COVID-19
(4 April 2020)
Camp Luther ... Vespers Knoll cross
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Page Contents
Roadshow

Since important notices related to COVID-19 might be sent by Roadshow, you may want to sign up. More information about the Roadshow can be found at the Members Portal.


Facebook

We also use Facebook to share information. If you have a Facebook account, you can check us out on the WV-WMD Synod Facebook page.

Information on this page is updated every few days. Checking back periodically is not a bad idea. If you broswer caches pages (most do), you may want to hit the refresh button.

Please read Bishop Riegel's Pastoral of Oculi Sunday if you haven't already.

Government Statements

It is very difficult to keep up with the executive orders issued by Federal and state/commonwealth governments. We are trying our best to keep this information up-to-date, but, should you be aware of more recent information, please send a note to Bishop@WV-WMD.org, including the link to the site were you saw the information. Official government sites are preferred.

CDC/POTUS: Update 3/30/2020

30 March 2020 new outlets related that the President of the United States has extended the previously recommended 14-day "flatten the curve" measures through the end of April. We have yet to track down the actual declaration, but any of several news sources can be found on the web.

Center for Disease Control guidance related to COVID-19 of 16 March is still accessible on the web at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf.

State/Commonwealth

Be advised local governments may impose emergency measures which give force of law to elements of the Federal guidance or even exceed it. Keep tuned to announcement from Federal, state, and local officials.

The following states and commonwealth are included because WV-WMD Synod has congregations physically located in those jurisdictions.

State of Maryland: Update 3/30/2020

The Governor of Maryland, a press release (read here), announced a new "stay at home" order effective 8:00 PM, Monday, March 30, saying,
“We Are No Longer Asking Or Suggesting That Marylanders Stay Home, We Are Directing Them To Do So.”
Executive Order #20-03-30-01 (read here) supersedes Executive Order #20-3-23-01 of 23 March 2020, an amendment of the State of Emergency declared on 5 March.

Commonwealth of Virginia: Update 3/23/2020

The Governor of Virginia has issued Executive Order #53 (2020), effective 23 March 2020.

State of West Virginia: Update 4/4/2020

Yet another Executive Order from Governor Justice, issued 3 April 2020, affecting Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties. Congregational leadership and members in those counties should review. Click here for the press release. For the text of the Executive Order 20-20 (2020), click here.

The Governor of West Virginia has issued Executive Order 9-20 (2020), effective 24 March 2020. As the text is rather long, you may find the WV DHHR Summary and FAQs helpful in decision making. In addition, the Governor of West Virginia has ordered the closure of State Park lodges, camp grounds, and high visitor concentration areas and a 14-day quarantine on people coming from COVID-19 high incidence areas, this order being issued on 30 March 2020 as Executive Order 14-20 (2020). A press release of the 30 March announcements can be found here.

Message from Presiding Bishop Eaton

Bishop Eaton has posted several messages as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded. Here's the latest, released on 28 March 2020.

Synod Worship Videos

The first two of the synod-wide worship videos have been uploaded. We will announce through Roadshow and Facebook as these videos become available. This project will not be live stream or simulcast. Instead, we plan to mount on Youtube, a platform that should be familiar to many. Some other cites across the nation have found difficulties with live stream because of a sudden increase of web traffic overwhelming bandwidth. Given the limited bandwidth in much of our territory, a pre-recorded worship event that can be buffered and watched at greater convenience to the viewer seems appropriate. Thanks go to Chap. Tony Setley for his service as videographer and site host. Thanks also go to our schola (choir) members.

Terce for Sunday in Lent

Terce is the mid-morning prayer office of the church, the name, "terce," coming from the Latin for "third," as in "third hour of the day." This simple (and short) service centers on Psalm 119. Each day of the week, three of the "letters" of the psalm are recited, except for Sunday when the first four "letters" are recited. There are moments of silence for contemplation and prayer. If you would like to follow along, you may download the liturgy here. If you fold it in half, it will tuck nicely inside an LBW or ELW. The music and text (except for Psalm) are in public domain. The psalm text is used by permission of Augsburg-Fortress. The office hymn is John Mason Neale's translation of the Ambrosian hymn employed for terce. To enjoy terce for a Sunday in Lent, click here.

To accompany Terce

Bishop Riegel wrote a reflection inspired by praying terce while attending the LWF Wittenberg Seminar in March 2015. This was originally published as a facebook note, but it is now available on the Synod's website for open access. Click here for a reflection on the place of silence, psalms, and familiar liturgy in our lives.

Lenten Compline

Compline has sometimes been called the bedtime prayer of the church. It gets its name from ad completorium, or "to the completion [of the day]." The entire service presented here is found in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1977). Liturgical texts and music are used by permission of Augsburg Fortress. This service blurs the line between night-dawn and death-resurrection. This recording employs Psalm 91 for reasons that will seem obvious once you hear it. It also employs a favorite hymn of many, Abide with Me. If you have an LBW, you may follow along, beginning on page 154. To enjoy compline in Lent, click here.

Church Life and Work under COVID-19

Questions have been coming in regarding a host of issues related to the life and work of the church. To that end, as questions come in (and time allows), we'll be posting advice and opinions. See also the Bishop's Pastoral of Oculi Synday below for counsel regarding to the proper work of Christians within the context of the Three Estates.

Worship, Devotional Resources, and Pastoral Acts

Bishop's Responses and Advice on Such Things

The Bishop has been fielding telephone calls and emails since the beginnig of folks' contemplation of not holding regular services. Some of these have been asked so frequently that the Bishop has started writing on them (between phone calls and emails). Others, while not commonly asked, might be good to post about before they become common questions. Here's the first of them.

Devotional Resources

Pandemic Hope: A Family Devotional for Life during COVID-19 was prepared by a team that included some pastors of our synod (who did not name themselves in the publication). It is a fairly large file (7.2 MB), and may take a while to download.

ELCA Office of Worship produced resources for worship in the home for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursdauy, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil may be accessed through the ELCA Worship Blog.
Bishops Opinion: Good Friday and Easter Vigil are quite good. Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday try to hard to maintain something that looks like what we normally do. We're not experiencing this time as a normal time. Better, in my opinion, to own that. One of the reasons why the Good Friday and Easter Vigil offerings can work so well is because Good Friday is fairly austere to begin with and the elements presented from Easter Vigil are the parts that draw, ultimately, from the monastic vigils office. The Palm Sunday and Maundy liturgies which serve as the base for these offerings from ELCA Worship do not adapt well to a setting other than the gathered community. In all of these, the person engaging in these devotions on their own will need to adapt those elements which are intended for a leader-congregation response. The pastors of the synod received an email from me on 30 March 2020, recommending, if a course of action had not already been taken, a more contemplative approach focusing upon readings and psalms. None of this, however, is prescriptive. Some will appreciate the attempt to maintain as much of a semblance of what we might normally do. Others will find it out of place.

Church Finances, Administration, and Polity

CARES Act: Update 4/3/2020

New CARES Act information is coming out every day. Synod Treasurer Solberg has been hard at work, trying to stay on top of things, which isn't easy because even the Federal agencies involved are still trying to figure it all out. To find out what we know at this point with respect to the CARES Act and also review resources from other sources, visit our CARES Act page. All congregational treasurers should review it.

Feeding Ministry Matching Grant: Update 4/4/2020

DOMESTIC HUNGER GRANT DEADLINE MOVED TO JUNE 1: The Domestic  Hunger Grant application period opened in March 8 and will close on June 1. Please visit the ELCA website for more information. If you are interested in submitting an application, please contact Community Lutheran Partners Executive Director, Pastor Sherri Schafer, for more information and for assistance in writing the grant.
Previous Announcement: ELCA World Hunger's Daily Bread Matching Grants support congregations and their partners as they work toward a just world where all are fed. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregations with feeding ministries are eligible to participate. As part of the ELCA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 100 grants will be available to eligible ministries on a first-come, first-served basis (more grants may be made available). Once your application has been approved, you will be able to invite your congregation, networks and friends to donate. To kickstart your campaign, the funds you raise will be matched by ELCA World Hunger with a grant of $500. To apply, click here.

Bishop's Pastoral of Oculi Sunday MMXX

On Oculi Sunday (15 March), Bishop Riegel published a pastoral letter related to COVID-19 on both the Roadshow and Facebook. Here it is:

Oculi Sunday, 2020 (Also the Ides of March, A.D. MMXX)

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 (a barrier to prevent direct mouth to mouth contact) on a little girl who was pulled from a house fire. Someone questioned him, “Aren’t you afraid of getting AIDS.” I still remember his response; “I could die of AIDS, but I couldn’t live with knowing I hadn’t done everything I could to save her.”

Later, hepatitis became a major concern. In my county and those around us, the number of hepatitis cases had grown to the point that health department officials were saying we were on the edge of an epidemic. Hepatitis cases were reported to be many times more numerous in our territory than HIV, and the disease more easily transmitted. No one quit the service as we reviewed our safety procedures. The klaxon screamed, and we climbed into our rigs.

There are real dangers in this world. It may seem that the world is a beautiful and wonderful place, and it is; it is also trying to kill you. One can live in ignorance of that harsh reality and enjoy a blissful ignorance. One can also discover the truth and, in shock and consternation, become petrified by the horror of it all. Still others discover the truth and crawl into the illusory cave of denial.

What should we, as Christians (Lutheran Christians, specifically), think? Jesus, with bloody brow, prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not not my will, but thine, be done.” The Son of God, embracing our humanity, through his incarnation in the person Jesus, embraced the full horror of our existence. Leaving behind the supernal realm of light, the Light came into the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. In Christ, not by our work to become like him but by his work of becoming one of us, we, with him, are in Gethsemane. We too pray that God take this cup from us as we stare unflinchingly into jaws of death, for “there is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths---nothing all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In this conviction, we laugh at the Devil who would drive us to despair and distraction, praying all the more fervently, “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

What should we, as Christians (Lutheran Christians, specifically) do? Each and every member of the Body of Christ shares in Christ’s universal priesthood. We sometimes say that each of us is a priest, but that is not quite on the mark. Christ is the great high priest and we participate in the singular priesthood that is his. Christ, having ascended to the right hand of God, makes perpetual intercession before the judgment seat of God. We are so united with Christ that his prayer is our prayer, and, as he prayers there, we pray, through him, with him, and in him, here. As priest, he renders unto the Father the perpetual praise and thanksgiving, and we make, through him, with him, and in him, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.. He also as priest, offered up his own life, once and for, as the perfect sacrifice, and we, through him, with him, and in him, “present to God [our own] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.”

This universal priesthood is the work of Christ, but, in our union with Christ, it takes form a the work proper to all of us who are in Christ. Beyond that, the particular work of each is a matter of one’s place in life, vocation, and office. Thus, the work of each must reference the three estates, i.e., the economic estate, the political estate, and the ecclesiastical estate. I’ll probably write a longer treatise on this some day, but let the following suffice for the moment.

All of us have some place in the economic estate (which is primarily the household but includes work and commerce). We have family members to care for. This hasn’t changed. Children must be fed, the parent honored. The spouse and friend are to be loved and supported. The duty to instruct children in the faith remains. The duty to care for the sick remains. This is holy work. If those of us who preach and teach have not said this to you, forgive us. Indeed, and it is in these quotidian works of love that prepare ourselves to love the neighbor in times of emergency.

Some of us hold office in the political estate. Government officials are the most obvious example, but so to do police, firefighters, and EMS provides. Those of us who are health professionals or perform vital services have always been there for the rest of us. We may not have realized it, but, now, they should be first in your prayers. Nurses, doctors, technicians, aids, orderlies, front-line EMS providers, epidemiologists, researchers, pharmacists, and so many others, I pray for you, and I ask my brothers and sisters to do the same. To those of you in vital services, who make sure that the water flowers, the power stays on, the food and medicine gets through, those who do not have the option of flight or self-isolation, I pray for you, and I ask my brothers and sisters to do the same. Your work is holy work. If we have been insufficiently grateful, forgive us.

Some of us hold office in the ecclesiastical estate. Some of us are clergy. Some of us are the lay leaders that manage and maintain the church’s structures (physical and operative). Some of us are wondering what to do, especially those of us whose regular church activities have been suspended. Clergy, our duty to pray has not been suspended, nor has our duty to proclaim the Word of God. Let us recommit ourselves to prayer. I also ask you to call those of your respective flocks most in need of the comfort and consolation of the Gospel. Indeed, not just the clergy should do this but also you laity: the mutual conversation and consolation of the saints is something we can all share in. If your neighbor is fearful, encourage. If your neighbor is hopeless, share the hope that is in you. Clergy, I ask you also to take this time of social fasting and immerse yourselves in the Word of God. As you probe that word, share your discoveries with your flock, and, you, flock, read and digest them.

There is much more that could be said, but this is a beginning. There is nothing in the current situation that we have not been through before. Plague is not new. We’ve been down this road before, and we will be down this road again. Through it all, we have never been alone, for the Christ who touched the leper is the same Christ who takes our hand as we walk this rocky road of life. We each participate in the universal priesthood. We each have our own particular work. The klaxon screams; the rig awaits.

+Riegel


 
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West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, ℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church, 309 Baldwin Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
304-363-4030  +  Porter@WV-WMD.org