Dear Elim Members and Friends, We write to you today about a decision affecting the worship life of our faith community. Your Pastors and Council have concluded that it is in the best interest of our community to pause our in-person worship services for a time. Our last in-person worship services will be held on Sunday, November 8. This decision is not made lightly. It is a holistic decision based on data, compassion, and sound theology. The Minnesota Department of Health’s website has a Dial Back Dashboard. This dashboard consists of five measurements. In the past three weeks three to four of those five measurements have been in the caution zone. (Currently including case numbers, hospitalization rates, and community spread rates.) As a state we are nearing the necessity to dial back in-person activities. We as a faith community make this proactive decision not out of fear, but out of love for every one of you. We keep ever before us this goal: that when we are again able to be back together, every one of you will be with us. We are on the cusp of the holiday season. There are clear warnings about the risks of even small family gatherings. This will be an enormous temptation not easily resisted. If any of us were to participate in small gatherings like these and then come to in-person worship a day or two later, we may well be the source of asymptomatic spread of COVID to our friends and neighbors. We are called to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That is the main thing. Why? Because that is what Jesus tells us and we are followers of Jesus. We are called to do what is essential for life and health. What is essential for our spiritual life and health is worship. Being in a specific building, even a sanctuary built to enhance worship, is not essential. God does not dwell in buildings made with human hands. (Acts 7:48) Our God is a God who is always on the move. God has always been wherever we went (2 Samuel 7:9). God continues to be wherever we are. Jesus tells the woman at the well (John 4:19-24) that worship isn’t about where you worship, this place or that, but rather about worshiping in spirit and truth. This is what is essential. We will continue to monitor the health data. We will remain prayerful as we actively seek to sustain and support our life together during this pause. We will reassess our situation after the first of the year. We look forward to being back together as soon as we are able. Until then, we will worship on-line. We will gather via Zoom in small groups for Bible study, prayer time, coffee time, and more. We are currently working on a plan to hold part one of our congregational meeting virtually. Pastoral care will continue via phone calls and socially distanced visits when possible. We may be distanced from one another for a time but we are not apart. You are not alone.
Grace & Peace always, Pastor Lamont Koerner Joan Detzler
Note: The above letter is being mailed out to all Elim members.