April 24th, 2020
Good day Salem Evangelical Church Family and Beyond…
I begin with my favorite passage of Scripture:
Proverbs 3:5-6…Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
What is a straight path looking down the Covid-19 road?
I met with those who give leadership over me and our congregation and shared with them some plans based on the “new rules” and criteria we do not have yet.
1. I see us being able to have small groups who will be able to meet in the church (i.e. Sunday School classes and Bible studies) as soon as we know what the new rules are, which will govern how large the group and the rules of engagement. We will figure out which rooms can work on which day and which times will work, anticipating a limit on capacity on Sundays.
2. I have Sunday morning themes scheduled throughout the remainder of this calendar year. The Scriptures you can be familiarizing yourself with between now and Pentecost Sunday are: Luke 24:45-49, Acts 4:1-31, John 14:25-31, John 16:5-11, John 16:12-15, Acts 1:1-14, and Acts 2:1-40.
3. May 3 will be another communion Sunday, so you are invited to prepare your communion table once again for this special time with the Lord.
4. As soon as we have some definite direction from rules, orders, regulations and laws, we will send out a letter articulating how we will apply them to our situation. It’s like entering the Promised Land with no map and only God to lead us.
5. All church activities for the summer are suspended until further notice. As soon as we know what we can do, we will proceed with plans from that point forward.
6. If you HAVE NOT been contacted by a staff member checking in on you, I am asking for grace as we are trying very hard to capture all names that are part of Salem Evangelical Church. People who attend a Sunday A.M. church service only are the people we are having the most troubles tracking down. Each family matters greatly to us, we simply need your help in giving us your name. Please give me your contact information by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward it on to our calling team. UPDATE: If you texted Pastor Randy with your contact information, please instead send him an email with the information. We want to make sure that no one is missed!
7. If you are quarantined for whatever reason you deem necessary and need groceries or medicine we have a team ready to pick things up for you. We have masks and toilet paper in stock at the church if you need either of those. The masks are free and the toilet paper is what we paid for it at Target.
8. We trust and pray the online streaming along with the personal contacts are keeping us connected to one another and Salem Evangelical Church. Your generous giving has been a tremendous encouragement knowing we have not met since March 8! Thank you for your faithfulness to the Lord.
9. I gave opportunity one-day last week during “Encouraging Times” to help the Rohingya crisis between Myanmar and Bangladesh. To date, your generosity totals $18,683.10. It is not too late to give to this project. You can either give through the church by check (on line giving at this point is only for general budget giving), or contact Doug Hoffman at Mercy Inc. and you can give through their organization who is overseeing this project. On behalf of all involved, thanks a million times over!
10. You are welcome to call any pastor, if you have a spiritual need or if you need some sort of pastoral care.
11. The deep cleaning of our church will be completed by the time we can be back together again. In addition, the East Sanctuary and lobby outside the East Sanctuary has new carpet to match the newer carpet in the Hermanson Center. This was paid for long before Covid-19 hit. We are glad we could help local businesses.
12. We are still assembling a business directory from our church family. If you own a business, we invite you to contact the church office as we hope to have that publication ready near June 1, so we can support the local businesses from our church family.
13. To say I am looking forward to having people back in church again would be the understatement of the century. I trust you want to be back together again too. Yet, I am preparing for changes here too, knowing that the longer we go without meeting, the more likely new patterns of church life are being established. It is God’s church, and I will rest in that. I plan to continue live streaming the Sunday morning service into the future, as God has blessed us with people who do not attend our physical location nor could they because of geography. Shut-ins, correctional facilities, those that are sick, those traveling, and those who were formerly connected to our church are now able to watch our services in real time. WE WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE THAT SERVICE!
14. We are very grateful for the many hundreds of volunteers at S.E.C. With that said, we will still need volunteers going in to a reopening phase, but we do not know what that will look like. Further, there will likely be safety training, social distancing training, and other logistics that will be our new practices. We will figure these out as we move forward together. Many things are being considered and planned behind the scenes so we can be ready to be as effective as we possibly can when we reopen.
15. For those who are feeling stressed or frustrated or worried or panicked or all the above, I STRONGLY URGE you to study the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD and the promises the Bible has for those who love Him. Perhaps, review the devotionals I have given that are on our website that are intended to lessen your fears and heighten your confidence and faith in God.
16. What is needed in the days ahead and where do we go to get it? First, I trust you have been praying. Second, I go to the book of Proverbs for the following: wisdom, discernment, guidance, understanding and knowledge. I also go to the Holy Spirit who helps me and you apply these areas to the situation at hand in our daily lives.
17. I began with Scripture and I will close with another favorite passage of mine from Ephesians 3:20-21…Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Have a great day!
Pastor Randy R. Butler