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
Pastor Tom Dowling and Church Council