It’s a changing landscape, but Jesus walks with us.
Connections E-Newsletter – August 27, 2020
It’s a changing landscape, but Jesus walks with us.
“It’s about time!” “We can’t wait!” “We’re excited to be back!”
These are just a few of the remarks heard in the last week all around St. John’s Elementary and Middle School. Parents have been welcomed back to campus to meet individually with teachers and to share the stories of their children as they prepare to send them back to school on September 2.
Teachers and staff have worked diligently over the last several weeks to be ready for the return of our students. There have been many changes in protocol, but St. John’s Elementary and Middle School stands ready and able to welcome students as we seek to build the Kingdom of God right here in West Bend.
If you passed by the St. John’s campus on Thursday, August 20, you undoubtedly noticed several EZ-Up tents scattered around the grounds. These were the meeting areas set up so that parents could have meaningful interactions with the teacher with whom they will be partnered through the upcoming school year. This is just one of the changes in “landscape” that observers will notice this year.
While the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 poses challenges, it also offers opportunity. Through the generosity of families at St. John’s, there are 20 of the aforementioned tents available to use as outdoor classroom spaces. Students will be learning all across St. John’s. What a blessing to have so much space available to us!
The landscape of daily routine inside the building has also changed. As we work diligently to keep Covid-19 out of the building, several protocols have been put in place. In accordance with Wisconsin’s mask mandate, all students and staff will be wearing masks while inside. Custom St. John’s masks are available to order! Visitors will not be allowed inside the building while students are in attendance. Temperatures will be taken every day, and parents will certify that their children are symptom free. We will do all we can do to keep Covid-19 out so that we can teach Discipleship face to face!
Less evident, at least as the year begins, is the blessing of a refurbished gymnasium. Walls and doors have had a facelift through a fantastic new paint job, and a brand new, state of the art floor is in the process of being installed. We look forward to the day when we can open our doors to the “public,” and the expanded ministry opportunities that our refurbished space will offer.
Our curriculum is also changing. This year, we are excited to be a part of the Character Formation Project. Our daily Discipleship classes will be engaged in a study of 35 different Bible narratives, each demonstrating specific Christian Character traits. Students across all grade levels will be learning the same character traits simultaneously, and resources will be shared with parents to extend that learning into their own households of faith. Through the Character Formation projects, opportunities abound to practice “Discipleship in as many places as possible.”
While the current situation has necessitated many changes, we know that one thing remains constant: Christ’s love for each of us. We reflect His love to each other as we embrace the responsibility to respect and care for one another through the challenges each day brings. We rest in the promises of God, and eagerly anticipate a fantastic year as we serve Him through our service to others.
To God alone be the Glory!
Dear Friends in Christ,
The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” The past few months only seem to have accelerated this truth. The situation changes daily, stymying those of us who like to plan. Things have been placed on hold, whether vacations, ministry plans, budgets, or sports seasons.
One thing, however, has not changed. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The promises made to us in our baptism by Jesus have not changed. We are still provided with all that we need, still forgiven and beloved children, and still guided by His Spirit as His body, the church. However, how the Lord uses His church to accomplish His mission has changed over time and continues to change, given the current context.
In response, we’d like to share with you some of the changes that will take place to ministry at St. John’s this fall:
Discipleship Hour- Due to COVID-19 precautions in the School and Early Childhood building, we will be unable to use these facilities for Discipleship Hour. Instead, we will be offering Discipleship Hour on Wednesday nights, starting on Wednesday, September 16, at 6:00 PM. This version of Discipleship Hour will be both in-person in the sanctuary and also live-streamed for those at home as we finish our sanctuary renovation project (see the article below). Thank you, Lord, for this tool of new technology to further your kingdom! More information coming in the next few weeks regarding content, but be prepared to hear the phrase “Households of Faith” a lot.
Wednesday Night Worship – With the relocation of Discipleship Hour to the sanctuary on Wednesday nights, we will be discontinuing Wednesday night worship except for special seasons such as Thanksgiving Eve, Advent, and Lent. The last Wednesday Night worship service will take place on Wednesday, September 2.
Outdoor Worship – We will continue to host our 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM Sunday worship services outside through the end of September as we have done the last three weeks, weather permitting. If there is rain in the forecast, we will move the service into the sanctuary, and masks will be required.
New Member Sunday We did not have the opportunity to welcome and celebrate our new members and confirmands in the Spring, and so will do so on Sunday, September 13.
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
for His steadfast love endures forever!
(1 Chronicles 16:34)
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus, your Savior!
St. John’s annual Thank Offering is a sacred opportunity to look beyond ourselves and what we are doing in daily life and look at the big picture . . . to look to God and thank Him. No matter what is going on in our lives, the Lord has amazing promises for us, promises that are real and eternal. Our God is awesome, and He loves you!
It is in response to God’s love and works among us that each year (usually in May/June), we encourage the people of St. John’s to consider making a special Thank Offering. This invitation is a special invitation to stop, reflect, pray, and respond to the Lord with genuine thanks for God’s work through all the ministries of St. John’s.
This Thank Offering tradition has been a personal blessing to my family and me as we have paused to reflect on God’s love for us and work in our lives. Will you join Christine and me in giving a special Thank Offering that is over-and-above your regular offerings?
Indeed, these tough times are a recipe for fear, disunity, and trepidation in our community, economy, and even in our homes. Perhaps, especially with the disconnections and disruptions of life since March, you have fallen behind in your offerings to support God’s work among us. This Thank Offering is a great opportunity to join fellow disciples of Jesus at St. John’s to catch up and support the work God has given us to do together.
Maybe times are tough for you, and making a special gift is not possible. If this is your situation, can I ask that you pause and commit to making a special prayer of thanksgiving to God? It is as easy as saying, “Thank you God for_________.” God loves prayers of thankfulness! We all have something we can bring to the Lord in prayer.
If you choose to make a gift, you can give through the green Thank Offering Envelope
or our St. John’s App – look for the pull-down menu that says, “Thank Offering.”
On behalf of St. John’s Staff and Leaders, we give thanks for you! Most of all, we give thanks to the LORD for all that He has done, is doing, and will do according to His plans and promises! These promises are for you and your family. Thank you, Lord!
Peace and blessings in Christ,
Pastor Jeff Hesse
The ECC had the opportunity to host a summer program on a smaller scale this year for school-age children. Allowing children back into the building in June brought so much joy for the teachers and families we were able to serve! Parents were excited to return to work and provide a fun environment for their children. Parents and children were so supportive of the ever-changing schedule of activities based on what we were allowed to do within the community this summer. Here are some comments about how God was at work this summer:
It has been an AMAZING summer with a GREAT group of kids!! We had so many adventures, from going to Bookworm Gardens to playing in different parks in West Bend. The children had a lot of fun with art days, water days, pajama and move days, trips to Jumbos, roller skating, and received so many compliments from people in the community saying how well-behaved and well-mannered our group of kids were. A special thank you to all the parents for making sure the kids had everything they needed each day. We hope the kids have a wonderful school year, and we hope to see you all again next year!!
I just wanted to thank you all so very much for a wonderful summer program. We were a little unsure about whether to send Will or not under the circumstances, but it was the best decision we could’ve made. He absolutely loved it and had such a great time. Before he started the program, he was definitely feeling the stress of the quarantine and isolation away from other kids. But after returning to St John’s to familiar friends and teachers, he was like a new kid! I can’t tell you how much that means to us. St John’s is a special place, and it’s because of all of you! So thank you from the bottom of my heart!
As a thank you to the summer program teachers for their hard work this summer, I’d like to provide lunch.
Inara had such a fun summer with all of you!! Thank you for helping create special memories!
The Olson family, Trace, is beyond grateful for you all, too!! God Bless!
Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Through this summer program, God provided the opportunity to be his hands in living out our St John’s mission and vision of Connecting Caring and Sharing in Christ and being his disciples in as many places as possible.
Worship Plans for Indoor and Outdoor Services
Greetings St. John’s,
Moving forward, St. John’s has decided to continue to host our 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM services outdoors and in a very similar fashion. Our Wednesday 6:00 PM, Saturday 6:00 PM, and Sunday 8:00 AM services will continue to be indoors. In compliance with the state order, indoor worship services will require face coverings for the full duration of the time we gather indoors. Our outdoor services will not require masks, but you are welcomed and encouraged to do so.
Saturday 6:00 PM and Sunday 8:00 AM services will be indoors and require a face covering or mask upon entry. All of our previous procedures, distancing, and sanitization will also remain in place. Please bring a facemask with you to worship. If you do not have one, we will provide one for you.
Sunday 9:30 AM & 11:00 AM services will continue outdoors. Face coverings will not be required, but as with our previous procedures, they are encouraged. Distancing with seating is also encouraged.
Additional Outdoor Worship Notes:
We will gather for outdoor worship services by the North East drive and parking area. Cones and signs are marking the morning worship area.
Services will be led by our pastors and utilize sound equipment. They will include a small worship team, and the full-service order will is for your participation.
Folding chairs will be set up ahead to time, but we also encourage you to bring a bag/folding chair for additional seating and distancing.
The indoor bathrooms, nearest the parking lot doors, will be available for use, but masking will be necessary upon entry.
We are in the process of acquiring additional shade tents for the green space and parking lot seating areas.
There will also be additional tables for the welcome pads and offering box.
Bottled water will be available at the welcome tables
If rain or other weather challenges are imminent for our time in worship, the services will move indoors. That announcement will go out shortly ahead of the service and to those already gathered. As with our other indoor services, face coverings are required.
As you consider this plan and what your time in worship will look like moving forward, we encourage you to cling to the promises of God; promises He gave you in your baptism. Even as we find new ways to gather, we gather around God’s Word and Gifts that our faith will be strengthened. That’s why it’s good to be together in the Lord!
St. John’s Worship Ministry
Outdoor Worship – Set-up & Take-down Crew Signup
We are creating crews of people to support outdoor worship by helping to set-up and take-down the various chairs, tables, tents, and equipment before and after services. This is a pivotal and necessary component of our ongoing outdoor worship plan and experience. If you value this worship experience, we encourage you to consider signing up to help.
The more people and crews we can commit to this need, the lighter the commitment and rotation will be. Crews will consist of 4-6 people and be schedule for either set-up or take-down on respective Sundays. Set-up will begin at 8:30 AM on Sunday and take-down will begin following the 11:00 AM service. Point leadership for this has been identified and signing up with this form will open to door for communication and coordination. Thank you for your help!
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
There’s an important question making its way around St. John’s these days. The question is: “When can our life group meet again?” St. John’s is here to assist you in seeking a prayerful answer.
When St. John’s closed its doors on in-person worship activities, our church leadership also made the difficult decision to cancel all life group gatherings until further notice for the sake of our church family’s health.
The impact of this decision varied: many groups have suspended activities while individuals stayed in touch; other life groups continued to meet on the internet or over the phone; some life groups even reported having conversations more frequently due to the quarantine. Whatever the case, it has been a great reminder that God is always at work in and through His people.
Now that we have begun to meet again in worship, the Unified Leaders of St. John’s are encouraging our life groups to consider doing the same. Our goal, Lord permitting, is to see the majority of our life groups restored and active at St. John’s by September, though we understand every life group will approach this differently.
Whether you’re a lay leader or a member of one of our many life groups, this is a time for reflection and conversation with one another. I invite you to prayerfully consider the following:
How did this quarantine impact your life group(s), when do you hope to meet again, and what would it take?
As these days come and go, remember that whether on earth, or in heaven, or when all of creation is restored, it is good to be together in the Lord.
Leaders: as you consider meeting, please reach out to your Management Team Lead for guidance on re-opening and procedures to consider. The official policy for re-opening Life Groups has been attached for informational purposes. In addition, please make use of the attached flowchart for some helpful questions to ask your group as you pursue fellowship once again.
As on-site services resume at St. John’s, we are looking for some volunteers to help us keep up with the sanitizing procedures between services.
We are looking for adults 18+, people who are not considered high risk individuals, and people who are not already actively serving on a ministry team (we are trying to lighten the load of the ushers and other ministry leaders already serving in worship; however, if you are an usher or worship team leader, you are more than welcome to volunteer for a Sunday service as you feel led).
Volunteers can sign up to sanitize after the 8:00 AM, 9:30 AM, or 11:00 AM Sunday services (Saturday and Wednesday services will be taken care of by usher teams). We will create a rotating schedule of 2 people per service to get us through the summer or for as long as these procedures need to be in place.
The procedures include sanitizing:
-Offering box surface
-Chairs used in the narthex or by the fireplace
-Any other frequently touched surfaces (note, this does NOT include cleaning bathrooms but DOES include the door handles for the bathrooms)
Teams will be overseen by Asst. Worship Director Rachel Morton, and by sextons Bob Krause and John Ehlke. Once responses have been collected, Rachel will email the schedule to everyone.
Faithful Disciples, Academic Excellence, Christian Leaders
We are looking for a dependable custodian to maintain and protect our facilities, fulfilling a part-time position, cleaning mainly at our day school, and other assigned areas. The work is 15 hours a week for three hours a day, Monday-Friday, 3:30-6:30 (hours can be flexible). The external and internal appearance of a building reflects on the occupants. Job duties will include but are not limited to, cleaning and tidying the premises, and preventing vandalism. The ideal candidate needs to have experience as a custodian, focused on building upkeep, be able to physically work to cover a large campus in the allotted time, a keen eye for detail, and the diligence to cover a large campus—a keen eye for detail is imperative.