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Reopening Task Force: Looking Back And Aiming For Amber Stage

Reopening Task Force: Looking back and aiming for Amber Stage

Under normal circumstances, Martin Luther Church offers in-person worship on Sundays and occasionally midweek in English and German. Worship is led by the Pastor, Vicars or lay preachers. It is supported by Linda on the organ/piano, church council, Altar Guild, as well as Confirmands, youth and other volunteers (e.g. readers, choir singers). In 2019, the average worship attendance was 30 in English services, 51 in German services and 66 in English-German services. We also offer German radio devotions live on AM 530 and on our website which allows us to reach a wide audience.

With the closure of our church to the public in March 2020 due to COVID-19, Martin Luther Church has been using various means of communication to continue our mission to serve and inspire people. Initial information about our closure from our church president went out in English and German by mail and phone to all members and adherents. The office sends regular email updates to approx. 300 people. These updates are also on our website thanks to our web and translation teams. Our existing Visiting Ministry Team and our new Corona Care Call team adds an ongoing personal touch, especially for people who are unable to access our online services.

We offer a Sunday video devotion on our website via Youtube and Facebook. This allows people to watch remotely at the same time or at a time of their choosing. Video devotions are recorded in English with the help of congregation members. There is a bilingual service once a month. We occasionally also record a German sermon, in addition to the German radio devotion. The Martin Luther Church YouTube channel had 79 subscribers as of July 20. Pastor Ceconi’s final sermon on March 22 has almost 500 views, our Easter service over 200 views and Pentecost 135 views. This is equal to, if not more, than in-person worship attendance.

We have made our devotions accessible to people with hearing impairments by providing a written transcript of both the video and radio devotions. These are mailed every two weeks to church members who don’t have Internet (approx. 80 people). In this way we offer many ways to worship during COVID. We also continue to use different technology like Zoom meetings and live-streaming to enhance spiritual life and fellowship during this time of isolation. Even when we reopen, we will not do things exactly the way we used to and some of this is for the better.

Why hasn’t Martin Luther Church reopened for in-person worship?

It is the strong counsel of the Bishop that all Eastern Synod congregations remain in the RED STAGE until September 2020.

The Eastern Synod has said it is the responsibility of each congregation to consult, and adhere to the directives of their provincial governments and local public health authorities. Our Church Council has been meeting regularly to make informed decisions based on the Eastern Synod, provincial and municipal government guidelines. We now have our own reopening task force made up of volunteers to help review requirements and make recommendations for practices and protocols in our own context.

The Eastern Synod’s Task Force on the Resumption of In-Person Worship is providing two documents to help congregational leaders begin the process of preparing their buildings for a potential re-opening in Fall 2020. More information is available here: https://easternsynod.org/preliminary-considerations-for-the-resumption-of-in-person-worship/.

The first resource, “Staged Approach & Preliminary Considerations”, is available now. We are aiming for the Eastern Synod’s AMBER STAGE.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work together to keep you informed, inspired and safe. Contact the church office if you’d like to help our reopening taskforce. We are also in need of volunteers at reopening.

MLC Re-opening Task Force: Ariane, Andrea, Tanya, Vicar Silke, Marlena and Andrew

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