Immanuel’s Response to COVID-19

Beloved Family in Christ, 

On Tuesday, March 3rd, I gathered with other faith leaders at Queen Anne Methodist Church/The Well to meet with Health Department officials and receive guidance about best practices and instructions for our role in minimizing the community spread of COVID-19. Additionally, Shawna, as Executive Director for Immanuel Community Services, has been in several meetings this week about this matter. I am grateful for the conversations we are having and the leadership in our state to address this outbreak with vigilance, and care for all our communities, including the most vulnerable among us.  I am particularly grateful for the visible presence of Holy Currencies in the midst of all this. The Currencies of Relationship show up in the ways we are mindful of ourselves and the needs of others. The Currencies of Truth are present in the factual, science-based information we are receiving the holy conversations ILC & ICS leaders are having as we seek to balance containment, compassion and community. As we continue to be faithful, and I remain in continuous conversation with other leaders, I fully anticipate the flow of the Currencies of Wellness, Money, Time & Place and Gracious Leadership to make themselves known too. As this situation continues to unfold, we will update our practices accordingly.

Central to the efforts to combat this outbreak are the elements of education with information from verified sources, proper personal care, effective cleaning and appropriate self-isolation. On March 4th, the Health Department recommendations changed, requesting, not requiring, that organizations limit large gatherings of 10 or more people for the remainder of the month of March. These recommendations are not directed to schools or faith communities, though individual schools and faith communities have been asked to assess what is best in their setting. Because we value worship and being in community, we will continue to host Lenten Soup Suppers, Weekly Sunday Worship and other ICS programs. Your presence and participation is what enriches our life together but we want everyone to be well and choose what is the best way for them to remain healthy. As such we are asking folx to cooperate as we implement the following adaptive practices: 

  • CLEANING: We have increased the frequency of cleaning high touch surfaces. This includes but is not limited to; door knobs, crash bars, backs of chairs/pews, handrails, office mailboxes, tabletops, the copy machine, bathrooms, etc. We are working to clean spaces before and after each group’s use. Your help in cleaning behind yourself is much appreciated in this effort. If you have the Currency of Time to help with these efforts, please email office@immanuelseattle.org to schedule a time that meets community needs.
  • STAYING HOME: If you are sick, please stay at home, be in contact with your medical care provider to determine if quarantine or self-isolation measures are needed. If you are a member of the population at higher risk for coronavirus, King County officials strongly urge you to avoid large gatherings. If you are well and choosing to self-isolate, know that a team is being developed and expanded for home visits and communion, please be in touch with me (pastor@immanuelseattle.org) if you can serve on the team or if you are in need of a visit.
  • WASH HANDS: Be attentive to personal precautions. For more information on personal precautions you can follow this helpful guideline as shared by St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. When we gather together, please make use of hand sanitizers being installed in entryways. Please sanitize and/or wash your hands as you enter the community and as you exit into the world. Whether you are at Immanuel or out in the world, please maintain good healthy habits of hand washing, avoiding touching your face, using a tissue for coughing or sneezing, and washing your hands after disposing of the tissue.
  • IN WORSHIP:
    • OCCURRENCE & LEADERSHIP: in absence of a mandate to cancel, scheduled worship services will occur. Healthy folx in need of community should feel free to come. At risk folx should consider for themselves whether they attend. As recommendations change, we will encourage folx to follow Health Department instructions, by asking only worship leaders who are not at risk to come in for worship. If you have the Currencies of Wellness and Gracious Leadership, your assistance will be appreciated to continue our services.
    • LIVESTREAMING of worship services. If you cannot attend church, please make an effort to join in worship via Facebook Live or Instagram Story. We will be broadcasting the WORD section of worship (or the entirety of worship as we have permission and/or need due to low attendance) on Sundays 10:30am and Holden Evening Prayer on Wednesdays at 7pm. Your presence in spirit matters, even if you cannot be present in the flesh. If you are choosing to be Present in Spirit, we are working on a way to share with you an electronic version of the bulletin. Please be in communication with us, and maintain your connections to the community. Let us know how we can be of support.
    • THE FONT will not have water in it for the duration of this outbreak, or until we receive different guidance. A station of annointing oil will be available during communion for those who want to use it as a Remembrance of Baptism.
    • THE PEACE: We will be practicing a “No-Touch” Passing of the Peace, using a respectful bow, hand across the heart, a wave or other gesture. 
    • OFFERING: Now is a great time to sign-up for Online giving. Offering plates will not be passed, but instead will be stationed in the rear of the sanctuary by the ushers. 
    • COMMUNION will continue to be distributed by servers with sanitized hands. Please refrain from grabbing the hand of the person giving you bread or from reaching for your cup. Allow the servers to serve you without touching you. Also, servers will NOT be using the common cup. Remember as Lutherans, we trust that Christ is fully present in both elements of Holy Communion.
    • FOOD: In all gatherings with food we will be following the highest level of food safety practices. Please allow servers to serve you. Food will be served by people with clean, gloved hands. We ask that Coffee Hour hosts limit snacks to prepackaged items or be sure to plate individual servings.
  • Most importantly, we pray daily for the health and healing of all who are impacted by COVID-19; patients, healthcare workers and custodial cleaning teams, etc.. We are mindful that stigma does not cure disease. Please speak up if you see prejudice happening. We also believe that God has blessed us with the gifts of science and medicine. Please, trust experts and seek medical attention when you are ill.

 Additional resources and updates can be found online at:

 Thank you for helping us protect one another, especially those who are most vulnerable. Putting into practice these precautionary measures is an act of stewardship, as we seek to care for the safety of one another and our neighbors. Above all things, remember that we are a faithful people, blessed with God’s Holy Currencies that flow in, around and through us always and in ALL WAYS. 

 

Peace & Liberating Love
Pastor Priscilla Austin (she/her) What is this?
Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1215 Thomas St, Seattle, WA 98109
(206)622-1930, www.immanuelseattle.org

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