Some Information and Encouragement
From Robin Dugall, Pastor
Our Savior @ McCall and Shepherd of the Mountains @ Cascade
Friends in Jesus,
This past week, the Central Health District (click on blue link if you would like ot ready that document) released its latest recommendations to people in four counties in Idaho. Vally county is one of the counties that was addressed by this directive. After reading the information and recommendations, consulting with several of the leaders of both churches, talking with local pastors and churches in McCall AND deliberately taking "the pulse" of what the medical community in Long Valley is saying to us as part of the general public (as well as "businesses" that cater to larger gatherings of people), I'd like to take a few moments of your time today to make some observations AND deliberating share some recommendations:
As you may have read or heard, the Central Health District (CHD) “strongly recommends” virtual worship experiences/services for churches in Valley County and elsewhere. As I have shared with you over the past weeks, I believe that we are taking the necessary precautions at BOTH congregations to ensure the health safety of every attendee. BOTH congregations are doing VERY WELL at being diligent mask wearers as well as abiding by social distancing and hand sanitizing/washing guidelines. Both congregations are worshipping with numbers that are well within my comfort zone. In fact, I’ve had several people at both churches remark that they would not be attending worship regularly IF they felt that we were taking unnecessary risks and not following safety measures. We also have several people from both churches who WOULD NOT attend worship IF they felt that we were being careless in our health safety protocols.
So, for the time being, I’m still recommending that we stay the course with our current strategy…live worship, pre-recorded worship AND live streaming at 11am from OSLC. If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it. Email me, OK? (click on the blue link for a direct email to me).
We are ALL facing the same issues in dealing with the COVID pandemic. Everybody that I know, or with whom I have had direct contact, want to make the right decision. I can share with you that IF the CHD and/or Valley County, the City of McCall OR the State of Idaho mandate that all businesses shut down again, we will go to virtual worship experiences. I've already talked to the local pastors and we are all in agreement...IF the community is ordered to shut down, we will as well. We want to be good neighbors, stand in solidarity with our friends in Long Valley AND be faithful citizens of our community cooperating in a manner that is consistent to the Biblical exhortation (Romans 13). You may have heard of some churches in our country deliberately disobeying government mandates...rest assured, we will not be choosing to act in that manner.
One more bit of information for worship during the holidays (subject to change IF health mandates are changed or altered):
Advent Worship will be LIVE STREAMED from Our Savior's @ McCall on Wednesdays in December (2nd, 9th, 16th) at 6:30pm. There will be NO live worship in the sanctuary and NO soup suppers (as has been our tradition). Emails will be sent out every Wednesday during December with that live steaming link for YouTube Live or Facebook Live.
Advent Worship for Shepherd of the Mountains WILL be held in the SOTM sanctuary at 11am on Thursdays. We usually have less than 10 people during our mid-week Advent worship...so we will continue to meet. There will be NO Advent soup lunches this year.
Christmas Eve - 5pm and 7pm at Our Savior's - for those of you who are regular attenders at OSLC, we will be implementing a reservation system for seating. We will be setting up for 55-60 people per service...the reservation system will be available beginning December 1st. I'll be sending out a special email with the link to that reservation system on that day. We will be practicing social distancing, mandating mask wearing, etc. at our Christmas Eve services. We are holding 75% of our normal seating for reservations and having 25% of the seating available for out of town guests.
Christmas Eve - 9:30pm at Shepherd of the Mountains. We will be utilizing every other pew and we will be setting up chairs in the fellowship area in order to accommodate the gathering of people that night. We should be able to ensure health safety by utilizing our seating strategy and even utilizing the balcony if necessary.
It seems to me that the one thing needs to be a constant reminder...we need to be practicing kindness, understanding, and sacrificial love and acceptance with each other. We need to continually focus powerfully on giving each other grace (as a simple extension of the abundance of grace that we all have received from Jesus). We need to show grace to the members and regular guests of our congregations who are not ready to regather. Some of them are elderly. Some of them have young children and are not ready to expose them to crowds. Some have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable. Some of them have loved ones who are sick or who have died. Remember, we are called by Jesus himself to love as we have been loved. Isn’t that the least we can do?
As we head to the end of this calendar year, we all need to be keeping a laser like focus on grace. After all, we have been shown grace by a Savior who was born, lived, died and resurrected for us. Jesus is our living hope and that hope lives IN us and should shine THROUGH us to each other. We all need to remind each other and every Jesus follower we know that the least we can do is to demonstrate grace and an attitude of humility to those with whom we may have different opinions. Despite the COVID reality, we are still “one in the Spirit and one in the Lord.” We all do still embrace “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.” "So, let’s all continue to pray! Let’s all continue to be “kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).”
In Jesus’ love,