At Home Worship - September 20th, 2020

Ministry Update -- June 19th, 2020

St. James and St. Luke’s COVID-19 Ministry Update

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020


From Pastor Saatkamp to our family in Christ at St. James and St. Luke’s, friends of our family, and our communities:


Get rid of every kind of bitterness, rage, anger, quarreling, and slander, along with every kind of malice. Instead, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us. (Ephesians 4:31-32, EHV)


The continued disruption in our lives by COVID-19 has caused much emotion to bubble to the surface in our lives. I thank you for your kindness and compassion as I and your church council have continued to work through this difficult and complicated situation. We have, and continue to, work in line with God’s Word for the good of his people. God’s Word does not change; it’s truths are timeless. Yet we can have many different evaluations of our current situation to which we apply God’s changeless Word.


Now continues to be the time to show exceptional grace to each other!


If we share the same knowledge of the truth of God’s Word but not the same opinions about the best practices for our ministry moving forward, we understand each other. We don’t hold different opinions against each other (about things God doesn’t reveal in his Holy Word). We continue to show love toward each other.


The St. James church council met on Sunday, May 31st. The St. Luke’s church council met on Monday, June 1st. As we looked to the whole counsel of God—everything he says in his Word, the Bible—back in March when we decided to suspend our public worship activities, similarly now the whole counsel of God—everything he says in his Word, the Bible—guides our discussion and decisions presently.


Both church councils made evaluations and decisions for their own congregations, though many of the conclusions ended up being the same. Here’s the plan:


St. Luke’s will resume public worship on Saturday, June 13th at 7 pm.

St. James will resume public worship on Sunday, June 14th, at 10 am.


Precautions we are taking:

  • Our worship services will be shortened for the near future to minimize our groups’ time in an enclosed space. Note: We will continue to do some singing in our worship services, though we continue to monitor the best research about transmitting COVID-19 through singing.
  • We will open doors and windows as appropriate to ventilate our spaces as best as we are able.
  • We will not use hymnals but instead will have the entire worship service printed out in individual worship service folders each week, which you will be able to pick up yourself when you enter our worship space.
  • Every other pew will be taped off and unavailable for use to help keep good social distancing.
  • When we distribute Holy Communion in worship, we will do so in a way that keeps good social distancing. Our ushers will assist you in this. Additionally, I and any communion assistants will be wearing masks and gloves.
  • At the end of worship, our ushers will assist in exiting in a way that continues good social distancing.
  • I will not greet you individually before or after worship as our practice had been in order to practice good social distancing.
  • We will not provide refreshments in our building in order to minimize contact with shared surfaces and people.
  • If I (your pastor) am either diagnosed with COVID-19 or am exposed to someone who is positive and I am required to self-quarantine, we will move back to online worship/mailed worship resources for the two weeks of my self-quarantine.

Precautions we are asking you to take:

  • If you feel sick, please stay home from worship. This is common-sense advice that applied before COVID-19 and continues to certainly, and perhaps especially, apply now. If sickness requires you to miss worship for a time, I am ready and able to provide you with at-home worship resources until you are healthy again.
  • Note: you are not required to sign up for worship ahead of time, nor are you required to reserve your seat for worship.
  • You are encouraged but not required to wear a mask while inside our building.
  • You are encouraged to maintain good social distancing within each pew in our sanctuary.
  • If you desire refreshments, we ask that you bring water/coffee/tea/Cheerios/those hard candies with the very loud wrappers, etc. from home.
  • You are encouraged to proceed outside our building after worship and do any socially distanced visiting outdoors rather than in the enclosed space of our building.
  • This is important: If you attend worship, and then soon after attending you find our that you are positive for COVID-19 or that you have been exposed to someone positive and required to self-quarantine, please let us know. We will not share your name or any other personal information unless you give us permission, but we will need to let those others who were in worship know so that we all may take appropriate precautions.
  • If you do not feel safe returning to worship at this point in time, that’s okay! We will continue to provide online and mailed resources for the near future and until you can safely return to public worship. We encourage you to follow the advice of your personal physician, medical professionals, etc., and especially if you are in a high-risk group for COVID-19 or if you come into contact with someone in that group.
  • Our first opportunity for Holy Communion in worship will be on June 20th at St. Luke’s and June 21st at St. James. If you do not feel comfortable taking communion in worship with our planned safety procedures, that’s okay! I am available to give communion before or after worship or at any time by appointment.


A note about things specific to St. James’ ministry:

  • Our council will meet next to reevaluate our plan and adjust as necessary after worship on Sunday, June 21st, and will continue to meet as often as necessary.
  • Confirmation will be on Sunday, June 21st.
  • We have not made any decision about holding our July voters’ meeting yet.
  • We have not made any decision about holding our end of July/beginning of August VBS yet.
  • Sunday School and Adult Bible Study are tentatively scheduled to resume this fall.
  • We are not resuming specific office hours at this time, but I am generally around and available to give access to our building as necessary. Contacting me ahead of time would be the best way to assure that I am here and able to give you access to the building.


A note about things specific to St. Luke’s ministry:

  • Our council will meet next to reevaluate our plan and adjust as necessary on Monday, June 15th, and will continue to meet as often as necessary.
  • Confirmation will take place in worship on Saturday, June 20th.
  • Additionally, confirmands will meet in our sanctuary after worship on Saturday, June 13th.
  • We have not made any decision about holding our July voters’ meeting yet.
  • We hope to have our next call meeting soon, but we cannot yet give you a specific day or time on which it will be. This continues to be a high priority for us.
  • Our church building will be open and our secretary present from 10 am – 2 pm on Mondays and Fridays for the near future.


I, and your church council, recognize that there are many different and legitimate opinions about the steps we are taking. Whether you think we are moving too slowly or too quickly, whether you think we are too strict or too lax in our safety measures, be kind and compassionate. Remember that others may not share your same opinion. Remember that as Christians, we look to the needs of others and fight for their rights before our own. We ask ourselves not “What do I want?” but instead “What would be best for my brother or sister in Christ who may have a different opinion than I have? How can I show deference to them?”


Let no one seek his own good, but that of others. (1 Corinthians 10:24, EHV)


If you have questions about our plan or questions about the reasoning behind our plan, please ask. Many heartaches can be prevented or eliminated with good communication. Please talk with me rather than carry around those burdens of conscience or troubles of heart!


This update has given us plenty to digest. There is more we can say, but this update has given us a full plate for now. We will talk more in the near future.


I look forward to resuming the public worship aspect of our ministry, and I look forward to seeing you in person again when it is safe to do so.


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit continue to be with you always!


Serving you in our crucified and risen and ascended Lord Jesus,

Pastor Saatkamp



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