Easter People Raise Your Voices,
Happy Eastertide. Before anything else, we want to offer a huge heart of thanks to everyone for an amazing Holy Week and Easter Sunday. It is definitely one that goes down in the history books, not just because of stay at home mandates, but because in the midst of everything, congregation and staff alike raised their voices and gave their talents to bring us powerful, beautiful connections to Resurrection. Thank you for all of your work.
We also want to remind St. Lukers that we continue to use our top three priorities to guide us in ministry.
1. safety and health
2. connection and care
3. financial strength and support
Under consultation and guidance with the Annual Conference, finance committee and bank advisors and prayerful discernment and decision of Church Council and other committees, St. Luke’s applied for a loan through the Payroll Protection Program. This loan, which will be forgiven under the guidelines that the funds are used only for payroll and utility payments, allows us two important ways to uphold our priority of financial strength and support.
1. It keeps our ministry staff, childcare workers, and Child Development Center teachers on the payroll for the next eight weeks and part of the guarantee of forgiveness is ensuring none of these 90 plus staff members will be furloughed during this eight-week period. Each of these staff have been redeployed in new ways of ministry helping us to connect and care for our congregation and we appreciate all of their hard work learning new skills and caring for everyone.
2. It allows us to create even more margin through your continued giving to help people in our community. We will have our plan in place next week to be able to offer some relief to people, connect them with city and county aid, as well as begin offering fresh produce on site and possible meal distribution. Watch for details forthcoming.
While we are seeing new givers to our online offering times, and many of you gave through the Easter envelopes you received, not having thousands of people on campus to pass the plate made a significant difference in our offering. Thank you to all of you who have stepped up during this uncertain time to give any amount. Each gift you offer is a gift to others in God’s name and we are so appreciative for your continued support in empowering us to serve one another and our community.
Under denominational guidance from our Bishop, we know that at least through May 15 we will continue to gather online for worship and ministries. As your leaders, we are looking to the future as well. We have put together a Public Reopening Task Force of your lay leaders as well as those connected with our hospitality, city, and medical communities to scenario plan ways to determine a measured, careful plan of reopening ministries and our campus in the future. We want to use all resources available, understanding data and metrics from a variety of leadership at government, denomination, medical, business, and local levels. Before this stay at home mandate, our campus served as a community center of ministry with a minimum of 500 – 1200 people on our campus daily. We want to continue to support each ministry in creative ways while continuing to keep at the forefront our top three priorities mentioned above. This task force will help be a sounding board and information gathering group to help staff and ministry leaders consider baselines for gathering, health and safety precautions, and how to also build on the energy this time has created for us.
This Sunday we start a new series entitled “Eyewitness Love." The Scriptures following Easter are eyewitness accounts of the resurrection and the work of the disciples immediately following that first Easter Sunday. We too are eyewitnesses to a historic moment of this pandemic, but we can tell the stories of more than just lament. We have the lens of Easter resurrecting power by which to view this historic moment and Raise our Voices with stories of love and grace being among us.
Join us this Sunday as we share some testimonies of St. Lukers, including a word of hope from two of our most senior members, Lucille Ellison and Dave Risher who offer words of wisdom from a collective 200 years of life. Speaking of which, wish Dave a happy 99th birthday with us today as we navigate life together!
If you have an Eyewitness Story of Love you have seen in your family, neighborhood, or workplace, please send it to Caryn Royer at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to share your testimonies and stories!
Until Sunday, keep holding on with grace, peace, health, and JUST LOVE,