC COVID-19 Update 3/19/2020

March 18, 2020

 

Dear Members and Friends of Williams Bay Lutheran Church,

 

The church council has made the extremely difficult decision of suspending all of our church gatherings until further notice.  The council did not take this decision lightly.  It pains us greatly to have made this decision.  We love our church and we love God but we also want to make sure all of our members are safe at this time.  We believe that God is calling us to take action for the sake of our neighbors.

The Coronavirus disease is especially impacting those people who are sixty-five and older.  Our congregation has a high percentage of people in that age category.  We do not want to put any of our members at risk.

At this time the Synod is also recommending that all churches in our Synod close for the time being.  Our Interim Bishop, Rev. Bishop Peter Rogness wrote this in his recent letter to the Synod:  “All church gatherings – worship and others – should be cancelled for at least the next two weeks.”

At this point, we do not know how long we will need to suspend our gatherings but we will continue to communicate through email, Facebook, and our church website.  We have not given up our faith.  Faith in God’s sustaining, healing presence will help us to move through this challenging time.

We are in the season of Lent in the church year.  Lent has often been seen as a metaphor for the times in life when we feel tested and when we feel that we are walking in the wilderness.  Lent is a time where we are encouraged to come back to God in repentance and in receiving God’s grace and mercy.  But always remember that after Lent comes Easter.  After Lent comes Easter!

We will continue meeting together but we will not be meeting together at our church building.  We will be meeting together and sharing in fellowship in alternative ways.  By no means does this mean that God is less present to us.  God is with us always.  God is always faithful to God’s people.

There will be no Lenten services this evening (3/18), but Pastor Tom will be sending out a short Wednesday Lenten reflection.  There will be no Sunday morning services but Pastor Tom will be at church this coming Sunday morning at 9:30 am for a short, virtual worship service.

You may tune into that service through your phone.  Instructions on plugging into virtual worship at Williams Bay Lutheran Church will come in a future announcement.  Pastor Tom’s sermon for Sunday will be:  “Finding Hope and Faith in Times of Uncertainty.”  Come, and join him for virtual worship!

Please continue to pray for our congregation and for those who have been greatly impacted by COVID-19.  Please continue to take the necessary steps to stay healthy and to practice “social distancing” as well as you can.  The leadership of this congregation will be holding the church in prayer.  Stay strong in faith and in trust in God.  God is with us and we will continue to be the Body of Christ at this time and at this place.

“Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13: 13

 

In Christ,

 

Pastor Tom Dowling and Church Council

 

 

 

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WBLC COVID-19 Announcement

Dear Family in Christ Jesus our Lord,

 

These are trying days.  Uncertainty and confusion brings anxiety.  Here at Williams Bay Lutheran Church we exist to offer Good News, peace, and healing through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

We will not disappear and fade away during this time.  Yes, we may be worshiping differently in the future but we will still exist as the Body of Christ at this time and in this place.  It is at such a time as this that faith becomes more and more essential to our day to day lives.

 

Today a small group of us met for worship.  We did not celebrate Holy Communion, shake hands, or pass the offering plate.  Hand sanitizer was placed around the worship space and all doors were propped open to minimize contact.  The church council met again after worship and decided to cancel dinner on Wednesday.  At this point, we will still gather in the Fellowship Hall this coming Wednesday evening for our 6:30 pm Lenten worship service.  Holding gatherings for worship could change in the future.  Please continue to check email, our church Facebook page, and the church website for future changes.

 

If you have any sign of a virus (be it a common cold, influenza A or B, COVID-19 or any other contagious virus) or someone in your home is sick with any virus, please for your own health and that of others, stay home and may you be well soon. Know that I will be holding you in prayer for God’s healing presence and comfort.

 

I leave us with a simple prayer:

 

Lord God, may we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.  May we who have no risk factors remember those who are most vulnerable.  May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.  May we who have the flexibility of taking care of our children when their schools close remember those who have no options. May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.  May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic marker, remember those who have no margin at all.  May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.  As fear grips our county, let us choose love.  And during this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.  Amen.

 

Peace and Grace,

 

Pastor Tom Dowling

 

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Pastor Tom’s Mission and Ministry Report

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all the people of Williams Bay Lutheran Church.

(Here is my annual report to the congregation. God has truly blessed our congregation in 2018.)

This past year was filled with both challenges and joys. Overall, I am grateful for the many ways that we came together as a faith community in order to move our congregation forward in mission. Thank you to all the people of Williams Bay Lutheran Church! I am especially thankful to God for three surprises that happened this past year.

The first surprise was Vacation Bible School. We have not held VBS at our church for three years. This past summer the education committee decided to take a step of faith and plan for a week of VBS. When the week for VBS came thirty-six kids appeared! It was a fantastic week and the children were blessed by this ministry. As time goes on, and we continue building up our VBS program, I hope that we become known in the community for offering an outstanding VBS ministry.

The second surprise was all the new members that we received. I was filled with joy on New Member Sunday as twenty-one adults and children joined our congregation. It has been a while since we welcomed new members to our congregation. This past year God blessed our church with a large group of new members. We have been doing the work of evangelism! Already our new members are getting involved and are participating in the life of the congregation.

The last surprise happened at our Thanksgiving Service and our Christmas Eve services. This year I decided to invite the Chapel on the Hill congregation to join us for our traditional community Thanksgiving service. They welcomed the invitation! That evening we filled the church as we gave God thanks and praise. A very large ecumenical choir also sang during the Thanksgiving service.

For Christmas Eve we decided to bring back the 10:00 service. The attendance between the 5 and 10 service that night was one hundred sixty-seven people. That was the highest attendance for Christmas Eve worship in many years!

While there were challenges this past year I am so grateful for your enduring support and grace. One thing that I have learned, from my two previous congregations that I served, is that the work of a pastor is too great without the support of other people. I am grateful for your partnership with me in God’s mission and ministry work here at WBLC.

I especially want to thank Carol, Rebecca, and Chad. Thank you Carol, for your creativity and for your beautiful music. Thank you Rebecca, for your good work and for helping to promote our church within the community. Thank you Chad, for being such a faithful and dedicated church council president.

Lastly, I want to thank the church council for walking with me in both the challenges and joys of ministry this past year. Can the challenges and joys of ministry coincide so deeply? We discovered that it can! Thank you to those who are serving now on church council. Thank you for your leadership and for your love for our church.

As we look to a New Year I hope that we can, even more, awaken our love for God. In looking ahead to the coming year I have started planning ministry for 2019. I will soon be leading a Bible study on the Psalms. I will also be leading a class on a book that has greatly influenced my spirituality: Desiring God by John Piper. During Lent I will be inviting people to share their faith stories during the Wednesday Lenten services. I have invited the Voice of Praise, a sacred chorus, to come and to sing for us on Sunday, March 17th . This fall I am planning on leading a class on the topic of living out our faith in real and practical ways. In the fall I would also like to invite our congregation to participate, in some way, in our town’s Centennial celebration. Lastly, I am planning on working ecumenically with UCC and Chapel on the Hill for more ecumenical worship services.

Please continue to keep our church in prayer and to remember me in prayer as well. I will be praying for you and for our church in 2019. May God richly bless our congregation!

Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish those words over a lifetime. –Dale Carnegie

In Christ,
Pastor Tom Dowling

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Music Opportunities

Get prepared for some new worship music & worship experiences coming this upcoming church music season.  We have already begun adding some more contemporary songs to our services as well as adding some visual experiences to our worship services as well.

Our Chancel Choir will be returning to add their special messages. We welcome “older” youth thru adult to come & join us.  Our first rehearsal will be on Wednesday, Sept. 18th at 7:00 PM in the sanctuary.

Our Handbell Choir will be sharing their instrumental music.  We still have openings for 3-4 more ringers. (You do not need to know how to read music, just know your left from your right hand & be able to count to about 4.  The music is color-coded for you.)  Our first rehearsal will be on Wednesday, Sept. 11th  at 7:00 PM in the sanctuary.

NEW THIS YEAR!!  We will be starting a Youth Handbell Choir this music season for Sunday School ages through High School.  Our first rehearsal will be on October 2 at 5:45 p.m.

We will be presenting the Christmas Cantata which will feature our Sunday School Children, Handbell Choir, & special Christmas Choir.  The tentative date for that presentation will be at 9:30 AM during our worship service on Sunday, December 8, 2019.

With the introduction of “newer” songs to our worship services, we are looking for those interested in reading song introductions, persons who would like to play an instrument to accompany the new songs, such as guitar, bass, drums, flute or something else that would enhance the songs as well as those who might wish to assist as vocal song leaders.

If you have any questions, please contact Carol Berndt, Music Director choirdirector@wblc.org.  For rehearsal dates, please check the calendar on our website.

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Join Us for Sunday Worship

  • 8:00 a.m. Morning Worship
  • 9:30 a.m. Traditional Worship
  • 9:45 a.m. Sunday School (September – May)
  • 10:45 a.m. Refreshments
  • 11:00 a.m. Adult Class  (September – May)