Dear People of Saint Stephen,
Psalm 46 says "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. . . .. the nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter. . . . . Be still and know that I am God."
We live in unpredictable times, and with the Coronavirus outbreak we are already in uncharted territory. We want to update everyone to let you know that our leadership is continuing to take this very seriously. We have received communication from the Metro Chicago Synod, the ELCA, and are keeping up with the Center for Disease Control, as well as the Lake County Health Department, and State of Illinois recommendations. We are in prayer for all those who are sick around the world.
Currently, we plan to continue with on-site worship. It is important that we join together as God's people and not be afraid, but we need to act in ways that protect the health of our congregation and community. To that end, it is best for people to stay home if they are sick. Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and possible respiratory distress.
The best way to prevent spread continues to be to wash your hands frequently for 20-30 seconds, avoid touching your face, avoid contact with sick people, and maintain a social distance of approximately 6 feet.
In worship we will continue communion with disposable cups, not passing the offering plate, and not exchanging handshakes during the peace. This being said the virus is airborne, so know these precautions will only do so much.
For the time being we will not have coffee fellowship after worship. The risk for sharing the virus is too great.
Simple Suppers have been cancelled, but we will continue to have worship at 12 noon and 7pm on Wednesdays.
If you are sick or you are vulnerable or are in close contact with those who are vulnerable, please strongly consider not coming to church. No one will judge you for your prayerful discernment. Please let us know how we can support you.
The Council has been in conversation this week and realizes that information and decisions may need to be made very quickly. If the situation continues to worsen please make sure to check your email, our website, and Facebook. Our work as the church will go on, but our methods will need to adapt during this pandemic. As always, God will provide new opportunities forward in faith and grace.
In the event that there is mandatory quarantine or if congregational services, events, and gatherings need to be cancelled or postponed we wish to reach you in a timely manner, so VERIFY YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION:
- Please email your family name, current address, phone number(s) and emails for the adults in the household to the church email (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as to Pastor Rebecca (email@example.com) as soon as possible—or alternately you can call the church and leave a message--so that we can make sure our records are update with the most current information possible. Please do this even if you feel we have your information. If you see we have missed a church member on this email please also let us know.
Know that we do not make these decisions lightly. And please know this is our best information as of today. Things are happening quickly and could change before Sunday. Please join us in praying for the leadership at Saint Stephen, our nation, and our world.
Together with God, we will get through this. We are God’s people and we will continue to be God’s church. Please be safe.
Pastor Rebecca Gordon and Donal Barlow, Council President