This is not a note I’d hoped to be writing to you. Trinity has made the difficult decision to again suspend in-person worship, effective immediately.
There are three sets of data to which we have been paying close attention:
- The number of cases per 10,000 in Steele County
- The positivity rate in Steele County, and;
- Where the cases are located. Are they in Owatonna, or in the rural and smaller communities?
All three of these indicators are now above the threshold for us to continue in-person worship.
None of us want to suspend in-person worship. We love seeing you in-person. There is immense power in being together to worship God. But we also know that we live in a time when being together puts people especially the vulnerable, at great risk. And we know that suspending gathering together is what will show the greatest love both to God, and to each of you, your family members, friends and neighbors.
I do not know how long this shift will last. We are working now on what we believe will be creative and innovative ways of celebrating the Advent and Christmas seasons, even if we are unable to gather in-person. We will let you know as soon as these plans are finalized.
Our Advent theme this year is “The Light Will Shine.” We selected this theme because it is both hope-filled and certain. The season of Advent is going to happen. Christmas will come. Jesus will be born and will come to us in peace to bring joy and salvation to all of God’s people. These things are not dependent on whether or not we can meet face-to-face.
And the pandemic will end. We will again gather. And when we do, we will lift our voices to God in praise and thanksgiving.
In the meantime, please continue to pray. Pray for those who are sick and pray for their family members. Pray for those who feel isolated. Pray for businesses that are affected. And please pray for the caregivers who tend to those affected by the virus and pray for their safrty.
And please continue to pray for the church. Not just for the organization (though that can always use your prayers) but for the people. Because the church is the people of God. And we remain as much the church today wen separated by the pandemic as we do when we are gathered together in the Sanctuary.
Look forward to what God is doing. And remember that “The Light Will Shine.”