COVID Update from Pastor Dinger - November 13, 2020
In this highly anxious time, and uncertainty about what is good and safe practices for gathering with those who give our lives meaning and purpose, Timothy is working closely with our city government, mayor and health department to keep high standards in our worship gathering practices in order to be able to stay safe as we come together in worship that gives our lives meaning and purpose in Jesus Christ.
On Friday, November 13, we contacted Mayor Krewson in order to get guidance on what we are allowed to do with regards to updated city health ordinances.
She has informed us of the following:
1. Churches are still allowed to gather, limited to 50% occupancy.
2. Keep social distancing of six feet
3. Require face masks for all persons over the age of 9
4. Limited singing
5. Encourage virtual streaming of worship services
6. Staying home with you are in a vulnerable group
7. Staying home if you treat COVID patients or other vulnerable populations
8. Staying home if you have any illness or symptoms of illness
9. Self-quarantining for 14 days after any exposure to someone with COVID19
At Timothy we:
1. Limit our seating, blocked off every other pew.
2. Maintain six feet of distance in seating between family groups
3. Require face masks (over mouth and nose) of all persons over age of 9.
4. Limit our singing even more
5. Encourage use of our streaming worship
6. Encourage attendance at our every Monday evening service at 6:30 pm and the Fourth Monday service at 2pm service as these are very lightly attended
7. Continue to call and make contact with you in all the ways we can, because we care about how you are doing and take great joy in the uniqueness of you, especially when we are unable to be together in person.
Because of Timothy's practices in this time, by God's grace, TOGETHER:
1. We have had NO reported cases of COVID transmission at anything related to a Timothy event
2. Staff, and their families have not yet contracted COVID19
3. We have been able to continue in person worship
4. We have been able to provide good pastoral care for all persons (in person and via phone or at home care)
5. We have risen to the challenge to equip you with other ways to lead the spiritual life of your household
6. We have baptized 12 people, welcomed an additional 15 persons by affirmation of faith.
7. We have served countless people giving out over $20,000 in direct aid
8. We have a virtual bible class every Sunday via zoom www.timothystl.org/bibleclass
9. We continue to make plans for the future ministry at Timothy and the leadership transition
10. We celebrate that God is still working and using all things, even these wise government policies, to unite all things together in Jesus Christ to the glory of His name.
God bless and preserve you in this time and as always please let us know any way that we can pray for and serve you. timothystl.org/prayer
Timothy's Reopening Plans - May 2020
Step One if you desire to come to in person worship.
Please Reserve your space at timothystl.eventbrite.com (**Note: As of September 2020, we are no longer requiring pre-registration.)
St. Louis City and County will begin lifting stay-at-home restrictions on May 18. We desire to be thoughtful in our preparations in how we will resume in person ministries and worship. It was relatively quite simple for us to make adjustments in our methods used to accomplish our mission once the stay-at-home orders began. Now that 10 weeks have passed, it is not as easy to know what is the best way to restart any of our in person activities.
We appreciate that not everyone is at the same place or have the same preparation and comfort when it comes to in person activities, especially large gatherings like worship. Some will be eager to meet in person and impatient to wait much longer to get back to normal. Others will insist it’s unwise to meet at all until there’s a vaccine. Plenty will fall somewhere in between. We are prayerfully thinking through these issues with our leadership, both locally and in our district. We have consulted medical professionals in our own congregation, as well has following the guidance of our national public health experts. We seek to move forward in a way that does not bring division, but assures us of our unity in Christ.
Broadly we are planning for three phases of transition into “in person” ministry.
1.Return & Refresh
Many are longing to be with their brothers and sisters in Christ, in any way that they can. For many, it is a refreshment to the soul to be physically present with others. It has been a great pain to be isolated and so in this first phase our goal in returning to something in person is to bring refreshment, both in person and via distance.
2.Realign & Rethink
This will be a time to rethink many of the things we have done in the past. Can we do them again? Should we? What is the new way to achieve the goals?
3.Reunite & Rejoice
This will be a time when we are able in a humble way to rejoice together as we are reunited to one another after a long period of absence. This will be the day when church on Zoom gives way to church in the Room. This day will come, but we will not rush into it.
We are learning to be patient with a timeline that might be slower than some would prefer, and maybe it will be faster than a few would desire. It will be awkward and clumsy in navigating ministry to an even wider diversity of people than before. In all of it let us have Respect and Restraint, let us avoid thinking the worst of others and concede that others might be right as well as we might be wrong.
“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1–3).
PHASE 1 – “Return & Refresh”
1. We hope to begin in person worship on June 7
2. Services on Sunday at 8 am & 10:45am, and Monday at 6:30 pm.
3. Sunday service will be continued to livestreamed.
4. Pews will be marked off so as to maintain 6 feet, reducing seating capacity to one-third.
5. We encourage people to stay home who are:
- experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (elevated temperature, fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath),
- exposed to family member or co worker who tested positive for COVID-19 in past two weeks,
- are a health care worker with direct care of COVID-19 patients, or
- have had airplane travel in the last two weeks
6. We will have a team that will sanitize high touch areas in the sanctuary between services
7. The worship services will be abbreviated to about 30 minutes.
8. "No touch" Communion will be available after the worship service (not livestreamed)
- served at the steps from a table, pastor standing 6 ft away
- Individual cups only
- Individual wrapped bread
- Communion will be offered at home as requested
9. Offering plates will not be passed, but instead will be on a table in the center aisle
10. We will not invite the children to come forward for a children’s message
11. No handshaking or passing the peace
12. No gathering in the narthex before and after the service
13. Entry doors by the gym and on Fyler will be held open so you don’t have to touch a door
14. No printed bulletin or hymnals will be used, all will be projected on the wall
15. No nursery during worship
16. You might want to attend the Monday service as it is less populated.
17. You might want to wear a face mask
18. Bible classes will continue to be held via Zoom www.timothystl.org/bibleclass
- Sundays 9:30 am
- Wednesday 6:30 pm
- Thursday 10:00 am
- Thursday Prayer Meeting 8:00 pm
In the same way that we adjusted after we began live-streaming our worship, we will likely be adjusting many of these practices as we be returning to in person worship to be refreshed by one another and the Lord.
Thank you for your patience and prayer.
March 25, 2020
As the city and county have issued a stay at home order that will be in effect until at least April 22. People are looking to local leaders for guidance, assurance, and recommendations right now. In many cases, it has felt like a free-for-all, where every company, group, and event is having to make decisions on their own. This is a time for the church not to just look public leaders – we will be them. This is a time for the church to model a wise response to a pandemic that is rooted in faith and not fear, with love and compassion for your community’s most vulnerable members.
We will continue to not hold “in person” worship, but will live stream our worship on YouTube, you can find it at timothystl.org/live or search “TimothySTL” on YouTube. We are getting better and better each time. Thank you for your feedback.
The livestream schedule for the next 30 days will be
Every Sunday at 8 am
Wednesday, March 25 & April 1 at 5 pm
We will celebrate Holy Week, Jesus is still Risen! Alleluia! The way in which we do it will be different, but this provides us an opportunity to reflect upon the Lord in a new way. We will partner with churches in our circuit to help us worship. We will stream those services as well.
The reception of the Lord’s Supper is a great treasure and strengthens our faith. While we can’t gather together for the sacrament, if you desire to receive it as a family please contact the church office and the pastors will be overjoyed to bring it to you.
Bible Class: Timothystl.org/bibleclass
Every Sunday at 9:30 am
We will hold a virtual Bible Class on Sunday using the Zoom conferencing platform. This will be held at 9:30 am. Some of the seminary faculty will be leading these times in God’s Word. You can find the details at timothystl.org/bibleclass. There you can find other resources for Bible Study that you can use individually or as a family.
Care and Prayer: Timothystl.org/prayer
It is a hard time not being able to come together in a large gathering with our church family. We also know that supporting Timothy Lutheran Church is important to you. Our work supporting members and our community will not stop because of this public health challenge. In fact, new opportunities have begun to open to serve our neighborhood. We have received generous gifts made from CFNA and the Lutheran Foundation to support our families most impacted by this health crisis.
This is a friendly reminder that Timothy uses PushPay giving services, so you can continue to support our work. You can find this at timothystl.org/give. Timothy is a strong community of faith. We will weather this together, even if we’re not physically present in worship. We appreciate your generosity, and with it, we are able to do important work. As we alter the way we operate, please consider making a gift via online giving.
Secondly, Thrivent has established a COVID-19 relief fund. They will match $1 for every $2 you donate through their relief fund and direct to Timothy. Simply go to this website https://www.livegenerously.com/inspiring-stories/offers/national-volunteer-week.html
1. Click donate now
2. Search for "Timothy Lutheran St. Louis"
3. Click on "make a personal donation"
4. And then fill in your banking information
Thrivent will then send these funds to Timothy. We will use these funds raised to help directly members of our faith community who have been affected by this pandemic. This is time sensitive opportunity so if you feel so moved please act quickly. If the matching donation is met you may still donate directly to Timothy’s fund at timothystl.org/give and select the CORONAVIRUS fund.
Finally, continue to pray for each other, for us, for our doctors and nurses, for those who are most impacted at this time.
Serving together in Christ,
Current COVID-19 Plans, March 17, 2020
If you are like me, you might be overwhelmed with emails and conversations about COVID-19. I promise to keep our updates limited and not be changing plans daily. To that end, we are making the following plans that will hold for the next several weeks. We have made these plans in prayerful discussion with our area pastors and church leaders. Prayerfully, with these short term modifications we can return to a more normal pattern in the weeks to come. All COVID-19 News from Timothy can be found at timothystl.org/coronavirus and at Timothy's FaceBook page Facebook.com/timothystl
1. All "in person" group events are cancelled until further notice. This includes the Easter egg hunt, Easter breakfast, Rummage Sale, Lenten Meals and "in person" worship.
2. We will still continue our Sunday worship and Lenten midweek services by live stream. We also intend to have Holy Week services as well by live stream. The only persons in attendance will be those conducting the services. You can access the services via our YouTube channel "TimothySTL" please like and share the channel to those that you think would be blessed by it. You can also access it by our website timothystl.org/live. there you can find a bulletin to download to more easily follow along.
Please continue to support the work of Timothy as we labor in sharing the Gospel and love of Christ from our neighborhood to the Nations. If you have not signed up to give online at www.timothystl.org/give, now is a great time to begin, the church office can help you set this up if you need any help.
3. Mother's Day Out is cancelled until April 8.
4. Food Pantry will have a modified service that greatly restricts the interaction of our volunteers and clients.
5. Leaders in the congregation will be reaching out to every household to check in on your family and to maintain a connection to each other. If you learn of any needs that we can address as well, please let us know.
6. We will provide Sunday School material via mail to each child to use with their families.
7. We still will be taking prayer requests, you can do so online at our "Connect" page www.timothystl.org/connect
8. We are continuing to work with our sister congregation to work together in helping each other care for the Body of Christ.
If you have any concerns please contact Pastor Dinger at 908-635-7464 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, a short thought as I reflect our partnership in the Gospel at this time:
When I was serving in Taiwan, the wife of the local pastor I worked with was very fond of using Chinese proverbs. One of these proverbs is “It's better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic time.” This proverb has been interpreted into English as a curse, “May you live in interesting times.”
Today is an interesting time. And for many this can be seen as a curse – life will be harder during interesting times, life will not be peaceful, and things will change. The church will be challenged, and it will be hard, and the future is uncertain. Today is an interesting time.
But I prefer to see it as a blessing – life will be more challenging and so more rewarding, life will be exciting and so not dull and boring, and things can change for the better. How can we use this time of social isolation to build deeper connections to each other? I don’t have all the answers for how we can do this, and so I am glad that I have you all to work through this together and learn together in our care for one another.
Every generation sees themselves as living in interesting times and this generation is no different. And we as the Church exist within these interesting times. We might be pressured to stop coming together completely, even by other Christians. We might be pressured to cancel our outreach events, and even Easter celebration. The times we live in are interesting to say the least.
We could easily throw up our hands and throw in the towel Living in interesting times is hard and that the work ahead seems too hard. In interesting times we can lose sight of the real purpose of why God has left us here. Listen to how Martin Luther understood this purpose as he reflected on 1 Peter 1:3 “We have no other reason for living on earth than to be of help to others. If this were not the case it would be best for God to kill us and let us die as soon as we are baptized and have begun to believe. But He permits us to live here in order that we may bring others to faith just as He brought us.”
And so it is a blessing to live in interesting times because God has still permitted us to live here in order that we may bring others to faith just as He brought us. I look at these times and thank God that He has chosen to place me here and now in interesting times because life will not be boring, it will be challenging and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit things can change for His glory. Let us thank God that while disease and disruption is not from Him, let us see how God will use this interesting time for good and while socially isolated, He can draw us closer together and closer to Him. I am thankful for you, as we serve together in this interesting time.
March 14, 2020
Confusion and chaos. Unclarity and Uncertainty. Sickness and scarcity. Situations like this can breed fear. Fear causes us to become xenophobic, it enhances our fear of the other. We go into self preservation mode, focusing on “me and mine first.” And when this happens, the ugliness often comes to the surface. It causes people to scapegoat and blame. People are intrinsically tribal, but this gets a shot of steroids during hard times. Ugliness happens when people are afraid.
This is not the first time the Church has experienced a pandemic, disaster, or anxiety of the future. The early Church faced this and they experienced great growth. Part of it was because they believed that they were called to imitate Jesus and suffer for others. Their life was spent demonstrating their faith to the community around them. They believed that even if they died, they would live again and so their hope was not only in this life and so they were outrageously generous. This caused others to convert, because they won the hearts of many.
As Christians our response is not one of fear. St. Paul teaches us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). Like the various viruses before it, this virus could be big, or it could be less severe, but however it goes, as Christians we need to place our anxiety, not on ourselves, but on Jesus. Whereas fear causes us to be xenophobic, the kingdom moves in the exact opposite direction. The kingdom moves in the direction of the love of the other. This is our calling. We live in love as Christ loved you and gave his life for you.
Martin Luther addressed this same concern about how to respond during an outbreak of disease. In his letter “Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague,” he says that those in Word and Sacrament ministry should not run away but remain steadfast before the peril of death, and give care to the sick and the dying. Wisely, he does not encourage us to expose ourselves recklessly to danger. His letter deals well with two competing goods: the sanctity of one’s own life, and the sanctity of the life of those in need. “All of us,” Luther says, “have the responsibility of warding off this poison to the best of our ability because God has commanded us to care for the body.” Ultimately you will need to decide whether to flee or to stay during plagues, trusting that you will arrive at a faithful decision through prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Caring for the sick comes out of grace, not obligation. While it is wise to take care of your health, in the kingdom there is always space for the other. So if you know of someone that is having problems whether it’s with this virus or something else, go and check on them, give them a call. Follow the spirit in how you might help others.
We do not believe that God will magically protect us simply because we have prayed all while we act foolishly and carelessly. In being faithful to our Lord, we might put ourselves willingly in situations that bring greater risk to our health, livelihoods and safety. We also do not put our ultimate trust in our sanitation abilities. There is evil in the world that is bigger than us and this virus is one of those evils. It is in the face of great evil that we pray and will not be afraid. Economies rise and fall. But we are generous. The virus will spread and it will be treated. But we put our life in Christ. Our dependence on God is in every situation. Not just the good and not just the bad. In all situations we trust God, and in all situations God is glorified. The Church has faced times of suffering, illness and disease before, and we will face it the same way the Church always faces it - with the sure and confident dependence on our loving and gracious God.