The New Normal
Before I started writing this newsletter, I took a quick look at the newsletter for May of last year. The stories were mostly about events that usually happen toward the end of each school year. I wrote about the plays coming up at Immanuel Lutheran School, the Spring Frolic at FVL, and the graduations that were coming up. I also reminded us about the events that were coming up to commemorate Memorial Day: the ceremony at the cemetery and the parade in downtown Appleton.
What a difference a year makes.
This month’s news is almost completely different from the news from last May’s news, but it is almost identical to last month’s news. That’s why the next couple of News stories are repeats from last month’s newsletter with a couple of changes…
Church Remains Closed for Now
Because of the ongoing Covid-19 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, we will not be having our regular worship services throughout the month of May. Obviously, this is not what I would desire for our congregation. The Bible encourages believers to get together and hear God’s Word on a regular basis. However, because we respect the wishes of our state and federal government and because we are concerned for the physical well-being of our members (especially those who are most at risk), we have decided to take this action.
While this is the case, we will be providing video sermons every week. These are sermons that I am recording on my phone in an empty church. It has been, I have to say, a bit of a learning experience. I think I’ve got some of the issues worked out as to how to incorporate the liturgy and prayers in a way that encourages better participation at home. You can find these video presentations on the “Sermons” page of this website.
You can also share them with those you think would enjoy these messages. To find them on the internet, please go to this website: https://www.youtube.com/user/revlillo/videos I have made them shareable. In addition, I’ve been posting them on my Facebook page and including them in a group message on Facebook. (I was absolutely amazed that I was able to reach about 75% of our members in this way.)
What Will We Do Post-Quarantine?
We do not know how long the quarantine will last. I would imagine that it may be lifted in stages. For example, there might be a time where groups of fifty or fewer people can safely get together. When that is the case, we will resume having worship services at St. Paul’s. However, we would probably ask that those members who are most at risk (those over 75 years and those who have underlying health issues) stay away. We would also ask our members who are in regular contact with people in those categories think twice before attending a worship service in person.
After the quarantine is over, we will continue to make video recordings of our sermons and post them on YouTube, Facebook, and our website. I have been informed by a member with hearing issues that he figured a way to get subtitles for the videos that I have been posting. If you are interested in finding out how to do that, let me know and I’ll put you in contact with the member who told me about it. If you have hearing issues, this might help you get more out of the sermons.
Prayers and Assistance
During this time, prayer is one of the most wonderful tools that we have. If you have any special prayer requests, please let me know. Call or text me at (920) 202-3159 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would certainly be willing to pray for you in my devotions. I could also include those prayer requests in the recorded worship services so that others in our congregation will know to include you in their prayers as well.
Also, if you know anyone who is in need of some kind of physical assistance during this time, please let me know at the contact information above. We have at least one person who has volunteered to pick up groceries for those who don’t have any other way of getting supplies during this time.
Offerings at This Time
Since we are not meeting for worship services at this time, we are obviously not collecting offerings during our worship services. Please keep in mind that our expenses haven’t stopped during this time and that any offering that you can give would be greatly appreciated. We do have a time set up for collecting offerings in the entryway of church. You can stop by between 9 and 10 AM on Sunday mornings and drop off your offering. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can send your offering (check, NOT cash) to our mailing address of W7870 Mason Street Hortonville, WI 54944. We have determined that these are the primary ways in which we will be collecting offerings since it has proved difficult to find a way for our members to easily donate to church online.
It goes without saying that those who are deprived of income at a time like this are not to feel obligated to support the church with your offerings. Please keep our ministry in your prayers, though.
Speaking of offerings…
We would like to offer our sincere thanks to all of you who have been giving your offerings to our congregation during this time of “shelter in place.” Your generosity has been nothing short of amazing.
We would also like to thank our treasurer Tom Luehring who did a lot of work lining up relief from the Small Business Administration. Tom, in turn, would like to thank the good people at the Wolf River State Bank for working so hard to accommodate us during this time so that we were able to get some relief from the government during this time when their health orders made it impossible for us to keep our doors open for worship services.
Of course we thank all those who have supported us with your prayers during this time. We also thank those who have helped our members without internet service watch the services and sermons that our church has been putting up online.
All of those things are much appreciated.
In the past, we have had events at our congregation that we’ve entitled “100% Sundays.” These are Sundays when we attempt to get as many of our church members to attend a worship service that isn’t a Christmas or Easter celebration. Once, this pandemic is over and all the restrictions on gathering together have been lifted, I would like to try this again.
I don’t know when this will take place. My guess is that it would take place no earlier than late June. Since I have been able to reach most of our members through Facebook, that is the method we will be using to contact as many as possible.
When we do have it, we will be having a congregational potluck brunch that will follow the service. Please look for further information about this upcoming event.