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March 17 Update on Coronavirus Precautions for St. John’s

Dear Members of St. John’s,

As the circumstances of the coronavirus continue to evolve we are striving as a body of believers to be sensitive to and honoring of those who are making difficult decisions for our society.  At the same time we seek to honor our Lord by being faithful as His people, including a time to gather to worship Him and receive His gifts.  With that in mind…

For this coming week, we will be adjusting our church services and activities as follows:

–  Remaining Wednesday Lenten dinners and services (March 18, March 25, April 1) – ALL CANCELLED

–  Sunday, March 22

             8:00 a.m. Sunday Service – CANCELLED

             9:15 a.m. Sunday School (Adult & Children) – CANCELLED

             10:30 a.m. Service – SERVICE WILL BE HELD 

For this Sunday, March 22, we encourage everyone to monitor your own health and stay home if you have symptoms of illness or feel uncomfortable attending. If you do decide to stay home, please be aware that we will be live streaming the 10:30 a.m. Sunday service through the St. John’s website. We will also be sending a digital version of the service bulletin via email this week for those watching the live stream service. To our seniors and those with underlying health conditions that are not attending, I can come visit you and serve you communion. Please let Lisa Walraven know in the Church Office if you would prefer a visit.

Regarding the St. John’s Preschool, it will be closed for the next two weeks and then for Spring Break week. It is currently planned to reopen on Monday, April 6th. If this changes, we will let you know.

As we said last week, we are taking several steps to protect the health of our St. John’s family during our time of worship. Specifically, here is what we are doing:

Cleaning: The janitorial service is putting extra focus on wiping down and disinfecting surfaces and doorknobs/handles in the sanctuary, classrooms, meeting rooms, kitchen, and bathrooms. They are currently using a disinfectant approved by the EPA to fight the virus and will be switching soon to an even stronger, faster acting disinfectant. They are also following all CDC recommendations on disinfecting high touch point areas.

Communion: We have temporarily changed our communion practice. We are not using the common cup for now. Only the individual cups will be available. We will also be employing “continuous communion” to avoid handrail touching and to maintain proper spacing between communicants. Pastor and elders are sanitizing their hands before administering communion. Also, altar guild volunteers are sanitizing their hands before preparing the communion set ups.

Offering: We have temporarily changed our offering practice. Instead of passing offering plates, we ask that you place your offering in the baskets on the way to communion or in the baskets at the rear of the sanctuary as you leave.

Greeting each other: Out of concern for each other, we ask that you continue to refrain from handshakes and hugs before, during, and after the service.   

Social distancing: At the Sunday service, let’s practice the CDC guidelines for maintaining the appropriate distance when interacting with each other (~6 feet). Since we have 41 pews, we can spread out. Think about one family unit per pew. The elders and ushers will help to spread us out as needed.

Worship bulletins: To prevent unnecessary handling contamination, bulletins will be in a basket as you enter the sanctuary and will not be handed to you by an usher.

Finally, while our in-person attendance has been impacted, our financial obligations and outreach support still depend on our church for financial support during these uncertain times. If you are not currently an online giver, we encourage you to download the Givelify app, or you can simply mail your check directly to St. John’s. 

As we move through this time as followers of Jesus we will continue to pray for our leaders, our friends and neighbors, and for one another.  And we will continue to trust our loving Lord for His kindness and mercy in the measure and manner He chooses for us.  Looking forward to seeing you Sunday, in person or online. 

In Christ,

Pastor Bettermann

March 24 Update on Coronavirus Precautions

Dear Members of St. John’s,

Being part of a family of faith is one of the great blessings of our lives.  We are graced with brothers and sisters with whom we share a common faith in Jesus and a common journey toward home.  This unusual time of physical separation reminds us what a gift the family is for each of us. 

So we continue to think about how to keep us all connected to God through each other, through His Word, and through the sacrament of Holy Communion while our world has been disrupted. To be responsive to this, we are going to do these three things going forward:

Stay Connected to God Through Each Other

We have a small group of St. John’s members that will be reaching out to the broader St. John’s body of believers by phone over the next week. This will help us stay connected by checking on each other, encouraging each other, and reassuring each other of our hope in Jesus during this period of uncertainty.

Stay Connected to God Through His Word

Like last Sunday, all in-person services and Sunday school are canceled for this week. I hope you had a chance to view the message I posted last Sunday. For this next Sunday, March 29, I will again provide a taped message that can be viewed through the St. John’s website. I would encourage you to take the time and listen to God’s word through this medium to stay connected to Him.

In addition to this message, I would again point you to other programs that are wonderful ways to hear God’s word. Specifically, the Lutheran Hour radio program and other resources are available at lutheranhour.org. Also, Worship Anew is a series of taped services from Lutheran Ministries Media at worshipanew.org.

Stay Connected to God Through the Sacrament of Holy Communion

This Sunday, March 29, we will be trying something new in order to provide God’s gift of his body and blood to those that want to participate. We are planning to distribute Holy Communion through a “Walk-In, Family-Isolated” or WiFi process, if you prefer an acronym. We are not gathering as a congregation; instead, we are providing a means to partake of Communion one family at a time through a safe, peaceful, sheltered, and familiar setting. So this Sunday we will offer WiFi Communion during the hours of 9-11 a.m. By the time you arrive, Pastor will have already consecrated the bread and the wine. You may enter the St. John’s parking lot, follow the car line, and remain in your car. Once your car gets to the front of the line at the front doors of the church, you may leave your car under the direction of an elder, enter the narthex, receive the bread and wine from Pastor in the narthex, return to your car, and then exit the parking lot. The process has been designed as a sanitary, non-touch, safely spaced experience providing a peaceful, familiar environment for prayerful self-examination as you partake of God’s gift of Communion. We’re excited about this, and I hope you are too.  

And just to remind everyone from my last update:

  • Remaining Wednesday Lenten dinners and services (March 25, April 1) are ALL CANCELED.
  • St. John’s Preschool is closed and plans to now reopen on Monday, April 20, until further notice.

Since we will likely be in this “quarantined” state for the next several weeks, we are thinking ahead to Holy Week (Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday, April 5 – April 12) and how we plan to stay connected during this commemoration of our Lord’s death and resurrection. Keep an eye out for my email update next week.  

Finally, as I’ve stated before, we depend on you for financial support during these uncertain times to help with our financial obligations and outreach support. If you are not currently an online giver, we encourage you to visit the electronic giving section of our website at https://stjohnslexington.org/worship/electronic-giving/ and download the app, or you can simply mail your check directly to St. John’s. For those of you that have been using the Givelify app, please note that we are in the process of changing over to a new, lower cost app (i.e. more of your offering goes to St. John’s, less to the app).  As you access the electronic giving section of our website, you will notice that change later this week.

As a family of faith we continue to pray for our leaders, our country, for medical workers, and all those whose lives have been and continue to be disrupted in significant ways.  Most of all, we pray for faith filled hearts and confident minds which are resting solely in the God to whom we belong. 

In Christ,
Pastor Bettermann

May 12th Update on Coronavirus Precautions

Dear Members of St. John’s,

It is our joy and privilege to belong to a God whose care for His children is perfect in every way.

Since my last email, churches are now free to hold in-person worship. So we will start in-person worship services again at St. John’s this Sunday, May 17. Our goal is to ensure a safe worship environment by minimizing touchpoints along with proper spacing and masks. And if you feel sick or feel more vulnerable due to age or an underlying condition, please stay home. We are providing both in-person and virtual worship options. Here are the details: 

First, for those that can’t attend or not ready to attend in-person, we will provide the following:

  • Walk-In Family-Isolated (WiFi) Communion in the narthex between services from 9:15 – 10:00 a.m. This will operate as we have been doing the past several weeks. Elders will be in the parking lot to help direct traffic.
  • We will livestream the 10:30 service and tape it for viewing. It will be posted after the 10:30 service. 

Second, for those attending one of the in-person services, we will have two services (which include Holy Communion) at 8:00 and 10:30 a.m. Please be aware of the following guidelines:

  • Wear a Mask – We strongly encourage you to wear a mask through the entire service. Please bring your own. If you don’t have one or forget, we will have some available. For some who may disagree with the need for wearing masks in public, we want to be respectful of others around us while we’re speaking and singing. So please wear your mask. We want everyone to feel comfortable in the sanctuary so we can focus on worship and not each other. The combination of masks and proper spacing in the sanctuary are designed to mitigate the risk of in-person worship.     
  • Thorough Cleaning – The areas on the pews where touching may happen will be disinfected before the 8:00 service and before the 10:30 service. Other areas will be cleaned as part of our regular weekly cleaning service.  
  • Controlled Entry in the Narthex – The greeters will ask you to put your mask on when you enter the narthex and direct you to follow the floor markings to maintain proper spacing and avoid gathering in the narthex. You may pick up a bulletin as you enter the sanctuary. Please avoid handshakes and hugs.
  • Proper Spacing in the Sanctuary – Since we need to spread out in the sanctuary, you will see that we have marked the pews with floor signs showing the preferred seating for that pew so we maintain proper spacing in front, behind, and diagonally. The ushers will help direct you to the proper pew for your family size. Shorter pews towards the front will be reserved for family units of 1 or 2 people. Longer pews towards the back will be reserved for family units of 3 or 4 people. Please be sure to sit at the end of the pew where the sign is. If you have more than 4 in your group, the ushers will help to keep you close together. Also, note that the cards and pens in the pews will be removed to avoid multiple people touching them. Instead, the attendance and prayer cards will be inserted in your bulletin. You may drop these in the basket when you take communion or at the rear of the sanctuary. Remember to bring your own pen.
  • Singing with Masks On – We will sing a few hymns during the service. Again, to mitigate the risk and be respectful of your neighbor when singing, we will wear masks and be properly spaced in the sanctuary.  
  • Family-Isolated Communion – We will distribute communion one family unit at a time. When the ushers release your family unit from the pew, you will proceed to the floor marking at the end of the aisle and then the altar to receive the bread and wine. To minimize touch points, you will be able to pick the individual cup from the tray and the wafer from the paper plate without touching other cups or wafers. You will return to your seat through the center aisle as we have always done.  
  • Controlled Exit from the Sanctuary – For the 8:00 service, we will exit the sanctuary through the side door and the rear door closest to the bathrooms. We ask that you follow the floor signage to exit the building through the office doors to your car. Do not exit through the narthex as we will be setting up for WiFi communion at that time. For the 10:30 service, you may exit through any door. In all cases, please maintain your distance from each other and avoid gathering. Also note that I will not be visiting after the service to prevent gathering or waiting lines in the sanctuary.      
  • Bathrooms and Water Fountains – We need to maintain spacing and good hygiene in the bathrooms. We will have hand sanitizer there to eliminate the touchpoint with faucet handles. Also, please refrain from using the water fountains to eliminate that touchpoint. 

Soon we will be together again. What a gift that will be to be reunited with our brothers and sisters in Christ! As we reflect on this period of separation, let’s not forget how difficult it has been being isolated, how we have felt being alone. Some of us may not be able to return to worship in-person, at least not for a while. We need to stay connected to reassure each other of our hope in Jesus. Our Care Team is looking for volunteers willing to visit or call members and do simple shopping tasks for those unable to do so. If you are interested in volunteering, please let Lisa Walraven know at office@stjohnslexington.org.            

Finally, remember that all that we have comes from God. I want to thank you for how you have continued to honor God with your faithful contributions to St. John’s. Your gifts are enabling us to meet our financial obligations and outreach support. We truly appreciate your continued support whether you are dropping off your offering at the in-person service, WiFi communion, mailing your check directly to St. John’s, or giving online through the electronic giving section of our website at https://stjohnslexington.org/worship/electronic-giving/. Praise God for how He is working in your lives!  

I am looking forward to seeing many of you as we are blessed to worship together again.

Living in Jesus with you,
Pastor B.

May 26th Update on Coronavirus Precautions

Dear Members of St. John’s,

Our life in the Lord rests in His abundant grace and abiding love.  They are assurance for us in every season of life, including the present one.

Praise God for the blessing of in-person worship for the last two Sundays! We continue to listen to feedback from our members, and as we do this, we continue to work on removing barriers to attendance while maintaining safety. Everyone seems to agree that maintaining proper social distancing, eliminating touchpoints, practicing good hygiene, and cleaning surfaces thoroughly and frequently are the primary means of safety.

However, when it comes to the use of masks, there are differing views. We’re not here to make a judgment on any of this. What we don’t want is for something like this to be a barrier to worshiping your Savior. In-person worship is important for all of us. So we’re going to try a slightly different worship arrangement temporarily starting in June. This will give members the option to choose while we manage through this period of uncertainty. Starting on Sunday, June 7th, we’re modifying our in-person worship as follows. And, as we’ve stated before, if you feel sick or feel more vulnerable due to age or an underlying condition, please stay home.

8:00 am: “Mask Optional” Service    

9:15 am: WiFi Communion in Narthex

                               Sanctuary surfaces disinfected for 10:30 Service

10:30 am: “Mask Required” Service

For those unable to attend in-person, we will live stream the 10:30 service and tape it for viewing. It will be posted after the 10:30 service. 

Regarding our Care Team, volunteers have been helping members with a variety of tasks. If you feel called to help others by visiting, calling, or just doing simple shopping tasks for those unable to do so, please let Lisa Walraven know at office@stjohnslexington.org.            

Praise God for your faithful contributions to St. John’s. With multiple options to worship, we’re also offering multiple options to give to meet our financial obligations and outreach support. You may drop off your offering at the in-person service, at WiFi communion, mail your check directly to St. John’s, or give online through the electronic giving section of our website at https://stjohnslexington.org/worship/electronic-giving/. Thank you for your support!

As we continue to traverse the present we are, as God’s people, firmly rooted, through our Savior, in His life.  As such, we can be certain we are held in His arms, protected by His power, and safe as His children.  That is our day to day confidence.

Living in Jesus with you,

Pastor B.

June 2 Update on Coronavirus Precautions

Dear Members of St. John’s,

We praise the Lord for His generous gifts which bless our lives in countless ways.  We rejoice that we are His children.

Last Sunday, we listened to God’s teaching about His church, and how “the gates of Hell will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). Virus or no virus, we can be confident in God’s promise for His church, and know that He wants us to be together in worship.  So as we continue to listen to your input, we know there are a range of views regarding in-person worship and that’s OK. Since there may not be an answer that solves everyone’s concerns, we want to instead provide a range of worship options, both in-person and virtual, to give you choice. Then, you can decide what option you are most comfortable with as time goes on. In all cases, we will continue to maintain proper social distancing, eliminate touchpoints, practice good hygiene, and disinfect surfaces before and after each service. And, as we’ve stated before, if you feel sick or if you feel more vulnerable due to age or an underlying condition, please stay home. Just to remind everyone, here are the worship options: 

In-Person Worship Options (all include Family-Isolated Communion) 

  • 8:00 am: “Mask Optional” Worship Service    
  • 10:30 am: “Mask Mandatory” Worship Service

Alternative / Virtual Worship Options (for those unable to attend in-person worship)

  • 9:15 am: Walk-In Family-Isolated (WiFi) Communion in the Narthex
  • 10:30 am:  Live-Stream of the 10:30 Service

After 10:30 am Service:  Tape of the 10:30 Service will be posted for later viewing  

Regarding communion, we are also refining our process to eliminate the risk of contamination. I will keep the lids on the wafer containers and wine trays when consecrating the bread/wine at the altar. I will also maintain the proper distance from communicants and the bread/wine when speaking at the credence table. Finally, the wine tray and wafer containers will be kept at the proper distance away from communicants. The elder, wearing gloves and a mask, will now place only the individual cups and wafers on the credence table for each family as they approach the altar to remove the risk of contamination to the entire wine tray or wafer containers.   

Remember, there are still members that are unable to attend the in-person services. If you feel called to help others by visiting, calling, or just doing simple tasks (e.g. shopping, preparing food, etc.) for those unable to do so, please let Lisa Walraven know at office@stjohnslexington.org.            

Praise God for your faithful contributions to St. John’s. With multiple options to worship, we’re also offering multiple options to give to meet our financial obligations and outreach support. You may drop off your offering at the in-person service, at WiFi communion, mail your check directly to St. John’s, or give online through the electronic giving section of our website at https://stjohnslexington.org/worship/electronic-giving/. Thank you so much for your support!

As we continue to worship together and each week welcome back more of our fellowship, we are most grateful that God is blessing His church for us and through us.  It is good to have a spiritual home.

Living in Jesus with you,
Pastor B.

June 9 Update on Coronavirus Precautions

Dear Members of St. John’s,

Each week we are reminded we belong to a kind and loving God, One who is supplying all that is needful for us.  

We’ve been back at worship for four weeks already! Praise God that everything is going well so far with all of the adjustments we have made. To remind everyone, we are providing a range of safe worship options, both in-person and virtual, to give you choice. Then, you can decide what option you are most comfortable with as time goes on. In all cases, we will continue to maintain proper social distancing, eliminate touchpoints, provide masks, practice good hygiene, and disinfect surfaces before and after each service. And, as we’ve stated before, if you feel sick or if you feel more vulnerable due to age or an underlying condition, please stay home. Here are the worship options: 

In-Person Worship Options (all include Family-Isolated Communion) 

  • 8:00 am: “Mask Optional” Worship Service    
  • 10:30 am: “Mask Mandatory” Worship Service

Alternative / Virtual Worship Options (for those unable to attend in-person worship)

  • 9:15 am: Walk-In Family-Isolated (WiFi) Communion in the Narthex
  • 10:30 am:  Live-Stream of the 10:30 Service
  • After 10:30 am Service:  Tape of the 10:30 Service will be posted for later viewing  

Again, regarding communion, we have refined our process to eliminate the risk of contamination. I will keep the lids on the wafer containers and wine trays when consecrating the bread/wine at the altar. I will also maintain the proper distance from communicants and the bread/wine when speaking at the credence table. Finally, the wine tray and wafer containers will be kept at the proper distance away from communicants. The elder, wearing gloves and a mask, will now place only the individual cups and wafers on the credence table for each family as they approach the altar to remove the risk of contamination to the entire wine tray or wafer containers.  

Remember, there are still members that are unable to attend the in-person services. If you feel called to help others by visiting, calling, or just doing simple tasks (e.g. shopping, preparing food, etc.) for those unable to do so, please let Lisa Walraven know at office@stjohnslexington.org.            

Praise God for your faithful contributions to St. John’s. With multiple options to worship, we’re also offering multiple options to give to meet our financial obligations and outreach support. You may drop off your offering at the in-person service, at WiFi communion, mail your check directly to St. John’s, or give online through the electronic giving section of our website at https://stjohnslexington.org/worship/electronic-giving/. Thank you so much for your support!

As the weeks go by we are so grateful for our church home, for the blessing of our life together as God’s people.  And as always we continue to pray for God’s care for our loved ones here at St. John’s, as well as family, friends and all those who like us need His abundant grace.

Living in Jesus with you,
Pastor B.

June 16 Update on Coronavirus Precautions

Dear Members of St. John’s,

We plan to continue providing a range of safe worship options, both in-person and virtual, to give you choice. Then, you can decide which option you are most comfortable with as time goes on. In all cases, we will continue to maintain proper social distancing, eliminate touchpoints, provide masks, practice good hygiene, and disinfect surfaces before and after each service. And, as we’ve stated before, if you feel sick or if you feel more vulnerable due to age or an underlying condition, please stay home. Here are the worship options: 

In-Person Worship Options (all include Family-Isolated Communion) 

  • 8:00 am: “Mask Optional” Worship Service    
  • 10:30 am: “Mask Mandatory” Worship Service

Alternative / Virtual Worship Options (for those unable to attend in-person worship)

  • 9:15 am: Walk-In Family-Isolated (WiFi) Communion in the Narthex
  • 10:30 am:  Live-Stream of the 10:30 Service
  • After 10:30 am Service:  Tape of the 10:30 Service will be posted for later viewing  

The Care Team is looking for volunteers. If you feel called to help others by visiting, calling, or just doing simple tasks (e.g. shopping, preparing food, etc.) for those unable to do so, please let the office staff know by emailing.       

Praise God for your faithful contributions to St. John’s. With multiple options to worship, we’re also offering multiple options to give to meet our financial obligations and outreach support. You may drop off your offering at the in-person service, at WiFi communion, mail your check directly to St. John’s, or give online through the electronic giving section of our website at https://stjohnslexington.org/worship/electronic-giving/. Thank you so much for your support!

Living in Jesus with you,
Pastor B.

June 23 Update on Coronavirus Precautions

Dear Members of St. John’s,

It is our Lord’s deep and abiding love for us that is the source of His holy provision for us.  Every week He continues to supply all we need for body and soul.  How blessed we are.

For this coming Sunday, we plan to continue with our safe worship options, both in-person and virtual, to give you choice. In all cases, we will continue to maintain proper social distancing, eliminate touchpoints, provide masks, practice good hygiene, and disinfect surfaces before and after each service. And, as we’ve stated before, if you feel sick or if you feel more vulnerable due to age or an underlying condition, please stay home. Here are the worship options: 

In-Person Worship Options (all include Family-Isolated Communion) 

  • 8:00 am: “Mask Optional” Worship Service    
  • 10:30 am: “Mask Mandatory” Worship Service

Alternative / Virtual Worship Options (for those unable to attend in-person worship)

  • 9:15 am: Walk-In Family-Isolated (WiFi) Communion in the Narthex
  • 10:30 am:  Live-Stream of the 10:30 Service
  • After 10:30 am Service:  Tape of the 10:30 Service will be posted for later viewing  

The Care Team continues to look for volunteers. If you feel called to help others by visiting, calling, or just doing simple tasks (e.g. shopping, preparing food, etc.) for those unable to do so, please let Lisa Walraven know at office@stjohnslexington.org.            

Thank you for continuing your faithful contributions to St. John’s. With multiple options to worship, we’re also offering multiple options to give to meet our financial obligations and outreach support. You may drop off your offering at the in-person service, at WiFi communion, mail your check directly to St. John’s, or give online through the electronic giving section of our website at https://stjohnslexington.org/worship/electronic-giving/. Praise God for the blessing!

As always, we hold up in prayer our fellowship, our nation and its leaders, and all those being affected by the pandemic.  We do so confident of our Lord’s attentiveness and grace-filled answers.

Living in Jesus with you,
Pastor B.

June 30 Update on Coronavirus Precautions

Dear St. John’s Family,

God continues to fill our lives as His children with abundant blessing.  Each and everyday we enjoy His generosity as we rest in His love for us.

We seem to be settling in with our in-person and virtual worship options. Since we don’t plan to make any changes for the rest of the summer, this will be my last weekly update for now. As we move into August, I will update everyone on the Fall schedule regarding services and Sunday school. 

As a reminder, while we are offering different worship options to meet the needs of our congregation, in all cases we will continue to maintain proper social distancing, eliminate touchpoints, provide masks, practice good hygiene, and disinfect surfaces before and after each service. And, as we’ve stated before, if you feel sick or if you feel more vulnerable due to age or an underlying condition, please stay home. Here are the worship options: 

In-Person Worship Options (all include Family-Isolated Communion) 

  • 8:00 am: “Mask Optional” Worship Service    
  • 10:30 am: “Mask Mandatory” Worship Service

Alternative / Virtual Worship Options (for those unable to attend in-person worship)

  • 9:15 am: Walk-In Family-Isolated (WiFi) Communion in the Narthex
  • 10:30 am:  Live-Stream of the 10:30 Service
  • After 10:30 am Service:  Tape of the 10:30 Service will be posted for later viewing  

We’ve been so blessed by your continuing and faithful contributions to St. John’s. Since the coronavirus precautions will be with us for the foreseeable future and the fact that summertime tends to be the slowest part of the year, we will continue offering multiple options to give in order to meet our financial obligations and outreach support. You may drop off your offering at the in-person service, at WiFi communion, mail your check directly to St. John’s, or give online through the electronic giving section of our website at https://stjohnslexington.org/worship/electronic-giving/. Praise God for the blessing!

This weekend we will celebrate and focus on the privilege and responsibilities we have as Christians in America.  I look forward to sharing God’s Word and supper with you.

In Jesus our Savior,
Pastor B.