Dear Friends in Christ:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
We are living in the midst of a significant global crisis as we seek to comprehend and respond to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. In light of recent developments and the recent advisories to engage in social/physical distancing and limit public gatherings to no more than 50 or perhaps even 10 people, I am assuming/hoping/ expecting that congregations will be discontinuing public worship for the time being. As we—pastors, deacons, lay leaders, synod staff, children of God—try to find new ways to engage with and support one another in these fluid and fearful times, I would ask us all to seek to do the following:
- I invite the synod as a whole to pause each day at 12:00 noon in a time of prayer, wherever you are, whatever you may be doing. Pray for those who are suffering from COVID-19; pray for the health professionals; pray for the leaders of our government; pray for all whose livelihood may be harmed by the accompanying financial crisis; pray for teachers and schoolchildren; pray for parents and children and the elderly; pray for pastors, deacons, musicians, congregational leaders. Pray for peace, wisdom, healing, and guidance.
- Many of our congregations are exploring alternative ways to gather for worship, conversation, and education using various online platforms. While we are all on a learning curve, I hope we can find ways to innovate in a climate that fosters creativity, collaboration, and mutual support. I would also encourage us all to be mindful of and reach out to those neighbors who may have already been vulnerable, isolated, and socially distant, even before this latest crisis.
- Even if we can’t be physically connected in worship, we can continue to support our congregations and our leaders with words of encouragement, offers of assistance, and our financial offerings. We need to be church together for the sake of the world, perhaps now more than ever.
We are continuing to monitor this situation and will post regular updates on the synod webpage at: https://milwaukeesynod.org/coronavirus-covid-19-resources-information/. For now, please note that the synod office will be closed to visitors, effective immediately. The synod staff will continue to work and are available by phone or email. All synod meetings will be held via phone or video conference or be cancelled or postponed.
Thanks for your love, your prayers, and your faithfulness. We are not alone. God is with us.
Bishop Paul D. Erickson