The Coronavirus Response at The Lake of the Woods Church

April 6, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

Monday of Holy Week, and how very strange to have “observed” Palm Sunday electronically!
 
I have been praying that our decision to use this whole week to focus on the Seven Last “Words” from the Cross makes sense to everyone.  Early feedback has been very positive about it.  Please join me in asking God to draw all of us more deeply into the wonder of Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption as the week unfolds.
 
The Church staff has just completed a lengthy meeting by Zoom, and I am pleased to report that LOWC is busier-than-ever in ministry.  Children, Teen, and Young Families’ programs are available on Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, and Instagram, and Minister Mike Lemay has organized a church-wide network of communication and prayer for each other via telephone – in addition to providing for things like the delivery of groceries to our shut-ins.  Mike says it is actually the best communication we have ever had!
 
Additionally, we are continuing our participation in the feeding program for children and families in need both here at the church and at the Rise Center on Rt. 20.
 
We will be putting together our Easter services this week.  We hope to have a “Sunrise Service” on the Point, as well as a service from the Sanctuary.  Both services will be online only.
 
And – looking ahead – we will then turn our attention to Mission Week, April 27 – May 3.  We expect to be able to do everything we previously anticipated, except that it will now all be done electronically.
 
Beyond that, we will be putting together an electronic version of our Discovery Class for those wanting to join, and those just seeking more information about, the Lake of the Woods Church.
 
So, please continue your prayers for all of these ministries.  And please don’t hesitate to write or call with questions, concerns, and prayer requests.  We are all learning new ways of doing things, but in the midst of severe dislocation we are experiencing the blessings of God.
 
Jesus is Lord.  Right now.  Stay close to him.
 
My Love to you,
 
John

 

March 31, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe (Board of Elders Meeting)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
Last night, the Board of Elders held its first virtual meeting – by “Zoom.”
 
(Zoom is an amazing tool that allows groups of up to 100 people to connect electronically by computer, iPad or smart phone. Our family has used it a couple of times for wonderful electronic gatherings. It is a free app – if your meeting is under an hour – and I commend it to you for your family’s use.)
 
We are hearing of lovely things happening in the midst of this tremendous dislocation.
 
Husbands and wives, parents and children, are rediscovering family time. People reconnecting.
 
God is bringing real good out of real evil.
 
The Board unanimously agreed to comply with Governor Northam’s directive to suspend any/all group meetings until at least June 10.
 
So it will be awhile before we are together again other than electronically.
 
Let’s be together by prayer.
 
We are about to begin the Church’s most important week: Palm Sunday through Easter.
 
We had planned to do a special three-hour service on Good Friday this year. This is an ancient tradition of the Church, focusing on the “Seven Last Words” from the cross – Jesus’ amazing, haunting, provocative last statements as he was dying.
 
Since we will not be able to do this congregationally, we have decided to turn it into a very special online observance.
 
Beginning with our regular podcast on Palm Sunday morning, we will focus on one of these “Words” each day for a week, Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday.
 
The daily podcasts will be briefer, probably 15 to 20 minutes each.
 
Our hope is that you and your family will find a time each day to tune in (www.lowchurch.org, Facebook, YouTube), and share these meditations with us. They will provide a time for you to reflect and pray about this most central pillar of our faith: the death of Jesus on our behalf.
 
Please let your family and friends know about these podcasts. And plan to join us for them.
 
Jesus is Lord. Right now. Stay close to him.
 
John

 

March 27, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.” (Psalm 103:1)
 
King David was giving orders to himself: Self, bless the Lord – not (necessarily) because you feel like doing so, but because he is worthy of praise. Feelings are so unreliable, and they are influenced by a thousand different factors. Faith has to take charge of them, and say: I’m going to do this now, and my feelings are just going to have to catch up.
 
I have been to the church building every day during this strange time.
 
The office wing remains very busy with the gathering and preparation of food donations for kids and families in need. Literally thousands of meals have been put together and distributed during the past couple of weeks. As of next Monday the children’s distribution will include 7 days of food, not just 3 or 4 – so pickup will only have to be once a week.
 
And in the rest of the physical plant our custodial staff have been doing a “deep cleaning” of virtually every surface, light switch, pew back, faucet, and door handle.
 
The staff members who have to come into the building are using their own phones, and only the restrooms near the library are being used.
 
In other words, we are doing everything we can to make our facilities 100% ready for whenever things begin to return to normal.
 
We are finishing up our second podcast, and it will be available for viewing on our web site (lowchurch.org), Facebook, and YouTube any time after 8:30 Sunday morning. Tune in when you would regularly be attending services.
 
We are using Zoom for many of our meetings, and we encourage you to get the app (it is free) so you can access this remarkable technology as needed. (Our family had a wonderful Zoom session last Sunday evening with about 15 of us visiting together from all over the country. We are going to make it a weekly event.)
 
We are attempting to check in with all of our church families by telephone. We are so grateful that thus far we have had no reports of infection in our immediate community.
 
Please pray for our Board of Elders as it meets on Monday evening. We are asking for the Lord’s clear guidance as to how to move forward as we approach April, Holy Week and Easter.
 
I sure do miss seeing all of you!
 
Love to you in our Lord,
 
John

 

March 25, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

“Come, my people, Enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you;

hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by.

(Isaiah 26:20, ESV)

We are halfway through the requested initial period of “social distancing,” and the Senate has just passed a $2 trillion bill that is being characterized as a “lifeline” to those most severely hurt by the economic shutdown. Huge questions remain as to when and how we will get back to “normal.”

In the meantime, the Church is discovering in brand new ways how much we need each other in the Body of Christ! It is very taxing that we cannot meet together for prayer, study, worship, and fellowship.

During this time here at LOWC we have cobbled together a network for communication and care.

Every Shepherd, Chaplain, and Visitation volunteer has been mobilized to be in contact by telephone with every member of our church family. Our small groups are doing the same. Our programs of Grief Share, Cancer Support, and Divorce Care are in the process of being put on line, as well.

If you are reading this and you have not been contacted (and you would like to be!), please send an email to Minister Mike Lemay and ask to be included. Do the same if you would like to be one of those doing the telephoning. (mike@lowchurch.org)

Children’s and Youth programs are being shared through Facebook. The distribution of meals and meal cards is booming. And we are working on this Sunday’s podcast. We are exploring ways of conducting some of our meetings electronically (and we will keep you posted regarding decisions about that).

The Board of Elders will be meeting on Monday evening (March 30) to consider how to best move forward – especially with Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter just ahead. Please pray for the Lord’s clear guidance.

Read and pray your way through Psalm 91. Keep your eyes on Jesus and your nose in his Book.

Love to you in him,

John

March 23, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

Good Afternoon, Dear Friends.

We worshipped together electronically for the first time yesterday, and there were over 1,000 “hits” – individuals and/or families who tuned in – on our church website, Facebook, and Youtube. (It appears that most people found the Youtube presentation the easiest to access.)

We have had very encouraging feedback, as well as several good suggestions for future podcasts.

Next Sunday we will be making the podcast available on all three of these “platforms” starting at 8:30 AM. (And, yes, we will turn the volume up a bit!)

As we are being forced to do things electronically, we are asking everyone to help get as many of our members, attendees, and friends of LOWC onto our mailing lists as possible.

We send out three kinds of communication: our Mailing List, for those who wish to receive general notifications from the church, by email, the Prayer List, which is updated nearly every day with requests for intercession and thanksgivings, and our CrossCurrents Notification List, which will alert you to when the next issue of our monthly church newsletter is available on our web site. (Note: during this present season it will be available only online; we will not be printing a hard copy).

Please urge others to visit our web site: www.lowchurch.org and sign up for whichever of these mailings is/are their preference(s). Scroll down to the bottom of the Home Page to sign up.

Please pray for our Elders and staff as we think through how to best move forward – especially with Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter coming up in just two more weeks! The Elders will have a special meeting a week from tonight to review where we are.

Lord Jesus, please give us your guidance and wisdom. And help us take good care of each other!

My love to all of you, in him,

John

March 19, 2020 – A Message from Dr. Howe

Good Morning, Dear Friends.

It has only been three days since the Board of Elders determined we needed to “shut down” nearly all activity at the Lake of the Woods Church – for at least two weeks.

The President, the Governor, and the CDC all requested it, and we reluctantly agreed it is in everyone’s best interest as part of the effort to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the virus.

But it already feels as if it has been much longer since we have been together. I miss you! The book of Hebrews tells us not to neglect meeting together (10:25), and I am understanding in a whole new way why that is so very important!

Our pastoral staff is putting together a podcast which will be available on FaceBook on Sunday morning at 10:10, and on our church web site any time after that. We want to make it possible for all of us to “be together” electronically. We will have some music, an update on some very exciting ministry LOWC is engaged in during this strange time, some prayer – which we invite you to share in, and a brief message from God’s Word.

Please do “join” us! Gather your family together and share this time. And please tell fellow parishioners, and even those who are not regular members of LOWC. This is a way of “going to church” while staying right at home!

I have been deeply moved by an outpouring of unsolicited special giving by many of our people to help meet the needs of those around us. Thank you for your tender hearts and generous spirits.

Please do continue praying for each other, and for wisdom for our leaders. Pray that a spirit of repentance will come across our country, as it did on 9/11. Pray for those who are ill, for those treating them, for scientists and medical professionals seeking a cure and a vaccine to combat COVID – 19. And pray for release from a spirit of fear that is gripping our nation.

 

Jesus is Lord. Right now. Stay close to him.

Love to you,

John

 

March 16, 2020 – Message from The Lake of the Woods Church

In response to the rapidly changing developments regarding the Coronavirus, The Lake of the Woods Church leadership decided Monday evening that all church activities including worship services, Wednesday night activities, Bible studies, and small groups held in the church as well as any other groups that use the church for meetings, be suspended effective Tuesday morning March 17th.
 
We will re-evaluate the situation at a special meeting of the Elders on Monday, March 30th at 7pm.
 
Our plan is to offer Sunday worship services online in the coming weeks through our website, www.lowchurch.org. We will have more details about the online services in the days to come.
 
Our mission is to focus on the needs of our neighbors in the coming days and weeks through outreach.
 
Our hope is in the Lord, and we encourage everyone to join us in fervent prayer for those directly affected by the virus, those caring for the sick, and those working for a vaccine, in both our personal prayers and family prayers.
 
The Lake of the Woods Church