Updated January 19, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy New Year!
As we enter 2021, we are all looking for normalcy. What is normalcy? One of the normalcies that we all are searching for is in person service.
Many of you are wondering why some churches are in person and others are not? There are some other church denominations that are offering in person services. Our pastors have talked with colleagues, and we have checked some church websites. From what we are seeing is the vast majority of our area ELCA churches “are not” worshipping in person.
What is it going to take to get back to in person service? The Covid task force has started to meet in this new year in order to start figuring that out. The task force has begun the process of gathering information from a variety of sources, Some of those sources are the CDC, Dane County Public Health, World Council of Churches, and our area Synod office to name a few. There are three main areas that we need to look at. The first area is what parameters are we going to use in order to open and what are those different phases are going to look like. The next facet of this is a sign up for that limited attendance and to figure out how we are going to do to this . Lastly, once we bring people back to in person service, what procedures will we need to have in place to operate safely.
The vaccines out there offer us hope. But, as we are all hearing, this currently is not moving nearly as quickly as we have hoped. Along with that, the infection rates are still quite high. The task force is currently still of the opinion that we are to stay with on-line or virtual service. In a recent interview, our bishop had said “to be careful is to be faithful”. Besides watching out for the well being our our members, we need to take care of our staff as well.
The task force will continue to meet in order to look at all of these pieces of information, and formulate recommendations to the church council. The council will then make the final approval for different levels of operation based on these recommendations.
If you have any comments or questions please reach out to Gary Toboyek, Pastor Tim, or Pastor Kelli.
Updated September 1, 2020
Fall Ministry Start-Up and New Office Hours
The Church Council and Pastors met on August 25, and affirmed these steps and ministries as we enter into the fall:
- Our principles for moving forward during the pandemic are: Safe, Slow Steps, and Sustainable. The safety and health of our members and guests is most important during the Covid pandemic.
- We will begin a Drive-In Worship on Sunday, Sept. 6, 9 a.m., in the back parking lot/CLM entrance. (https://www.mcfarlandlutheran.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/9.2.20-eNews.pdf) Our Sanctuary Live worship continues on Facebook at 10 a.m., with a recording shared on the church website on Sunday afternoon. The pastors, staff and the Worship and Music Committee continue to have on-going discussions and discernment about safe, creative, small-group worship opportunities for later in the fall.
- Faith Formation. All faith formation ministries, including Sunday School, confirmation, youth and adult education, will be on-line through the fall. Information will be shared at our Remote Rally Day on September 13, during the 10 a.m. Sanctuary Live, and in a flyer mailed to members.
- Ministries in Sanctuary. MLC ministry groups of 15 people or less, such as CLM worship and the handbell choir, may begin to use the Sanctuary space for in-person activities since it is possible to spread out to maintain physical distance. Face masks will be required.
- Child Life Ministry (CLM). CLM will be having in-person classes this fall with some adjustments in programs. 4K classes with the McFarland school district will begin in-person on September 8. CLM programs follow county health guidelines for child-care facilities, including checking temperatures of children, limiting enrollment numbers and wearing face masks. For more information, please contact Administrator Sara Phelan (email@example.com).
- Expanded Office Hours. The church office hours will be expanded on Monday, September 21, 9 a.m-2 p.m., Monday thru Thursday. Masks are required to enter the church building during this time. As always, you may contact staff by email or phone. Other MLC ministries, committees and groups not mentioned are encouraged to continue to meet through on-line platforms such as the MLC Facebook page and Zoom.
- We Are the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). The council will continue to discern how we can safely move forward with expanding in-person ministries, keeping in mind public health data as well as guidelines from our synod and national ELCA. The health and well-being of our faith community is the highest priority. Even with physical distancing, we continue to be and serve as the body of Christ at MLC in new ways! If you have any questions or concerns, please email Pastor Tim (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Council President Gary Toboyek (email@example.com).
Updated July 8, 2020
At our meeting on June 23, the council and pastors discussed restarting in-person worship and re-opening the MLC building. We affirmed our current approach that focuses on safety, slow steps, and sustainability over the long-term:
- The pastors and music ministers will begin Sanctuary Live on July 5 at 10 a.m. This will be a live-streamed Service of the Word (no communion) on our MLC Facebook Page. We will continue to post a recording of this worship on the MLC website on Sunday afternoon. Sanctuary Live will allow us to worship together on-line, as we explore options of in-person worship during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- A bulletin for this service will be available on the MLC Facebook Page and website. The bulletin is posted in the “Videos” section, next to the worship video for Sunday.
- For those without internet service in their homes, Sanctuary Live will be available for people to hear via their phones. If you are interested in signing up for this, please contact Huldah Ellestad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- The Worship and Music Committee is considering options for in-person worship that would take place outside in August.
- Limited office hours and CLM daycare classes with limited enrollments are scheduled for the rest of the summer
- All other ministries will continue to take place on-line via Facebook, Zoom or other platforms
- During the Covid-19 pandemic, the health, safety and well-being of our members and guests is paramount. We are the body of Christ, and though we are distanced physically, we remain connected through the Holy Spirit to live, grow and serve in Christ’s love.
Updated May 28, 2020
At our meeting on May 26, the church council and pastors discussed re-opening the MLC building. Below are the important points as we decided on a cautious
and gradual approach:
- The safety, health and wellness of our members, guests and community remains our top priority. The Dane County public health guidelines,
“Forward Dane,” suggests a 3-phase, gradual approach. (https://publichealthmdc.com/documents/Forward_Dane.pdf)
- On-line worship will continue thru June at 10 a.m. on Sundays on Facebook Live on the MLC Facebook Page, and a recorded video of this service will
continue to be posted on the website on Sunday afternoon.
- The MLC Office will begin limited office hours, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., starting Tuesday, June 9. For the health of
staff and others, we are encouraging those who need to visit during office hours to wear face masks and sanitize hands as they enter and leave the
building. The staff office hallway will remain locked, and if you need assistance, please go to the window of our Administrative Assistant office.
- Our Child Life Ministry (CLM) will begin daycare programs with enrollment limits on Monday, June 8. There will be new safety procedures in place for
families as children are dropped-off. For more information about summer programming at CLM, please contact Administrator Sara Phelan
(email@example.com or 608-838-4425).
- Other MLC ministries and meetings will continue to take place via Zoom or other online platforms. Staff will continue to work in-office or remotely as
scheduled. Please contact them via email if you need anything.
- Pastor Tim and Pastor Kelli continue to available for pastoral care and conversation. The best way to reach them is by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or (email@example.com). An on-call number to reach them for pastoral emergencies is on the church
office voice mail.
- If you have any questions about the re-opening of the church building, please contact Council President Todd Bolstad (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
Pastor Tim (email@example.com).
On Pentecost, May 31, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, who makes us one, strengthens our faith, and empowers us to serve. The church is not simply a
building. The church is the body of Christ, and we are members of it because of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will keep us joined to the love of God in Christ as we
move together into an unknown future and carry out God’s work. Thank you, Spirit of Love, Spirit of Life, for making us your church!
Updated April 22, 2020
MLC Building Closed Through Monday, May 25
The MLC building and all ministries will remain closed through Monday, May 25, or until further notice. We are all encouraged to continue to practice physical distancing to diminish the spread of COVID-19 virus in our village, county and state. If the conditions are safe to re-open the building at the end of May, we will gradually restart some of our ministries. The pastors and council leaders will continue to keep the congregation informed as we look forward to the time when we can gather again in-person.
While physical distancing is hard and can be frustrating and isolating, we need to remember that we are not alone; we remain connected through the Holy Spirit. We continue to be the body of Christ at MLC, and are socially connected through Facebook Live worship, videos and devotions on our website, and email, texts, phone calls, and video meetings. We live in the promise of Christ’s resurrection, and nothing can separate us from his love. The risen Christ reminds us of this: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
In this time of uncertainty and change, may we continue to worship and pray, live and serve together, in the enduring, hope-filled promise that Christ is with us forever.
Update April 1, 2020
Dear friends in Christ at MLC,
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1)
We continue to hold you and our entire faith community in our prayers during this unprecedented and uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an email update to let you know that we are still connected as the body of Christ, even when we cannot meet physically.
We want our community to be safe and healthy during this pandemic. In response to state and county directives, our MLC building will remain closed through April 26, 2020, or until further notice. All building activities and ministries, including in-person worship services, are cancelled through this date. This is especially hard to say with Palm/Passion Sunday on April 5 and Easter Sunday on April 12, and we will deeply miss gathering with you in person for these special days. However, it is vital for public health that the building remain closed, and that we all take important safety steps as outlined by public health officials.
March 17, 2020
Dear members and friends of MLC,
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) For the safety and well-being of all, and in response to state and county mandates
concerning the coronavirus pandemic, we will be closing the MLC building, beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020, through Sunday, April 5, 2020.
In addition, worship services will be cancelled the weekend of March 21/22 and March 28/29. In consultation with staff and church leadership, I will make a determination about services the weekend of Palm/Passion Sunday, April 4/5, and future worship times, as developments unfold in our county and state.
During this time of closure, all programs and activities in the MLC building are cancelled, including Shared Table, Lenten meals and worship, all ministry groups, and all outside groups who rent the space.
These decisions are not made lightly, but they are made with the health and safety of all members of the body of Christ in mind. In order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, we will practice “physical distancing” from one another. However, we remain “spiritually connected” through the presence of the Holy Spirit, our shared baptism into Christ, and our commitment to prayer and service.
Pastor Kelli and I will have our usual “on-call” schedule and can be reached by phone or email for pastoral care and conversation. Other staff will be in contact
through email. In addition, our website, Facebook and answering machine will provide updates and devotional resources during this time.
Below is a prayer from national ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, which has provided me some spiritual strength in this crisis:
God, our peace and our strength, we pray for our nation and the world as we face new uncertainties around coronavirus. Protect the most vulnerable among us, especially all who are currently sick or in isolation. Grant wisdom, patience, and clarity to health care workers, especially as their work caring for others puts them at great risk. Guide us as we consider how best to prepare and respond in our families, congregations, workplaces, and communities. Give us courage to face these days not with fear but with compassion, concern, and acts of service, trusting that you abide with us always, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Help us to remember, gracious God, that you abide with us forever, and nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Yours in Christ,