The following letter was sent via snail mail to every member of the congregation on 15 July:
July 15, 2020
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ – the peace of the Lord be with you.
The last time I saw some of you was on the 15th of March, 2020. After that date, we suspended services at The Good Shepherd for a period of 10 weeks, opening our doors again on May 31, 2020 to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.
Our doors have remained open for the past 6 weeks and attendance has been around 20 souls at each of the services, with most in attendance partaking of Holy Communion. …
During this time we have taken the utmost precautions for the safety of all in attendance. Masks have been mandatory and only removed when receiving the Sacrament. We have continued to have beautiful hymns and accompaniment by ever-faithful Jay Rogers, who has continued to come to the church 4 days out of the week to practice and prepare for future services. (It has been quite pleasing to hear Jay playing some Reformation and Advent hymns 😊 as we work our way through the long green season.)
Just a reminder of what the church looks like. You can see, if you look closely, blue tape that closes off every other pew. We put this up on both sides of the sanctuary so that we could practice social distancing. We also opened up both sides (pulpit and lectern) so that people could have plenty of room – families could sit together – and, we could sing!
I was hoping in this letter to show you these pictures and encourage everyone to come and worship.
Unfortunately, the COVID virus is rearing its ugly head in a voracious manner in our state again, and especially in Los Angeles County. The Governor has requested that all churches stop the practice of indoor worship. I did check with our District President late on Monday night, and early on Tuesday morning, and his response to me was that we should a) discontinue in-person INDOOR worship to honor the governor’s order, and b) see if it was feasible to have OUTDOOR worship.
I contacted our Church Council, and the majority opinion was that an outdoor service would not be something that we could do.
So, it is with regret that I announce to you that we will once again be suspending worship at TGSLC until further notice.
I can tell you two things: 1) I am personally heartbroken. I miss all of you and was hoping and praying that this pandemic would come to an end sooner rather than later. 2) It is my desire to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and therefore, we will do as we did before reopening, and that is I will do a modified service and sermon and post it on our website (tgslcms.org) and on our Facebook page.
A note: when we reopened, we held service at its usual time – 10:00. The process of recording, uploading, and getting it on YouTube and then onto the website is time consuming – and sometimes delayed because of technical difficulties. I guess the one positive of not having worship is that I can record and post earlier and get the services “on air” in a more timely fashion.
I also want to say “thank you” to Karina, for her dauntless work in keeping the bulletins done and published, updating our website and FB page, keeping in touch with our missionaries, and doing the regular duties of office secretary.
I haven’t bombarded you with Scripture quotes or positive thinking in this letter. It’s not because I don’t value scripture and what it has to say about trusting in God, but I truly believe that God has His purpose for all that happens and we don’t know His thoughts and we don’t know His ways.
I said this before the shut-down and I’ll repeat it here: There is not one soul that has perished during the 5+ month duration of the pandemic that God is not aware of. Only He is the giver and taker of life. We pray for all those who have suffered the loss of a loved one during this time or who have had to stay away while a person was in the hospital or quarantined at home.
On a personal note, this time has had its effects on your pastor – some good, some bad. I have had more time to pray, to read, and to spend on writing sermons. However, I have not used my time as wisely as I could/should. I wish that I had made more phone calls to members. I ask your forgiveness and will try to amend this as we move forward. On that same note, please do not hesitate to call me.
I realize – now more than ever – the effects of worry, extra burdens, and helplessness can, and do, take their toll on our body. That’s both good and bad.
I continue to hear on both TV and the radio that we are all in this together. That’s true. Never has loving your neighbor as yourself been more important. Pandemics know no race, color, creed, nationality, language, dialect, or any other barrier that we, as humans, try to build up to isolate ourselves. We need to be more pandemic-like in our love.
And, above all else, we need to, as it says in Psalm 46 – “Be still and know that I am God.” He is the One who is in control. His loves endures forever. He sent His Son to die that we might have life – eternally.
Put not your trust in man – believe in Him and His promise. Your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In His service and under His mercy,
Pastor von Hindenburg