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March 13, 2020

Beloved of God,

Today the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church Council met in an emergency session, and voted unanimously on a number of important decisions regarding our response to COVID-19.

First, the council moved forward unanimously to suspend all gatherings and worship activities at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church through at least Sunday, March 29th. 

That decision includes all worship services (Sunday & mid-week), groups, ministries, and groups who use our facilities. This decision was a difficult one, but we are clear that we feel it is in the best interest of all SVLC members. More information on Sunday worship online will be coming out shortly. Thankfully we’ve got a great new website capable of many things.

Secondly, we voted unanimously to close the ABC Barn Children’s Place through March 29th.

We understand how this decision adversely effects many families associated with the preschool. However, with no known cases of COVID-19 in our school or church, we have taken this action following the advice of local officials and medical professionals out of an abundance of care and caution both for our ministry and for our community at large.

The council took two additional and important votes this morning.

Recognizing the hardship of this decision on families, we've suspended tuition collection for the weeks of March 16-20, and 23-27 for the preschool, and,

We also voted unanimously to continue paying our teachers and staff at their full rates during these two weeks of closure.

As you can imagine this is a costly decision, but follows our mission to be a compassionate and loving workplace. We’ve assembled a legal task force to begin looking at recent legislation from Federal and State governments on whether we qualify for emergency aid, though we’ll need time to research and respond appropriately in that regard.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the ABC Barn Children’s Place Preschool is a significant source of income for our congregation, and closing it down temporarily will adversely effect us. As such, I’ve set up a special fund through our website called “Barn Aid” to support the ABC Barn through this time of uncertainty. If you are capable of doing so, going above and beyond your usual giving to SVLC through that fund (or via usual method of payments: check, cash, etc.) will enable SVLC to reopen the ABC Barn Children’s Place in a healthy way.

Our church council has had to make a series of difficult decisions, and I am proud of the way they stepped into this situation with grace, faith, and courage. I ask that you pray for SVLC, our mission, and our preschool. One of the biggest ways members can help right now, in addition to prayer and helping one another, is to stay on top of your pledged giving. Not only does this enable us to keep the lights on, but it means that we can weather this period in a healthy way. Our new website has an easy portal for online giving, and of course you may mail your giving into the church office.

Look for more emails in coming days about ways that we are continuing to keep our worship and ministry vibrant at this time.

As I’ve mentioned previously, our Kitchen Cabinet is working hard to make meals for homebound folks, and setting up processes through which we may be able to help vulnerable members get access to necessities in the coming weeks. We’re also looking at creative ways we can continue to connect with one another and with the love of God during this time via phone, web, and email communications.

In this season of Lent we are called to fasting and prayer, though this is not the fast I would usually choose for our body of members. However, God has called us to this place here and now, and will continue to accompany us along the way. I encourage you to stay in touch with one another, and to continue steadfastly pray for our leaders, medical professionals, and for SVLC.

Please join me in prayer:

O God, your son Jesus Christ healed many sick and suffering along the road to Jerusalem. Continue to teach us Christ's way, and give us faith to be people of your hope and peace in these anxious times. Bind us together as your people, and keep Shepherd of the Valley steadfast in your love and word. Through Jesus Christ.

Peace be with you,

Pastor Marcus