Our Response To COVID-19

March 18, 2020 – 4:00 p.m.

Dear SOTH Family,

Grace and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I continue to be amazed just how fast things are changing.  I was looking over the letter that I wrote last Saturday (just four days ago!) and our situation is now completely different.  Even in the same Chicago Tribune edition, the front page could say one thing and page 4 could say something completely different.  I am comforted by what Psalm 139 reminds us, “O LORD, you hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. . . .If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. . . even the darkness is not dark to you.”  (Psalm 139:5,9,& 12)  We are not alone!  We are held by the hand of a God who is above the fray of the constant barrage of the news cycle and YET cares enough to walk with us through it. 

Here is what is happening as of Wednesday, March 18th, at 4:00 p.m.:

1. Our normal weekend worship services are suspended for the next two weekends.  We will NOT physically gather for worship this weekend, March 21-22, nor next weekend, March 28-29.  We will reevaluate the situation on March 31st before we make future decisions. 

2. HOWEVER, this weekend we ARE going to attempt to video stream a worship service via Facebook.  During the 9:00 service this Sunday, March 22, we invite you to get onto Shepherd of the Hill’s Facebook page where we will be trying our first online worship service.  The worship service will be simplified but will contain most of the elements of our normal worship: singing, reading scripture, a sermon, and prayer.  During the worship service, we will invite you to participate in your own way: listening, singing, praying, and/or making comments via your Facebook account.  If you know of someone who does not have a computer or Facebook account, invite them for coffee and church at your house. 

3.  We have cancelled our Lenten services until March 31st when we will reevaluate.

4.  Please remember that even as you many not be gathered for worship or ‘attend’ our Facebook streaming service, SOTH still depends on your financial support.  If possible, please continue to honor your financial pledge. 

5.  We have suspended confirmation, our WOW children’s ministry, and Sunday school until at least April 8th.  For our youth and children’s ministries, as a rule of thumb, we will follow the school schedule of District 91. 

6.  Choir and bell practices have been suspended until further notice. 

7.  Please consider increasing your generosity towards not only your local food pantry but also Bags of Hope.  Please see our website for a flyer about what they need.  We have a bin outside of the center doors of the church to deposit the food. 

8.  The Habitat for Humanity builds have been suspended until at least April 1st.

9.  Please continue to pray for our health workers and those most vulnerable both health wise and economically.

10.  Finally, we are excited to offer another form of service for the most vulnerable members of our community.  In the midst of uncertainty and fear over COVID-19 and given that we are not in weekly community and worship, we ask ourselves how can we still continue to care for one another at a distance?  And how can we continue to be church? Several of our members have approached us with offers of help for those who need it right now.  So we would like to start a ministry of volunteers which we are calling, The Shepherd’s Ministry, and we are looking for volunteers in three areas:

1. Run errands (pick up prescriptions, meals, groceries, etc.)

2. Make phone calls to check up on our most vulnerable members and neighbors

3. Send cards of encouragement and support

We have already been blessed with several volunteers for this project.  We invite anyone to volunteer and we welcome your questions and comments about the best way to do that with the safety of our volunteers and those receiving help in mind.  If you are interested in participating in this new opportunity OR you know of someone who has a need, call or email the church office or Vicar Sue.

That is it for the moment.  We will let you know of any changes.  Until then, “may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) 

With much love and constant prayer,

Pastor Jon