There is a lot of information on current events and upcoming changes in this letter, please give it a read.
Dear Grace community,
A few items of note for you on this beautiful Tuesday afternoon.
God's blessings and grace to you in faith and love.
We want to update our community on how our first Sunday back to worship went. If you are waiting to return for a few weeks or still harbor concerns about public worship we understand that and support you in your prayer and deliberation.
We held three services on Sunday May 31. The 8am and 9:15am services each had in the neighborhood of 20 people. The 10:30am service had just over 40 people. The whole morning turned out to be roughly half of our normal attendance. There was much joy on the faces of individuals at being in the Lord's house again and the fellowship we shared. The weather also cooperated wonderfully allowing people to visit and share smiles in the relative safety of the outdoor sunshine.
This coming Sunday we will continue our present worship schedule and the health and safety measures we began this past Sunday. We'll also be celebrating the Lord's Supper at all three services (and Monday night) this coming weekend. Our distribution of it will be slightly modified to fit with our health and safety goals. Distribution will be in the continuous "drive-thru" manner. Individuals will be ushered into a single-line in the center aisle to approach the distribution table at the bottom of the chancel steps. The two pastors will be there, one with the body, one with the blood of Christ. You will receive each there and then move to the outside aisle to return to your seat. A brief reminder and explanation of this will be given at the beginning of the communion liturgy on Sunday. We truly cannot wait to begin sharing these holy and everlasting gifts of our Lord again.
Last but not least: The "Sunday" morning Bible Study will be offered by Pastor Witte this Thursday morning at 9:30am on Zoom. We will use the same meeting ID as we have for all other Grace meetings. You can inquire with the office or Pastor to get that number if needed. All are invited to participate.
It is with great delight that we share our intention to open for public worship again for Sunday May 31. There is plenty of information to be shared and it is published in the following letter being shared with all of our congregation:
Last night the Elders, Congregation President, and Pastors met once more to discuss the ongoing ministry at Grace. We met with great hope. Hope because of the joy we have in Christ Jesus and His death and resurrection. Hope because we are recognizing the great need and great gift we have in worship and see a path towards doing that in person at long last.
We are actively making plans towards being able to open our facility for in-person worship in the coming weeks. We are working together to follow all the guidelines set by the Governor and the CDC for businesses that resume operation. We want to open worship and want to do so creating as safe an environment as possible for our community.
This will take some time to do right. This means we will not be ready to do so in the next week or two. Consequently, Sunday May 17 and Sunday May 24 will continue with online worship on YouTube. Please continue to partake of that.
Stayed tuned next week for more news. Church Council meets on May 19 and the Elders group meets again on May 21 to, Lord-willing, green light the possibility of re-opening. If all goes well we hope to share more details and plenty of good news with everyone after the May 21 meeting.
Blessings, grace, and peace to you!
The Pastors, Elders and Congregation President met again last night to update Grace's plans for our facility closure during the coronavirus pandemic. On April 24 Governor Whitmer extended the stay-at-home order until May 15. Out of brotherly love for our community we intend to continue to follow this order. This means that Grace will continue to be closed both for public worship and any other activities on our property through Friday May 15.
Worship for Sunday May 3 and May 10 will continue to be online and Bible Study will be offered on Zoom. Both Pastors will also continue to be available for private communion services. You can contact them directly or call the office number.
Rest assured, both Pastors are very eager to join everyone in public worship again even if it means we all wear masks. At the same time, we also believe in being patient until the time is right to begin gathering publicly.
Please stay tuned for updates regarding Sunday May 17 and going forward. The Pastors, Elders, and President will meet again on Monday May 11 to update our plans.We don't know yet what the next two weeks will hold but pray for the safety, health and well-being of all.
Blessings in Christ,
In an update to all of our congregation on what is currently happening in our ministry and plans for the upcoming weeks, Pastor Witte has shared a letter for everyone to read. Some will receive this in the mail. Most will receive an e-mail. The letter is also being made available here:
In response to the requests of many members, given our home quarantines, we have worked hard to fast track the option of online giving for our Grace community.
It is really simple! The basic page to go to is http://www.gracelutheranmonroe.org/giving. It will direct you to a donation page where you can immediately put in giving information or you can log in and create a profile.
We strongly suggest members take the extra two minutes to create a profile. This will help both you and the church. With a profile the program will help you keep track of your online giving history. It will also allow you the option to schedule future donations or to set up recurring donations. It helps the church as the profile will tell us who gave. Without a profile all giving online is anonymous.
The donation page should handle most of your questions about how to do things. But if you do have any questions or encounter any problems please call or e-mail the church office.
First and foremost our prayers are with everyone during this unprecedented moment in our lives. We're still learning as we go and each day still feels like a new experience. While many are in difficult times dealing with unemployment, isolation, and health concerns, I am also thrilled to see how this experience has brought out our love for each other. I've been delighted to hear of stories of people calling and sending letters. I am amazed to read of the stories in the news of American businesses retooling factories to make medical supplies. It is my sincerest prayer that this whole experience ends up bringing amazing good to us as individuals and as a nation.
Regarding Grace Lutheran: The Elders and Pastors met just last night and in agreement with the Governor's stay at home order, we are keeping Grace's building closed through at least Monday April 13. This means our Holy Week and Easter worship services will all be online. We will revisit our options on the 13th. It is certainly our hope and prayer this pandemic will pass and our doors will reopen soon! But brotherly love for our community will also continue and we will continue to respect our civil authorities and their orders.
Please continue to follow Grace on the website, on facebook, and on YouTube for ongoing updates and the latest in the ministry of Jesus Christ here at Grace.
Everyone in the congregation will be receiving either an e-mail or a letter in the mail (possibly both!) with information regarding the suspension of in-person worship and other activities. We're posting that same letter here for your immediate perusal.
Pastor Witte is making plans to offer a video conference Bible Study as soon as Sunday morning so please stay tuned to the facebook page for information on that.
Pastor Bob and Pastor Witte have Sunday morning's video worship ready for you, it will show up on our YouTube channel by 8am Sunday morning. A copy of the worship folder is on the website home page for you to download and use with the worship video. You could view it on your computer alongside the video or you could print it to hold in hand while you worship. So please check for that and God bless your worship!
As always, both Pastors are available to you via phone and also private face-to-face meetups by appointment. We're also happy to offer communion privately to individuals or families upon request.
Let us use this time to stir up one another into good works and a strengthened faith!
"Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes; Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies. Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me."
We sang these words tonight as we closed out our Lenten Midweek service. And it is with deep sorrow that I share this will be our last in-person face-to-face worship for the next two weeks. None of us wanted to make this decision but we felt together it was the right one to be made. Out of love for our neighbor and our community we will do our part.
More information is going to come out tomorrow on our upcoming plans so please stay tuned. We intend to send a letter out to all the congregation so that those without computers can keep up to date. We will also continue to share news and materials on facebook and the website.
It breaks my heart to tell people our doors will be shut on Sunday but with every prayer of my heart I pray this will be a short-term decision for us and for all. In all my years as pastor we've never cancelled a service and I hope we will never have to again.
We will still have a recorded worship to share for each of the upcoming Sundays and Lent Wednesdays so please look for that as well. Worship won't cease, our ministry won't cease, the good news of Jesus will still continue to be proclaimed.
And please remember, we will still live and be the Body of Christ even from our homes over the next couple weeks. Our need to love our neighbor doesn't cease, if anything, it has increased in these days of distress.
Please continue to be in the Word, continue to pray and remember the Lord does amazing works through our most difficult of days. St. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 2 "when I am weak, then I am strong".
God's blessings and peace.
Lent Worship for March 18 at 11am and 7pm is still ON. While we encourage most to stay home, if you choose to come please come prepared to follow all safety precautions. We wish to offer the opportunity to worship in God's house and do so at no harm to our community.
If you stay home but would like to follow a live stream of the services we are hoping to make this available. You can go to Grace's YouTube channel once the stream goes live (about 15 minutes before each service) and click on the live stream. Consider this an "experimental" feature at first. The URL to our channel is unfortunately cumbersome but I share it here:
The decision about worship going forward with Sunday March 22 will be decided sometime tomorrow and that information shared by our normal means.
Dear Brothers and sisters at Grace and the Monroe Community. At the end of this post you'll see a link to our statement on the coronavirus pandemic and the measures we are taking going forward regarding our church.
The Pastors and Elders at Grace have been endlessly pouring over the decisions before us and trying to discern the right courses of action. We have been searching out all possible information that would inform these decisions. We have consulted the advice of the MDHHS and CDC as well as other area churches.
Above all, we want this to be a time in which we all remember and recognize the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is and will remain in control. We also continue to recognize the essential place that worship plays in the life of the Christian. It is as essential as the many trips we are making to local grocery stories to prepare our bodies for the "storm", and being in God's house continues to prepare the soul.
We are taking all measures possible to make our facility and worship space clean and safe for people to gather and be fed by the Gospel. We may need this time in God's house and with our brothers and sisters now more than ever.
I can't say enough about the amazing job and the amount of time our custodians have put in. But having said all that, we understand, and even encourage those who feel it safer to stay home. These are difficult times to discern all the right and wrong decisions and we pray by the grace of God we each choose what's best for us.
God's blessing and grace and please read on in the attached link for more of the specifics here at Grace.