Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ –
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” – Psalm 46:11
This is a letter I hoped never to write. When we resumed in-person worship in June, I hoped canceling worship at Saint Stephen because of Covid-19 was behind us. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 case numbers have continued to rise. Now they are rising dramatically. More and more of our dear friends, neighbors, and beloved family members are falling ill.
On Tuesday, November 17th, Gov. Andy Beshear again warned Kentuckians that we must take action to stop Covid-19, as cases are increasing rapidly in our commonwealth. Gov. Beshear has asked that we all come together and do our part.
The White House Federal Covid-19 Report for Kentucky explains that “there is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement, but rather further deterioration. Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to sustain our health care system. The current situation is worsening. All Kentuckians need to do their part to stop the spread of Covid-19. Hospitalizations and deaths will likely progress in the state if Kentuckians don’t take immediate action to flatten the curve.”
On Thursday, November 19th Bishop William Gafkjen strongly recommended that all of the ELCA churches in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod immediately suspend in-person worship.
The Saint Stephen church council has voted to do our part to try to slow the spread of Covid-19.
At our November church council meeting on Thursday, November 19th the Saint Stephen church council and I voted to cancel in-person worship at Saint Stephen through December of 2020 or until it is significantly safer for us to gather for in-person worship.
We know this is particularly difficult and sad as we approach Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, but we believe this is the proper course of action for our Christian community. As hard as it is – the health experts tell us – staying home is one of the very best ways we can help get this pandemic under control. We want to be wise and faithful stewards of our health and the health of our community. Canceling in-person worship is one significant way we can be faithful stewards of this blessing from God.
We will truly miss worshiping our Lord with you, but we firmly believe this is the right decision. It is important for all of us to remember we are doing this for the health of our entire nation.
We will keep you informed through email communication, a winter newsletter, and through updates on the church website: ststephen-louisville.com.
I am still working full-time. If you would like to talk please reach out and let me know. We can set up a time to talk on the phone. The church office phone number is (502)239-7778 and my cell phone number is (502)518-6528. If your computer has a camera – we can also chat on Zoom.
I will be actively posting on my blog pastorkerri.com. Every Saturday I will post scripture readings there for us to think about together. We will post sermons there each Sunday in both written and video formats. Throughout the week I will continue to share with you some thoughts about what God is up to in our world and in our lives. The blog has a place for you to comment. I encourage you to share your thoughts.
I also want to invite you to join us for Zoom Sunday school. We gather most Sunday evenings at 7:00 pm to study God’s Word, share in lively conversation, and generally to delight in being sisters and brothers in Christ. I send out a new link for Zoom Sunday school each week. Please consider joining us.
Please know you are all very much in my heart, thoughts, and prayers. I pray for you all daily. Like Saint Paul longed to see his brothers and sisters in Christ in the church in ancient Rome – I too long to see you.
In Christ and with Love –