These and many more greetings were expressed this weekend as St. John’s opened for in-person worship services for the first time since March 15. Plenty of smiles were hidden behind protective masks, but the joy of God’s people was unveiled at each gathering of worship. I admitted to those in worship, it was a relief to simply not have to talk to a camera lens as I shared the opening welcome, but my heartfelt gratitude encompassed so much more than that trivial detail. We were gathered on Pentecost for worship, and by God’s grace, we can rejoice!
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice.” -Philippians 4:4
I was also rejoicing on Thursday night as the worship team rehearsed. So much work had been done to ready our building to gather our congregation in service again safely. We spent countless hours planning, sanitizing, communicating, and cleaning; finally, we were singing together, and the space was full of praise. Rachel Morton said it well while working on posting all of the 162 pew seating signs, “This is what the church is supposed to sound like! Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice.”
I was rejoicing throughout the weekend as our Ushers, and newly created Sanitization Crews worked through new procedures to welcome in hospitality and to care for each other with cleaning and sanitizing. Ushers helped each family find a pew as they navigated a reasonably simple, yet new seating plan that honored social distancing. The procedures in place are acts of love and care. I joked that the incense of the day’s worship was the smell of a well-sanitized pew. Those who came in nervous and anxious were comforted by these diligent steps of care. We were free to worship; “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice.”
I am rejoicing that we worshiped in-person, without having to turn anyone away, and worshiped online for those who were not yet comfortable gathering. In all, 248 people came to worship in our first weekend back. The nervousness question, “What if I come, and there’s no room?” did not come to pass. If you are healthy and comfortable gathering, come, there’s room for you in His Service. Along with those gathered for worship, at the close of the weekend, there were 160 views of the online worship service. If you are not feeling well, high risk, or are not comfortable yet gathering in-person, you will hear the same sermon online as our weekend services and gathered in the same hymns of praise and narrative of liturgy. Worship online and be blessed and strengthened in faith.
But don’t be mistaken; combining these numbers does not equal our normal worship attendance. We have work to do as we step back into daily life. We, as God’s people and the Priesthood of All Believers, have work to do to reestablish worship as the rhythm of our lives of discipleship. We have invitations to extend and a baptismal call to follow. We have God’s promises as His children, so let us “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice.”
And finally, I am rejoicing now, thinking of the weeks ahead. June 7 is a Communion Sunday, as in-vehicle communion will be served again in our parking lot from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Our campus might have closed in Lent and reopened on Pentecost, but it is the hope of the resurrection that fuels our praise. Worship never stopped, but it felt great to begin to gather back in church again too. There is certainly something irreplaceable about being with our church family in God’s Word and Service. It’s good to be together in the Lord; “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice.”
Director of Worship
Discipleship in as many places as possible
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.
Confirmation has probably been a word at the back of your mind, if at all, in these troubled days. Due to the Coronavirus, our plans and routines have been thrown into disarray as businesses, churches, schools, and jobs have closed their doors. Even as society begins to open up again, it may take some time before we’re “back to normal.” So, what does that mean for those seeking to confirm their faith?
To use the old phrase: “There’s no time like the present.”
At St. John’s, we do confirmation a little differently. Our approach is built around voluntary confirmation, which is confirmand-driven, and church-supported. Pastors work with one-on-one with families in a relaxed, conversational atmosphere as we seek to help our confirmands take ownership of their faith and step forward with confidence in their beliefs alongside the rest of the church. When pastoral conversations are concluded, confirmands join the next available Promises of Grace class to complete the process and be both welcomed and celebrated with the rest of our new members.
Unsurprisingly, this “small scale” approach to confirmation allows both families and pastors a great deal of flexibility for scheduling, and even for taking proper precautions in the midst of times like these. Confirmation conversations have successfully been ongoing, even now.
God’s promises are good at all times, and these times, in particular, are rich for exploring how faith and life come together in real ways. Don’t add it to the always-growing list of “I’ll get to that later.” Come and see; come and be blessed!
Whether you’re seeking to confirm your faith or want to support someone in your house as they seek to confirm theirs, give the church office a call (262-334-4901), and we’ll see how we can walk together with you.
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Ps. 122:1)
Celebrating the Lord’s Supper
Celebrating the Lord’s Supper During this Time of Pandemic
We will celebrate the Lord’s Supper next on Sunday, June 7 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
We are joyfully looking forward to receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood as a family together, even in this strange time!
St. John’s West Bend – Worship Re-opening Unified Leader’s Announcement
Excited to Open Safely!
Dear Friends in Christ,
We are excited to be worshipping together again, following our usual worship schedule. However, recognizing that COVID-19 is still a threat, we wanted to share with you some precautions that we at St. John’s are taking and that we are asking you to take as you prepare to attend worship.
First, if you are ill in any way or have been ill in the last week, please worship using our online resources to avoid spreading any illness to your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Second, when you arrive to church, please maintain six feet of distance from those who are not a part of your household and enter only through the main entrance. Please note that a household or “family unit” is anyone who lives with you.
Third, you are strongly encouraged to wear a mask to worship for the sake of your neighbor.
Fourth, we will be employing a social distancing seating plan in the sanctuary Each household will be seated in a pew on one end. An usher will guide you to an appropriate seat. In addition, we will only be able to seat 54 family units in the sanctuary for worship. Worshippers who typically worship at 9:30 or 11 am on Sunday are strongly urged to worship at 8 am Sunday or on Saturday or Wednesday night. It is not our intent to turn anyone away, but we reserve the right to do so in order to maintain appropriate capacity and social distancing procedures.
Finally, please note that there will not be a greeting or a passing of the peace and that any offering can be placed in the collection box in the narthex.
In addition to these precautions, we will be sanitizing the sanctuary and all high contact surfaces after each worship service.
Regarding the Lord’s Supper, we will not be celebrating the Lord’s Supper in the sanctuary in June, but will celebrate “in-vehicle” communion on June 7th just as we did in May.
These precautions have been developed under the CDC and Washington-Ozaukee County guidelines for faith communities so that we might gather for worship in a responsible manner.
We continue to give thanks to God for being able to gather together once again, and ask that those who do gather would follow these guidelines out of care and concern for fellow members of the body of Christ.
We also recognize that there are many who have concerns about large gathering, have underlying health conditions, or are in what medical professionals would deem an “at-risk” category and thus would prefer not to attend worship in person at this time. The St. John’s worship team will continue to provide online worship during this time so that God’s people might be fed with His word and His promises.
Please continue to pray for our pastors, staff and leaders here at St. John’s as they see to the work of the church and for all who suffer from this pandemic, trusting that our Lord hears our prayers and acts upon them in His good and gracious will.
Attention all Railroad Guests! Unfortunately Rocky Railway has been derailed in a previous town and will not be able to make it to St. John’s in July. We hope you hop on board next year, when Rocky Railway comes steaming through West Bend!
Even though the train has been derailed, we are putting together a virtual VBS you can experience in the comfort of your home during the week of July 6-10. During this Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to remember God is with us! Be on the lookout for more information to follow!
As we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, we invite you to enroll now in our K4 classroom. We have multiple options, including a half-day morning class or full day classroom. The deadline to enroll is June 30. If you have any questions, please contact us at 262-429-1061.
Click through to their website for up to the minute news and information. www.lwlhs.com
Contact Living Word
Contact the office to learn how to join the Living Word Luther High School family.
Do you feel God’s Calling to Become a Pastor or Deaconess?
Concordia Seminary exists to prepare the next generation of church leaders. We are here to support you as you consider being trained to become a pastor, deaconess or scholar, to ultimately contribute to the church with deep commitment to Lutheran theology and practice, and in a spirit of servant leadership.