Response to Coronavirus

March 17, 2020

Dear Advent Family

Effective immediately, all activities at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church are cancelled until further notice. 

The Church has endured for over 2,000 years withstanding plagues and persecution.  Rest assured, she will endure throughout this current pandemic of Covid-19. 

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.  Psalm 46:1-3

Last week, we promised to continue in vigilantly monitoring and evaluating the coronavirus situation and inform you if further changes were made to our plans.  We have now arrived at such a juncture.  As you are most likely aware, our government authorities are requesting that no groups of over 50 persons should assemble.  As we write this letter, we are receiving reports that that number could be dropped to 10.  And so this past evening via conference call, Pastor Mackay met with Pr. Grady, Mr. Chuck Long (the Chairman of Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church), Mr. Steve Vogtman (Head Elder) and our Board of Elders.  The question before us was how to best continue the work of the Church while caring for our neighbor and respecting civil authority.

Since almost all of our services and other gatherings number 50 persons or more (and certainly 10), we unanimously agreed to CANCEL all services, bible studies, classes and fellowship activities.  This will fulfill what is being asked of us by our civil authorities, with regards to social distancing and preventing further spread of Covid-19.

How will we continue the work of the Church in terms of Word and Sacrament ministry? 
Regarding the Word, we have purchased and are currently testing equipment to offer our worship services over the internet (on our website), along with Bible studies and devotions, hopefully even Sunday school lessons.  The Lord’s Word is still efficacious as it is preached and taught in this medium.  Please continue to read and study God’s Word in your home, for yourself and your family.  Remain diligent in your prayers.  Make phone calls, texts and emails to your family members that you may be apart from, but also fellow members from Advent.  While isolated and/or quarantined, you are yet a member of the Body of Christ and part of the flock here at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church!    

Regarding the Sacrament
Pastor Grady and Pastor Mackay stand ready to give you Absolution and our Lord’s Body and Blood as you so desire.  We will meet privately with individuals and families here at church or in your home (as appropriate and with adequate precautions).  Please call either of us on our cell phone numbers to arrange such a time.  We will also be posting an online sign-up on our website adventlutheran.org   In the event that travel is restricted, any of us become sick or ill, rest assured that it is ok to wait patiently to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood.  While it is a very great gift, the medicine of immortality, we are justified by faith and not by the frequency of our reception! 

These are all great changes to how we “do” Church.  Please note that we do not particularly like any of this, as we are sure you have the same feelings with the changes to your work and family schedules.  However, the Word of the Lord endures forever!   

This is our plan of action at this juncture.  Please know that we will continue to vigilantly monitor and evaluate the coronavirus situation and that further changes could be made to our plans.  In the event that further actions are required, we will inform you via email, our website, Facebook and phone calls.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Pastors, the Elders or the Church Office. 

Above all, know that the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!  Have no fear little flock! 
 
Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word;
Curb those who by deceit or sword
Would wrest the kingdom from Your Son
And bring to naught all He has done.

Lord Jesus Christ, Your pow’r make known,
For You are Lord of lords alone;
Defend Your holy Church that we
May sing Your praise eternally.

O Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth;
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life.

LSB #655  “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in your Word”  Text: Public domain
 
Peace be with you,
Pr. Mackay, Pr. Grady, Mr. Chuck Long (Chairman) & Mr. Steve Vogtman (Head Elder)

 Additional Questions and Helpful Links:

  1. How long will this last?

Until you hear otherwise from us.  No one really has an answer to this question at this time, but rest assured we will continue to vigilantly monitor this situation.  Remember that our Lord could also return at any moment, resurrecting us and creating a new heaven and earth!  Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.  Amen.

  1. Will there be online services?

Yes.  The Pastors at Advent, along with our organist, will be recording Worship Services.  You may watch them online at www.adventlutheran.org  There will also be a printed bulletin for you to download and follow/participate at home with your family.

  1. What time will the online services be available?

It is our intention that the services will be made available by the normal service times.  We may have to pre-record some of them, but for the Wednesday Lenten Service, it will be available to watch by 7pm that evening.  For Sunday, it will be available to watch by 8:15am.  While we might “livestream” some of them (check the website), all of the services will be available AT ANY TIME for you to watch and participate with your family.

  1. Can I still communicate with the Pastors?

Yes, please!     
    
Pr. Mackay’s cell #  (317) 847-7215  
email mmackay@adventlutheran.org

Pr. Grady’s cell #     (317) 372-6289    
email jgrady@adventlutheran.org

  1. What if I need/desire communion?

Our Pastors are available by appointment to give you Absolution and the Sacrament.  Please do the following:  call the Pastors directly, call the Church Office, use the online sign-up on the website.

  1. What if I need help with food, medicine?

Please call the Pastors, the Church Office, any of the Elders or a fellow Advent member.  Please don’t hesitate to let us know your needs.  We are here to help!

  1. Why are we making this decision?

For the good of our neighbor and in obedience to our civil authorities. 

  1. What does the Bible say about the pandemic?

Here is an excellent article (as well as LCMS President’s article pasted below)  https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/coronavirus-nothing-new-about-disease-or-the-need-for-the-gospel/

  1. Does this cover all activities (i.e. Confirmation, Council, Choir, etc)?

Yes.  All activities, including Council, Board and Committee meetings are cancelled.  Please use phone calls, email and/or conference calls to conduct business of the church.  Call the Church Office if you need help setting up an online forum or conference call. 

  1. What about Advent Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten?

Our School follows Zionsville Public Schools regarding closures.  Mrs. Deb Trewartha, our Principal, has been maintaining contact with our school families and staff.  For the time being, as long as Zionsville is closed, Advent Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten will remain closed as well.

  1. Where can I find more information on Covid-19?

Please use the CDC website as well as the Indiana Department of Health website.
CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
ISDH – https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/

     12. How do I make an offering to the church while activities and worship services are suspended?

  1. By Mail:  Send check to:

Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church  
11250 N. Michigan Rd. 
Zionsville, IN 46077

    13.  Will our church employees still be compensated?

Yes.  We will continue to pay all of our employees as budgeted for the time being.  Some of them may work from home and/or have some of their duties adjusted accordingly.

  1. What is the recommendation of the LCMS?

We are following the suggestions of the LCMS.  More information, along with an excellent video from our President, may be found here:  https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/resource-helps-congregations-plan-for-widespread-illnesses/

  1. As a member how can I help?

Pray.  Remain in the Word.  Follow the recommendations of the CDC and the State of Indiana.  Practice social distancing.  Wash your hands.  Care for your family.  Check in on your neighbors, family and church members by phone call, email or text.  Continue to provide your offerings to the Church as our bills, payroll and commitments yet continue.  As appropriate, we will publicize additional opportunities for service. 

  1. Will the Pastors still make house calls?

Yes.  If you and/or your family are under quarantine, it would be best to limit the pastors’ exposure, not just for their sake but also their own families.  Please keep this in mind.  This is a difficult time for pastoral visits, as they are not currently allowed to visit hospitals or nursing homes.  Yet they stand ready to give the members of Advent the Lord’s gifts and serve accordingly.

  1. What is the church phone number and email address?

(317) 873-6318               email:   info@adventlutheran.org

  1. What are the Elders doing?

Praying for you and your family.  Making phone calls to members.  Ensuring that our pastors are cared and provided for.  Assisting the pastors with the work of Word and Sacrament ministry.  Feel free to call them if you need any assistance, have questions, or concerns.
                                      

Helpful links to information about the COVID-19 VIRUS:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/  Our government website 

https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/  Our state website

https://www.adventlutheran.org/  Our church website with information, services, bulletin and more.  Please check and use this regularly!

https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/a-message-from-lcms-president-matthew-c-harrison-amid-the-coronavirus-pandemic/   Our denominational website with a special message. 

https://thecross957.org/  An LCMS radio station available online with faithful and excellent programming. 

https://www.youtube..com/channel/UCPCSuCbAv-7iZ-IIKD2Gqeg  A YouTube Channel of a faithful LCMS pastor, Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller. 
 
www.issuesetc.org An online Lutheran talk radio radio program on a vast variety of Issues.  They have an excellent host and helpful guests. You can click on the “on demand” button to find your topic.
 
https://lutheranpublicradio.org/  If you are missing quality Lutheran Music (especially music in which you can understand and trust the words) check out Lutheran Public Radio.  Lutheran Public Radio streams Sacred Music for the World, 24/7, following the course of the Church Year. Listen anytime, anywhere.
 
https://thewordendures.org/archive/  Study the Bible with the Church Past and Present with this daily verse by verse Bible Study led by Pastor Will Weedon, former Chaplain of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. 
 
https://worshipanew.org/  An LCMS website with worship services. 

 

 

March 11, 2020

Dear Advent Family,  

As you may be aware, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been updating the country on the current status of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and we are following their suggestions and recommendations very closely.  The LCMS also has issued a guide to help congregations manage day to day operations, including schools and days on which services and events are held.  In the meantime, health care officials indicate that the most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of infectious disease is to follow basic health practices such as thoroughly washing hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you are ill.

Given how quickly the global situation is evolving, we wanted to share with you what Advent Lutheran Church and its School are doing to help minimize the risks and possible exposure to our students and congregation.

  • Cleaning and disinfect hard surfaces, such as doorknobs, pews, desks, tables.
  • Urging all members, faculty, staff and students who are feeling ill or running a temperature to stay home until they recover (free of symptoms after 24 hours)
  • Advising all students and staff to enforce great hygiene – wash hands thoroughly (15-20 seconds with soap and water) and cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Advising members to refrain from shaking hands; use a fist- or elbow-bump, wave or nod as a greeting.
  • Advising members who plan to travel during spring break, especially out of the country, to “self-quarantine for 14 days upon return to the U.S.” (Source: Indiana University Public Safety Advisory, 3/4/2020). 
  • For communion:
    • Pastors will disinfect their hands prior to serving
    • Individual glass cups will be given a bleach bath & disinfected after use
    • The chalice will be wiped thoroughly after each use.  

In addition, it should be noted that there have been no reports of diseases being spread through use of the Common cup or individual cup. According to the CDC, and due to the properties of silver, alcohol content in wine, and especially wiping the chalice, the risk is very very minimal. People are still more likely to become infected by touching a doorknob, shaking hands, or having a face-to-face conversation with someone infected than by receiving communion.  

Our Lord Himself mandated that we eat and drink His Body and Blood in the bread and wine. We seek to minimize physical concerns by practices, but not by withholding or ignoring our Lord’s mandate and institution. In the Sacrament, He gives to use forgiveness of sins, life and salvation!

It is important to remember that public health agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) are charged with handling the spread and contagion of infectious diseases like the coronavirus. In addition, the ISDH is allowing county authorities to make decisions regarding school closings, length of closings, quarantine requirements, etc. 

We continue to follow updates on the following websites and will keep in touch with members via e-mail and Facebook should we find it necessary to take additional precautions.   If we find it necessary to cancel a service or school day, we will share that information as soon as possible.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.  

WHO – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

ISDH – https://www.in.gov/isdh/28470.htm

 

Here are also two good articles from the LCMS regarding our Christian faith and response to the current situation.  

https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/when-one-cant-flee-the-plague/

https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/coronavirus-nothing-new-about-disease-or-the-need-for-the-gospel

And a letter from Bishop Hardy, of the English District regarding “What Congregations Need to Know.”

Have no fear, little flock;  Have no fear little flock,
For the Father has chosen,  To give you the Kingdom;  
Have no fear, little flock!

Praise the Lord high above;  Praise the Lord high above,
For He stoops down to heal you, Uplift and restore you;
Praise the Lord high above!

LSB #735 “Have No Fear, Little Flock”  Sts. 1,3  

Luke 12:32; Matt. 25:34; Ps. 103:3-5; Matt. 28:20b

 

Peace be with you,

Pr. Mackay


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