Dear members and friends of St. John,
A pastor friend of mine drove past St. John the other day and saw that our sign said, “St. John is temporarily closed.” It dawned on me immediately that we put the wrong message up. St. John is definitely not closed, even if our building is temporarily shut. In fact, St. John has experienced a high level of engagement in our online worship services, and our other virtual activities. And yet, many of us are wondering “when will we begin worshiping together in the sanctuary?” The short answer is, probably not very soon. The longer answer is that St. John’s Church Council has assembled a COVID-19 task force of healthcare professionals, leaders, and others from our membership. They are being asked to advise the council so that when St. John does open its doors again, we have reduced our risk of infection as much as possible. One of our main indicators will be how many continuous days of lower numbers of Coronavirus infection are reported in our area. The task force will be using documents from the synod and the CDC as resources as they work. (These documents can be found on our website.)
In the meantime, St. John is still open! What makes us “St. John” is God’s continued blessing of us as a church and community. Due to safety concerns, we may not be able to control when we reopen our building, but we can control how we, as a community, respond. Even without being in the building, we can certainly reach out to others in our church community and continue connecting with one another. It is our connections with God and with each other that make us such a strong church. Virtual worship provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with God, maybe even in surprising ways! As a community, St. John is such a vibrant church because we continue connecting with one another in meaningful ways. While we live through these challenging times, how can we go about creating and maintaining good community?
The answer is that St. John will dive deeper into our virtual community over the next weeks and months. We hope to continue to build community and foster healthy, positive relationships which will aid us all during our social distancing times. We have been blessed to live in a time when technology allows us to create virtual community, and we are now tasked with the challenge of living out our mission during a time when we cannot physically gather. One of the gifts of community is sharing our time and talents with one another. To that end, St. John is asking its members to invest in our virtual community. We will begin by forming small groups around topics of shared interest. Some examples are: book clubs, cooking groups, games, support groups, etc. The staff of St. John cannot do this on their own, but need your energy and expertise to help build this vibrant online community. Please pray about how you might be involved, and if you feel called to do, please contact someone you know on staff; or simply firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our sincere hope is that we will continue to live out of mission of “Welcomed in Christ. Called to community. Sent to serve.” This mission calls for us to dig a little deeper into our imagination, and listen to how God is continuing to call us even though we aren’t meeting in the church building. St. John is not closed; we are reinventing what it means to be church. Join us and become part of our mission, creating more virtual community. As we build up this community, we will spread good news and healing to more and more people so that all may know God’s presence in their lives.