Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
After prayerful discussion and in consultation with the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, and state and national health officials, the council of St. John has elected to suspend public gatherings through April 1st. This includes Wednesday night Lenten services, Sunday morning worship and Sunday School, as well as bible studies and committee meetings.
Why are we doing this?
The Coronavirus is now an international pandemic and we are responsible for one another, especially for the most vulnerable among us. Mathematical models based on data from other countries experiencing cases of coronavirus show that the virus is spreading exponentially. We can’t stop the spread, but we can slow it, thereby saving lives and helping ensure that our health care system remains effective. Social distancing is our best means of slowing the spread.
What can I expect from my church during this time?
Just because we are unable to meet in person does not mean that we cease to be the body of Christ. We are still called to be in relationship with one another and to care for each other. Since we cannot speak and fellowship face to face for now, we will be exploring different ways to remain in community together. This will include:
- Regular phone calls from the pastor and/or members of the council.
- Regular check-ins from committee and circle heads.
- Timely updates via email, on our website, and Facebook page.
- Resources for faith formation for adults and children online
- Weekly sermons either in print or audio recording.
- Help with going out to get groceries or medications for those who need to stay home.
- Much more.
Some nursing homes are locking down as a precaution. Some hospitals are requiring proof of health from a doctor before visitors can enter their facility. This will impact in person pastoral care. Pastor Shea and other volunteers will be tending to our acute care list via telephone. If you have a pastoral emergency, please call or text Pastor Shea on his cell phone, (336) 633-9770.
Can I still give my offering?
Absolutely! The ministry of the church does not end when a virus breaks out. In fact, it increases as we are called to care for the sick and vulnerable among us. You can give online at stjohnprairiehill.org or you can mail your offering to 6605 Old Independence Rd. Brenham, TX 77833.
How can I protect myself and my friends and family?
Martin Luther said that every time you wash your face, you should make the sign of the cross and remember your baptism. The same is true of washing your hands!
- Wash with soap and warm water for 20 seconds after you touch a potentially contaminated surface or shake hands.
- If you are feeling ill, STAY HOME!
- Social distancing, meaning staying away from other people unless absolutely necessary, is the best way to keep yourself and others safe and healthy.
- If you are afraid that you may have coronavirus, call the hospital or doctor’s office first. Do not go directly there unless your symptoms are severe.
Who do I call if I need something?
The church office will remain open Monday-Wednesday from 8am-4pm. Both Pastor Shea and Johanna Becker will be in the office during that time and can help answer any questions you may have. If Pastor Shea is not in the office, he can be reached at (336) 633-9770 anytime, day or night, especially in the case of an emergency.
Will we still be distributing food from the food pantry?
Yes, this is a time when we are especially called to provide food for the hungry as grocery stores become increasingly hectic. The Food Pantry will operate during its normal time, 7-8:30AM, on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month. We will be operating as a drive-thru during this time to keep everyone safe.
How can I help?
During this time of isolation, it is more important than ever to keep in contact with one another to share God’s love. This is a great time to renew the practice of writing cards or letters or calling your friends and neighbors just to chat! If you would be willing to help your church leaders and be responsible for a list of people to contact on a weekly basis, please let the office know. We would love your help. Also, PRAY PRAY PRAY! Pray for your council who is making difficult decisions. Pray for your pastor and pray for one another. In fact, you can pray right now!
Gracious God, it is good for us to gather as your beloved in community. We treasure your presence with us in word and meal, song and prayer. Be with us in these days when gathering together as often as we would like is not possible. When we must be apart for reasons of safety, we trust that you surround us with your sheltering wings. Encourage us in connecting as we are able, reaching out to our neighbors in need and being persistent in prayer. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our constant companion. Amen.
Please check your email, our website, and our Facebook page regularly for updates from the church.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit IS with you all.
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Shea Berbaum
St. John Lutheran Church Council