A Statement from the Board of Elders
Greetings to you, our church family!
We are truly be blessed to be a part our church, but even more blessed to be a part of the Body of Christ. These are truly unusual times. In addition to the stress caused by COVID-19, we also have the Trickey family on our hearts daily.
Both of these events stir up emotions daily for me. They move at times from sadness, to helplessness, to anger. There are other times that I see opportunities that are great. The events create an awareness of others that need help that we can serve, both inside our congregation and in the community. There are also opening ears that are ready to hear of Christ’s love for them.
All these emotions, fears, and opportunities surround us, at a time when our ability to meet in person has been curtailed. It gives me a glimpse of how Paul might have felt as he ministered to others from his prison cell. Paul’s response to his restricted status was to use the tools he was provided to praise his God, witness to his captors, and write letters of encouragement.
The Elders along with our Pastors have labored over how and when to bring us back together. We have examined this from a number of perspectives, first and foremost is what are we being called to do as ambassadors for Christ. We are called to meet in Hebrews 10. We are called to respect authorities in Romans 13.
In our discussions we reviewed a resource from the Michigan District of the LCMS titled “The Return of the Gathered Saints From Pandemic Exile” (links included below). This document highlighted and applied Nehemiah’s encounter with the king and with his people.
The presidents of the three Illinois districts of the LCMS have written to Governor Pritzker suggesting opening criteria that will allow for gatherings based on space and capacity instead of an arbitrary number. Our Synod President, President Harrison, has written the Attorney General William Barr at the Department of Justice specifically about Illinois requesting a review of the restrictions. A number of us at the local level are also working to have these restrictions relaxed.
The Elders and Pastors are unified and of one voice regarding this issue. First, we want to be back together as soon as possible. Second, regardless of our desires and our views that these restrictions should be modified, we need to honor the governing bodies that have been placed over us while we work to move those leaders to relax those restrictions. This is the example that Paul gave us in Acts 25:11 as he appealed to Caesar when his rights as a Roman Citizen were violated.
This course of action makes none of us happy. It is the decision we believe we are led to make to follow His guidance. There is another article that assisted us in this process. It is titled “Church, Don’t Let Coronavirus Divide You”. I know there are some that would rather us defy our leaders. Part of me stands with you.
We are reviewing our options daily and actively working to create opportunities to gather as regulations permit. We will keep you informed as those opportunities become available.
My greatest hope is we can accept this as a part of the trials Christ has chosen for us to challenge us to grow closer to Him through a process that is not ideal. Judy and I had the privilege of standing in Paul’s prison cell last year. We are still processing how we felt in that place. Paul used his time in that cell to change lives of those he touched, and around the world. If he can witness from that cell, we can grow closer to Him, and witness to others, despite our restrictions.
The passage that comes to mind for me in this time is one that I still strive to completely understand —- James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kinds, because you know that the testing of faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.
We will continue to work to open the doors of our building as quickly as possible, though the ministry of this church has never ceased. We will use this time to find new ways to support our church family. We will discover people whose ears are open. We will be Christ’s hands and feet to them to our members and our community. We will discover that God’s hand is a part of this time and is growing us closer to Him.
If you have further questions, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or any of the members of our Board of Elders (Michael Peer, Jim Buske, Jeff Hawkins, Malcolm Head, Sam Morrow, Darren Reynolds).
In His Service,
Dave Koshinski, Chairman
Board of Elders
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
If you’d like to view the other documents referenced in this statement, you may find them here:
Article from Michigan District
Church, Don’t Let Coronavirus Divide