Covid-19 Announcement

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Premier Pallister announced a 30 day state of provincial emergency today in response to the COVID 19 crisis.  As Christians, as a part of our 4th Commandment duty are called upon to honour those in authority over us whenever and wherever possible – so long as it does not forbid us from preaching the Scriptures (both Law & Gospel) to our people and to the world.  This is precisely one of those situations where we are called upon to heed our Government’s lead to ensure the safety of the public good (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13-17).

As such, Saint James will be suspending our regular worship service this Sunday (March 22nd) as we figure out how to continue to be present for the pastoral and spiritual support of our Church family and people in our community during these difficult times.

To be certain, we are not ‘closed for business’ as Pastor Beinert and Pastor Oboya are still available to support people through Scripture and prayer during this time.  What it does mean, however, is that we will have to be prudent in how we live during these days so as not to carelessly endanger those whom we are called to care for.

To that end, we want to provide these guidelines for everyone:

  • If you are a person at risk or are suffering from any kind of illness, do stay home.
  • For those times where we will make opportunities for people to make use of the Church for times of prayer, make sure that you are practicing social distancing as recommended by Manitoba Health.
  • Our times of prayer that will be advertised are offered for those needing and desiring pastoral support.  They will be spread out throughout the week to encourage smaller groups (under 50) so that responsible use of space can be made during this time.  These will also be made available online through our website.  You are encouraged to make use of these resources at home as well.
  • Pews, rails, and doorknobs/handles will be sanitized regularly following every event where people are present.
  • We have set up telephone teams to both disseminate information as well as keep in touch with everyone on our membership list.  The same information will be made available through our website and Facebook page.  Please do not hesitate to reach out and ask if you have any questions.

Our Holy Week and Easter services will need to be adjusted.  Easter weekend will not be the same as other years.  Do keep in mind, however, that Easter is more than just one day – it is an entire season of the Church year that extends for 50 days.  Please keep your ears and eyes open for more details on how we will be celebrating that.  We are working on ways to ensure that the Lord’s Supper is also made available to Church members desiring it at this time.  These opportunities will need to be kept ‘small in number’.  We will keep you posted on that front.  Please be patient as we set these things in place.  We will continue to discuss and evaluate our response with our whole team which includes medical professionals.

I want to use this opportunity to say how proud I am of all of you, the members of Saint James, in the way in which you have stepped up and pulled together with purpose and understanding during this time.  Even Luther, when the plague went through Wittenberg had to deal with a similar scenario.  In the pamphlet he wrote during that time, he encouraged everyone to do their part in preventing unnecessary contact in order to slow the spread of the disease while also recognizing the need to be our neighbour’s keeper during times of trial.  This does not mean that we put ourselves or others into line of danger.  What it does mean is that we take care of one another – by checking in on our neighbours and friends, making sure that they have what they need,  crying out the Lord to be with us during this difficult time, and renewing our faith and trust in His gracious care.  This is, after all, what Jesus Christ, His cross and resurrection, and the very heart of the Gospel is all about – God’s great love for our broken humanity that He send His Son Jesus to step right into the middle of it in order to carry our sins, our death, our sorrows – and by His forgiveness, to open the door to heaven for us.

The Christian Church by its very nature is made known as we gather to celebrate this gift around the Altar.  Given the current situation, however, we will need to adapt until this crisis passes. 

As we have been praying throughout this Lenten season:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:2)

Pastor Richard A. Beinert