From the Pastor – August Article
Just about the time the Church returns to its normal routine and mission the Center for Disease Control informs the American public that the Covid virus d variant is spreading rapidly throughout the United States.
With this announcement came an additional note encouraging individuals to again wear masks at public events, practice social distancing, and receive a double vaccination.
Unfortunately, this issue has been politicized with Republican and Democrats having strongly held opinions about how the response to the pandemic ought to be handled. Politicizing the process puts lives at risk. We need to rely on medical and scientific information to guide our response.
I will tell you I have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and will not hesitate to obtain a booster vaccination when available. The shots have proven their value.
I read all the virus announcements and listen to the opinions of members of our congregation.
Earlier this year I conducted two funerals for individuals who died as a result of the virus. I lost several friends, including Joe Taylor who once led the convention and visitors bureau. I have a very real understanding of the dangers the virus poses for our members.
Often, I describe these times as unprecedented and unpredictable. I am very sympathetic to medical authorities and the tough choices they have to make with little information available to them. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.
As churches we must pay attention to the information available and make a reasonable response.
No one wants to be caught in the middle of these arguments. We do, however, want to do what is right for everyone.
Now is the time for us to work together and let the love of God be our guide. God has given us his wisdom and compassion to make decision. We have to respond faithfully and responsibly with the information that is at hand.
Pastor Richard Pokora
|A Letter from the Southeastern Iowa Synod Bishop |
28 July 2021
Jesus said to them, “This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Dear Beloved People of God of the Southeastern Iowa Synod, Oh, how we hoped and prayed that the summer would slow the spread of COVID-19 and it might begin to fade from our lives. After the vaccinations became available, many have celebrated removing masks, gathering for poignant family reunions, traveling for vacations, and returning to in-person worship. Despite these late spring hopes, the pandemic remains and the Delta variant is now the prominent strain in the U.S. and Iowa. See CDC county tracking of the community transmission rate. The change in CDC guidelines and information from public health officials has left us with more decisions to make, plans, and policies to rethink. And we may again have to lament gatherings postponed, events canceled, and experiences missed. We are weary; pastors, councils, and COVID committees are all experiencing decision fatigue. The pandemic has made it clear that communities of faith are filled with people that have differing opinions and desires. More than a year into this pandemic our grief is deep, our frustrations may be closer to the surface, and our patience is thin. We are human after all and, on occasion, our frustration, grief, and stress come out in ways that break down communication rather than build it up. Please be gentle, patient, and kind with one another. Pray for your pastors, deacons, congregational staff, council leaders, and COVID-19 committees. Thank them for the marathon behind us and provide loving support for the marathon ahead. I hope that we will all keep the love of each neighbor as our guide as we make decisions for the safety of all who gather including those who are vaccinated, who cannot be vaccinated, unvaccinated, children, individuals who are immune-compromised, etc. We are all beloved ones for whom Christ died. I will do my best to continue providing updated resources or guides as they become available on the synod’s COVID-19 page as we move ahead together. You are not alone in making difficult decisions. Remember that what works in one congregation may not be what works well for the congregation down the road or in the next county. We have some experiences to rely on now and good resources to guide us forward. The church has not closed; instead, the body of Christ is navigating a pandemic. God is with us and continues to call us to love one another. If you are eligible and you haven’t yet, please consider getting the vaccine. Find a provider and learn more about the vaccines. I invite you to pause and join with me in a time of prayer for our church, our leaders, our weary world, all who navigate difficult decisions and disagreements. We pray for healing and hope in the midst of the pandemic, especially with the spread of the Delta variant, and for all who are ill in body, mind, and spirit, for all who care for the sick and suffering, for peace and reconciliation, for the beauty and suffering in creation, and for good courage as we journey forward not knowing what will come next but knowing that God’s love leads us and supports us. And, now, may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
Bishop Amy Current