7/2/20 update

Dear Church Family,

The council members met and discussed in-person worship at First Lutheran. The decision was made to begin in-person worship services (masks mandatory) starting on Sunday, July 12, 2020.

We will have two 1/2 hour services. A physical distance (every 4th pew) indoor service at 8:30 in our sanctuary and an outdoor (bring your own chair) service at 9:30.  This was a difficult conversation because we want all who come to worship to be comfortable being here, and to be here by their own choice. If you are nervous attending worship, we encourage you to continue worshiping with us online.

Here are some of the guidelines that have been chosen:
  • Masks at this time, per CDC recommendations and because the majority of our congregation is in the high-risk age group, we are asking you wear a mask when attending worship (unless it is a child 2 and under). Please bring your own mask from home. If you do not have one, please contact someone on council or in the church office and we will see about providing one for you. Here is the link to the CDC website where it discusses face coverings.
  • Experiencing Symptoms? If you are experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19, or if you have been in contact with someone with Covid-19 symptoms, we ask that you please refrain from attending worship for 3 weeks. 
    • The main symptoms are as follows:
      • *Although many of these symptoms are mimicked in allergies and a common cold, we do not want to take the chance of bringing COVID into our congregation and possibly infecting those most at risk. Thank you for your understanding with this! If you cannot wear a mask we encourage you to worship online.
      • Fever
      • Shortness of Breath
      • Trouble Breathing
      • Cough 
      • Fatigue 
      • Muscle/Body Aches
      • Loss of Taste and/or Smell
      • Headache
      • Diarrhea
  • 8:30 Indoor Service.
    • Every fourth pew will be open for seating.  
    • We ask that you space yourselves appropriately if you are sharing a pew with non-family members.  
    • We may limit the amount of people that can attend this service. 
  • 9:30 Outdoor Worship
    • Please bring your own chair and make sure you (and your family) are spaced at least 6 feet apart from others. 
    • If the weather is bad, we will have physical distance worship in the Fellowship Hall with all the windows open. We may have to limit worship numbers if we have to move it into the Fellowship Hall during bad weather.
  • Offering
  • Communion
    • We will be using pre-packaged, individual, disposable communion kits. 
    • The usher will hand you one when you walk in and we ask that you please hold on to yours until the pastor gives the communion blessings.
  • Miscellaneous Items
    • Ushers will be sanitizing often while handling items that will be handed to you. There will be hand sanitizer available for your use in the narthex of the church, and outside as well.
    • We ask that you maintain social distancing wherever possible. There may be ‘X’s marked in the narthex to mark 6 feet apart.
    • At the end of each service we ask you to remain physically distanced as you leave. If you choose to socialize before or after services, we ask that you wait until you are outside and please respect the space of others while trying to follow physical distance guidelines.
    • We are going to do our best to keep services to 30 minutes or less.
    • As of right now, there will be no fellowship after worship.

Because things are always evolving right now, we will constantly be monitoring and re-assessing as we go.

Pastor Tim & the Church Council

3/26/20 update

Dear Church Family,

Paul wrote these encouraging words to believers in a dangerous time: “To all the saints in Christ Jesus... Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me... For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1

We thank God and pray for all of you!

It is difficult to operate as a congregation in this current situation. We miss you! We miss gathering together in worship and fellowship and we hope that we will all be safe and that we may gather again soon.

Due to the governor's mandate and our top priority of keeping all of our members and staff safe, First Lutheran will be keeping our doors locked until further notice, but our office will be open.  Should you need access to the church, appointments can be arranged.  If you need anything at all, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. Our doors may be closed but our ministry continues!  Please let us know how you and your loved ones are doing. If you have prayer requests you can leave messages on the church phone, on Facebook Messenger, on our app or by email.

If you have emergencies or just need to talk, call Karen at home at 715-268-8386 or Liz's cell at 715-554-0891. Pastor Tim hopes to be available really soon; Jens continues to improve.

Here is a link to all of our online worship services, which you can watch in your internet browser. They are also on the app if you have a phone or tablet (app download & instructions can be found here).

We sent out our first Sparks devotion on Tuesday; you can find them on our app or by clicking this link. If you have a favorite Bible verse or devotion, please send it our way! Also include your thoughts on why it's meaningful to you.

Finally, we hope that you will be able to continually support our shared ministry. You can send offerings through the mail, or give through our app or website by clicking this link.

If you are viewing this in the app, there's no need to click all the links above; everything is on the homepage of your app.

Thanks and blessings! Be Well,
Pastor Tim, Liz, and Karen

P.S. Below you'll find the latest update from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

3/17/20 update

Dear Church Family,

After worship on Sunday morning, March 15th, the Council met and voted to discontinue all food based gatherings until April 15th (thereby cancelling Lenten suppers, the youth Palm Sunday breakfast, etc.), but to continue with worship.

However, since then, with the Governor's mandate to shut down gatherings of more than 50 people, and the President's recommendation to limit gatherings to less than 10 people,  in-person worship will be suspended through at least Palm Sunday, April 5th, but will be subject to review as time goes on.  School is scheduled to reopen on April 6th, but that may change.  We hope to worship together as a church family on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior on Easter morning, but will defer to guidelines from our health officials. We will miss worshiping together, but the health of our members is our utmost concern. STAY TUNED!  We will keep you informed as best we can! You can learn more about COVID-19 and safety measures here, including government mandates, by clicking here.

Our plan is to create online worship which will be available on our website and app for both Sunday and Lenten Worships. We also intend to provide at home devotions every few days and at home Sunday School/Confirmation for families--both of which will be available on our website, app, and in emails. (We highly recommend downloading our app and enabling notifications; click here for instructions. Everything will be easy to access there.)

Our ministry continues despite not being able to worship together; your offering can be made via the church app or website, by direct deposit, or mailed to the church (PO Box 153, Amery, WI 54001-0153). For at least this week, our office will still be open from 8-12, but only come if necessary.

If you need something or have questions, don't hesitate to call church on week days from 8am-noon (268-7135), or Liz (715-554-0891), or Karen at home (268-8386) any other time.

Blessings & Peace,
Liz, Karen, Council, & Pr. Tim

3/15/20 Update

We will no longer have food-related events until further notice, but at least through Easter. We will not have coffee & treats before or after worship, and will cancel our Lenten Suppers. Sunday and Wednesday services are still planned.

3/14/20 Update

We will be cancelling Sunday School and Wednesday Friends in Faith. Sunday School will resume April 19th. (Remember, we did not have Sunday School on the calendar for Palm Sunday and Easter.) At this time we are NOT cancelling Services or Lenten Suppers. Remember to read our precautions below under the 3/13/20 update.

3/13/20 Update

Church Family-

As all of you are well aware, COVID-19 is causing all of us to take extra precautions to slow the spread of illness and to protect those who are most at risk.

Currently we are NOT going to cancel any of our Sunday or Wednesday worships, or our Lenten Suppers. However, we are depending on YOU to be prudent in taking care of yourself and others. Wash your hands often (before and after being in public spaces) and try to not touch your face. If you are feeling ill or coughing/sneezing excessively, do not go to church or other public spaces. For youth gatherings, kids will be required to wash their hands when they arrive, and will continue to wash as needed while we are gathered.

Again, please stay home if you're feeling sick, or sneezing/coughing excessively. 

Currently, public health officials are recommending that gatherings of 250+ people be cancelled/postponed to help limit contagion so that health care workers and facilities are not overwhelmed. This may change in the future, but we are not there yet.

Until further notice, we will take the following precautions for Sharing of the Peace, Offering, Communion, and Fellowship/Lenten suppers:
  • Sharing of the Peace: 
    • We will learn how to sign "peace be with you" this Sunday, and will continue to share peace in that manner until further notice. 
  • Offering:
    • We will have a walk through offering so we are not passing plates. 
    • On Communion Sundays, we'll have you bring your offering up when you go to take Communion.
    • You can always give online whether you attend church or not. Click here for instructions.
  • Communion:
    • All servers will wash their hands with soap and water before serving.
    • Use hand sanitizer located in the pews before being served.
    • As you receive bread, open your palms so the server can place the bread directly in your hand without skin to skin contact.
    • Wine cups have been spaced out in the communion trays so you won't touch other cups as you take yours. If you are uncomfortable taking a cup for yourself, the server can hand it to you.
    • Blessings for children and those who choose to not partake in Communion will be hands-free.
  • Fellowship: 
    • Wash your hands or use sanitizer after worship and before fellowship.
    • Servers will wear gloves and use tongs to serve you goodies.
    • We will have someone serving coffee. 
  • General Sanitation:
    • We are looking for volunteers to help us sanitize surfaces following our Sunday and Wednesday Gatherings. Marv will have wipes and sprays available for volunteers to use. Please email back if you are willing to help with this effort.

If you choose to stay home from worship, we will try to live stream on our church Facebook page. We will also continue to post the worships on our website and app a few days following worship. As a reminder, you can view the full worship or just the readings & sermon on our website & app.

Lastly, below is a short video from Bishop Elizabeth Eaton regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. She says that even though "this is a time of disruption, it is also a time for us to live and act as faithful people of God.'  Eaton also says that in Martin Luther’s “Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague,” he emphasized the duty to care for the neighbor, the responsibility of government to protect and provide services to its citizens, a caution about recklessness, and the importance of science, medicine and common sense.”

We will continue to take cues from the CDC and local public health officials, and will keep you posted as needed.

Blessings to you all,
Liz, Karen, Marv, & Council
First Lutheran Church © 2019