Tuesday September 8, 2020
“Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy.”
– Psalm 98:8
Dear St. John’s family,
It is with great joy that I invite you to join us for in-person worship, which will resume at 10 a.m. on Sunday, October 4, 2020, in the Family Life Center. It has been 26 Sundays since COVID-19, a global pandemic, halted in-person worship, and it seems fitting that we will resume in-person worship on World Communion Sunday, a day in which Christians around the global celebrate the sacrament. In that same spirit, we will celebrate Holy Communion in a contact-free and safe way during worship on October 4, and will also offer Drive-Thru Communion from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. following worship that morning. It will be a day in which we are, as the Psalmist writes, “together for joy!”
You can read more about our health and safety protocols and what to expect should you attend in-worship in the Frequently Asked Questions below. We understand that some will not be ready to return to worship physically, so please know we will continue to offer a livestream of our worship services online. Whether you are worshiping in-person or online, we will be together in spirit.
The challenges and changes brought about during the pandemic have been, like most of life, full of, sacrifice, difficulties, and sorrow, as well as grace, love, and joy. We quickly learned that the church is not, nor will ever be, the building. WE are the church! And what a bountiful blessing the St. John’s family has been, is, and will continue to be for generations upon generations.
During this season of being physically distanced we have discovered many ways to stay spiritually connected. Our staff along with many volunteers have continued to feed people spiritually and physically through online discipleship opportunities, phone calls and cards, Zoom Sunday School classes, the upcoming Cure for Sorrow online retreat, and through the Shepherd’s Market food pantry. What a blessing it has been to be able to serve our neighbors during this time!
I hope you realize how much we miss you. We have not ceased to give thanks for you and to remember you in our prayers. Continue to take care of yourself, my friends, I look forward to seeing you online or in-person soon – and until then, let us be together for joy.
Grace and peace,
Check out our updated Frequently Asked Questions page.
Tuesday July 7, 2020
Dear St. John’s Church Family,
After much prayer and careful consideration, we have decided that we will not begin in-person worship on July 19th. Out of an abundance of caution, we have postponed the date in which we resume in-person worship until a later time.
This decision was not made lightly and several factors were considered. The recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases, along with the projected increases after the Fourth of July weekend has helped inform this decision. Additionally, several United Methodist Churches in our district and across the state, including First UMC downtown and Zachary UMC, have canceled in-person worship for the time being, after several church members who attended in-person worship were later diagnosed with COVID-19.
We will continue to monitor the data and will follow the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Louisiana State Government, and the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to determine the safest and earliest date to resume in-person worship, on-campus programs, small group meetings, and fellowship activities. In this effort, we seek to follow our first rule as Wesleyan Christians to do no harm.
Though we have missed gathering with you in person, we are thankful we have been able to continue connecting through the use of technology. To that end, we will soon launch a livestream of our worship services, so that whether you are present or watching at home, we will all be together in spirit. Your continued support has made it possible for this vital outreach to grow and expand.
This upcoming Sunday’s service, July 12, will be filmed from the Family Life Center, as the FLC is where we will gather for worship when we resume in-person services. We will be testing out various parts of our audio and video equipment over the next several weeks of online worship. We appreciate your flexibility as we work towards having a livestream online each week. We could not do this without our incredible volunteers on the Tech Team! If you are willing to serve in this vital ministry team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. From pushing a button on a camcorder, to advancing lyrics slides on a screen, there’s a job for everyone, and we’d love to get you “plugged” in.
Please know, on behalf of the COVID-19 Task Force, we hold “do no harm,” first and foremost in our thoughts as we make tough decisions. We long to gather in person as a faith community; however, for the time being, showing our love and concern for all requires physical distancing for just a bit longer.
Please take care of yourself, and each other, and we look forward to gathering with you again when it’s safe.
Together in Spirit,
Rhonda Tucker, Lay Leader and Rev. Lane Cotton Winn, Lead Pastor
Friday July 3, 2020
Dear St. John’s family and friends,
As we all know very well, the church never “closed.” This pandemic has reminded us that the church is not a building. The church is the people! Together, we have learned how to worship in new ways, just as we have learned new avenues for fellowship, outreach, and creating community. Though we have missed gathering with you in person, we are thankful we have been able to continue connecting through the use of technology.
Last week, the COVID-19 Task Force presented guidelines for resuming in-person worship to the Church Council, which you can find here. An online registration system will be used to ensure we can welcome new people while making seating available for our existing members and friends. Registration will begin on Tuesdays, and you will need to register each week you plan to attend. A link to register will be included in the Inside St. John’s on the Tuesday prior to worship, on our website, on Facebook, and in the Friday newsletter.
When we resume in-person worship, we will worship in the Family Life Center, where we can more easily follow safety and physical distancing guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the Louisiana State Fire Marshall and the Louisiana Conference of the UMC.
For the past 14 weeks, we have pre-recorded our worship services and premiered them online on Sunday mornings. As we prepare to resume in-person worship we are also preparing to launch a livestream of our worship, so that whether you are present or watching at home, we will all be together in spirit. To that end, beginning Sunday, July 12th, worship will be recorded in the Family Life Center so that we can begin testing our new AV equipment and also start preparing the space for in-person worship when that time comes.
The COVID-19 Task Force will continue to discuss adjustments we may need to make to our plans in the coming days and weeks, as more information comes to light. We appreciate your patience and understanding during these challenging and unprecedented times. But most of all, we appreciate your continued commitment to God’s work here at St. John’s. This crisis has reminded us what a blessing it is to have a congregation committed to serving Christ through the good times and the challenging ones. I am confident that because of you, St. John’s will come out of this stronger than ever before.
I hope you have a safe and relaxing 4th of July weekend. Like many things right now, it may be a different kind of celebration. Please take care of yourself, my friends, and I look forward to gathering with you again when it’s safe.
Grace and peace,
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Dear St. John’s family,
It is a wonderful joy to share with you that starting July 19, 2020, we will resume in-person worship at St. John’s. In an effort to do this well and fulfill our vow to “do no harm” and “watch over one another with love,” each person who comes on campus will be expected to follow enhanced health practices put forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the Louisiana State Fire Marshall, and the Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Linked here are the guidelines for how we will begin to welcoming folks back to in-person worship. An online registration system will be used to ensure we can welcome new people while making seating available for our existing members and friends. Registration will begin on Tuesdays, and you will need to register each week you plan to attend. A link to register will be included in the Inside St. John’s on the Tuesday prior to worship, on our website, on Facebook, and in the Friday newsletter.
Though we have missed gathering with you in person, we are thankful we have been able to continue connecting through the use of technology. To that end, on July 19th we will also launch a livestream of our worship service, so that whether you are present or watching at home, we will all be together in spirit.
I want to thank our leaders and staff for their incredible work during this time of improvised ministry, and I thank you for your grace and patience as we continue to accomplish God’s work of feeding people and making disciples here at St. John’s! The COVID-19 Task Force will continue to discuss any adjustments to our gathering in the coming weeks. Please stay safe, my friends, and I look forward to “seeing you” soon.
Grace and peace,
If you choose to worship in-person with us, here’s what you need to know.
Friday, May 29, 2020
An Update on Our Decision-Making Process for Regathering at St. John’s
Greetings St. John’s church family!
I want to take a few minutes to talk about something that I know is on your mind, which is the matter of how and when St. John’s UMC intends to resume in-person worship services.
We are fortunate, at St. John’s UMC, to have a significant number of health professionals are part of the congregation. My degrees are in Communications and Divinity, neither of which qualify me to make major decisions about how to position the church during a pandemic without first consulting the experts. Fortunately, a number of these health professionals have agreed to serve on our COVID-19 Task Force, and they are providing guidance to the Church Council and to me as we go forward.
I was able to meet with our COVID-19 Task Force multiple times in the past couple of weeks, via Zoom, to begin to frame the conversation about moving forward, safely, with John Wesley’s General Rules as our guiding principles: Do no harm, do good, and attend to the ordinances of God.
The group will meet again next week via Zoom, and several breakout groups are being formed to create protocols for moving forward. If you have any area of expertise or interest, and would like to be part of our safe homecoming, please email our lay leader, Rhonda Tucker (email@example.com).
In addition to our COVID-19 Taskforce, we’re listening closely for the guidance from our bishop, Cynthia Fierro-Harvey. She has also convened a working group, under the leadership of Dr. Van Stinson, the Assistant to the Bishop, in order to consider a wide array of dynamics at play: from social distancing requirements; to restrictions on singing and wind instruments; to guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing common areas; to how to faithfully and safely administer the sacraments, and so on.
I also want you to know that we will not be relying upon peer pressure in this season. Each of us knows of churches that have opened, with varying degrees of social distancing being observed. It seems that every day there is a new story of an outbreak that happened at a church that did not take this virus seriously enough, as mass gatherings are uniquely situated to cause harm.
As your pastor, one of my primary jobs is to shepherd this community. I will not allow peer pressure to cause harm to you. That said, I am in regular communication with the pastors of other churches in Baton Rouge and the district, many of whom are moving slowly and deliberately, as they, too, look to the future.
Let me say a word about what worship will look like when we eventually do come back together, as this is a question many of you have asked about recent days and weeks.
The emerging guidance from the professional organizations of church musicians and choir directors as well as the CDC, is that group-singing is among the more dangerous things people can do in this time of pandemic. The unique combination of vibrating vocal cords and vocal projection appears to aerosolize the Coronavirus, when it is present, and allows for its spread within an enclosed space. As a result, churches all over the world, including us, are having to adapt how music is used in worship. We do not know for sure what congregational singing will look like when we resume in-person worship yet. Your flexibility is key.
I’ll be honest – this dynamic and the possibility of not being able to sing together for a season is one I am really wrestling with emotionally and spiritually, as I know many of you are. We’re evaluating the ways in which we can safely incorporate music into our worship experience.
Additionally, we will not resume in-person worship until we have made the technology upgrades that we will enable us to live stream our worship services. We know that some will be unable to return to worship and others will choose not to. Being “online” is going to be a part of our worshiping life from here on out, so that we can make sure to reach those of you who do not feel comfortable gathering at this time and, so we can continue to reach those who do not yet know the good news of Jesus.
When we resume in-person worship, we will do so in the Family Life Center. You already know, from the Walk, when the renovations to the sanctuary were taking place, how to create worship in there. And so once again, we will create a consecrated and sacred space where we can worship God together. The FLC is more adept for physical distancing, thus worship will resume there, for the time being.
Let me say one more thing. I am beginning to hear reports from churches who are reopening with extreme social distancing guidelines in place: spaced-out seating, no touching one another, no singing, required masks, and more. And here’s the thing: I am also hearing reports that many of the congregation members at those churches hate it. It’s just not “church” like they remember, and the requirement to maintain six feet of space between family groups and households means that most church buildings are only able to operate at 20% capacity. As a result, many churches–especially churches our size and larger–are choosing to continue online-only worship for the time being.
As for now, our plan is for a Mid-July return to in-person worship. Again, when returning, we will be returning in a new normal that is consistent with our Wesleyan tradition of, Do no harm.
In the meantime we continue to stay connected via our online offerings and mutual care. In fact, as I watch the ways in which you care for another – taking meals, making phone calls, helping with tech concerns, praying continually – it strikes me that in this season when we cannot gather in person, you are proving over and over again, the church is not a building, not architecture, but people loving people.
I ask for your continued patience and prayer for our church leadership, and for me and Pastor Deirdre, as we navigate these challenges. I promise you, those prayers are reciprocal.
I hope to see you online for worship this Sunday. In the meantime, know that I love you and I miss being physically present with you. I pray that God will bless and keep you. And that you will realize that we are together in spirit. Take care.
Friday, May 15, 2020
Dear St. John’s Church Family,
After careful consideration of both the Louisiana Governor’s office and Louisiana Annual Conference (UMC) protocols for reopening places of worship in Phase 1; discussing our building capacity; sanitation protocols; the restrictions upon our worship experience that are necessary to gather during phase 1; and our desire to avoid having to turn people away, the Church Council has unanimously decided to postpone our return to in-person worship during Phase 1.
To make plans for when and how we resume in-person worship and other church programming, I have brought together a COVID-19 Task Force, which includes: Rhonda Tucker (Lay Leader), Donnie Lambert (Chair of Trustees), Latrice Mallard (MAM, BSN, RN, Nurse Supervisor for Mental Health and Behavioral Health Division, OLOL), Bonnie Byland (RN, retired), John Toney (Worship team and AV support), Pat Cobb (Lay Delegate to Annual Conference), Pastor Deirdre’, and myself. We represent a diversity of ages, life experiences, worship service attendance, small group and outreach involvement, and expertise. We covet your prayers as we continue working to discover the best and safest ways to resume in-person worship and other activities. We will make recommendations to the Church Council for making decisions. We are using guidance from the Louisiana Governor’s office, the Louisiana Annual Conference, and medical professionals. Additionally, we are consulting with leadership of other United Methodist churches and other churches our size to gain an understanding of their plans for resuming in-person worship.
What can you do?
- Continue to pray for our church family, our leaders, and our community.
- Join us and engage with us online every week for worship and invite a friend to join in online, too. We worship together on the church’s Facebook Page at 10 am on Sundays, and our services are also available on Vimeo. Check the church calendar and consider joining us on our Zoom offerings.
- Take this brief survey. Your input, combined with that of others, will provide the task force with valuable information as we answer the “when & how” questions about resuming in-person worship. We encourage each individual who is part of the St. John’s church family to take the survey.
On behalf of the staff, I want to thank you all for your words of encouragement and support during these trying times. The move from in-person ministries to online worship, Sunday School, Youth group and children’s programming has been a challenge. You have already shown incredible flexibility and adaptability. I’m grateful for so many people who have stepped up in leadership and are going the second mile.
Together we now begin considering our next faithful steps.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Dear St. John’s Church Family,
We bring you greetings late in this season of Lent, as we look towards Holy Week and Easter. This year we will be in ministry like no other year, as we serve our community by doing our part to practice physical distancing while remaining engaged in our faith life together.
As you know, COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, and as part of that, we are all living with a degree of financial uncertainty. We want you to know that St. John’s United Methodist Church’s leadership is taking every step we can to be good stewards of God’s resources, and are monitoring our income and expenses closely.
Clearly, there will be those in our congregation who will not be able to give at the same level they have in the past. If that’s you, please know that we understand the situation and trust you to prayerfully do the best you can. Our prayers are with you during this unsettling time.
However, there are also those who are able to continue giving at the same level, and/or who may even be able to increase their giving to the church. If that’s you, we cannot stress enough how important your gifts are to the church at this time. We ask you to be diligent and consistent in sending in your tithe and gifts, as our mission cannot continue without your support.
If you are not currently a regular giver to the church, there is no better time for you to consider becoming one. Every gift, no matter the size, will help us continue “glorify God, feed people, and make disciples.”
To make a gift:
- Mail a check to St. John’s UMC, 230 Renee Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70810
- Give online (once or set up recurring gifts): http://bit.ly/stjohnsgive
- Bring your offering on Sunday from 11am-12pm during our “Drive By Offering”
- Drop it in the black box located on the brick pillar in front of the entrance to the Admin Building. We check it daily and once your envelope or check is in there, it only accessible by key.
God is always faithful, and we are constantly amazed by your faithfulness. Our members and staff have already begun to do wonderful and creative ministry in this new environment — from online worship and Zoom small groups, to our drive-thru food pantry, Shepherd’s Market, and congregational care phone calls to those sheltering in place, we are continuing to share God’s love in our community and beyond.
On the reverse side of this letter, you will find a compilation of ways you can stay engaged with St. John’s during Holy Week. We are convinced that we will emerge from this health and community crisis as a stronger and more resilient congregation, acknowledging that it will take perseverance, prayer and patience along the way.
Rev. Lane Cotton Winn Mr. Gray Sexton,
Lead Pastor Finance Committee, Chairperson
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Dear St. John’s Church Family,
Out of concern for everyone’s health and the recommendations from our government leaders and Episcopal leader, Bishop Harvey about social distancing and self quarantining, our church leadership has decided to suspend all church-related small groups, studies, covenant groups, meeting and face-to-face gatherings until further notice.
The church office will be open during regular office hours, Monday to Thursday, 9 am-4 pm and Fridays from 9 am-12 pm, but we discourage you from coming by the office. I am counting on you to join me, and all responsible disciples of Jesus Christ, to show our love of God and neighbor by adopting the guidelines of social distancing issued by the CDC. Please help us in limiting our staff’s exposure. We are available to you via email and phone, which we encourage you to use before stopping by the church. Additionally, we are inviting our staff to work from home as much as possible.
We are living into a new way of experiencing life and “doing church,” and I encourage you to be open to trying some new things in this season in which we find ourselves.
Here are a few ways to stay connected to your faith journey and your church family right now:
- On Wednesdays at 8 am and 8 pm and Sundays at 6 pm, Pastor Deirdre and I will offer a Live Prayer and Meditation on the church’s Facebook Page. We will be “live” for about 25-30 minutes, offering prayers, reflections and other readings to help us stay connected spiritually during this time of social distancing. You will be invited to comment with prayer requests that will be lifted up during our time together. Our Facebook page is www.facebook.com/stjohnsbr, and you won’t need a Facebook account to watch the video.
- Small groups, Sunday School classes, and other groups, including our committees, are encouraged to meet virtually, via Zoom, an online meeting platform. We will be contacting group leaders later this week with information about using our church’s new Zoom account and offering support in getting started.
- For those of you raising children at home, we invite you to join the new Faith Friends Facebook Group. This group will provide tools, ideas, and helpful hints on how to share meaningful and faith-filled experiences with your family. Join us as we share resources for keeping the faith and making it through homeschooling and long days of isolation. We will be scheduling Zoom gatherings for both Children & Families as well as Youth so our younger disciples can stay connected, too.
- We will worship virtually again this Sunday, posting a full worship service on our website and social media. We are also exploring streaming worship via Facebook Live. Stay tuned for more information soon about that. If you missed this Sunday’s worship experience, you can view it here. We celebrated the baptism of baby Lily, experienced beautiful music by Carrie and Terry, read scripture, heard the “Good News,” and shared in prayer.
- And lastly, you can stay connected to your faith journey and church family by continuing to give to the ministries of the church through your tithe and other offerings. Not only do we rely on your giving to support our missions, pay staff salaries, to keep the lights on, and to provide worship – even virtually, but your financial gifts are also one of the ways you offer your thanks and praise to God. Please stay current on your pledge to God’s work here at St. John’s and consider making an additional gift if you can. You can make a one-time gift online or set up reoccurring gifts on our online giving portal. We also accept checks and cash!
In this season of Lent, and COVID-19, we have been given the opportunity to slow down and reflect, remembering that Jesus himself was in solitude in the wilderness for 40 days. I hope that you will take this time to take care of yourselves and feel God’s comforting presence in simplicity and solitude.
I love you and miss you. May the Lord bless you and keep you. I am holding you in the Light.
All shall be well,
Monday, March 16, 2020
After consulting with director Theresa Sandifer, we have made the difficult decision to close The Shepherd’s Market until further notice. Stay connected with us via email, text and social media for future updates.
Thank you to our volunteers, donors, and supporters of The Shepherd’s Market. You were so flexible and helpful as we modified how we served our neighbors in The Shepherd’s Market on Monday. The drive-thru worked well, but we can’t wait to be back inside the market soon. Thanks for helping us! We will let you know as soon we are able to open the food pantry again.
Food Program for Children
The East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s Child Nutrition Department will be serving free, grab-n-go breakfast and lunch at seven school sites across the parish beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Grab-N-Go breakfast and lunch will be served at the following schools:
1. Northeast Elementary
2. Progress Elementary
3. Woodlawn Elementary
4. Wildwood Elementary
5. Capitol Middle
6. McKinley Middle
7. Park Forest Middle
While supplies last, families will be able to pick up pre-packaged breakfast and lunches for children 18 years of age and younger, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays during the mandated school closure period (March 16, 2020 – April 13, 2020). At least one child must be present in order to receive school meals.
To learn more about EBR Child Nutrition and to view the menu, please visit ebrschools.org/child-nutrition.
Friday, March 13, 2020
Dear St. John’s family,
One of the reasons I love St. John’s so deeply is because caring is at the heart of who we are – so much so, that it is one of our core values. We live this out by offering a loving response to the needs of all people through empathy and compassion. We are strongest when we hold ourselves accountable to this practice because we recognize that life is much larger than ourselves.
The health and safety of those who are the most vulnerable in our community is our highest priority right now. The rapid spread of coronavirus COVID-19 is a public health crisis that has the potential to overwhelm our healthcare system and community resources, which can disproportionately affect those who are most vulnerable.
After prayerful consideration, at the recommendation of Bishop Harvey, the appeal from Gov. Edwards, and in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our church leadership has decided to temporarily suspend in-person worship for at least the next two Sundays, March 15 and 22.
We know that the coronavirus spreads through person-to-person contact, which is facilitated through large public gatherings. One of the best ways to combat the spread of the virus is to engage in social distancing.
Here is the good news: I am confident the work of our church will not be adversely impacted by this decision. I can say that because I know you, and I know your heart. You have a great deal of love for God’s work happening at St. John’s, and you will do everything in your power to help ensure we continue to make an impact.
Please keep reading to learn how you can remain engaged with your church family.
Sunday Worship & Spiritual Growth
Though we are unable to worship together, we will offer a weekly online worship experience beginning Sunday, March 15. We will work to have the video up on the church’s Vimeo channel by 11 a.m. Sunday morning, when many of us normally worship.
The format of these services will be a little different, but the experience will be very familiar for those who have worshipped with us before. We will still glorify God through song, scripture, a sermon, and prayer. I encourage you to commit to engaging in this new online worship experience on Sunday. You can also access our sermon archives on our website at any time through this link: https://www.stjohnsbr.org/sermon-videos/
Additionally, we will go Live on Facebook for Prayer and Meditation on Sunday evenings at 6 p.m. and Wednesdays at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the church’s Facebook page.
You can watch Facebook live videos from any device – phone, tablet or computer. You don’t even have to be a Facebook user to go to the church’s Facebook page and our view videos/photos and other posts. At the start time (Sundays at 6 p.m. and Wednesdays at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.), go to St. John’s Facebook Page. The top post on the page will be a link to the live stream for you to click to start viewing. Once you are watching the Prayer and Meditation live stream, you can comment with prayer requests that we will lift up during our time together. This is a new thing for us (we’re learning as we go, after all!), but we anticipate our time of sharing prayer will last about 15-20 minutes.
We will continue to offer a weekly devotional guide for you to use each day during Lent. You will find a link to the Week of March 15 Devotional at the end of this letter, and we will also post the devotion each morning on the church’s Facebook Page. You may also come by the church office to pick up a printed copy of the devotion during office hours.
The church is not closed. At this time, the church office will remain open during our regular hours of Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to noon.
Some of our programs, covenant groups, and Bible Studies will continue meeting. Please be wise and prayerful when making the decision to gather. If you have questions about your specific group, please contact your group leader. I will send an update on Tuesdays through the Inside St. John’s email. This new email is in addition to Friday’s weekly e-newsletter and is geared toward our active members and friends. It includes prayer requests, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, memorial and funeral announcements, and other St. John’s family news. If you would like to receive the Inside St. John’s email on Tuesdays, please contact Lynn Cooper, our Administrative Assistant, in the church office.
The Shepherd’s Market
The Shepherd’s Market will be operating with a modified distribution plan in the parking lot, similar to the Great Turkey Giveaway. Volunteers will be needed on Mondays at 3 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m.
Even in the absence of worshipping together, please continue your financial giving to support the church’s ministries. You can do that online through our giving portal. You can make a one-time gift or set up recurring donations through a bank draft, credit card, or debit card. If you have questions about how to do this, please email LeAnn Davis, Manager of Finance and Facilities.
Also, nothing beats a good check in the mail or dropped off at the church – our address is St. John’s United Methodist Church, 230 Renee Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70810. Thank you in advance for your faithful and consistent support.
Congregational Care and Connection
Connecting with and caring for one another is one of our highest priorities. Over these coming weeks, please reach out to each other via text, phone, email or social media. If you become sick, please let members of your Sunday school class, small group, or one of your pastors know so we can offer you prayer and support. In fact, if there’s anything at all that you or your loved ones need during this time, please let us know. Not all of our congregation is able to physically or financially make preparations for a potential extended stay at home, and there may very well be children who experience food insecurity during school closures in our area. With this in mind, we are assembling a team of people that would be willing to deliver essential needs door to door (bring groceries to a doorstep, pick up medications, etc.) for those who otherwise can’t get the help they need. Also, with visitation restrictions at hospitals, nursing facilities and other homes for care, there will be many who will experience isolation from a lack of visits over these next weeks. We have a chance to help the Congregational Care Team write cards, make calls, and connect with those that might experience that isolation. If you would like to help with any of these efforts if/when the need arises, please email Pastor Deirdre.
One last thing…in Paul’s letter to the Philippians he writes, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
These efforts we are making now are not made out of fear or anxiety. They are made with the full peace of God that guides our leadership and our congregation. Though we may be physically apart, we are connected to one another through God’s power, the gifts of technology, and our care for each other, which surpasses any limitations. Please be assured that as soon as it is safe for us to do so, we will be ecstatic to return to our in-person worship and gatherings with one another. I’m looking forward to greeting you with a big hug very soon – but until then, take care of yourselves, take care of one another, and take care of those who are on the margins.
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Dear St. John’s family,
Out of an abundance of caution for our church family and our community, at the recommendation of Bishop Harvey and with the support of St. John’s church leadership, it has been decided that all worship services and Sunday activities will be canceled for the next two Sundays, March 15 and March 22. Additionally, we will postpone all large group gatherings until further notice, which includes the postponement of the UMW Garage Sale and the General Conference Forums. The Boy Scout chicken dinner and the Bloodmobile will be also be rescheduled.
We still have a food delivery from the Food Bank tomorrow, Friday, March 13 and volunteers are needed around 8:00 a.m. Through the end of March, the Shepherd’s Market will be operating with a modified distribution plan in the parking lot, similar to the Great Turkey Giveaway. Volunteers will be needed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, however, if you are not feeling well, have been advised by the CDC to limit your mobility or feel uncomfortable, please do not hesitate to stay home.
The leaders of our Bible Studies, classes, and our community partners will decide individually whether to continue gathering. We encourage you to be wise and prayerful when making the decision to gather. Faith Friends will not gather this Saturday.
Please take note that because we won’t gather for worship we also won’t be taking up a weekly offering. However, the church still relies on your gifts to continue our ministries and missions. Even in the absence of worshipping together, please consider giving online. Your generosity always amazes me, and I believe God will do amazing things in and through us during this challenging time.
We will send additional information out tomorrow about worshipful ways we can remain connected with one another in these days. Though we must limit our time spent together, our love for one another remains strong.
Take care, Pastor Lane