St. John’s Lutheran Church Monthly Newsletter – The Herald
News, calendar of events, birthdays, meeting announcements and more:
St. John’s Suspends Worship Services through March 29, 2020
Dear St. John’s members and friends,
This is the email you have dreaded but expected. Earlier this week, in consultation with your Vestry, the decision was made to cancel/suspend the Lenten suppers and worship services. We hated to take that action but with each passing hour, our national government, then our local government, and then our SC Synod of the ELCA, were recommending the limiting of group gatherings to first, less than 100 people, then less than 50 people, and finally, less than 10 people. Our local community government applied this to houses of worship. Those of you who know me can guess my initial reaction to such suggestions and recommendations. In times of crisis, the Christian Church has always been a place where the faithful went to be strengthened as they faced whatever crisis was before them. So, my first reaction was to resist such recommendations because we all need to be able to practice our faith, worship our God, and be nourished at Christ’s holy table. But, I am also aware of the risk our being together in worship gatherings might pose to our members. As your pastor, my love, concern, and compassion for your health and well-being must outweigh my reluctance to suspend worship. Again, for reasons of health and safety, we have decided to cancel/suspend worship services, meetings, and events at the church through March 29, 2020, at which point we will reassess the situation.
Now, what can we and will we do during this time when services and meetings are suspended/cancelled? First, I am still in the church office and available for pastoral needs and emergencies. Just reach out to let me know what is happening. Please write down my cell phone number and call me with any pastoral needs or emergencies (843-810-8240). Carole will also be in the church office for her regular hours on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Additionally, the Vestry will continue to conduct the business of the church and make necessary decisions for our congregation.
Second, we will remain in contact with the congregation through the use of emails and phone conversations. I will regularly be sending you emails with updates and devotional thoughts for your consideration and reflection. Let us continue to practice our faith especially at this time when our worship is suspended, and look forward with excitement to that day we can gather again in our sanctuary for worship.
Third, I am working with Sheila Sines Thomasson, our Communications Committee Chair, to develop potential ways for us to use the internet and social media to bring either live, or pre-recorded, messages to those in our congregation with internet capabilities. This might be through the use of YouTube, or our Facebook account. This would be a new use of technology for us, but Sheila is very gifted and is working on this possibility right now.
Fourth, I am working with Carole to identify all our members who do not receive emails so that we can send them regular articles through the postal service. Not all of our members are electronically connected, so we are working to make certain they are connected to their faith family through any means possible. And I would ask you to reach out to each other through phone calls to stay connected.
Fifth, please let me know if you, or any of our members, become sick with the coronavirus. While I and your leadership team are praying for all of our members, we want to make certain that should any of us become sick, we are praying for those persons by name.
And finally, do not be fearful and do not panic. Stay in contact with your church and with each other. If you find yourself with additional time on your hands, offer additional prayers for those affected by this virus, those caring for the population affected, and that in these dark moments, we shall see the light and presence of Christ among us and know that we are not alone. You are not alone!
In the days ahead, you will receive additional information from me and the leaders of our congregation. Now is the time for us to unite and bind together even more closely as members of the body of Christ. You are in my prayers, and we all must remember we are in God’s hands. Have faith and trust that God will provide. Stay well, stay healthy, and stay in contact during these unusual times.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Butler +
Let us pray. Almighty and merciful God, you are the only source of health and healing: you alone can bring calmness and peace. Grant to us, your children, an awareness of your presence and a strong confidence in you. In our pain, our weariness, and our anxiety, surround us with your care, protect us by your loving might, and permit us once more to enjoy health and strength and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. (ELW, Prayers, p. 85)
Wednesday Evening Lenten Services
Dear St. John’s members and friends,
This morning the pastors of St. John’s. St. Michael’s, First (Scots), First Baptist, and Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal determined that the noon Wednesday Community Lenten services and lunches will be cancelled because of the coronavirus. Each of us is saddened by the necessity of cancelling these services and the fellowship they provide across our denominational lines. The next activity that the community group has scheduled is the Good Friday Stations of the Cross. Hopefully, we will be able to gather for this Lenten observance in preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord.
Of importance to many of you is the fact that St. John’s has cancelled our own Wednesday evening Lenten Services and suppers. It is never an easy decision to cancel a gathering of the body of Christ for worship, but the current news from the CDC, the President, the Governor of South Carolina, and our Bishop’s office, have all led us cancel the light suppers and the worship service. As your pastor, I am especially saddened that we will not be gathering for our Lenten times of worship and fellowship. Those informal gatherings provide us all such a wonderful opportunity to share our love for each other and for the Lord as we break bread together. So, please make note of the fact that Wednesday night’s services have been cancelled for the remainder of Lent.
You are probably asking “What about Sunday services?” Your Vestry is currently discussing the situation and the risks. On the one hand, there is the desire to provide worship to those who are healthy and least at risk for the coronavirus. On the other hand, we don’t want to take the chance of exposing anyone to the virus for any reason. We are additionally exploring possible ways to provide worship experiences and devotional moments without having the person to person contact that could place a person at risk. This Thursday evening your Vestry will meet to make a decision about cancelling worship services for a period of several weeks, as well as how an alternative worship experience or devotion could be made available to you. Dr. John Gnann has been invited to be present with us to help lead our discussions. I will report the decision of the Vestry to the congregation immediately after the meeting Thursday night. My best guess is that our decision will be to err on the side of caution in order to protect our members and the community.
In closing, I want to assure you that I and your leadership team is taking this situation confronting us very seriously. I ask you to join us in praying for the health of everyone throughout the world. Let us pray for the healing of all those affected. Let us pray for our students who are missing school, for workers who have been sent home, for those whose plans for rest and relaxation have been cancelled or interrupted. Let us pray for God’s hand to rest upon us and all His world. And in the absence of formal worship opportunities, let us bow before our Lord and thank him for his presence with us through every trial and tribulation. Remember, our God is a good and gracious God. That has not changed.
I look forward to communicating with you again this Thursday evening regarding our worship schedule. Until then, stay safe and take care of yourself.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Butler +
Please note that as of 3.16.2020, all lenten services have been canceled. A final decicion reguarding the Stations of the Cross has not yet been determined.
The downtown Clergy Cluster announces their Community Lenten Worship schedule for this year. Noted below are the dates, locations, and preachers for the Lenten services. Please remember that all services begin at 12 noon, with lunch following. The Clergy Cluster invites you to join us for worship as we travel through our Lenten Journey of reflection and preparation as we go to the cross and beyond with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, March 4
Community Service @ St. Michael’s Church
The Reverend Dr. Marshall Black, preaching
“Were You There … In The Shouting Crowd?”
Wednesday, March 11
Community Service @ St. John’s Lutheran Church
The Reverend Anthony Thompson, preaching
“Were You There … As A Spectator?”
Canceled– Wednesday, March 18
Community Service @ Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal
The Reverend David Butler, preaching
“Were You There … As A Confessor?”
Canceled- Wednesday, March 25
Community Service @ First Baptist Church
The Reverend Dr. Holton Siegling, preaching
“Were You There … As A Sympathizer?”
Canceled– Wednesday, April 1
First Scots Church
The Reverend Al Zadig, preaching
“Were You There … As His Family?”
Friday, April 10
White Point Gardens, Charleston
Stations of the Cross