August 10, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

 
I am happy to announce that next Sunday, August 16, we will be moving our 8:30 service back into the Sanctuary. We will not yet have the choir with us, but we will have hymns with both piano and organ (as well as praise sets with guitars and soloists).
 
We have been very careful to observe the CDC protocols over the past several weeks as we have returned to meeting in the Worship Center. And we believe that what we have learned there can now be transferred to the Sanctuary.
 
We will still observe “social distancing,” with families sitting six feet apart from other families, and everyone wearing face coverings (except for those addressing the congregation from the pulpit or lectern.)
 
One of the reasons we moved everything into the Worship Center initially was to avoid touching surfaces such as Bibles and Hymnals that might have been infected by previous use. However, a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine has concluded there is no real danger of disease being spread in this way after a period of 3 to 4 days. (See the article in USA Today, 5/21/2020.)
 
We believe there is no reason for concern if we are only meeting in the Sanctuary once a week.
 
For now, our 11 o’clock service and our Wednesday evening Communion at 6 PM will continue to be in the Worship Center. And, of course, our online worship continues, as well.
 
So, whether in person or electronically we are grateful for the opportunity to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” and bring him “the sacrifice of praise.”
 
My love to you in him,
John

 

July 27, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

 
Dear Church Family,
 
As we approach our first Sunday in August, I want to remind you that it will be Communion Sunday, both in church and online.
 
We “reopened” Sunday worship on July 12, and we were very cautious in doing so. We not only observed all the CDC protocols including using hand sanitizer, wearing facial coverings, and maintaining safe social distancing, but we also asked that those who wanted to attend in person register beforehand. This was to ensure we would not exceed our maximum seating capacity.
 
Three weeks later I can report that we have averaged 52 attendees at 8:30, and 59 at 11 AM. Interestingly, we have had several people attend these services who have never been to LOWC previously. They have told us, “We have been watching the online services, and we wanted to meet you in person.”
 
So, our numbers are small enough that – at present – we are not requiring that you register beforehand. Please do join us in person, if you wish to; I can tell you it is wonderful to be together again after these months of lockdown!
 
For those who are still worshiping with us electronically, our services continue to be available on YouTube and Facebook. And, as we have done the past two months, we will be consecrating extra communion packets of bread and wine this Wednesday at our 6 PM Communion Service.
 
The Communion portion of Wednesday evening’s service will be appended to next Sunday’s online worship, and for those who wish to participate with us at home, the consecrated packets will be available for pick-up at the church office all day Thursday, July 30, from 8 AM to 4 PM, and on Friday from 8 AM until noon.
 
Several people have inquired about baptism and joining the church. Because of health precautions, we are still not able to proceed with either of these milestone moments at present. We will do so just as soon as the restrictions are lifted.
 
But I am happy to report that all our other ministries and activities continue, though most of them are online. Please visit our web site, lowchurch.org, for all pertinent information about them.
 
As St. Paul said to the Philippians, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” (1:6)
 
 
My love to you in him,
John

 

June 25, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

Dear Church Family,
 
I want to apprise you of plans for services on the first two Sundays in July.
 
On July 5, 2020 we will be observing our nation’s 244th birthday. We are deeply conscious that this year we are in the middle of twin crises: a continuing pandemic and a time of great social and political upheaval. I am asking you to join me in making July 5 a day of prayer for our country, its leaders, first responders, law enforcement agencies, cities and neighborhoods.
 
We especially want to pray for those who have lost loved ones through illness or social conflict.
 
It has often been our practice on Fourth of July weekend to have a guest preacher. This year I have asked my own son-in-law, Lt. Commander Mike Evans to fill that important slot for us. Mike is a Physician’s Assistant in the Navy, who has had two tours in Afghanistan and one in the White House Medical Clinic, and he currently serves at the Marine Base in Quantico. He also volunteers his service at the Living Water Community Clinic, and he is in training to become a Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church.
 
So, I think he will bring a unique perspective to our Sunday worship!
 
July 5 is also the first Sunday of the month, Communion Sunday. As we did on June 7, for those who wish to participate, we will offer an extended Home Communion at the end of our online worship, using elements that will have been consecrated on the Wednesday before.
 
Note: if you wish to participate, you will need to pick up these consecrated elements at the church on Thursday afternoon, July 2, as the office will be closed on Friday.
 
On July 12, 2020 we will resume corporate Sunday worship with two services in the Worship Center. Both will be “Blended” in style, but the 8:30 service will lean more toward the “Traditional,” and the 11 AM service will lean toward the “Contemporary.”
 
All of the information regarding re-opening will be found on our web site at www.lowchurch.org/reopening. Click on the Reopening Information banner at the top of the home page.
 
Those who wish to attend the services on July 12 will need to pre-register by calling the church office (540) 972-9060 or by using the online registration. To register online please use the links on the reopening page and follow the link to the signup for either the 8:30 service or the 11 AM service.
 
I look forward to sharing these special times with you, either in person or online.
 
Love to you in our Lord,
 
 
John

June 16, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

Dear Church Family,

At its monthly meeting last night, the Board of Elders voted unanimously to resume corporate Sunday worship beginning on July 12, with two services in the Worship Center, at 8:30 and 11 AM.
 
We requested your feedback and prayers as we considered how to best move forward. Thank you for both! There was very strong support for returning to corporate worship, even from some who do not feel personally ready to attend out of caution regarding health issues.
 

I want to give you the details of the Elders’ decision, and reassure you of two very important things:

1) We will be taking every precaution to maintain everyone’s health and safety in accordance with the CDC’s recommendations for “best practices,” and

2) We will continue our online worship services even as we return to meeting together.

The last two Wednesdays we have had communion in the Worship Center, and that experience will serve as a model for taking this next step. Those who wish to attend on July 12 will be asked to:

  • pre-register with the church office (so we can arrange proper distancing in seating (there will be a maximum of 100 persons in any given service, and individuals or families will be seated 6 feet away from other individuals or families),
  • use hand-sanitizer upon entering the building,
  • wear a face protector/covering (except for those who are speaking to the congregation in leading worship),
  • use only designated restrooms, which will be frequently cleaned by our custodial staff, and
  • refrain from mingling before and after the services.

 

We will have a well-trained team of ushers directing people to and from their seating in the Worship Center. And we will not be providing coffee or other refreshments at this time.
 
We will be in the Worship Center, in part, because there we can provide a “touch-less” service. Everything will be projected on the overhead screens, and offerings may be dropped into a designated box (rather than passing a plate to receive them).
 
The Elders also voted to allow groups (Bible Studies, other small groups, AA, etc.) to resume meeting at the church under similar precautionary conditions. All such groups will have to pre-register with the church office and agree to these conditions. We believe that insisting on these measures will protect the health and safety of those coming into the church building.
 
At the same time, we recognize many of our members and regular attendees are in high health-risk categories, and they may not be ready to return to corporate gatherings yet. We are delighted that today’s technology allows us to be “together” electronically, and we intend to continue our online worship indefinitely.
 
(Our hope is to acquire the equipment and the skill to live-stream our worship rather than pre-recording it. But that’s still a bit further ahead.)
 
In all these things we give thanks for the Body of Christ, and we are deeply conscious of how much we need each other. When St. Paul wrote to the Philippians, he said “whether I see you in person, or only hear about you, I want to know you are standing firm in one spirit and striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel.” (1:27)
 

May that be true of us, as well.

Love to you in our Lord,

John

June 5, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

“Let us not neglect meeting together.” (Hebrews 10:25

Dear Church Family,

I think it was a nearly flawless reopening, thanks be to God!! About 60 of us gathered in the Worship Center on Wednesday at 6 PM. We all wore masks (except when speaking), and we observed social distancing. We sang (gently). And we shared the bread and cup of Holy Communion.

As the singing began, I found myself tearing up. I hadn’t realized how much I missed being together for worship!

Yesterday and this morning approximately another 60 people have come to the church parking lot to pick up pre-packaged Communion elements that will be shared at the end of Sunday’s online worship. And we have delivered packets to a few of our members who could not make it to church themselves.

We have discovered that the distinction between “juice” and “wine” is negligible! The “wine” is Concord Grape, and it is less than a thimble-full, mixed with ½ water. So, going forward, we will simplify, and just use packets with “wine.”

Our plan is to continue with our Wednesday evening Communion services, and on the first Sunday of the month, append an extended Home Communion to our online worship.

And our Wednesday evening experience is a model for returning to Sunday morning corporate worship. We hope and expect to do that within a month. Please pray with us for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance as we plan for this next step in reopening.

In about a week we will be sending out a very brief survey, asking your feedback regarding our online broadcasts, our Wednesday Communion, and this Sunday’s extended Home Communion.

I want to say how grateful I am for all those who are working so very hard to enable our efforts to be as much together as is possible under our present restrictions. We have an amazing staff and team of volunteers!

And, more than that, we have an amazing Lord, who has so wonderfully been with us during this very strange season in our lives.

 

My love to you in him,

John
 
 

June 1, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

Dear Church Family,

I wrote last week about beginning to reopen the church with the celebration of Holy Communion on Wednesday, June 3. As of this morning just over 50 people have registered to attend. We are so looking forward to being together again!

We know many would like to share in that service, but they are not ready to return to corporate worship. So, we are planning to provide Home Communion next Sunday with elements consecrated on Wednesday evening.

We will include a time for sharing the bread and cup at the end of next Sunday’s online worship, and we invite you to pick up prepackaged elements in the church parking lot on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. Please do come if you can.
 
 

PICKUP IN CHURCH PARKING LOT

If you would like to participate in Communion at home on June 7, you may register to pick up Communion packages which will be distributed in the church parking lot on Thursday from 1-5 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. To sign up for pickup at the church please use this link.

Click here to pickup at church.

 

There may be others who would also like to participate, but who cannot make it to the church. In that case, we will arrange for the elements to be delivered to your home.

 

HOME DELIVERY

If you cannot make it to the church, you may use the following link or call the church to request that packages be delivered to your home by the Visitation Ministry. Packages will be delivered on Thursday and Friday.

Click here for home delivery.

This is new to all of us, and it will certainly feel unfamiliar! But we are asking God to bless this attempt to be as much together as we can under our present strange circumstances.

Let’s continue to pray for each other and ask the Lord to make this a very special week for Lake of the Woods Church.

Love to you in him,

John

 

May 27, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

Dear Church Family,

One week from tonight we will take the first steps in re-opening the church. We will celebrate Holy Communion in the Worship Center on June 3 at 6 PM. This Update is primarily for those who plan to attend that service.

We continue to urge those who are at high risk to not return to corporate worship just yet. Keep praying for the discovery and development of effective treatments and vaccine as we battle this virus.

For those who do attend, we will be observing social distancing and we are asking everyone to use a mask and hand sanitizer upon entering the building. You will need to register beforehand so we can plan our seating appropriately.

To register for this service, please use the link below using a computer or tablet (cell phone registrations are sometimes problematic). If you are unable to register online, please call the church office at (540) 972-9060.

Click here to sign up for Wed. night Communion – June 3

Note: we will film the consecration portion of this Communion service and append it to our Sunday online service on June 7, for those who wish to participate in an extended “Home Communion” service, and I will send out information about that early next week.

For those who have not previously attended on Wednesday evenings, let me say that the service is a bit more structured and participatory than our first Sunday Communion service, but everything you need to participate will be projected onto screens. The service itself usually is about 40 minutes in length.

I am so looking forward to sharing this special time with many of you!

Love to you in our Lord,

John

May 20, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

Dear Church Family,

Last month I asked you to pray with us about how and when we can begin returning to corporate worship, and especially how we can return to sharing Communion – the Lord’s Supper. (Thank you for doing so!)

We have devised a plan for the first steps in reopening, and I want to outline it. Of course, we still urge those who are at high risk medically to remain sequestered for now.

On Wednesday, June 3 – two weeks from today – we will open the Worship Center for a service of Holy Communion at 6 PM. (We will meet in the Worship Center so we can observe strict safety guidelines.) Everyone will be expected to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer in entering the building. Everyone wishing to participate will need to register beforehand so we can arrange social distancing in seating. (We will send details for doing this next week.)

Note: restrooms will not be available; please plan accordingly.

The Communion elements (wafers and wine or juice) will be prepackaged, and after they have been consecrated, they will be distributed by ushers wearing gloves. We will “eat the bread and drink the cup” together in that service.

But we will also film the consecration of these elements, and we will consecrate enough of these packages to make them available for the following Sunday – June 7, as well.

Parishioners who wish to participate in an extended Communion celebration on Sunday morning will be invited to come to the church on Thursday or Friday, June 4 and 5, to pick up these consecrated elements.

OR if it is impossible for you to get to church, you may request delivery of these elements to your home on those days.

Then, on Sunday, June 7, at the end of our regular podcast, we will append the film of the consecration of the elements, and those who wish to participate at that time will be invited to consume the bread and the cup together.

We understand this may feel somewhat awkward, but we hope it will be a good first step toward resuming corporate worship. We will learn as we move forward and make changes as necessary.

Thank you for your prayers. We welcome and solicit your comments and suggestions.

 

Love to you in our Lord,

John
 
 

April 29, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

“When you come together to eat, wait for one another.” (1 Corinthians 11:33)

 

Dear Church Family,

One of the hardest parts of this time of quarantine is not being able to worship together. We have received many expressions of appreciation and gratitude for our podcasts these past two months, but we are painfully aware they do not fully satisfy the need. And specifically, there is a need for sharing the Lord’s Supper.

May 3, next Sunday, would normally be Communion Sunday. But it is also Mission Sunday for us this year, so even if we could be together in the building, we would move the communion service to a later date.

Some have suggested we devise a kind of “virtual communion” in which people participate in their homes with a service that is streamed or podcast. And others have asked whether we might attempt a “drive by” service in the church parking lot.

We have not ruled out such approaches going forward, but given our “multi-denominational” character, we are reluctant to do something contrary to the understanding and teaching of many of our constituent traditions about the nature of Communion.

From the earliest New Testament days, the Lord’s Supper has been a corporate experience. The very word “communion” derives from “common union.” It is shared. (Not “virtually shared.”) And many of our major denominations stipulate that a member of the clergy must officiate and physically touch the elements.

In the meantime, there is absolutely nothing that precludes a family from sharing bread and wine/juice at home and pausing to “remember” the Lord Jesus in doing so. They might do this at the beginning or the end of a regular meal (or it might be on its own), and they might read and reflect on one of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-23, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Many theologians would call this a “Love Feast” or an “Agape Meal,” and carefully distinguish it from Communion with a larger congregation in an “official” church setting. But, in this time of enforced separation, this might be a very special alternative for our families.

The Board of Elders has asked a Special Committee to begin thinking, planning, and praying about how and when we can return to corporate worship. Please know that we are eager for this to happen just as soon as it can be done safely. Please pray with us for the Lord’s clear direction. And, in the meantime, don’t just Keep the Faith – give it away!

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

John

 

April 24, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

Dear Church Family,
 
I want to remind you of a couple of important things.
 
First, the May issue of CrossCurrents is now available on our web site: lowchurch.org. I think it is one of the best issues so far! Thank you for all your good suggestions earlier in the year; we were already beginning to implement them before the current shut-down was upon us, and we are continuing to do so going forward. I think CrossCurrents has become much more of a real newsletter than ever before, and having to produce it electronically has actually helped to make it better.
 
So, please keep “checking in” at our web site. We are doing as many things on our YouTube channel as we can, and the easiest way to find them is to scroll down to the bottom of our Home page, and click on the YouTube button.
 
I want to particularly thank our staff for their podcasts and other continuing ministries: Adam Colson has been doing wonderful daily meditations on Sacred Rest, and Jordan Medas, and wife Lisa, have been doing a study in Philippians for young families on YouTube.. Mike Lemay is doing both GriefShare and DivorceCare on Zoom, John Higginbotham is doing the Higher Grounds Youth Service on both Facebook and YouTube, and the Wednesday Youth Group on Zoom. And Mandy Robinson is continuing the Children’s Story Time on Facebook, and the Kids’ Bible Club Lesson on Zoom.
 
If you have missed any of the podcasts you can still find them on our YouTube page.

Second, Mission Week begins with the first of several missionary interviews on this Sunday afternoon, April 26. In years past we have had various of the missionaries and ministries we support come in person to our mid-week gatherings at the church. Since we cannot do that this year, we will be airing podcast interviews with them: one on Sunday afternoon at 3 PM, then two each day, Monday through Saturday, at 8 AM and 3 PM respectively.
 
Adam has been doing these interviews, and he tells me they are absolutely amazing; “They will bring tears to your eyes,” he says.
 
On Wednesday evening, April 29, we will be streaming the movie “EE-Taow.” That is a phrase meaning “I Believe” in the tribal language of the Mouk people in Papua New Guinea (said to be the most underdeveloped country in the world). The film tells the story of a Pennsylvania couple who heard a call from God to take the gospel to this tribe, and the joy of those who received it.
 
Note: Streaming is not podcasting. This will ONLY be available for viewing at 7 PM, and to see it you will have to tune in at that time. Again, go to our web site, scroll down to the bottom of the Home page, and click on our YouTube channel.
 
Our guest preacher for this year’s Missions Sunday, May 3, is Kerry O’Neill, Regional Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and this promises to be a very different and very fun presentation. Please tell your friends about it.
 
Third, here within Lake of the Woods, we have been invited to air our Sunday podcasts every morning of the week following on channel 18 at 11 AM . This is a wonderful new opportunity to share both the gospel and our fellowship as believers. Please pray with us that many within the neighborhood who don’t usually attend the church will be drawn into our electronic fellowship and come to know the Lord more deeply.
 
Finally, many of our church family have been asking about Communion. Not being able to share the Lord’s Supper with each other is a great sadness. Governor Northam’s executive order was to suspend group meetings until at least June 10. At its monthly meeting last Monday (by Zoom) the Board of Elders established a special committee to explore and propose how and when we can begin to resume meeting together, and in particular how and when we can resume the celebration of Communion. We are very hopeful that we will be able to do this in June. Please pray for the Lord’s guidance and direction for this committee as it addresses this extremely important question.
 
Meanwhile, Jesus is Lord. Right now. Stay close to him.
 
John

 

April 15, 2020 – Update from Dr. Howe

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
Thank you! for all the notes of encouragement for our podcasts over the last few weeks, and especially during Holy Week. It seems that many of us shared in contemplating the Seven Last Words from the cross – even though we had to do so electronically.
 
I want to commend a new series of daily podcast meditations that my friend and colleague, Adam Colson, has begun called “Sacred Rest.”
 

You will find them on our church YouTube Channel.

“Resting in the Lord” – in a time of frenetic activity prior to the Covid-19 virus, and since then in a time of quarantine – was a theme of Adam’s sabbatical last fall.
 
I am finding his reflections extremely helpful, and I think you will, as well.
 
Our Board of Elders meets (by Zoom) next Monday night. Please pray as we seek the Lord’s direction regarding how we go forward in this continuing crisis.
 
When the government says we can begin meeting together again…do we do so sitting six feet apart? How do we greet each other? What is the (new) focus of our outreach?
 
We need his wisdom/guidance regarding these important questions. Pray with, and for, us.
 
Jesus is Lord. Right now. Stay close to him.
 
Love to you in Jesus,
 
John
 

April 10, 2020 – Good Friday Update from Dr. Howe

“Mommy, why do they call it ‘Good’ if it’s the day Jesus died?”

It is often, but incorrectly, said that the name of this most terrible/wonderful day of the year derives from “God’s Friday,” in the same way that “goodbye” is a contraction of “God be with you.” It actually comes from the now nearly-obsolete sense of the word “good,” meaning “holy,” or “pious.”

Historically, the day that marked the death of Jesus was known as “Black Friday” – because of the eerie darkness that accompanied the crucifixion. And because it is a day of mourning.

Other names for it were: Great Friday, Long Friday, Mourning Friday, Silent Friday, Crucified Friday.

But it is also “Good” Friday because God turned the greatest miscarriage of justice in history, the execution of his own sinless Son, into the greatest blessing the world has ever known: salvation for all who trust in him. (“You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”)

Our series on the Seven Last Words from the Cross concludes tomorrow. Thanks to all who have shared these meditations with us. And special thanks to Kevin Paxton, who has done nearly all the technical work of putting these podcasts together.

On Easter Sunday morning we will have two “services” on our website, Facebook and YouTube. John Higginbotham is leading s Sunrise Service from the Clubhouse Point – aimed primarily at our teens (but anybody can tune in). This will air from 6 – 7 AM. Then, at 8:30 we will have our podcast from the Lake of the Woods Church Sanctuary.

Please do “join” us. Even though we can’t be together in person we can be together in prayer.

Thanks be to God for his inestimable gift.

My love to you in him,

John

 

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