COVID-19

Information and Updates related to COVID-19

July 17, 2020

Resuming Care-Filled Worship and Sacramental Life During a Pandemic: The Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments

 

June 5, 2020

California COVID-19 Guidance for Churches: guidance-places-of-worship

May 27, 2020

Friends of Christ at First,

Grace to you and peace on this lovely day.

Two days ago, Memorial Day, our Governor graciously granted permission for congregations to
consider opening their doors for worship. His office also issued an extensive set of guidelines for doing so. You may read them here https://covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-places-of-worship.pdf. Yesterday, our neighboring Lutheran Bishop Guy Erwin offered on NPR that “ it will be harder for most congregations to meet those requirements than they realize.”

We want to remind the members and friends of First that a task force was established by the Council in April (Frank DeLouise, Jenny Mehlow, Melinda Person, Jim Geison, Pastor Richard Elliott, and Pastor Kurt) to create and make recommendations for the Council’s reopening plan. They have been meeting weekly to serve you. You might easily guess, given the fluid nature of the pandemic amid the flood of information and ideas, the difficulty of their task. However, they have been making steady progress.

You have read our guiding document “ Reopening and Returning to Church: FLC’s Response to COVID-19 ,” emailed to you on May 13 at 4:00 p.m. and now posted on the First website, and you’ve hopefully taken the Reopening Survey . The task force and Council, now backed up with data from our survey, are taking a decidedly cautious and conservative approach to reopening. Our overriding concern is to continue to protect the most vulnerable among us, to care for one another, and to care for ourselves. Our desire, at each step, is to meet and exceed the recommendations of our Governor, Public Health Officials, and those offered by our Bishop.

What’s next?

1. Members of a worship tech team (Mary Ann Horton, David Pohl, Brian Jensen, and Shaun
Travers) are working to bring First up-to-date with the proper technology so that worship can be
adequately recorded and broadcast from the sanctuary. The purchase of this equipment was just
authorized last week. To purchase, configure, test, retest, and finally rehearse will alone take
several weeks.

2. Weekly Worship, from Pastor’s home and when ready, the Sanctuary, will continue to be
broadcast and available on the internet for the foreseeable future. Going forward it will likely
become a regular feature of our life together. We know from the survey that over half the
congregation is not yet ready to return until many more details are worked out.

3. The survey results strongly indicate that we move step by step in a deliberate way and not rush
toward reopening.

4. The survey results as they stand, with added narrative by the task force, are being prepared
into a report which will be sent to you, and posted on our website, within the week.

As society turns this next corner, so is the Church. Please be ready to hear more from us in the
coming days and weeks. This is still a rapidly changing and fluid environment.

We certainly thank you for your patience. In these difficult days–some more than forothers–please know your leadership at First is pedaling as fast as we can. We’re grateful for your prayers.

Peace,
The Reopening Task-Force,
Pastor Kurt Christenson

May 27, 2020

Friends of Christ at First,

Grace to you and peace on this lovely day.

Two days ago, Memorial Day, our Governor graciously granted permission for congregations to
consider opening their doors for worship. His office also issued an extensive set of guidelines for doing so. You may read them here https://covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-places-of-worship.pdf. Yesterday, our neighboring Lutheran Bishop Guy Erwin offered on NPR that “ it will be harder for most congregations to meet those requirements than they realize.”

We want to remind the members and friends of First that a task force was established by the Council in April (Frank DeLouise, Jenny Mehlow, Melinda Person, Jim Geison, Pastor Richard Elliott, and Pastor Kurt) to create and make recommendations for the Council’s reopening plan. They have been meeting weekly to serve you. You might easily guess, given the fluid nature of the pandemic amid the flood of information and ideas, the difficulty of their task. However, they have been making steady progress.

You have read our guiding document “ Reopening and Returning to Church: FLC’s Response to COVID-19 ,” emailed to you on May 13 at 4:00 p.m. and now posted on the First website, and you’ve hopefully taken the Reopening Survey . The task force and Council, now backed up with data from our survey, are taking a decidedly cautious and conservative approach to reopening. Our overriding concern is to continue to protect the most vulnerable among us, to care for one another, and to care for ourselves. Our desire, at each step, is to meet and exceed the recommendations of our Governor, Public Health Officials, and those offered by our Bishop.

What’s next?

1. Members of a worship tech team (Mary Ann Horton, David Pohl, Brian Jensen, and Shaun
Travers) are working to bring First up-to-date with the proper technology so that worship can be
adequately recorded and broadcast from the sanctuary. The purchase of this equipment was just
authorized last week. To purchase, configure, test, retest, and finally rehearse will alone take
several weeks.

2. Weekly Worship, from Pastor’s home and when ready, the Sanctuary, will continue to be
broadcast and available on the internet for the foreseeable future. Going forward it will likely
become a regular feature of our life together. We know from the survey that over half the
congregation is not yet ready to return until many more details are worked out.

3. The survey results strongly indicate that we move step by step in a deliberate way and not rush
toward reopening.

4. The survey results as they stand, with added narrative by the task force, are being prepared
into a report which will be sent to you, and posted on our website, within the week.

As society turns this next corner, so is the Church. Please be ready to hear more from us in the
coming days and weeks. This is still a rapidly changing and fluid environment.

We certainly thank you for your patience. In these difficult days–some more than forothers–please know your leadership at First is pedaling as fast as we can. We’re grateful for your prayers.

Peace,
The Reopening Task-Force,
Pastor Kurt Christenson

May 27, 2020

Friends of Christ at First,

Grace to you and peace on this lovely day.

Two days ago, Memorial Day, our Governor graciously granted permission for congregations to
consider opening their doors for worship. His office also issued an extensive set of guidelines for doing so. You may read them here https://covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-places-of-worship.pdf. Yesterday, our neighboring Lutheran Bishop Guy Erwin offered on NPR that “ it will be harder for most congregations to meet those requirements than they realize.”

We want to remind the members and friends of First that a task force was established by the Council in April (Frank DeLouise, Jenny Mehlow, Melinda Person, Jim Geison, Pastor Richard Elliott, and Pastor Kurt) to create and make recommendations for the Council’s reopening plan. They have been meeting weekly to serve you. You might easily guess, given the fluid nature of the pandemic amid the flood of information and ideas, the difficulty of their task. However, they have been making steady progress.

You have read our guiding document “ Reopening and Returning to Church: FLC’s Response to COVID-19 ,” emailed to you on May 13 at 4:00 p.m. and now posted on the First website, and you’ve hopefully taken the Reopening Survey . The task force and Council, now backed up with data from our survey, are taking a decidedly cautious and conservative approach to reopening. Our overriding concern is to continue to protect the most vulnerable among us, to care for one another, and to care for ourselves. Our desire, at each step, is to meet and exceed the recommendations of our Governor, Public Health Officials, and those offered by our Bishop.

What’s next?

1. Members of a worship tech team (Mary Ann Horton, David Pohl, Brian Jensen, and Shaun
Travers) are working to bring First up-to-date with the proper technology so that worship can be
adequately recorded and broadcast from the sanctuary. The purchase of this equipment was just
authorized last week. To purchase, configure, test, retest, and finally rehearse will alone take
several weeks.

2. Weekly Worship, from Pastor’s home and when ready, the Sanctuary, will continue to be
broadcast and available on the internet for the foreseeable future. Going forward it will likely
become a regular feature of our life together. We know from the survey that over half the
congregation is not yet ready to return until many more details are worked out.

3. The survey results strongly indicate that we move step by step in a deliberate way and not rush
toward reopening.

4. The survey results as they stand, with added narrative by the task force, are being prepared
into a report which will be sent to you, and posted on our website, within the week.

As society turns this next corner, so is the Church. Please be ready to hear more from us in the
coming days and weeks. This is still a rapidly changing and fluid environment.

We certainly thank you for your patience. In these difficult days–some more than forothers–please know your leadership at First is pedaling as fast as we can. We’re grateful for your prayers.

Peace,
The Reopening Task-Force,
Pastor Kurt Christenson

May 13, 2020

Reopening and Returning to Church: First Lutheran’s Response to COVID-19

Though in the beginning many of us had mental images of everyone returning at once to First in celebration, we now recognize that
returning to church will have to happen in phases consistent with the four phases in the California Pandemic Roadmap released by Gov.
Newsom and the CA Department of Public Health.

Way back in February we had church life. That model consisted of gathering together in our sanctuary for worship, enjoying times of
fellowship and education, people shaking hands, sharing food, singing, passing the peace, sharing the Eucharist, and an occasional hug.
Some have only known that model of church life, and we’ve been lamenting as we’ve witnessed the struggle to maintain it. Much has
changed since then, and every day brings more transition.

Please understand: for at least the next year, we anticipate our lives to be shaped by the timeline set by COVID-19. If we don’t continue to do
our part in the communal efforts to contain the virus, a new wave of infections and deaths will cause further damage, and we will lose what
we’ve gained from the measures we’ve already taken. If we push the envelope too far by reopening our buildings and resuming gatherings
prematurely, we may unfairly force on our more vulnerable members the choice between keeping themselves and others safe and participating in congregational life like everyone else.

The purpose of this notice is to set the stage for what’s next in two areas: Reopening the building for various communal gatherings and
Return to Worship. To that end your Church Council has established a team to assist us as we Return to Church; they are Frank DeLouise, Rev. Dr. Richard Elliott, Jim Geison, Jennifer Mehlow, Melinda Person, and Pastor Kurt. Their main purpose is to identify areas of concern as we implement a return and lead the discussion and process going forward. First Lutheran will take a conservative approach to our reopening, understanding that public health and collective safety is a high priority.

The team’s work, as well as the Church Council’s work, will be guided by the best available resources and recommendations of the State of
California, San Diego County, and the San Diego City Health Officials, as well as the recommendations and blessings of our Bishop, Andy Taylor. They will report and make recommendations to the Council, who will then deliberate and make decisions.

The way forward will not be a matter of following a timetable, but of faithfully discerning the signs of the times and responding accordingly. It has always been that way for the church: “You have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown….” (from Morning Prayer, ELW pg. 304)

As your Council, we seek your prayers for a spirit of discernment, for wisdom, and patience. We pray for researchers and medical professionals; for the planners; for the ill and recovering; for those grieving and struggling with the weightiness of these times. We pray for the watchers and wonderers, and all those who wait upon the Lord. May the Holy One, our Advent Hope, Good Teacher and Resurrection Truth, guide our decisions.

The FLC Reopening Task Force has created a survey to sound out the congregation’s feelings about when they will be ready to begin meeting again. If you have any technical questions, contact Hannah (administrator@firstlutheransd.org).