Letter from Pastor Kari Jo
“'All things are lawful,’ but not all things are beneficial,” (I Corinthians 10:23).

Beloved LCN Community,

When we made the decision 10 weeks ago (which now feels like 100 years ago!) to move our Sunday worship to streaming and digital spaces, I sensed a collective sigh of relief rising from among us. As much as we would miss singing and praying and feasting together under one roof, we knew that it was the right decision for love of one another, and for love of our neighbors. By making this call on behalf of the whole community, the Council was “taking one for the team,” freeing individuals and households from having to decide between safeguarding their and their neighbors’ health, or coming to church.

In that collective spirit, we have decided against resuming in-person worship for the time being, to give us the necessary time to evaluate what standards and protocols we would need to put in place before it is safe to do so. Bishop Hazelwood has strongly recommended that no ELCA church in New England consider indoor worship until at least July, to allow us to see whether and to what extent infection rates creep back up with loosened physical distancing. He has also released a really helpful video message outlining 5 factors he encourages congregations to think about as they go forward. It is only 16 minutes long, and I highly recommend watching it < Video from Bishop Hazelwood>

I know this might be disappointing to those of you who were hoping we would leap at the opportunity to get back in the building now that Governor Baker has said that houses of worship may begin holding services again. I, too, long for the day when we can all worship together in one place again. But the guidelines spelled out by the Governor’s office (for the curious, you can see them here: < Places of Worship Safety Standards>) indicate that any indoor, in-person worship service we offer for at least the foreseeable future would be very different from the services we are all missing. No close or prolonged conversations at fellowship hour, and certainly no shared food or drink. Limited numbers of people spread apart by 6 feet, with every-other-pew taped off. No hugs, no handshakes, no swooping up of each other’s children as they make a break for the aisle. Masks. And perhaps hardest for Lutherans -- no singing.

What we  can  do in these weeks is to continue to learn and grow in love and faith. We have been enjoying consistently strong participation in our Sunday worship services, and in our weekly Bible studies, with newer folks and saints who have moved out of the area participating from their homes. Soon I will share a suggestion for a congregation-wide reading of the Acts of the Apostles. On Sunday, we will celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord; the week after that, on Pentecost, we will receive Dan Seligman into membership. June 14 is Youth Sunday, and on June 21 our preacher for the day will be Bishop Eaton (via video). We are starting to ponder whether and how we could offer outdoor church in small groups, perhaps later in the summer, where we could share holy communion. Katherine Sipolt is continuing to find creative ways to bring music into our services. And you all are generously sharing stories and images of love, generosity, hope, and care. 

As we leave the season of Easter and run headlong into Pentecost, trust that the Spirit poured out on us in our baptisms is alive and well in our midst, empowering and inspiring us to live out our faith in the world. I am so deeply grateful that I get to be your Pastor at such a time as this.

Pastor Kari Jo
To contact our church’s office:
Phone: 617-332-3893