Hello FLC family,
Below is a letter from Kert Stokes written September 22nd.
"Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11
It can be tough at times to maintain a spiritual fervor, especially when
we are unable to lean on one another while worshiping together. The
support we gain while together under one roof is an important aspect of
our traditional worship service. COVID-19 has forced us to rethink and
alter our ability to worship together. The virus forced us to close our
doors to traditional worship and provide an alternative by creating a
drive-thru communion with taped sermons. This was not an easy decision
to make. There were many dissenting opinions and tough discussions.
Ultimately, our church leaders were forced to weigh the physical safety
of the congregation and followed governmental guidelines. A considerable
portion of our congregation can be placed in the high-risk category of
this virus. This is not to be taken lightly. With a national death toll
of nearly 200,000, we have seen several local churches where the virus
has struck and spread like wildfire - leading to the deaths of church
members. We have learned a considerable amount about this virus over the
last few months. Each month our Elders meet with Pastor Seaton and
discuss what options are best for our congregation. They weigh the
current virus statistics for the nation and our local community. They
also review guidelines issued by the Governor's Office and consider the
sentiments of our congregation. Each month the Elders' decision is
brought to the Church Council where it is discussed further. Everyone
involved, the Elders, the Council and the Pastor take the issue very
seriously. We all want to open the doors. We all want to worship
together. We all want to ensure the safety of each of our congregant
members. At this point I cannot guarantee when the doors will open
again, only that we do not foresee the alternate worship schedule
continuing indefinitely. I will say that we ask for your prayers. Pray
for those with the burden of the heart, that God will allow the right
decision, at the right time. Pray for our church. Pray that our members
show support for the Elders and the Pastor during these difficult times.
Pray that our members can rest in the assurance that our church is not
just a building. As important as it is to worship together, the church
consists of "a people belonging to God," - 1 Peter 2:9. I ask for your
perseverance and your understanding."
May God bless you and keep you,
To all members of First Lutheran Church of Cleveland:
The Elder Board met last night, Tuesday, September 1st. After an
extensive discussion it was decided to continue with no "in-house"
services through the month of September, although drive-up communion
service will continue at 11 a.m. each Sunday.
Governor Lee is to issue a statement by no later than 09-30-20 on his
safety mandate for Tennessee communities. Also, by 9-3020 we will have
more data to look at on the pace of new COVID cases in Bradley County.
The last 4 weeks have shown a very slight trend downwards in the number
of new cases, which is encouraging, but we could not agree that the
current level is sufficiently low enough to open back up at this time.
The Elders will meet on Wednesday evening, the 30th, to look at the
additional data and also see what Governor Lee proposes statewide. At
that point we will vote again to see about the possibilities of opening
up in October.
Lastly, we acknowledge that there is a wide range of feelings from our
congregation as a whole on this specific subject. We do not take
anyone's opinion lightly. Some of you would attend an in-house worship
service tomorrow, others may wish to wait a year and others somewhere in
between these ends. However, with prayerful consideration, the Elder
Board has every intention of opening up in-house services as soon as we
can do so with the mindset that we can do it safely. Please continue to
pray for our church and other Christian churches in our community/world
as we make our way back to worshipping in a manner as we all love to do!