Please take the CDCs recommendation seriously as you move forward in planning worship and meetings.

Dear Friends in Christ in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin,

I am so proud of the way you are providing care and leadership in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin during these challenging days. Please take the CDCs recommendation seriously as you move forward in planning worship and meetings. Congregations and communities aren’t all the same; there is no one-size-fits-all plan. Please make your decisions based on love of neighbor and an abundance of caution. Keep each other safe. This is all new territory for us. None of us have experience serving in the church during a pandemic. I’ve found myself paging through the Psalms , and the words of trust found in many of them speak to me and our current situation:
• 16 – Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
• 23 – The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.
• 27- The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear?
• 46 – The Lord is my refuge and strength.
• 61 – You are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
• 91 – My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.
• 121 – I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord.

What we are experiencing during these difficult days is a health crisis, a family crisis, a community crisis, and a financial crisis. Through it all we trust, we trust that God is with us, that we are all held in the palm of God’s hand, that God is bigger than the coronavirus crisis.

As people of faith we keep this very basic truth in front of us: It truly is in God we trust. As one of my mentors says, “Have no fear, God’s got this, God’s got you.”

Perhaps this crisis needs a theme song. I know that may sound flippant, but right now On Eagle’s Wings brings me comfort (see below). Based on Psalm 91 and Isaiah 40, it reminds us that God’s got us.

This crisis raises some BIG questions for us as a church:
1. If we can’t gather to worship God, then how do we worship God at home?
Please don’t “cancel worship” instead find ways to worship at home. Here are two suggestions:

• If your congregation is using technology, join worship through a livestream experience

• Deacon Laura Ramlow has created home worship resources you can share with your congregation for families of all sizes and ages. Here is the link you can share with each other. These resources are free and based on both the RCL and the Narrative Lectionary.
• Worship At Home – RCL – 3/22
• Worship At Home – Narrative 3/22

2. If we can’t gather to worship God, then how do we collect an offering to support the expenses of our ministry that continue even in a crisis?
Ministry goes on and congregational expenses continue even during a crisis. Your offering is even more important today, and there are ways you can give to support your congregation’s ministries without physically dropping it in the offering plate.

Here are some easy ways from Synod Minister Erin Nelson to get started now.
• Creative Stewardship in Difficult Times – Document
• Congregational Stewardship in Difficult Times – Video

3. If we can’t gather to worship God, then how do we care for each other and care for our neighbors who are not connected to a church?
Deacon David Behling, Synod Advocate for Hunger and Justice created this resource: Meeting the needs of hungry people in Northwest Wisconsin.
Please contact your local community leaders, schools, clinics, childcare providers and ask, “Is there anything you need? Are there ways the church can help?” Encourage each other to check up on the elderly and their actual neighbors who may be too proud to ask for help or have invisible needs.

4.If we can’t gather, what about Synod Assembly scheduled for May 16?
We will wait a few more weeks before we decide to reschedule Synod Assembly, but we have a plan. If we need to postpone our Assembly it will be rescheduled for Saturday, August 29, 2020 at Trinity in Eau Claire. Voting members might want to pencil that in on their calendars – the postponement is a possibility.

5.What about the middle school gathering, Christ Jam scheduled for April 18?
The Synod Youth Board met last weekend and chose to wait to decide about canceling Christ Jam until after school resumes April 6.

6. What about Lay School and Synod Women’s Organization meetings?
The April 3-4 session of Lay School and the SAMs luncheon have been canceled.

The SWO April meetings, including their biennial convention, have also been canceled. Please check both of their websites for more information. [www.layschoolofministry.org and www.nwswiswo.org ]

7.Check the synod website http://nwswi.org/public-health-updatesresources
for more information and resources. This page will be updated frequently.

If you have any questions, suggestions or prayer concerns please don’t hesitate to

call me. I’m here for you.

~Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson