Dear Zion Friends, Family and Community Members,
The content of this message has been released on FaceBook Live. If you prefer, you can view this on the Zion FaceBook Page - Zion Lutheran Church Des Moines.
For such a time as this, God has brought you and I together. In God's wisdom, we are the ones who must live as His witnesses through these trying times. Jesus told us that we were to love our neighbor as ourselves and we were to love our enemies. He also told us that the world would know we are his followers by the way we love one another. In these strange and unprecedented times, we need to bear witness to our love of Christ by loving our neighbor.
In this instance, I believe that loving our neighbor means that we must curtail the public worship and public interaction which comes so naturally to us. St. Paul told us that we were to "consider others as more important than ourselves." So while our inclination might be to worship without ceasing together as a community, we must curtail that for the sake of the health of the other. We must be willing to change and adapt for the sake of our neighbor and his/her health.
Here are some of the changes that we believe are best during these times at Zion:
a. We will provide information to our very diverse congregation and community about the virus. We will be connecting people to existing resources.
b. The Zion office will remain open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Please understand that you will need to be "buzzed" into the building via the exterior doors closest to the office. This is to ensure we know who is in the building and how many people are in the building. We have become a real community gathering place over the years and now we find ourselves needing to know who is in the building and why. This is hard for all of us but we are doing it in the interest of the public health.
c. Zion is open for small groups of 10 or less. This includes support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous and other meetings. The last thing our community needs is for people to backslide into addiction during this crisis.
d. The Wednesday morning Men's Bible Study is postponed until further notice.
e. The Zion Clothes Closet is now closed for casual shopping. We remain available to help in the case of an emergency like a house fire and will reopen the clothes closet for such emergencies.
f. Zion has suspended food preparation and food service. This includes Wednesday night dinners, Sunday breakfasts and Second Sunday meals until further notice. We will continue to do our best to feed the hungry who come to Zion so that no one leaves Zion hungry.
g. STARS Wednesday night programming will be postponed until after April1. We will keep you informed as to when we think we can restart programming. So there will be no STARS March 18, 25 or April 1.
h. Westside Early Education, WEE, is closed until Johnston Schools reopen.
i. Zion remains open to distribute bread and bakery goods from Hy-Vee on Tuesday and Wednesdays.
j. We are unable to offer cash assistance in the form of rent or utility help. Zion simply doesn't have the money. We intend to offer prayer and other support.
k. Pastoral visitation is suspended until further notice. This includes home visits, hospital visits, nursing home visits, jail visits. If you request a visit, we will do our best to comply, but such visits must be requested and at-risk members of the community must understand the risk.
l. Zion transportation is suspended. No buses or vans will be running.
m. Worship services must now be broadcast. Because we can only gather in groups of 10 or less, all Zion services will be broadcast via FaceBook Live. This includes the 10:30 English, the Swahili and the Mizo services.
N. Please, Zion's expenses are not diminished during this time. But our offerings are. Please mail your offerings or donate online via the Zion website.
Now let me tell you what we will be doing. We are taking up things even as we are lying them down.
a. We will be posting, via FaceBook Live, regular updates, devotions, teachings and so on during the duration of this virus.
b. We will be calling members and friends on the phone. If you don't receive a call, it means that we don't have your contact information. Please give us that information.
c. We will be offering to serve those at risk. If you need help getting groceries or running errands, we are here to help. Please contact us.
d. We will be trying to reach out to the lonely in our community. If you know people who are alone who would appreciate a call, please give us their contact information.
e. Finally, we will be teaching the whole church how to do family devotions.
Thank you for your fidelity to Christ and His Church. Thank you for being part of Zion. We love you and the entire staff and leadership are praying for you. Let's all pray for our country and for our families during this time. Let's pray that God will send this virus far away and save our planet. Let's use this time to consider what really matters and what doesn't. Let's use this time to reflect and repent. Let's use this time to grow closer to God and to each other.
God bless you all.
Pastor John Kline