Dear Members and Friends of Living Word:
After much deliberation and prayer, the pastors, staff and council of our congregation have decided to suspend all in-person worship at Living Word through the end of March or until further notice. We will offer worship via live stream through our website, Facebook page and other social media platforms. We have also decided to suspend other weekday ministry gatherings and use of our facility by outside groups until further notice.
This decision was not made lightly, but based on recommendation from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States be cancelled or postponed CDC. We consulted with the Gulf Coast Synod office of the ELCA, medical professionals and other faith leaders in our community. We believe this course of action is meant to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and to protect the most vulnerable in our community. This is part of a strategy called "Social Distancing" which is a data-driven approach to slow the spread of the disease and protect the most vulnerable.
Our decision is based in love, not fear. It is based upon the clear biblical mandate to protect and honor the most fragile in our midst (See 1 Corinthians 13). It is a way for us to model love to our community as a "living expression of Christ in the world."
We recognize that not all of those who are a part of our community of faith will agree with or be pleased by this news. We are in strange and uncharted territory here, so we ask for your grace and understanding and your trust that we have the community's best interest at heart.
Please be assured that the ministry of our congregation continues in other facets. The staff is still working, plans are being made for all aspects of our life in the weeks ahead. We hope, pray, and encourage that your support of the ministry will remain strong as well. Please email or call the office if you have any questions or concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Living Word have worship?
Yes, we will, but not in-person. We will have virtual worship through the month of March. Virtual Worship times are as follows:
8:00 am: Virtual Worship on our Website and Facebook Live
9:15 am: Live Virtual Interactive Bible Study on our Website and Facebook Live
11:00 am: Virtual Worship on our Website and Facebook Live
Will there be weekday virtual events to connect with for spiritual support?
Yes, many events have been scheduled including Wednesday Virtual Bible Study at 9:30 am on Facebook Live and Weeknight Story Time with Pastor Ariel at 8 pm on Facebook Live. To access all events, click the link below:
How are we supporting our seniors during this time?
We are acutely aware that the most vulnerable among us during this pandemic are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. We have a team of volunteers standing by to support our seniors and elderly with purchasing grocery, picking up prescription drugs, offering care and support or running quick errands.
How are we supporting our children, youth, young adults, and families during this time?
Resources are in the process of being created to continue to support our children, youth, young adults, and families such as online Sunday School and Confirmation lessons.
Below are some resources our Discipleship Ministry Team wanted to share:
The impact of “social distancing” on small businesses
As we go through this unprecedented time, let us be aware of those in our community and beyond whose income and livelihood will be dramatically impacted. The financial strain on families will be real. Now is the time for all of us to show extraordinary compassion and generosity as we are able. Please remember in your prayers all workers, especially those who cannot work from home and depend on commissions or are small business owners.
Now, more than ever, the church needs your financial support. Your generous financial support makes it possible for us to fulfill our mission, especially during this time of fear and anxiety. Our church must remain a voice of hope and comfort. Your financial generosity enables us to be a place of hope and compassion. While we may not gather in-person for worship, we can still support the ministries of Living Word through online giving.
Finally, a word of hope. We were never promised a problem-free existence. In fact, scripture makes clear that there will be times of tribulation. History is replete with tales of the triumph of the human spirit amid times of tribulations. That has to be true in our time. We have to summon what is best in us. We have to be led by faith. We have to familiarize ourselves with facts but not live in fear. In our practice of social or personal distancing we must hold one another in our hearts.
During hurricane Harvey, Psalm 46 became a source of comfort and inspiration for me. Living through that destructive period taught me to cherish every moment and to find the good even amid the chaos. Psalm 46 became my daily companion. I memorized it. I woke up reciting it. I pray that you find consolation, as I did, in its words and ancient wisdom:
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
May you always find refuge in God during times of trouble. This too shall pass.
Pastor Emmanuel Jackson