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Pastor John's response to COVID-19

May 27, 2020

Dear Redeemer Family,

This past Sunday we completed our Sermon Series through the Easter Season that I called “Living Without Lack While In Crisis.” I drew this series primarily from Peter’s first letter (epistle), which he had written to communities that were deeply entrenched in a time of crisis characterized primarily by a severe persecution brought on by Emperor Nero. My conviction was, if we are learning to trust Jesus as our Good Shepherd who provides all that we need, we shall surely find relevant encouragement in our time of crisis from the words of the Apostle Peter. Here is a recap of our weekly themes. My hope is that you may use these notes to go back, review the texts from 1st Peter and reflect again on these questions in order that your faith may be strengthened in your Good Shepherd and you may live fully into the victory King Jesus has won for you in this time of crisis. Enjoy.

Also, please note, this past Sunday’s Prayer Flyer is attached for your prayer time and card writing.

  1. Enduring Trials - 1 Peter 1:3-9
    • Where our eyes are set impacts how we face the circumstances that come into our lives. Our resurrected King wants us to reflect His victory when we are living through crisis.
      • Q1: What did it mean to you to focus on, and learn to know, King Jesus as your Good Shepherd who provides everything you need? (I shall not want.)
        • How has the COVID crisis changed your conviction that Jesus is your Good Shepherd?
        • What has not being able to do the things you want to do done to your understanding of what you truly want?
      • Q2: Thomas wanted assurance of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus says that those who don’t get to “see” Him yet still trust Him as King are blessed. How has the uncertainty of our times caused you to trust God differently?
      • Q3: When one knows King Jesus as one’s Shepherd, what does that mean when trials come?
  2. Are “enduring trials” and “contentment” mutually exclusive?
    • Preparing Our Minds for Action - 1 Peter 1:10-16
      • How our minds are prepared impacts how we face the circumstances that come into our lives.
        • Q1: Peter connects the preparing of our minds for action with God’s whole salvation drama from the Old Testament through the New Testament into our present day. What do your actions in times of crisis have to do with God’s holiness and bringing glory to King Jesus? 
        • Q2: What does Holy Communion have to do with preparing your mind for action? 
        • Q3: When your Good Shepherd prepares a table before you, do you ever stop to think, “who are my enemies right now?
          • What should my attitude towards my enemies be?
          • If my Good Shepherd is preparing a feast for me in the presence of my enemies, what is His attitude towards, and hope for, my enemies?
          • How should this change my attitude?
  3. Temporary Residents - 1 Peter 1:17-23
    • Our belief about where our true home is impacts how we face the circumstances that come into our lives.
      • Q1:  Because of the resurrection of King Jesus we know that life in this world isn’t our true or final home. We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. So then, what does loving one another deeply with all our heart look like in times of crisis?
      • Q2: When we don’t love each other deeply from the heart, whose purpose is being furthered, the “thief’s” or our Good Shepherd’s? How would you describe your answer?
      • Q3: Being a temporary resident in this world, what is your Good Shepherd leading you to do in the midst of these times of crisis?
  4. From “No Identity” to “God’s People” - 1 Peter 2:1-10
    • Our sense of identity impacts how we face the circumstances that come into our lives.
      • Q1:  We all have a biological mother whether she is still alive in this world or not, whether we actually knew her or not. However, can you remember and consider who helped nurse you into a trusting relationship with King Jesus?
        • What has craving pure spiritual milk looked like in your life? 
      • Q2: When there is so much going on around us, what do King Jesus’ words not to let our hearts be troubled mean to you?
      • Q3: When we know King Jesus as our Way, our Truth and our Life and are baptized into His family, we have an eternal identity. How will you live into the truth that our Truth declares, that we will do even greater works than He has done?
  5. The Truth About Authority - 1 Peter 2:11-25
    • Our understanding of authority impacts how we face the circumstances that come into our lives.
      • Q1: Who, in a position of authority, do you find most difficult to submit to and obey?
      • Q2: Peter writes that we are free, yet we are God’s slaves. How do you understand this?
      • Q3: How have you been growing in your understanding of what pleases God and why knowing what pleases God matters?
  6. God’s “Reason” - 1 Peter 3:13-22
    • Our sense of what God is up to and our sharing in His gracious love impacts how we face the circumstances that come into our lives.
      • Q1: How would you “explain” your hope as a believer?
        • Consider getting and reading the book, “The End of Reason,” by  Ravi Zacharias 
      • Q2: How has King Jesus been opening your mind to understand the Scriptures and the message to be proclaimed to all nations; “There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent”?
      • Q3: How has learning to live without lack while in crisis helped you understand that “enduring trials” and “contentment” are not mutually exclusive?

I have no new updates about the stay at home orders for Montgomery County. Keep your eyes and ears open for updates.

Peace,

Pastor John

https://www.christianbook.com/end-reason-response-the-new-atheists/ravi-zacharias/9780310282518/pd/282518?event=ESRCG

May 21, 2020

Dear Redeemer Family,

I hope you and your loved ones are well and not just enduring this difficult time, but living in the contentment of our Good Shepherd providing for all that we need. We are still looking forward to when we can begin gathering in person for worship. The latest COVID update is that three of the four counties in our four county region have not yet lifted the stay at home restriction. Only Carroll County is currently aligned with the State’s phase one on the road to recovery plan. So we wait.

While we wait there are ways we are preparing at Redeemer for moving into OUR phase one of reopening Redeemer. There are also ways that you can prepare for Redeemer’s phase one.

First of all, once our Montgomery County leaders lift restrictions and give us the freedom to gather for worship, when we do reopen our facility it will be for worship in the Family Life Center at our regular worship times. We will be counting on you to make certain decisions about your readiness to attend. We would ask you to determine your body temperature before coming to church. If you have a temperature over 100.4 please stay home and keep your family home. If you are dealing with coughing or shortness of breath, please stay home and keep your family home. If you are in the high risk categories (Health officials are advising that the elderly and those with chronic lung disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or a weakened immune system should avoid unnecessary events and gatherings.), please choose to stay home.

For those who do gather for worship at Redeemer once we are free to do so, we ask that you prayerfully consider how best to love one another, including those who may want us to be cautious. A way of doing that would be to wear a face mask while in the public space of the church building, not because you have to but because you choose to for the sake of others. We will be sharing together in Holy Communion, a sacred practice that does mean momentary closeness while otherwise social distancing, for which we will ask everyone to be diligent in their hand hygiene to include regular and thorough hand washing and appropriately timely use of hand sanitizer. 

These are certainly interesting times. I have spoken with Redeemer members who feel that our return to our building has been put off for too long and are very eager to come back, and I have spoken with Redeemer members who are concerned that we are moving back into normal routines too quickly. Whatever your position, may you take notice of the thoughts, concerns, and convictions of others and strive to do the loving thing to which King Jesus calls you.

I would really like to get a better sense of where we all are in our readiness to return and have put together a simple 12 question survey that I would ask you to complete. Simply click this link, or the one below, and respond to the 12 questions and click submit. Your answers are 100% anonymous. I will use the data with the leaders of Redeemer to evaluate our phase one plan and the plans for later phases. 

May we continue to encourage one another in this dark valley time. May we be the loving encouragement of King Jesus for one another as we connect by cards, phonecalls, texting, Facebook and other electronic and social media means. Stay tuned for more updates as our situation changes by local governmental guidelines. I am attaching a document from Montgomery County for Houses of Worship. I’d ask you to particularly notice what it says about practicing Holy Communion. The tip here means we can expect a fairly familiar practice of Holy Communion distribution, but I will send more details about how we will commune safely in a later update as we get closer to reopening.

On another note, the Zoom meetings for people to meet our Pastoral Candidate, Trent Thompson, have begun. Check your emails for the links to sign up for a meeting. We are keeping attendance at each meeting low enough to allow for personal interaction. If all the currently offered meetings fill up and we need to add more, praise God, we will. I’ll include Trent’s Autobiography on this email too. Remember, these Zoom meetings are in addition to ultimately being able to meet him in person, experience his worship leadership and hear him preach, which we will schedule when conditions enable his coming among us. 

Jesus is on the move even in the global crisis. May we always be looking to join Jesus on His mission for the glory of God and the building of God’s Kingdom.

 Peace,

Pastor John

Previous Posts

May 15, 2020,

Dear Redeemer Family,

This week’s midweek check in is a little later coming out because of some good news out of the Governor’s office. Maryland will move into phase one of the “Road to Recovery” tomorrow evening, Friday, May 15 at 5:00PM. Because Montgomery County is one of the virus hot spots in the state, however, the stay at home order HAS NOT been lifted for MoCo residents. What this means for Redeemer, then, is that while the Governor’s adjusted phase one allows for places of worship to reopen at 50% capacity, since Redeemer is located in Montgomery County, we will be continuing with our live streamed worship this Sunday. We will have our skeleton crew to do the worship live stream. Please do not yet plan to return to church for worship.

Our leadership teams have been discussing and working for weeks now on the mirad questions we have to address in order to finalize our reopening plan. Our heart’s desire is to be ready to welcome people back into fellowship in our building as soon as possible. We must, however, be diligently careful to have all necessary procedures in place to assure as best as possible the safety and wellbeing of anyone who comes to Redeemer for worship.We have been working on a way to survey you, the many people of Redeemer to gauge how we are feeling about the return. We know that a congregation like ours includes people who are in high risk categories and may be more concerned about gathering again as well as people on the other end of the spectrum who would come back into full fellowship tomorrow. I ask us all to be patient, thoughtful and concerned for one another as we look forward to our return. 

I am confident in asking this of you all because I believe we remember who we are. Our true identity as children of God, servants of King Jesus, marks us as people who put one another’s needs ahead of our own wants and desires. As the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:9-10, “you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. ‘Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.’”

This mid-week update has been more brief than usual, but thank you for paying particular attention to the important information about our reopening plan. Stay tuned for further updates as I can make them available to you all.

 Peace,

Pastor John

April 21, 2020

Dear Redeemer Family,

I pray you are all continuing to endure the trials of our current circumstances. I ask that you would read this email through to the end as I have prayer requests at the end. Thank you for your patience with a longer email. It has been a while since I offered an update on what is happening for Redeemer in light of the COVID crisis. So here is a simple update. In the Governor’s press conference last Friday, April 17th, we heard that schools in MD will be closed through May 15. The Governor also gave some clarity to what a reopening plan will require. For the implementation of that plan, however, Maryland will follow the President’s plan for when a reopening can begin. The reality of these Federal and State guidelines is we are not ready soon to begin the first stage of reopening. Therefore, we are working towards plans that will account for an extended time of ministry disruption. As I have already shared with you all, we are using technological means by which to get to know our Pastoral Candidate Trent Thompson. We will be discussing how an Annual Congregational meeting may need to happen remotely. We have had to cancel, and are currently designing replacement activities where possible for numerous ministry activities, including the following:

  • Women’s Prayer Retreat
  • VBC
  • Sports Camp
  • Work Camp
  • International Mission Trip to Nicaragua

All these changes add to the loss we all already feel. That is why it is critically important for us to remember that we serve a King who is not wringing His hands, wondering what to do now. King Jesus continues His mission of redemption and restoration of all things. 

  • We MUST set our eyes on Him and trust Him to show us, not the dark valley through which He is faithfully guiding us—that is what we too often are distracted by—but the opportunities He is presenting to us for new ministry and old ministry done in new ways. 
  • We will continue as the people of God of Redeemer Lutheran Church to trust that King Jesus is not at a loss in our circumstances. 
  • We will continue to honor governmental leaders and follow State and Federal plans. 
  • We will continue to keep the main thing the main thing, which is lovingly caring for one another and seeing to Word and Sacrament ministry. 
  • We will continue to move into the new opportunities King Jesus presents to us.
    • For example, our Children’s’ Ministry has created a Sunday evening at 6:30 Zoom meeting for families with young children called “PowerHouse Live.” Any family that would like access to this fun Bible lesson time for kids should contact our Children’s’ Ministry Director, Valerie Bartel for information and access codes.

So this past Sunday I introduced a new preaching series for the season of Easter which will take us nearly to the end of May. I’m calling it “Living Without Lack While In Crisis.”  Each week we will draw from God’s word through Peter to a community in crisis. For Peter’s first readers, the crisis was persecution that led to the death of many Christians at the hand of Emperor Nero. For us, we too face the loss of life at the hands of an invisible enemy, a virus. We are living in a time of crisis. So our first week opened up this theme.

Where our eyes are set impacts how we face the circumstances that come into our lives. 

Our resurrected King wants us to reflect His victory when we are living through crisis. So here are a few reflection questions for you to consider, or reconsider.

  • Q1: What did it mean to you through your Lenten journey, to focus on, and learn to know, King Jesus as your Good Shepherd who provides everything you need? (“I shall not want.”)
    • How has the COVID crisis changed your conviction that Jesus is your Good Shepherd?
    • What has not being able to do the things you want to do, done to your understanding of what you truly want?
  • Q2: In the Gospel story from John 20:19-31 Thomas wanted assurance of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus says that those who don’t get to “see” Him, yet still trust Him as King, are blessed. How has the uncertainty of our times caused you to trust God differently?
    • How might this passage change where your eyes are trained?
      • "Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:8-9
  • Q3: Knowing King Jesus as your Shepherd means what when trials come?
    • Do you believe “enduring trials” and “contentment” are mutually exclusive?

This last question would be answered in the negative by Peter, judging by his words in chapter 1, verse 7b of his letter. Peter writes, “So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” Similarly, may your faith remain strong through the trials that lie ahead of us, continuing to trust in our Good Shepherd who provides all that we need. 

Lastly, would you please hold in your prayers,

  • Sherry Barr as she recovers from surgery
  • Kelly Stouffer as she deals with pain and awaits resolution from a recent health condition that had her in the hospital last week.
  • Matt and Kelly Hudlow as they rejoice in the birth of their Granddaughter, Joanna Grace to their daughter Stephanie.

In the confidence of my King,

Pastor John

 

 

March 31, 2020

Dear Redeemer Community,

My dear Redeemer family, “every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:3-6). I hope and pray that each of you is staying home as much as possible and trusting in King Jesus to provide for you during this time of social distancing. My heart is with you all.

Once again I write in response to the Governor’s executive orders. We have been encouraging one another to stay at home as much as possible in keeping with the instructions of our governmental leaders. Now Governor Hogan has issued a stay at home directive except for essential needs like groceries or medications. What has been helpful for us as a faith community is that the Governor’s office follows the federal government’s guidelines on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce and their guidelines have been updated to include “Clergy for essential support” under “OTHER COMMUNITY- OR GOVERNMENT-BASED OPERATIONS AND ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS.” You can read the document for yourself here. The bullet about clergy is on page 12. 

So, I will still be able to live stream worship services from Redeemer with a skeleton crew of less than ten people, who will all observe appropriate social distancing practices while together in the building, in order to provide for the emotional and spiritual care of our people. Our staff has been working very hard to adapt to the ever changing circumstances and restrictions on how we can provide the best spiritual and emotional support for everyone during these trying times. I thank God always for the gift that their faithful service is to the wider Redeemer community. One of the ministries we have undertaken as a staff is the contacting of every member of our community. Each staff person has a list of people they will be reaching out to on a regular basis. We want to take care not to miss anyone, so if you have not yet connected with someone from church, please give our office a call or email our secretary at info@redeemer.us so we can make sure we have your current contact information. 

This week will be the last of our Lenten midweek services on Wednesday evening at 6:45pm. This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. I will be doing a live stream on Facebook again at both 8:00am and 11:00am times. There are numerous Sunday School classes that have been successful in moving to remote ways of meeting. If you would like to be a part of one of the Sunday School classes at the normal Sunday School time, check out the document attached to this email for information on how to get connected.

Sunday begins our Holy Week journey to the cross of King Jesus on Good Friday. Here are a few notes about what will happen during Holy Week. While I won’t do a Wednesday service during Holy Week, I will do our Maundy Thursday service from the chapel. Be looking for more details to prepare your household for this service. We regret that those families with children who were to receive their First Holy Communion will not be able to celebrate that this Maundy Thursday, we do intend to plan a new date to complete that preparation for these precious young children of God.

For Good Friday we are preparing for two times for families to worshipfully engage in reflective contemplation on the world changing significance of the cross of our King Jesus. There will be a kid friendly service with object lessons for children and parents to guide us all through the scriptures. You may obtain a package by registering for the service here. The link is also at the bottom of this email if you have grandkids, nieces or nephews, friends or neighbors whom you would like to invite to participate. The later service will be at 7:30. This will be a Tenebrae Service of shadows with readings and guided reflections. 

Easter Sunday will be a time for us all to celebrate King Jesus’ resurrection and His power over death! We typically have services at a variety of different times, but considering the circumstances, I want to get our whole community together online at one time. So, we will offer our Easter Sunday Live Stream at 9:30am on April 12. This will be an important time for the whole Redeemer family to acknowledge and affirm the boundless love and power of our King of kings and Lord of lord, Jesus the Good Shepherd who provides all that we need. I hope you will make this collective virtual gathering a priority for your household on Easter Sunday morning.

Remember the words of the Apostle Paul from Ephesians 5:1-2, 10. “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God… Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”  

With all the fear and anxiety around us, we must be diligent in our reaching out to one another and connecting through whatever means are available to us when we can’t be physically face to face. We are all concerned. Many of us are stressed and on edge. But King Jesus, our Good Shepherd has promised to always be with us through whatever dark valley we must go. Don’t be afraid. Look to King Jesus. Be the gracious voice of King Jesus speaking into someone else’s darkness. In this way we, the people of Redeemer, will continue to be a Lighthouse on the hill for Damascus and this four county region. Together we can impact this four county region for Christ. We will diligently and prayerfully seek out what pleases our King and seek to do that, all for the glory of our King and in His precious and powerful name.

Peace,

Pastor John

March 23, 2020

Dear Redeemer Community,

I want to start with some good news again with this update. We had our Monday Staff meeting this morning with most of our staff joining the meeting remotely via Zoom. There were five of us spread around in the conference room because of the social distancing thing, while communicating with all the other staff by means of technology. Here are a few highlights from the staff conversation. 

  • Our second effort at doing Facebook Live for worship (just one Sunday ago was our first ever! I personally think our staff is amazing for pulling this together on such short notice.) was somewhat successful. We want everyone to know that, while our efforts have been worthwhile, we are still improving and growing into how to do this live stream of our worship services effectively. Your patience is appreciated as we all learn to do things we’ve never done before. Please keep letting people know.
  • Some Sunday School classes and Bible study groups have met via several different means, (Instagram Live, Zoom meeting, conference call, text messaging and through the Bible app called YouVersion. If you don’t yet have this app, look it up and download it.). We are sustaining community connections through technology. Praise the Lord.
  • We will be putting a plan in place by which staff will be striving to reach out to and care for every member. Staff will be looking to connect with you to see how everyone is doing. 

For the COVID-19 update, while we were in staff meeting, Governor Hogan did another press conference. You can watch it here.    He issued a new executive order closing everything but the essential infrastructure workforce outlined by the Department of Homeland Security. Read about that here.  Consequently, we will further limit our ministry to what we can do from home except for myself and our Accounting Manager who will need access to the church to pay our bills, etc. We are learning how to keep ministry going in this new world of social distancing. Please do what you can to stay connected and to help connect others while observing our Governmental leaders’ instructions about staying home as much as possible. 

Remember, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”  Psalm 23:5

Peace,

Pastor John

 


March 17, 2020

Dear Redeemer Community,

First, some good news. Our Council has voted unanimously to advance our Pastoral candidate on to the congregation for vote. Details will be coming soon about next steps for our candidate, Trent. Now for the pressing news.

At a press conference this morning Governor Hogan gave a new executive order closing businesses like restaurants and bars, and gatherings like concerts and sporting events, to include churches, to stop all gatherings of 50 or more people. Just a few hours later President Trump urged all Americans to refrain from gathering in groups of 10 or more. To honor and comply with the President, the Governor and our governmental leaders, Redeemer has a number of changes we will put in place immediately. 

  • As of today our building will be closed to everyone other than essential personnel.
  • All ministry events are canceled at least through March 31.
  • Sunday morning service will only be available online via Facebook live stream.
  • Wednesday evening midweek Lent service will only be Facebook live streamed.
  • Our website will continue to be the best source of updates for Redeemer information.
  • Bible study groups should look for ways to meet remotely.

I want to stress, we need to be concerned for one another and reaching out to others via phone calls, cards, facetime, social media, etc., to lovingly care for each other in this crisis.  Our most vulnerable, most frightened, most in need members are of utmost concern to us all. We need to build and sustain community through these remote means as much as possible.

While I am sending this announcement out through our website and Announce email, I am also sending it this once via snail mail for those who are not yet used to getting their information electronically. If you know someone who is not able to get this information electronically, please reach out to them by phone and keep them informed. Perhaps you could help them learn to access www.redeemer.us and Realm. We must work together as one Redeemer Family on this. 

I thank you for your cooperation and faithful care for one another and your care for our neighbors who are not yet a part of the community of faith in King Jesus. May He be pleased with us and honored by us. May you receive His blessing as He lovingly guides us along right paths through this dark valley.

Peace,

Pastor John 

PS. Here again are a few URLs for information.

Previous Letters

March 13, 2020

Dear Redeemer Family, 

The coronavirus COVID-19 has heightened the fears all around us. I want to communicate our plans to address concerns and to do so faithfully, responsibly and lovingly. I begin as we always should, by turning to God’s word for wisdom and comfort. 

“Even when [we] walk through the darkest valley, [we] will not be afraid, for You are close beside [us].” Ps. 23:4 

None of us have ever walked through the dark valley of a global pandemic. We are on new ground in that regard. Nevertheless, we can affirm together that we need not be afraid, for King Jesus is our Good Shepherd. So here is what we need to know. 

Around four o’clock yesterday afternoon, Governor Hogan had a press conference addressing the state of emergency in Maryland. You can listen for yourself here. 

There were two points in particular that stood out to me. First, we now have a case of community transmission of the COVID-19 virus in our state. What this means, according to the Governor’s own words, is we have moved into a new phase with this virus and are changing the focus from containment to working to mitigate and limit the spread of the virus. As the Governor said, “more and more countries and states here in America are struggling to grapple with this crisis.” Everyone is struggling to keep up with this constantly changing situation. Therefore we should all be praying for the Spiritual fruit of peace, patience and kindness as we strive to be faithfully responsive. We must remain confident in our King Jesus, not give in to fear, and strive to love one another well. This will impact all of our ministries. 

Second, the Governor issued an executive order prohibiting public gatherings of all kinds of 250 or more people, to include churches. We are well below 250 in attendance at any single typical worship service. But with multiple services and Sunday School combined we are regularly over the 250 mark. So, in light of these two factors and to honor the order of the Governor, I have a few decisions to share with you. 

This weekend we will not have either of the events that had been scheduled on Saturday. The Women’s Ministry breakfast I have canceled and the Remarkable Girls conference the FCA canceled. We will be working to deep clean the church and prepare it for Sunday. Redeemer is making the cleanliness of our building a priority. We have high standards for cleaning and sanitation, with health and safety protocols, such as: 

  • ● Defined cycles for frequent cleaning and disinfecting (after Sunday worship and Wednesday activities) 
  • ● End of the day sanitation procedures for our facility 

Sunday we will have worship services in the Family Life Center at 8:00 and 11:00 AM. I am, however, canceling Sunday School for all ages during our Sunday School hour. To provide for those who will not be present in the church building on Sunday we will be working to provide a means to participate remotely, possibly through Facebook live or some other sort of streaming protocol. I will share more details as they become available. We will be exercising the following procedures for our two worship times. 

  • ● People will be asked to use hand sanitizer upon entry into the building. Our greeters on Sunday morning will have hand sanitizer for you as they greet you on Sunday morning. Additionally tissues and hand sanitizers will be located at the welcome desk. 
  • ● All those serving communion will be asked to continue to use hand sanitizer before serving. 
  • ● In lieu of shaking hands and hugging as our sharing of the peace, we are asking people to speak words of peace over each other. Please be sensitive and respectful to those around you. 
  • ● I will not be inviting people to hold hands as a congregation during the Lord’s Prayer. 

I ask all of our congregational participants to follow the CDC recommendations for everyday preventive actions. 

  • ● Stay home when you are sick or if you or your family member is in any of the high risk categories like young children, older adults or those with serious chronic medical conditions. 
  • ● Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • ● Follow proper respiratory cough etiquette. 
  • ● Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • ● Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 

I have received word of a number of elder care/nursing home facilities where visiting privileges have been put on hold. That means that we should not be intending to visit members in any nursing home/rehab center/elder care facility until further notice. These facilities are where some of our most vulnerable loved ones are. Their protection should be of utmost concern. 

The information about COVID-19 is changing so rapidly, we will make every effort to communicate changes and updates to our plan for ministry as we navigate this challenging time. Our staff will meet on Monday, in some cases by tele-work arrangements, and be working together on these plans. The safety of all the members of our community has always been a concern to the staff, council, and leaders at Redeemer. We’re paying close attention to the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC’s daily reporting, as well as local health department guidelines. Here are some links to reliable sources of information. 

  • ● World Health Organization (WHO) 

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 

  • ● Center for Disease Control (CDC) 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html 

  • ● Maryland State Government 

https://governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus/ 

  • ● Montgomery County Government 

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS/RightNav/Coronavirus.html 

  • ● Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) 

https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/coronavirus/ 

In these challenging times we will need to take extra care to love one another well. Please share this information with anyone who is concerned about what our plan is at Redeemer. I ask you, my brothers and sisters in Christ of the Redeemer Lutheran community to be particularly sensitive of those who are deeply frightened by this situation. May we minister well to the various needs of our family, friends and community. God bless you all. 

In the peace of King Jesus, 

Pastor John