(19 May 2021)
Virginia - Western Maryland Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
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There has been a flurry of announcements from the CDC and
the governors of our sates and commonwealth. Before
relying on what your neighbor told you or what you saw on
Facebook, go to
Osterholm on the PandemicThe St. Paul Area Synod hosted Dr. Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, from Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) as their keynote speaker for Saturday (2/27/21) morning's Tool Kit for Congregational Leaders. Dr. Osterholm cautioned about another surge in the coming weeks due to variants that are more transmissible and cause more severe illness. He warned against letting our guard down due to pandemic fatigue, asked church leaders to encourage vaccinations and discussed the humanitarian and strategic effort to ensure people in all countries receive vaccinations in an equitable manner. The conversation can be watched on Facebook.
The WV Council of Churches hosted a webinar on 16 February 2021 with the State of WV Task Force. Watch the webinar here.
The government declarations and statements have been
moved to their own page. Click here to visit the COVID-19
Government Declarations page to find our what
recommendations and orders our elected officials are
promulgating that might affect church life (among many
Church Life and Work under COVID-19
Worship, Devotional Resources, and Pastoral Acts
This has been moved to a new page: COVID-19 Worship (click here).
Especially important is the guidance on Zoom Baptism.
VBS & Camps
The CDC published, on 4 January 2021, "Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps."
While these do not supersede state and local regulations,
they are a good place to start your thinking about VBS,
retreats, camps, etc..
Camp Luther and Caroline Furnace continue to assess the changing pandemical conditions for the summer. In the meantime, Caroline Furnace's year-round facilities are currently open for family and small group retreats/camping/meetings.
Several have asked about Ash Wednesday, specifically, how
to observe it under the current pandemical conditions. Guidance is
Requiem Mass TemplateA requiem mass template is now available on the COVID-19 Worship Page. If you are looking for a way to memorialize those who have died during the time of quarantine or from the pandemic, take a look.
Updated Copyright InfoDon't end up paying massive fines because you didn't stop to think about copyright law. New information posted on the COVID-19 Worship page.
ReopeningQuestions about reopening churches have been swirling, ever since West Virginia's Gov. Justice announced that state's Safer At Home protocols. DEM Sherri Schafer developed a white paper examining multiple questions related to congregational reopening, presenting it to synod pastors in a Zoom meeting on April 30. Since then, Synod has been monitoring new information coming out from various government an ecclesiastical entities, attempting to update and collate what has already been posted on these pages with the latest guidance.
Reopening WebpageA new Synod webpage has been mounted that attempts to put all the information related to reopening in one place. Visit Reopening & COVID-19 by clicking here.
Several have asked about holding congregation meetings
while under pandemical restrictions. Guidance related to
congregational meetings has been posted here.
Email Voting by Congregation Council (4/22/2020)
The Bishop's letter of 16 April 2020 has been posted. He examines the opportunity for evangelism in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for a doubling of church attendance. Here it is:
It's four in the morning, and I have been up since 2:30 AM, unable to get back to sleep because the dream I had won't let me go. I'm not going into the details of the dream, but here is the upshot:
I am asking that we double our church attendance.
Well, right now, our church attendance is,
as we currently would fill out our parochial
reports, zero. Let's not double that. I'm
talking about our attendance prior to the
COVID-19 restrictions. Let us double that
I know that one of the fears running through the hearts of church leadership ... (click to continue)
The Bishop's pastoral of Palmarum (Palm Sunday)
2020 has been posted. Here is it:
Brothers and sisters, once you get some years on you and travel around a bit, you begin to realize that things haven’t always been the way they are. Of course, I am talking about liturgical practice, and, on this Palm Sunday, I can’t help but muse upon Palm Sundays past, as social isolation is an inciting muse. Childhood Palm Sundays were, as I remember (keep in mind that this is some forty years ago), not communion Sundays. The special practice for the day included getting one’s palms, but this was done by recession, not procession. That’s right: we had a recession with palms. Toward the end of the service, there would be some liturgical blessing of the palm. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember getting up as if we were going to communion, coming to the rail, receiving our palms, and walking out. Do I remember correctly that this recession was done while a soloist sang Jean-Baptiste Faure's The Palms? ... (click to continue)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, since the age of 19, I’ve been in uniformed service. Park Ranger, FF/EMT (with multiple departments and squads), and, for most of my life since, the ministry, have been professional and volunteer work in which I put on a uniform and served my neighbor. I think back, at this time, to my fourteen years in EMS. When I first started running on the ambulance, the HIV pandemic was heating up. There was an initial time of fear, but no one I knew quit the service. We learned to use gloves, masks, shields, and other devices in new ways, but the mission didn’t change. The klaxon screamed, and we climbed into our rigs, heading out with no idea whether the next patient was infected. We were more cautious than we had been before, but the mission was the mission. Whoever the patient was and whatever their medical condition or emergency, it was our job to care for them. There was danger, but, in the field, there is always danger. The question was never “should we respond,” but rather “how do we respond well.” I remember a fire fighter who performed CPR without a pocket mask.... (click to continue)