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Pastoral Messages on COVID-19

May 28, 2020 Update

Dear Our Savior’s Members and Friends,

We are writing to share an update regarding our continuing navigation of the changing landscape in light of COVID-19.

As Jesus celebrated Holy Communion in the upper room with his disciples, he gave clear directions: “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17) Out of deep love, on March 15th, we discerned that it was best to offer ministries online and at safe social distances to protect each other, including the most vulnerable among us.

While CDC recommendations have loosened some restrictions for public gatherings, Minnesota continues to experience an increase in cases of COVID-19. With resources and guidance from the ELCA and our Bishop Patricia Lull, the OSLC Board and Pastor Karna are working proactively to discern the appropriate strategic actions needed to safely return to public worship. Our first priority will continue to be the health and safety of all of our members and guests.

To that end, we have created a “Resurrection Team” to offer guidance in determining the necessary steps to reconvene. A plan to re-gather will be developed in stages and phases. Accordingly, returning to public worship and in-person gatherings will be more like slowly turning a dial rather than quickly flipping a light switch. Our Resurrection Team includes two branches: half of the Team will focus on science and safety, while the other half will focus on congregational care during this time of pandemic.

Pastor Karna will oversee both branches of the Resurrection Team, which includes:

Science/Safety Branch:
1. Sue Hedlund
2. Jenise Howard
3. Kathy Newton
4. Mark Olson

Congregational Care Branch:
1. Kyle Johnson
2. Pastor Keith Lentz
3. Dr. Janice Nadeau
4. Andrea Valley

A catchy Bible camp song sings, “We are the church; the Body of our Lord, we are all God’s children and we have been restored. The church is not a building where people come to pray; it’s not made out of sticks and stones and it’s not made out of clay.”

Martin Luther also explained in the 2nd article of the Apostle’s Creed that “the church is not a building. The church is the people of God called, gathered, enlightened and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

These are helpful reminders that while our building is closed, our church is fully alive and open! As children of God, we are fully living into our mission as a “caring community called by Christ to serve and live in faith.” Here is a snapshot of how God is still at work through OSLC that utilizes the “I love you” sign language symbol: Up, In, and Out:

Up: (Worship and Prayer) Our average online weekly worship attendance has tripled! We often have over 1,000 people (near and far) attending worship with OSLC. We will also now be offering online Holy Communion to enrich this time together.

In: (Small Groups, Faith Formation) Multiple ministry opportunities happen online each week, including: committees, youth group, children’s socially distanced play time, staff meetings, walk and talk, Bible studies, coffee hour, and so much more!

Out: (Mission and Outreach) Because of your generosity, lives are being touched! We are happy to report that we’ve disbursed funds to the Guatemala Gala and Valley Outreach – offering love and care to those in great need. We remain committed to tithing 10% of our offerings to the world around us, offering Christ’s love to the hungry, hurting and the homeless.

Although we never envisioned a global pandemic in 2020, God is still very much alive and active in our congregation and in our world. As the Resurrection Team, the Board, and Pastor Karna collaboratively work and discern together, we will communicate our phased/staged plans. Your prayers and patience are appreciated in this process. We will do all we can to minister meaningfully to each of you during this season. Stay healthy, and may you trust and know that Christ is with us always.

Faithfully,

Pastor Karna Moskalik
Greg Otsuka, Board President

 

“I am with you always; to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Letter from Pastor Karna, sent on March 24, 2020

Dear Our Savior’s Members and Friends,

As we learn to live in a COVID-19 world, may we take reassurance from Christ’s words that we are not alone. Jesus keeps the faithful promise to be with us at all times. Although our church building is not open to public gatherings, your staff is still here for all of you and working around the clock to offer multiple ministry opportunities:

  1. Worship is still consistently taking place on Sundays at 9 AM and Wednesdays at 6:30 PM through our Facebook Livestream, website and for those who may use the audio call-in system. They are also archived on our website and on Facebook to watch at a later time.
  2. Resource/Livestream Page: Our website offers a growing resource page including constant updates of programs, youth, children’s ministries, videos and a growing library of worship resources.
  3. Caring Tree: The Board and volunteers will be reaching out to every single member at this time to check-in and offer care. Your well-being is important to us.

“Go therefore to the world preaching the Gospel.” (Matthew 28:19)

In a world where anxiety rises, I’m discovering a silver lining—people are more hungry than ever to experience the Good News of Jesus Christ! Our virtual worship is drawing in consistently over 1,000+ people each time! This is more than we have at Easter! Many unchurched people are hearing the power of the Gospel. Comforting words of hope are vital at this time.

Actions also speak loudly as we proclaim the Gospel through deed. With many in our state experiencing job loss, the needs of our neighbors and members increase. An anonymous household from Our Savior’s, out of their love for Jesus, have risen to the occasion to ensure that the most vulnerable in our church, community and world have provision. Our Lenten theme is, “Extravagant Love: Christ’s Compassion.” Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave me food.”

As 10% of all the Our Savior’s offerings go toward Mission and Outreach, this household states that if 25 additional households from Our Savior’s increase their giving this year, they will unlock $30,000 into the Our Savior’s plate. If you would like to be a part of these 25 households, contact me, Pastor Karna: karna@oslcstillwater.org or #651-300-7797.

Or you may contact the chair of our giving team, Ray Valley at: stewardship@oslcstillwater.org.

May you trust and know that Christ is with you and for you! May the love of Jesus continue to shine through each of us in words and actions.

Faithfully,

Pastor Karna Moskalik

Find us at: 1616 W. Olive St., Stillwater, MN 55082 | 651.439.5704 | info@oslcstillwater.org