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Responding to the Coronavirus Threat: A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Egensteiner

[3.12.20]

COLLECTIVE EFFORT:
RESPONDING TO THE CORONAVIRUS THREAT 

Dear Friends in Christ, 

As the coronavirus continues to threaten the New York metropolitan area, we must continue to work collectively and take care of one another. As part of this effort to implement safe practices in our congregations, work-spaces, offices, communities, etc., we urge you to take into account the suggestions, below. While these are recommendations and reflections from my office, the real decisions and implementations must be made by each congregation for themselves, perhaps in a combined effort between the pastor, pastoral staff, and parish council. 

Pass the Peace and then pass the hand sanitizer

It is important to remember that when sharing peace, an earnest exchange of glances and a heartfelt smile can sometimes mean more than even a handshake, a kiss or a hug, as the sentiment of peace, support and togetherness, shines through. 

 

Safe Communion Practices
Implementing safe practices in your congregation during the distribution of Holy Communion is a way to remain safe by acting collectively and responsibly.

  • Those distributing should sanitize their hands before doing so. Make this safe-practice visible in order to ease the minds of your members.
  • To receive the Blood of Christ it is, in fact, safest to use the common cup, rather than individual cups. Make sure that the chalices used are made of silver or gold. The assistants distributing the wine or grape juice need to wipe the rim of the chalice after each person drinks from it, and turn the chalice. (Individual cups increase the risk for contamination due to them passing through many more hands, in both the preparation and distribution processes).
  • Refrain from intinct, as accidental contact with the wine or grape juice may result in contamination.
  • According to our Lutheran understanding, if you prefer to receive only the bread, you still receive the full benefit of the sacrament. 


Handling In-Person Meetings and Events 
It may be wise to reconfigure and/or postpone upcoming in-person meetings and events in order to ensure the safety of our siblings in our community. Alternatively, participants can attend and hold meetings via digital interface softwares. 

Livestream Worship Services, Bible Studies & Christian Education Classes
Keep engaging with members of your congregation and community by live-streaming services, bible studies and more. Click HERE to find a helpful article related to this theme.

Keep Your Audience Engaged
Use all your digital channels to stay connected with members of your congregation and community: daily devotionals or prayers via text messages, email campaigns or social media posts, could be a useful way to remain faithfully united.

We Are Church Together

  • Have a team ready to contact isolated members of your congregation.
  • Create a phone tree for checking in with parishioners who are isolated and/or not connected online.
  • If you are healthy, volunteer in your community to help others.
  • Reach out to those on the front-lines.
  • Pray for your siblings in need.  

These recommendations are not cause for alarm, but rather an important way in which we can all stay safe and sensible TOGETHER. By maintaining that small cautious adjustments do not impact our ability to worship and be productive members of our Church, we see that each of us, along with our holy siblings, can continue to receive God’s love and be a shining example of hope and courage, with the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

We are all stronger and better equipped to face challenges of every degree as a calm, collected, and aware church community. Have faith that we will continue to monitor this situation and will carefully make educated decisions.

Our priority is YOU and your well-being. 

In Christ,
Bishop Paul Egensteiner

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