July 15, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers of SOTH,
Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is hard to believe that we are presently working on our 17th consecutive online worship service. The last time we worshipped as a physically gathered community was March 15th. We are incredibly blessed with a hard-working, faithful, and creative team. We give thanks to God for Vicar Sue Hoff and all of the work she puts into reaching out to our worship service participants and making the video recordings that we use to create each weekend’s services. We also give thanks to Audrey Bjerum who has recently added a Children’s Message each week. Thanks also to our music team that records our worship hymns/songs, special music, preludes, and postludes. And, as always, we give thanks for our parish administrator, Dawn Virva, and Kris Glowczynski who keeps our website and Facebook page up to date with all of the necessary components for worship. Finally, we are grateful for the more than 75 participants who have given us all an opportunity to see (and worship with) some familiar faces each weekend.
On June 20th, we began our outdoor worship services. This has involved an entirely different team of workers. Special thanks go out to Rick McManis, Amber Nickel, and all of the volunteer task force members and ushers who have not only spent long hours planning for the safest possible format for in-person worship but also continue to play the role of ‘roadie’, setting up and tearing down the needed equipment.
Our outdoor services are still a work in process. We have heard and understand your concerns regarding the 8:00 p.m. start date, the questionable quality of video projection, and requirements of RSVP’s, waivers, and facemasks. We are in the process of improving our projection and beginning our services earlier (please see our website and future emails). We wish that the other inconveniences were not necessary but the most widely accepted and credible research available to us says otherwise. Our goal is to provide the safest possible means for us to worship together. Please remember that we do these things out of Christian love for the most vulnerable among us.
A few people have asked when we will be able to return to indoor worship in our sanctuary. While our local Roman Catholic parishes have been worshipping inside for the past few weeks, none of our neighboring ELCA congregations (Cross of Glory, Homer Glen; St. John, Joliet; Peace, New Lenox; New Life, Bolingbrook) nor the area’s biggest non-Roman Catholic ministry (Parkview, Orland Park) have plans for indoor worship until September. The SOTH Church Council met on July 14th to discuss a timetable for returning to indoor worship. After discussion, the decision was made to continue with our present worship options and table the discussion for indoor worship until our next meeting on August 25th. At the August 25th meeting we will lay out a course for opening indoor worship.
Brothers and sisters, in spite of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic have presented, we are still blessed by your support, both financially and in time and talent. We all wish we could return back to some semblance of normality in our worshipping life, but we remind you that SOTH is not closed – just the building. We continue the work of the church in different and exciting ways. Thank you for your part in it. Please stay tuned to our website and weekly emails to be aware of the most up-to-date information. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Pastor Jon through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (815-838-0708).
God’s strength, peace, joy, and health continue to be with you.
Pastor Jon Pedersen Steve Kirk, Church Council President