Beloveds in Christ,
From the time I first heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all the holy ones, I have never stopped thanking God for
you and remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:15-16 (Inclusive Bible)
As news, recommendations and even mandates continue to be released about how we here in King County are to participate in the strategies meant to slow the community spread of COVID-19, we at Immanuel are also continuously adapting. I have been deeply reliant on and thankful for the wisdom of Health Department Officials in our region, Interfaith Colleagues, our Synod office and ILC congregation leaders. We are in this together and everyday we are learning and embodying new ways of being Christ’s Living Presence in our lives, our neighborhood and our world. What follows is a comprehensive update of our Health Plan as it is currently being implemented.
WORSHIP: We are broadcasting Sunday worships and Holden Evening Prayer on Wednesdays via Facebook Live and Instagram for the remainder of March. Our handle on both platforms is @ImmanuelSeattle. A PDF of this Sunday’s Bulletin is available HERE or on the Facebook Event Page. If you miss us during the Live Stream or if you don’t have a Social media account, you can still view the videos on the church Facebook page after they are posted HERE. A recording of the sermon will be available by Sunday evening on the church website HERE. We are developing plans for small group gatherings in homes around the area, much the way the early Christian Church did. As those plans solidify, we’ll keep you all posted.
OUR BUILDING: Our building remains open daily, for ICS services, the Sunday AA meeting, various service providers and anyone wishing to make an appointment for pastoral care or just to see a friendly face. Anyone entering the building is asked to make use of the additional hand sanitizing stations as they enter and exit or otherwise need while in the building. We have increased the cleaning and sanitation of high touch surfaces and are following all guidelines provided to ICS for them to maintain their services. All staff have been encouraged to work from home when possible and to stay home if not feeling well. Both ILC and ICS contribute to the Washington FMLA fund as a matter of care for our staff. We will continue to follow the lead of ICS regarding decisions about care and openness of the building. As such, we will not turn people away who choose to come to worship. We are actively reassessing these practices daily and will announce any changes the week of March 23rd or earlier if needed.
SERVICE OF THE WORD: This Sunday, we will be adapting our broadcast of worship to be a Service of the Word. With nursing homes, hospitals and other communal living facilities closing to visitors, with people being on quarantine, and the Health Department discouraging the sharing of food for people in high risk categories, the sacrament of Holy Communion has been named as a risk to those who are at highest risk from the virus. So, in the paraphrased words of my dear colleague, Rev. Darla DeFrance (Columbia City Church of Hope) “Since it will benefit some of us to refrain from [communion], we will all refrain—not in a spirit of fear, but in a spirit of solidarity and hope. When the uncertainty of this moment has passed, we will celebrate that we have done the best we can to ensure the health and well-being of all our neighbors.”
WORSHIP LEADERS: As we continue to share worship together online, a remnant of leaders is still needed in house for the broadcast. The Health Department requires that we encourage persons who are 60+ and/or who have underlying health conditions, compromised immunity or are pregnant to not attend public events. We are trusting you to make a decision that honors science and allows the Currencies of Wellness and Gracious Leadership to flow in us, around us, and through us. Please sign-up if you are able to help lead a broadcast of worship. Per the urging of the Health Department and the Synod office we will ask individuals who sign-up to lead to self-screen before coming to the church building. The Screening Questions are:
- Have you, or anyone in your household, had a cough, fever and/or shortness of breath in the past 48 hours?
- Have you been exposed to someone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis within the past 14 days?
- Have you been notified that a place where you have been has put you in proximity to someone who has a
confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19?
Your response of “No” to all 3 questions on Sunday morning will serve as clearance to join in Gracious Leadership of Worship. Please know that we have people on standby to fill any role, if you are not feeling well. Worship will proceed as long as 2 or 3 are gathered.
STAYING CONNECTED TO COMMUNITY: It is important to note that no matter how we gather for worship, we continue to be the living presence of Christ beyond the walls of our building. So I encourage you to stay connected to the community. I encourage you to call, text, email and/or write letters to two or three people in the congregation and beyond with words of support and encouragement. Use your church directory as a starting point. I suggest that you contact the names above and below you, in addition to at least one other person of your choosing. If you’re feeling energized by this, expand your check-ins and cards to folx beyond our congregation. Think especially of those who are most vulnerable, neighbors who live alone, nursing homes, hospitals, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, families with children at home and out of school, etc.
CONTINUING TO ADAPT: Finally, beloved of God, I remind you of Christ’s promise: I will be with you always. It is this promise that gives us strength to try new things, or perhaps resurface ancient spiritual practices to help us continue to know that presence in these days. We invite your creative ideas for how we can Rekindle Hope and Celebrate and Share God’s love during this time. We pray and trust that this pandemic will come to an end, hopefully sooner rather than later. And we look forward to our joyous celebration when we can Invite and Welcome All to
gather physically together once again.
Blessings of Wellness and Liberating Love be with you,
Pastor Priscilla Austin (she/her) What is this?
Immanuel Lutheran Church
1215 Thomas St., Seattle, WA 98109
May we all flow in the current of healthy relationships