February 17, 2021 (Week 49)
Brothers and sisters in Christ.
Late in the evening of February 5, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the California government could not prevent churches from re-opening for indoor worship, with the proviso that appropriate health related measures are followed. Since that time, many of our members have asked, “when are we re-opening?” It is completely understandable that most people are pretty tired of COVID restrictions, and just want to get back to “normal.”
On February 11, Bishop Andy Taylor from our own Pacifica Synod wrote the following in a newsletter he circulated that day:
“All things are lawful for me,” but all things are not beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12 The Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear that it is lawful for congregations to resume in-person worship. California’s governor cannot, through public health mandates, insist that congregations only worship outside. But the governor can limit the number of people who attend indoor worship to 25% of capacity and limit singing and chanting. Thus, it is no longer forbidden to worship indoors. It is lawful. But is it beneficial? COVID-19 continues to spread, and now has variants that are much easier to catch. These variants are just as lethal as the original virus, and continue to spread through aerosols, that is, through droplets that are exhaled and inhaled, invisible to us, but real, nonetheless. Even outdoors, COVID-19 can be caught, which is why there is a public health mandate to wear masks, and recommendations, due to the presence of the more-contagious variants, to wear 2 masks to help protect yourself and your neighbor. If anyone in your congregation has COVID-19 (and the virus can be active and spreading before symptoms are felt), they are putting others at higher risk by worshipping indoors. People are beginning to be vaccinated, but the vaccines that are most effective against COVID-19 take two doses, and the fullest protection against the virus is not realized until a few weeks after the second shot. Therefore, I would continue to recommend that congregations follow public health guidelines. I would urge outdoor worship as being the safest way to worship in-person. I would urge people to wear 2 masks for extra protection, even those who have received the vaccine. I would urge people not in the same family to maintain at least six feet of physical distance between themselves and their neighbors. I would urge no singing (or just one singer who is distanced far from others—much more than the six feet recommended for physical distancing when there is no singing) and no playing of wind instruments (piano and guitar are perfectly safe). I would recommend shorter services. If despite all this you choose to worship indoors, limit capacity to 25%, do not sing or chant, and keep your services short.
From the beginning of the pandemic, we at ILC, have been concerned to assure the safety and well-being of each and every congregational member, as well as our own staff. To that end, I committed to you that I would be regularly consulting with those who have medical expertise, who are now serving on our church council, to wit, Dr. Brent Brown, Council President, and Dr. Nancy Cianflone (an infectious disease specialist at a local hospital). This is a promise that we have kept.
Notwithstanding the decision of the SCOTUS, we are going to continue to operate in consultation with our local medical experts, and will for the time being, function largely virtually. This is for a number of reasons: 1) health and safety for all congregational members; 2) logistics; and 3) health and safety for all of our staff.
Clearly, many people have now had occasion to receive the first and for some, the second vaccinations against COVID19. But not all. Despite all the protocols in place, it would be impossible to ensure the safety of all our people.
When we will open again, the logistics involved will be enormous and will require volunteer support in a number of areas that no one has ever managed before here at ILC. Crowd control, temperature checks, parking, sign-ups, cleaning, etc. We need to be ready.
Although many of our members will have been vaccinated, most of our staff (to date) have not. It seems imprudent to put the health of our employees at greater risk than would be necessary, if we but wait for them to be vaccinated first.
Our council executive is meeting this evening to further discuss the logistics, etc., and this will certainly be a priority for us: To open when it is safe and prudent to do so. We will keep you posted. Safe; but posted.
Please know that we miss you. And we will be together again in the very near future, when we are truly ready. In the meantime, please follow our website (https://www.godamong.us) for worship services, devotions, bible studies, bible readings and many other activities. We are here for you. If you need anything, please call! Truly, we are here for you!
In Christ’s service,
- Before worship, around 9 am, Darrell and Nancy Datte host our after worship coffee/donut fellowship time (BYOC/D) on Zoom, and look forward to welcoming everyone in our community. Please think about joining in and saying hi to your brothers and sisters. That gathering can be found here:
Join us for a special Lenten Conversation series this Lenten Season. It will be every Wednesday evenings following right after Evening Devotions at 7:15 pm starting February 24, 2021. Please watch for the link in coming days. Our Lenten Conversations will focus on the book "Quarks, Chaos & Christianity" by John Polkinghorne, an Anglican priest/theologian and a renowned theoretical physicist. We'll be led by a couple of our very own scientists Dr. Jack Johnson and Dr. Bruce Brown, as well as our pastors. I hope you'll join us.
National Brain Tumor Society
Every year, our family is comitted to raising money and awareness for the National Brain Tumor Society in memory of our daughter, Lauren. Lauren passed away almost six years ago after an eight month battle with brain cancer, and I think about how precious life is as I miss her sassy personality everyday. Please help us help those who are affflicted with this deadly disease. This year, you can take part in our virtual walk anywhere in the country! So please join us on this special day when we remember Lauren and support all those who are fighting this illness. Thank you for your support and please consider tuning in as we honor this community on May 2nd. For more information on the National Brain Tumor Society, visit www.braintumor.org .
Doorstep Donations for Lent Would you like to make donations of food and hygiene items for the homeless right from your own doorstep? Contact Joyce Miller to schedule a contactless pick-up at email@example.com or 858-218-5047 (cell).
Project Mercy/Mexico House Build Mission: Our next house build for a Mexican family is scheduled for Saturday, April 24th. Due to Covid-19 and related border restrictions, we will do this build in Chula Vista again. We will assemble and paint the home components and Project Mercy personnel will deliver to Mexico and assemble. Since we will only be building the components, the time commitment will be much less than usual (4-6 hours). This is a great opportunity for those that like to build or paint, but have been unable to travel into Mexico for prior builds. If you are interested in participating in this build or have questions, please contact Jake Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org / 858-451-3268). We do need to raise $7,500 for this build, so if you would like to contribute please mark your donation with "Mexico House Build". Here is a link to the church website to donate via Paypal: GIVING | incarnation-lutheran Details from our October mission project are included here: Details from our October mission project are included here: http://projectmercybaja.org/2020/11/05/the-first-of-the-houses-built-in-chula-vista-goes-up-in-tijuana/
Love Committee Event
The Love Committee will have a virtual event will take place after worship on Sunday, February 28th at 11:15 am. Additional details will be sent out soon. Please plan ahead and join us!
Diapers needed! Interfaith is out of size 5 & 6 diapers, both very popular sizes. Also dog and cat food. If you are able please add these items to your shopping list and drop off at our usual times on Sat, Tues, or Fri between 9 and 11. If you have a person in your household that likes a project, bagging the dog or cat food into smaller sizes is greatly appreciated, 10cups in a 1 gallon bag is about right. Thank you so much for your constant generosity!
Food Drop off for Interfaith Community Services Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday between 9:00 and 11:00 in the morning, volunteers are in the parking lot to move groceries and take all the donations to ICS.