The Covid-19 crisis is real, and we believe that it is important to act faithfully, without fear, but also to be proactive and use the many resources God has given to us. Pastor Jon and Pastor Jean have received periodic updates from experts such from organizations such as UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. They have also consulted frequently with Bishop Arends, and with colleagues from around the La Crosse Area Synod. Our primary concern is with the health of people and remaining connected, especially with those who are more vulnerable and potentially alone.
So, what can we do?
- Wash your hands! Wash thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. In the absence of soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Wear masks. Yeah, we know. They are not comfortable, but they are important, so do it!
- Maintain appropriate “social distancing,” and avoid going to places where you really don’t need to go.
- Self quarantine if you feel ill. And consult your doctor.
- Wash your hands (yeah, we know it’s a repeat – it’s that important!)
Remember that it is not just about protecting you. We follow proper procedures, not just to keep safe, but to protect others, and to be a part of the healing in our community. Do these things as a gift to the people around you. That is our Christian and civic duty.
Our response as a congregation…
- Saturday/Sunday worship remains cancelled until it is appropriate for us to gather again in person. For an interesting reflection on canceling worship, check out a March 13th article on “Five Ways To Be the Church When Church Is Canceled.”
- Each weekend a video featuring music and a message from one of the pastors, will be posted by 6 PM on Saturday. You can access that worship experience on the “videos” page of this web site (www.oursaviorswestsalem.org/videos). We will also post a children’s message as a separate video.
- The Congregation Council is currently in the process of preparing a plan for re-opening and resuming in-person worship when it is deemed safe to do so. This plan will include a variety of steps to ensure a safe environment for worship, and other activities in the church building. More details will be posted as they become available.
- Meanwhile, during this time a light will remain on the altar around the clock to remind us that even though the sanctuary is empty, God is still with us. And a light at the back of the sanctuary, shining through the stained glass window to Leonard Street below, will also remain on, to remind us that we are still called to make a difference in the world around us.
Feed Our Children
Hansen’s IGA has partnered with Feed Our Children West Salem to provide one free bag of groceries per week to families in need during the COVID-19 “ “Safer at Home” closures. Thank you, Hansens!
Plans are currently being developed to provide meals to children during the summer, similar to previous years. We are not certain at this time how that will happen, but it will happen, and it will happen as safely as possible.
- Your gifts of time and financial contributions make this ministry possible. THANK YOU for your support of this ministry…and for your prayers!
- The Care and Share Food Pantry remains open for business! The pantry, an ecumenical venture supported by the whole community and housed at Our Savior’s, is available Saturdays from 10 AM to Noon. Recipients need to bring two forms of identification.
- The pantry continues to rely on your generosity. While the building is closed, we will be present on occasion. To make a contribution call ahead to make arrangements for drop off.
- Sunday School…
- Sunday School classes are suspended until further notice, but watch the video!
- Children will be sent material for Sunday School, to use with a video posted each Saturday evening on the video page.
- If you want a copy of the material, contact Pastor Jean or use the “contact us” form.
- Confirmation activities are concluded for the year.
- Confirmation students may view videos each week to submit worship notes. Parents have been sent “e-mail forms” for their children to complete and return via e-mail. If you haven’t received the form from Pastor Jon, please contact him. He’ll get it to you.
- The Affirmation of Baptism for 9th graders will occur this fall, in a format that is yet to be determined. But…it will happen!
- Adult Bible study continues!
- Most local nursing and assisted living facilities are now closed to outsiders, leaving us unable to connect with residents. We will try to find other ways to connect.
- We are also aware that the hospitals are restricting visitors. While we may not be able to physically visit, we can telephone and provide support. Let us know when you are hospitalized.
- Beyond that, please contact us with pastoral care concerns. You can call the office, use e-mail, or the “contact us” form on the web site. We will connect with you – we can keep you in prayers – and even if we can’t visit, we can do some “telephone-care.”
- Moms! Don’t miss the Mom’s group. They are going strong, even in these days of crisis and confusion – check out their Facebook page for more information. Look for “OSLC West Salem Mom’s Group” – it’s a private group, but just ask – they’ll let you in. It’s been a busy place!
- We are praying! Every day, Monday through Friday, from 11:45 AM to Noon, someone is praying in their own space. Wherever you are, join them. And if you want to be one of the regularly scheduled pray-ers, let us know – we’ll sign you up! And listen for the church bell – we’ll ring every day at 11:45, as prayer time begins.
- The Prayer Labyrinth is available in the back of the lot bounded by the black chain link fence across from the parking lot. Use it – and invite other to do so too! Not sure what a Prayer Labyrinth is all about? Check out the description on our “prayer ministries” page.
- The office and building are currently closed, other than the regular Food Pantry hours on Saturday mornings (10 AM – Noon) and the Feed Our Children ministry. The pastors will frequently be in the office, but will not allow entrance to the building. Messages will be checked, and e-mail always gets through!
- If you know someone who has a need – an older individual unable to get what they need, someone needing childcare, or other needs, let us know. We have a growing list of folk willing to help out to make a difference. Maybe you could join them?
- Pastor Jon offers frequent “reflections.” You can access them on the “Pastor’s Blog” page, or send Pastor Jon an e-mail to get on the list.
- Remember that your financial support continues to be important.
- Though worship is not happening, the work of Jesus continues. From feeding hungry families, to connecting with those who are now distant from others, to proclaiming God’s work through Jesus, God’s work is happening. Lives are being touched as in a variety of ways we proclaim God’s message of hope to a very troubled and fearful world.
- This would be a great time to begin electronic giving. Click here to learn more about the options for electronic giving (there are several!) We thank you for all you have shared with us, and as you are able, we ask for your continued support.
- We will keep this page current, so check back frequently for updates.
The Apostle Paul says: “There is nothing in life or death that can keep us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39). Not even Covid-19!
And Jesus says: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
These are tough times. We are frightened, anxious, and weary. But we are not alone. God is good, the grace of Jesus fills us, and the presence of the Holy Spirit surrounds us.
We may be distant from each other, but God is not distant from us, and the God who is in our midst holds us together as the Body of Christ!
Reliable links and resources…
The La Crosse Area Synod – the synod web site has a collection of res0urces and links, especially for how congregations can respond to Covid-19 – www.lacrosseareasynod.org
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – resources for the church and the public – www.elca.org/publichealth
Centers for Disease Control – a variety of resources from the Federal Government – www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html
Wisconsin Department of Health Services – a state resource with lots of information and links – www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/index.htm
La Crosse County Health Department – some local connections on Covid-19 – www.co.la-crosse.wi.us/health/
Gundersen Health Systems – local health system resources – www.gundersenhealth.org/services/infectious-disease/coronavirus/
WXOW – lots of additional links for more information on Covid-19 – wxow.com/2020/02/28/links-coronavirus-resources/