Covid-19 Public Health Measures Update Mount Olive Lutheran Church
“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6 ESV)
Original Document March 15th
>March 20th 2020< Regular Services Suspended.
Thanks for checking in - Additional updates will be made after the Mayor's press conferance @ 6pm. Everything Should be Updated by 7:30pm March 20th.
>Update< (March 18th 4pm) scroll down for newest information.
Updated March 18th am:
From the Saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources: Cases and Risk of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan - Risk remains low
Chief Medical Health Officer Orders:
The Chief Medical Health Officer of Saskatchewan has made the following order pursuant to Section 45 of The Public Health Act effective Monday, March 16:
The Chief Medical Health Officer orders that visitors to long-term care homes, hospitals, personal care homes and group homes are restricted to essential visitors only. Essential visitors means immediate family visiting for compassionate reasons.
Faith based organizations are no longer exempt to public gathering restrictions ordering that no public gathering of over 250 people in any one room take place. (Mount Olive doesn't regularly have single Services with attendance over 250 which means it's safe to come we, will be practicing increased social distancing)
Saskatchewan Health Authority, Media Relations
The following measures are effective immediately on the recomendation of the Government of Saskatchewan which will impact Services at Mount Olive:
Public gatherings larger than 50 people are prohibited. More information - COVID-19: Saskatchewan Declares State of Emergency, Imposes Additional Measures to Protect Saskatchewan Residents
Until Further Notice this will be enforced. Services will, at present, continue with a maximum recommended capacity of 50 people in the building and we will be practicing social distancing. If you are sick or have compromised health do not come to the Church building for any reason. Call if you have needs where we are able to assist you and we will do our best to help. (March 18th 4pm)
Public gatherings larger than 25 people are prohibited. The City of Regina has declared a local state of emergency and set the number for gatherings at 5 people between March 20th and 27th. Mount Olive will strictly obey these mandates. (March 20th)
We are for the good of all voluntarily taking Provincial recommended (March 18th) Provincial and municiple mandated (March 20th) measures to ensure the health and welfare of our Congregational family and our neighbours,
The Fifth Commandment You shall not murder. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbour in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.
In order to faithfully follow this commandment we will sadly forgo, for a time, our sharing of the peace at the beginning of the Service. Greeters and those wishing to volunteer as greeters will be encouraged to refrain from handshaking and will rather be encouraged to open the door for those attending (some of our youth will assist with opening doors for people as they arrive and depart). >Update< Greeters have been suspended at this time we will still work to arrange for youth to open and close doors. (March 18th) >Update< Pastors will likewise suspend their post Service greeting. Ushers will still continue their service to you with some adjustments: They will not hand out the bulletins or pass the offering plates, we have already made this change as of March 15th, and they will usher people to the communion rail with extra space between communicants, following the Service they will usher people out of the Sanctuary with additional space between people. The Altar Guild has taken pastoral advice to increase the alcohol content of the wine used in Holy Communion, what we have used is perfectly fine however we will move to a fortified Port with a higher alcohol content, however the centre cup in the tray will remain the same as it is now. They will also, in addition to washing their hands before setting out Holy Communion as they normally do, add the use of latex gloves in their preparations. While you may not be aware of this Elders of the congregation have been thoroughly washing their hands before assisting in Holy Communion for years this practice will continue. We do recommend that each of us do the same prior to attending Services whether we are having Holy Communion or not.
On the topic of Holy Communion we are not going to take anything away from you. Use of the Common Cup for those who use it will continue and as is best practice the cup will be rotated between communicants so they will not be using the same spot on the rim of the cup also the cups will continue to be carefully wiped between tables with a clean linen purificator as has been our practice for years. As surprising as it might sound the Common Cup continues to be the best way to receive Christ’s Blood among the many ways that it is distributed throughout the Christian Churches around the world and through time. Particularly due to the combination of the precious metals used in the construction of the cup, the size and shape of the cup and the use of wine in the Sacrament. The Common Cup is avalable upon request (March 20th)
When it comes to Holy Communion remember what it is that you receive: The Small Catechism which we believe teach and confess as a good and right exposition of Scripture asks the question, “What is the Sacrament of the Altar?” providing this answer, “It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink,” further asking, “What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?” providing this answer, reminding us all that the words “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. Dear ones this is a gift of life, Christ Himself for you, and we do not want it removed from you. It is for your strength and preservation, for your comfort and joy, for the forgiveness of your sins unto life everlasting. So as we are able, we will, in addition to our regular Divine Service times, provide opportunities for you to receive Holy Communion in smaller groups during the week (Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 11am) here at the church. Pr. Giese will make himself available in the chancel at the front of the church for private confession and absolution, prayer and Holy Communion during those hours.
This will be for individuals and for people who live together under the same roof; the sanctuary is large enough to sit apart from each other and when directed you can come up as individuals, couples or in your small group. You may kneel at the rail; we will quietly proceed with our regular confession and absolution (if you are alone you may quietly add an individual confession of sins if you desire), we will then pray the Lord’s Prayer and have Holy Communion, with a blessing after which time you may stay and pray back in the pew or go about your day. Please take advantage of this as a way to spread ourselves out to increase our social distancing.
At present the Board of Church properties have increased the amount of ammonia based disinfectant cleaning which happens in the Sanctuary and around the Church including but not limited to the pews and pew backs, and the Altar rail and surfaces we are more likely to touch: As mentioned please wash your hands frequently for your good and the good of your neighbour.(March 20th) Remember to use the Isogel pumps provided in the Church and our sinks for hand washing. >Update< The Church Building will have reduced hours moving forward 9am to 12noon. Please respect the Provincial and Municipal mandated restrictions on gatherings. (March 20th)
The Fourth Commandment Honour your father and your mother. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honour them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is asking people to delay their visits to hospitals, clinics, community and continuing care facilities under the following circumstances: If they have any respiratory or gastric symptoms such as common cold symptoms, diarrhea/vomiting. They are also recommending caution for Individuals who have travelled outside the province within the last 14 days or have flu-like symptoms, to avoid visiting long-term care homes, clinics or hospitals. >Update< are mandated by law to self quarantine immediately for 14 days upon arrival in the province. (March 20th) >Update< If in addition to this advice you also choose to Those who self quarantine for a period of time due to a compromised immune system or because you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, or if you are hospitalized, please contact the church office or send us a message or text to let us know so our pastors and Elders can keep you in their private prayers and minister to you as needed. >Update< If you are a member of the congragation and read this and have a reason to belive that our contact information for you is out of date please contact us to update your information, let's stay conected. (March 20th) >Update<
Pr. Giese, in the month of March, will limit suspend (March 16th) his visits to long-term care homes, clinics or hospitals – this is where having two pastors in a great blessing – Pr. Albrecht is already on Hospital visitation for this month. >Update< Due to his wife's recent surgery and compromised health following cancer treatments Pr. Albrecht is staying at home with his family untill further notice, he will be working on some online activities and content for the congregation and community. (March 18th) >Update< Pastors and Elders will be phoning members for whom we have phone numbers in our church directory to greet them and find out their needs and remind them of the love of Christ Jesus for them and our love for them. Because we have suspended Services anticipate a reduction in our attendance we want to remind you of the stewardship needs of the congregation, do not forget your offerings at this time. Also as the situation progresses there may be increased need to help each other and our community which may in fact require additional offerings and assistance, at the Canadian Lutheran World Relief meetings in Winnipeg attended by Pr. Giese potential Covid-19 related relief and aid was a topic of conversation. We also at this time may require additional Elders to help care for our Congregation, especially younger men to serve in this capacity as the Health Authority has and I quote “suspend[ed] the services provided by community volunteers who are 65 years of age or older, in non-essential service areas.” They go on to say, “We appreciate their service and dedication, and thank them for their support. However, we need to ensure proper measures are taken to limit non-essential community interaction in our facilities. Non-essential volunteer service areas are determined by each individual facility.” So if you are a man under the age of 65 who is regularly in attendance and is suitable for the position do not be surprised if you are asked to join the Elders and help in some capacity.
Your board of Elders is recommending that for the time being Bible Brunch, F3, and all other meetings will be held in the Fellowship Centre where people can sit at a distance from each other, and that Tuesday and Thursday Seniors Cards, Forever in Motion and other less-essential gatherings be suspended until further notice. Sunday School will continue using social distancing. Also for now Confirmation Classes will continue with additional social distancing and avoidance of personal contact. Fellowship coffee between Services will, at present continue, but it will be up to individuals as to whether they would like to join in that activity we encourage people to sit further apart from each other if they do attend. Our seasonal choir is suspended until further notice and GreifShare classes will remain in the Library Lounge with additional social distancing and avoidance of personal contact. (March 15th) >Update<Your Pastors and Congregational leadership are suspending Bible Brunch and all other Bible Studies at this time, including the F3 youth gatherings. After consultation with the Sunday School co-ordinator Sunday School will also be suspended until further notice. In addition Confirmation of Baptism classes will be suspended. At present other options for delivery of education and study are being investigated (March 17th). Suspension of Sunday Morning Bible Study and GriefShare is pending; Sunday Morning Bible Study and GriefShare are suspended until further notice. (March 18th) these are small gatherings of often around 10 people in attendance and social distancing and good hygiene will be effective, the organizers of these activities will be personally contacting the individual participants by phone or e-mail. (March 18th am)
Fellowship Coffee will also be suspended along with the Tuesday and Thursday Seniors Cards, Forever in Motion and other less-essential gatherings. Church Council and Elders meetings will be held on a case by case basis and will include social distancing and avoidance of personal contact (March 17th).
The Regina Lutheran Home has suspended Sunday Afternoon Services (March 17th). Lutheran Women's Missionary League monthly meetings are suspended until further notice. (March 18th) >Update<
In August of 1527 when the plague struck Wittenberg and numerous people fled in fear of their lives. Dr. Martin Luther and his pregnant wife Katharina remained in their beloved city in order to assist the infected. Despite pressure for him to flee Wittenberg with his family, Luther remained focused on helping the infected. He quickly came to the conclusion that while it was not inherently wrong for one to protect themselves, but only so long as the sick had someone of greater faith than they had to care for them. He concluded that no one should leave their neighbor unless there were others who would take care of the sick in their stead and nurse them; In such cases we are encouraged to respect the Word of Christ, “I was sick and you did not visit me …” (Matthew. 25:41–46) therefore we want to visit and help those in need as we are able. Dear ones here we see how we are bound to each other in such a way that no one may forsake the other in their distress but rather we are obliged to assist and help them as they themselves would like to be helped. Luther also wrote these wise words, “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me; I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely [to them]. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God."
We love you all very much and want to take care of you; we also want to maintain Mount Olive as a beacon of peace and comfort in a world full of fear and anxiety.
Remember what St. Paul writes in Philippians chapter 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7 ESV)
With love yours in Christ Jesus,
Pr. Ted Giese & Lucas Albrecht, the Board of Elders, and Church Council
Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Regina Saskatchewan, Canada.
For more Covid-19 responces please read the following statments:
Globe and Mail Article: Should I cancel my plans? How to get social distancing right in the coronavirus outbreak
IssuesEtc podcast segment: A Christian Response to Coronavirus Fear – Pr. Dan Torkelson, March 12th 2020