Dear Members of OSLC,
I’m writing on behalf of our church council. We met on March 18 to address the many issues that are coming up with the coronavirus. We had a good discussion and reached a number of conclusions. Let me share that with you.
We decided that all church activities, including Sunday morning worship, will be cancelled through March 31. We of course didn’t want to do that, but given all that is happening we thought that the wise and faithful way to proceed. After March 31 the council will make a determination on a week by week basis, using the guidance of local, state, and national officials.
During this time when we are not having worship, it will be even more important to be hearing and reading God’s Word. To that end, we have added a new page, Weekly Sermon, under news and media. Each week we will post a video link on our church website. The link will include Scripture readings, a sermon by Pastor Mark and prayer. This will begin on March 22. You can find this on our church website – www.oslctyler.org and on our church’s Facebook page.
We will also explore posting additional studies or devotionals. Please let us know what you think would find helpful. And just a reminder, the NALC put out excellent daily devotionals for Lent. They are available at the NALC website – www.thenalc.org or paper copies are available in the church narthex should you be by the church.
A number of people have asked about how to continue their tithes and offering. There are a number of ways. There is a giving page on our church website that includes a link to the GivePlus mobile app that can be downloaded to your phone. There is also a GiveNow option where you can give a one-time donation. And of course you can certainly mail a check to the church.
One additional comment on giving – we want to be very sensitive here. We know that some of our families are struggling financially during this time. We certainly understand if you need to curtail your giving.
That leads to another point – if you need assistance, please call the church office. We can help in a number of ways. Let us know. And do check our church website and call our office for updates. We will work to keep you up to speed on all that is happening.
Please continue to be in prayer. Be pray for our congregation, our community, our nation, the world. Pray for those who suffer and for those sharing in the fight against the virus.
There are challenges ahead. But we keep our focus on our Lord and His promises. Our Lord promises to walk with us and care for us always, and that includes these trying times. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, watch out for each other, and together move onward.
Given all the concerns surrounding the coronavirus, we have decided at this time to cancel all of our activities with the exception Sunday morning worship. Here are some details:
March 13, 2020
As we are all aware, the global spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, has become a central topic of discussion and concern for many of us. It has caused us to think about the things we take for granted and to rethink how we go about the practices of our daily lives. In the church, this pandemic has caused us to consider new ways to approach what have been longstanding practices and traditions.
Over the past few weeks, I have received a good number of emails from our pastors, asking for encouragement and advice. The questions I have received have ranged from whether to greet each other with handshakes, to how to best conduct Holy Communion, to whether we should cancel worship and encourage people to simply stay home and pray? And what about offerings? And what about midweek Lenten worship? And what about a variety of other concerns related to the ministry we share?
The questions being asked are valid. The concerns regarding the coronavirus are real. Real lives are being touched, and real lives are being lost, and real people for whom our Lord died are being affected by this pandemic. As bishop, I would encourage you to use your own wisdom in determining what would be best and most well-received in your own setting and by your own people. Talk with the pastors in your area. Reach out to those whose wisdom you trust. Do not be afraid to make changes. Err on the side of good health practices. Care for those who are isolated. Make phone calls to those unable to come to church. Be good pastors. Continue preaching and teaching the name of Jesus.
I would also encourage you to stay well informed of what the health professionals are telling us and to stay in touch with what is happening and being recommended in your own communities. I have included a few links at the close of this note as possible places for good advice, including a few helpful links provided by Mary Bates, NALC disaster response coordinator, and our own Disaster Response Team. We want and we need to be wise in what we do.
At the same time, we do not want or need to live in fear. I am not afraid of the coronavirus. I am not afraid of the possibility that it might infect someone in my own life, including myself. I am concerned and I want to be wise, but I am not afraid.
I have a long list of concerns related to the coronavirus. I am concerned for the elderly who are the most at risk. I am concerned for the disenfranchised and for those on the streets who have no one and nowhere to turn. I am concerned for the loss of reason that seems to have overtaken so many in their own personal response to what is truly a communal concern. I am concerned that people are stockpiling supplies they do not need, so much so that those who do need them are not able to find them. I am concerned for our hospitals and our clinics and for the doctors and nurses and overcrowded emergency rooms that are all being stretched. I am concerned for our economy and for those whose lives will be impacted by the loss of jobs. I am concerned for a long list of things, for these and many more, but I am not afraid…neither should we, as a Church, be afraid.
Rather than live in fear, let us together approach this challenge in faith. We have an opportunity to model for our children and for families and for each other what a faith-filled and faithful response can be. Instead of living in panic and in fear, being reactionary and taking a self-centered response, we have a chance to remain rational and reasoned and to approach this pandemic in a spirit of trust.
COVID-19 does not appear to be ending soon. Chances are, before it goes away, it will hit even closer to home. It is in many of our cities. It is making its way into our churches. It may well enter some of our families and the lives of those we love. Be careful. Be cautious. Be wise and practical in what you do. But do not live in fear.
What I fear, more than COVID-19, is that we will forget who we are and to whom we belong. As a church, we need to take preventive measures and commit ourselves to prayer. We need to rely on the health professionals for advice and entrust our lives to Christ. We need to take full advantage of the resources we have been given and follow the best-practices of those who can give helpful and health-giving advice. And then we need to step back and stay centered and remember and remind each other that we belong to Christ.
Know that I am praying for you and for our church body. I am praying for our leaders and for those who will make decisions throughout the world. I am praying for our pastors and for our congregations and for God’s Holy Spirit to protect us as a church. I am praying and I will continue to pray until the coronavirus is over, and beyond, but I am not afraid.
The apostle Paul says it well. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).
We should be concerned. The coronavirus is real. But we cannot and we will not be afraid. We are the Church and, together, we belong to Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Dan Selbo
Bishop, North American Lutheran Church
Dear Friends in Christ,
I’m writing to share more updates with you. First and most important, we have decided to cancel all of our activities, including Sunday morning worship. We of course were hoping we wouldn’t have to do this, but with all the recent developments, we believe it is the wise and faithful thing to do. We aren’t sure how long this will last. We will of course keep sharing periodic updates with you.
I do have some requests of you:
May God bless and guide us as we move onward!
Note: A copy of this prayer has been posted under miscellaneous documents as "A Prayer for Healing" at https://oslctyler.org/news-media/bulletins-documents. Please share this with friends, family and post online.
Lord God, holy Father. We bow our heads before you in praise and thanksgiving for your many blessings, this day and every day. We thank you for your continued love, forgiveness of ours sins and the promise of eternal life for all those who believe in you and confess their faith in the Risen and Glorified Jesus.
The cries of your children are rising from every corner of the world, Lord. There are many who are suffering because of reasons they have no control over. And so, we bow our heads before your throne of grace praying for all those who are suffering for any reason. May the hungry be satisfied, the homeless find shelter, the naked be clothed, the sick find healing and those who have no faith find their way into the arms of Jesus.
We especially pray for all those affected by the Coronavirus. Those whose health are deteriorating, we pray that your healing hand touch them and heal them. For those who lost loved ones to this illness, we pray that the Holy Spirit comfort them and assure them that we are the people of the resurrection. For those who are afraid and do not know what direction to take, we pray that your hand leads them and your love reassure them that they are your children, for whom Jesus died to bring them hope.
We pray for the United States. We pray for President Donald Trump and all national and local leaders. Instill in them loving hearts and wise minds. That all the decisions they make will be for the glory of your name and the betterment of all people.
We pray for all nations of the world. That wars will cease. Refugees return home. Walls of separation be demolished. So all people experience your love and feel your presence in their lives. May your loving arms embrace every person in every corner of our world. Clam all fearful hearts. Bring peace to all who are disquieted. Sooth all nervous souls. But above all give us the faith to keep our eyes focused on the cross of Jesus and on his Word, believing that you will be with us always, even to the end of time.
Bless all families Lord. May your presence be felt in every home. Walk with every parent and child and empower all with the Holy Spirit.
This is our prayer we lift before you, Lord, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
Each year Tyler hosts a Mockingbird Conference, which is a marvelous three-day event of theology, worship, and music. This year the conference will be Friday, April 3 through Sunday April 5. It will be downtown Tyler. The theme for this year is – Take it Easy! Celebrating the God of Grace and Comfort. For more details please go to http://www.mbirdtyler.com
Glory Gopinath is one of our members. She is originally from India. Her home area has a great deal of poverty. Glory is starting a project to send clothing to her home area. She will be leading a collection here at OSLC. We will collect gently used men’s and children’s clothing and then ship them to India. Please bring your donation to the church.
Do you have any pictures of our recent stewardship activities on the parable in Matthew 25, either of items you sold or of tables and displays in the narthex? The NALC is going to publish an article of what we did in their national newsletter, and they would like some pictures.
If you have any pictures, please email them to Pastor Mark at email@example.com