Pandemic Messages

Florida Public Safety Alert

Day
March
28
2020

Much Cause to Rejoice and Give Thanks

Posted
March
27
2020

Still ‘Joy:fully Lutheran’ because of Jesus

In Christ, there is much to rejoice and give thanks for, as we pray without ceasing in these challenging days. LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison holds up the work of Concordia Plan Services and Concordia Publishing House in providing important resources for churches, schools and workers during the COVID-19 Crisis.

The video is part of a set of resources now available at
lcms.org/coronavirus. Visit the webpage to watch the president’s message and find resources to assist you and your congregation.





Dinner for Eight

Canceled
March
26
2020

Dinner for Eight (D48)

Again I want to thank you for volunteering to lead our small group efforts. After meeting with the Elders Board and Pastor Ray and FLM Curtis we have taken the position that we should suspend our D48 meetings for at least 90 days and take another look in early July to see if there are still strong social restrictions remaining.

Please pass on to your D48 group and let’s see if we will take it up again after 90 days. Recall that we have already planned a summer break from June through August so it is sort of like we are breaking early. I know my group did not completely make it through the planned 5 meetings but social distancing is one of the more effective tools we have to combat this contagious virus.

God’s peace to you and your families and your D48 groups. Prayers for our country and the citizenry of our nation and the world as we fight this disease.

Don’t forget that next Sunday we will again live stream GSLC Sunday worship at 0900 CSDT on our Website through Facebook. In case you missed last Sunday’s service it is now one click away on that same website.


This Sunday, Pastor Ray’s sermon [always very topical] will have a special relevance to our reactions to this Corona Virus. Please let me know if you have any questions.

God’s peace

For more information email: Joe Staton.




Easter Sunrise Beach Service Canceled

Posted
March
18
2020

The Easter Sunrise Service has been a long held tradition were we have met annually on the beach at Beasley Park since 1975. Only once did the weather not cooperate (2016). This year we are shut down by the Okaloosa County Commissioners who are following Sate and National Health officials guidelines to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The Easter Sunrise Service is a joint venture of four local Lutheran congregations.



Letter from Pastor Ray

Posted
March
16
2020

Dear Good Shepherd Family,

The Elders at Good Shepherd have been monitoring information from the Okaloosa County Health Department and the CDC regarding the COVID-19 virus.  Our plan is to follow their recommendations regarding holding public worship services and other group activities.

After much discussion and prayerful deliberation, we have decided to suspend the mid-week meal and Lenten service on Wednesday March 18th, as well as Sunday morning worship, March 22th. This also includes Sunday morning Bible Studies and Sunday school and the Wednesday Morning Bible Studies. We will be assessing the situation on a week by week basis to determine the schedule.

Instead of gathering physically we will be posting a shorten service on our web page on Sunday morning: Shalimar.church

We did not make this decision out of fear but out of sincere love for the health of our members and their families.

We are aware of several members who are self-quarantined. If you are one of these members, please let us know how we can best serve you.
If you are aware of any needs at this time please let us know.

These are unprecedented, extraordinary times and I firmly believe that we must not panic or overreact to the threat of this outbreak. I also believe that we need to do everything possible to stay well.

As St. Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

For The Board of Elders,
 
Pastor Ray Angerman



Coronavirus Message from Southern District President Johnson

Posted
March
18
2020

Brothers and Sisters of the Southern District:

Greetings in Christ's holy name in whom there is no fear of death or sickness because in Baptism we have already died with Christ and in His rising again we are assured of resurrected life with Him forever!

As your District President, I want you all to know that your Synod, your District, and your pastors are doing all we can to continue mission and ministry in this unprecedented time of fear and anxiety caused by the rapid spread of the Coronavirus.

First,
I want to point you to Christ Jesus.  In Romans chapter 6, St. Paul clearly tells us that we are baptized into Christ's death, and will be raised with Christ in His resurrection of the dead.  We have died with Christ; therefore all fear of death is defeated in Christ Jesus and we are free, as His Baptized children of God, to love and serve our neighbor during this trying time.  We are free to love and serve our neighbor because of what Jesus has already done for us.

In his work, "Should a Christian flee the plague?" Martin Luther does not ask "What would Jesus do?" Instead he basically asks "What would you do if it was Jesus?" In a quote directly relevant to this time of coronavirus Luther says: "This I well know, that if it were Christ or his mother who were laid low by illness everybody would be so solicitous and would gladly become a servant or helper. Everyone would want to be bold and fearless; nobody would flee but everyone would come running... If you wish to serve Christ and to wait on him, very well, you have your sick neighbor close at hand. Go to him and serve him, and you will surely find Christ in him..."

Second,
I want to point you to your congregation.  Your pastor has never led a congregation through such trying times as this.  He is doing the absolute best he can.  I want to encourage our congregation members to pray for their pastor and congregation leaders.  Support them, be gracious with them, be forgiving of mistakes, and offer to help as you can.

In addition to supporting your pastor and congregation leaders, I want to encourage you to continue giving your tithes and offerings unto the Lord through your congregation.  Even if you are unable to attend worship together for a short time, do not forsake the financial support of your congregation.  Continue to give, as unto the Lord, to support the work of your congregation on your behalf and on behalf of the community.

Many small congregations are in danger of dying as a result of not being able to gather for worship for a month or more if the congregation members don't continue to give toward the work of their church. 

Please, don't withhold your tithes and offerings just because your congregation has canceled worship services.  Continue to give, and give generously, at this time of crisis to support your pastor and your congregation.
 
I have emailed your pastor some resources for online giving and for broadcasting worship services and Bible study online through Facebook Live.  Support your pastor and congregation leaders by encouraging them to put these practices in place, and do all you can to support the work of your local congregation during this time of temporary crisis.

Finally,
This time will pass.  The virus will run its course.  There will be struggles as we move forward from this awful situation.  Continue to pray.  Let me encourage you to continue to be the people of God to your families and neighbors.  Be at peace; put your trust in Christ. "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... (1 Peter 3:15)

We are walking together through these difficult times, you are not alone, Christ is always with you.  He promises to never leave you nor forsake you.  You are in good hands, you are in God's hand.  Go in peace and serve the Lord!

Your Servant In Christ's Mission,

Rev. Eric Johnson
President, Southern District, LCMS

"Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell, I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."  C.T. Studd

Southern District Updated Response

Posted
March
16
2020

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have received numerous phone calls and a greater number of emails yesterday and today regarding the newest recommendation from the CDC regarding the spread of Coronavirus.

The situation is rapidly changing; there is much fear and anxiety in the general population and the Church. I will make recommendations for our congregations as soon as possible as the news changes.

For right now, I encourage you to stay the course.  Do not give in to fear.  Encourage each other in our sure and certain hope in Christ Jesus. Love and serve your neighbor.  Use the opportunity the Lord has given us to speak the peace of his Gospel to those afraid of death.

If you are elderly or have serious hearth issues, be proactive in protecting yourself from exposure to the virus.

If you are healthy, even if you get the virus the CDC says you will likely experience mild to moderate symptoms of fever and coughing.  Like any virus, if you drink plenty of fluids and get rest your normally healthy body will fight the virus. If you get sick, protect others around you by self-quarantine.

The Southern District will be making updated recommendations soon regarding continued worship in light of the CDC recommendation to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people.

So hold tight. Pray. Do not fear. Love and serve your neighbor with the Gospel of Christ Jesus. And look for more info and updates as we move forward through this together.

Your Servant In Christ's Mission,
Rev. Eric Johnson
President, Southern District LCMS



Congregational Planning For Pandemics

Posted
March
16
2020

As we seek the Lord's guidance during the Coronavirus pandemic, a resource from LCMS World Relief may be helpful to your congregation. It is called, "Congregational Planning for Pandemics."



Continue to pray for wisdom, guidance, patience, peace, calm, and opportunities to serve others. God is in control.



Good Shepherd Coronavirus Precautions

Posted
March
14
2020

Good Shepherd Corona Virus Precautions
 
The staff and elders of Good Shepherd are closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We are monitoring all information from the Okaloosa County Health Department. Our plans are to follow their recommendations regarding holding public worship services and other group activities and all other advice they offer.
We will hold regularly scheduled worship services until advised otherwise. If there is a change we will post it on our web site: (Shalimar.church)

Please monitor and follow the instructions from the medical professionals in order to keep yourself as safe and healthy as possible. As per the CDC, high risk individuals are advised to avoid crowds as much as possible.
High risk includes: older adults, persons with serious chronic medical conditions like: heart disease, diabetes, lung disease.

We are taking extra precautions such as
social distancing here at the church; not because we are fearful, but because we are mindful. Know we are closely monitoring the situation in order to make the best decisions possible. If you have something you feel needs to be addressed please call me.

These are the things we have immediately implemented:
1.    Asking ushers/greeters/attendees to refrain from handshaking until the virus subsides. (If you are sick, please recover at home.)
2.    Using a bulletin is optional because everything you need is on the screen.
3.    If you feel a need to sit alone pleasedo so and respect each other’s space.
4.    We will not be greeting one another in the service physically with a handshake or hug, but we will be sharing the peace of the Lord verbally.
5.    We will not physically pass the offering plate. We will be receiving the offering as you enter or exit the sanctuary using the OFFERING BOX.  Remember you can give electronically via our website or by text to 833-886-1879.
6.    I will not be shaking hands at the end of the service, but I will be available if you need to speak to me.
7.    We will be wiping down the pews with disinfecting wipes between all services.

In Regard to Holy Communion:
1.    As has been a practice in the past, all of our Elders will sanitized their hands and will not to touch anything other than the communion trays.
2.    To avoid touching the communion rail, please do not kneel.
3.    Receive the wafer with your open left hand which is closest to your heart.
4.    Do not hold hands after you commune.
5.    You are invited to the Table of our Lord, but it is okay if you don’t feel comfortable coming forward.

President Trump declared today, March 15th to be a National Day of Prayer.

"We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these. No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!"  - President Trump
 
These are extraordinary times; but this too shall pass. One day when we look back may we remember how we faced our trials with faith and trust in God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
 
In His Love,
Pastor Ray
Matthew 6:25-34



LCMS Response

Posted
March
14
2020

Harrison offers comfort, update amid pandemic

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).
In a new video message, Pastor Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), provides a word of comfort to the people of the LCMS amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The video also includes an update on the response of Synod entities and encourages members to be patient and generous with each other during this stressful time.
The video is part of a set of resources now available at
lcms.org/coronavirus. Visit the webpage to watch the president’s message and find resources to assist you and your congregation.





Southern District Response

Posted
March
13
2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus:

Having received numerous inquiries today as to what the Southern District is suggesting in the face of a growing threat of Coronavirus coming to your town and possibly congregation, I feel compelled to give you this brief outline.

1. Pray.
2. Do not panic.
3. Look for opportunities to serve your neighbor with the peace, grace, and mercy of Christ.
4. Don't panic.
5. Follow the mandates of your local, state, and federal health officials.
6. As the Southern District covers 3 and a half states, we cannot give you area specific instructions. Each congregation, school, and preschool needs to stay aware of the changing situation and respond appropriately.
7. Serve your neighbor with the peace, grace, and mercy of Christ being a calm influence in the midst of fear and uncertainty. We know whose we are, and we need not fear for Christ is with you always.

It is at times of great fear and uncertainty when the Christian church often shines the brightest and has great opportunity to share with others the reason for our sure and certain hope in Christ Jesus. Let us cast our fears on Him, because he cares for you, and share the care of Christ with others.

The Lord be with you. May our God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit keep you in His mercy, may the Lord bless you and keep you, may He cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, may He lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Go in peace, and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!!!

Your Servant In Christ's Mission,
Rev. Eric Johnson
President, Southern District LCMS



American Heritage Girls Response

Posted
March
14
2020

American Heritage Girls Troop 1517

The following is the most up-to-date information as of 5pm EST on Friday, March 13, 2020 regarding AHG's response to COVID-19:

Troop Events
For information regarding the status of your Troop meetings and events, please contact a member of your Troop Board. AHG is recommending Troops to lean on the discretion and wisdom of their Charter Organization and/or local/state health departments when determining whether or not to cancel events and meetings. Members should understand and adhere to their Troop sick policy if attending an AHG event. The American Red Cross, as a trusted and valued partner with AHG, has recently offered a
resource aimed at providing tips and safety information that your family may find useful during this time.