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St. Paul's Lutheran Church (LCMS)  |  37707 New Market Turner Road; Mechanicsville, MD

Church: 301.884.5184  |  Fax: 301.884.2063

16 May 2020

We had a Council meeting on Thursday and an Elders meeting last night to discuss our re-opening plans for St. Paul's. Although we are technically able to worship this Sunday, we are going to hold off on resuming Services to see how opening up the county affects the virus numbers in our county and surrounding counties. We have a number of elderly congregants, and we want them (as well as everyone) to feel safe returning for in person worship services.

So The plan is to rely on medical recommendations from our local medical community and re-asses and hold an elders meeting on Thursday, June 4th. If the numbers are still trending in the right way and we don't see a huge spike from opening up the county, then the plan is to return to in-house worship services on Fathers Day, June21st, 2020. If the numbers are spiking, we will reassess the situation and look to a date further in the future for opening up St. Paul's.

Our Goal is to make sure we are abiding with established CDC guidelines and that ALL members of St. Paul's will be comfortable returning to worship. We pray that we will soon be able to be together again. Our thought and hope is to be prepared and ready, rather than rushing back un-prepared. 

Until then, we will continue with our online worship services. If you need to meet with me, please give me a call (240) 424-2451. I am available and will do my best to meet any need you may have. Your Elders will also be making contact with you over the next few days to check in. I miss you all dearly ... Stay Safe until we meet again!

Your Pastor & Friend,

             Rev. Gary R. Pomrenke

31 March 2020

I participated in an online discussion with District President Denninger and numerous other pastors in our region and from various places all over the country earlier today. We shared what we are currently doing in our churches and how we are meeting the needs of our congregants. I shared with them that I drafted essential personnel letters for the key people that are needed for streaming our services to present to local authorities , if challenged.

I also contacted the St. Mary's Sheriff's office to ensure that we could still meet to stream our service from our church. They assured me that with the letters we could still continue with that practice even with the stay at home orders as I am deemed as Essential. We must continue to comply with the less than 10 people guideline. 

This Sunday (April 5th) is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. We will be streaming on Sunday at 1030 AM as we have the last two weeks.

We will also be streaming on Maundy Thursday (April 9th) at 6:30 PM.

We will also be streaming on Good Friday (April 10th) at 6:30 PM.

And Of Course ... we will be stream on Easter (April 12th) at 1030 AM.

I miss you all terribly and I pray that you are all safe and minding the rules that we have been given by President Trump and Governor Hogan.  This will pass ... but we need to do our part! I hope to see you all sooner than later. God's blessings to you all.

18 Mar 2020

My Beloved,
After my meeting with the Southeastern District and our elders tonight, these are the following steps that are being taken to ensure compliance with mandated assembly size. 

• For at least the next two Sunday’s we will be streaming our Sunday service at 1030 AM like we did last Sunday. (Previous weeks can also be viewed in the sermon section on our website). The plan as a district is to reassess in two weeks, but this could be our normally operating procedures for many weeks to come until we are released from the country wide assembly restrictions. Also, this very well could affect our Holy Week and Easter services. We will make that call when we get to that point. As you can see in the media, things are changing on an hourly / daily basis. 

• We will have a skeleton crew here (under 10) to go through the service and provide music and responses to the liturgy as well as the audio-visual piece that will be needed.

• I have formatted a service sheet that follows Divine Service Setting Five in our Lutheran Service Book that will be emailed and posted on a weekly basis so people can follow the streaming service live or when they choose to watch. This will include the weekly assigned Introit, Collect, and Readings. We will also be singing two hymns each week. This is to provide some sense of normalcy in these chaotic times we are currently experiencing.

• Communion will once again be offered when we are able to assemble together as the Body of Christ.

• If anyone needs to see me, I will be available as needed. All I ask is that you text or call me to set up a time to meet in the office.

• The office will be manned on Tuesday-Friday from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM in case there are any questions that you may have. 

• Our ongoing missionary outreach to the local food banks is currently in a holding pattern. One of the two food banks (Helping Hands) is closed and not accepting donations. We are waiting to hear back from Lifestyles regarding their current needs. Stay tuned for an update. 

• I will be doing a 4 minute “Facebook Live” devotion / word of encouragement, as often as possible, entitled “4 minutes of faith.” I will also post these to the website as well.

• If there are any needs that are not being met, please contact me on my cell phone and Tracie and I will do our best to help anyone who is in need to the best of our abilities. My Cell Phone number is (240) 424-2451.

• If you are feeling sick please don’t hesitate to be seen by medical professionals.

• Most of all … be aware that the world is looking at us Christians even more to see how we react. Are we amongst the hoarders that are ransacking local grocery stores or are we setting the bar of love for our neighbors? 

Lastly, I leave you with one of my favorite sections of scripture … Matthew 6: 25-34 (ESV) which says … (Christ is speaking)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This is our time to love unconditionally. Let the world see Christ through us … Let us love without ceasing. AMEN?

Your Friend and Pastor,
Gary R. Pomrenke

17 Mar 2020

Brothers & Sisters in Christ ... After guidance from a District wide Pastoral meeting today ... The decision has been made to suspend on-site worship activities for the next two weeks. I am meeting with the Elders tomorrow to decide on how best to serve your spiritual  needs to include streaming services over this time. Look for a follow up post tomorrow evening to outline what exactly that will look like.  Stay Safe  ... Pastor Pomrenke

13 March 2020

Greetings My Beloved!  I am writing this letter in order to inform you what steps are being taken here at St. Paul’s during this tense time as it pertains to the spread of the Coronavirus. 

It is my plan to send out weekly updates concerning the plan for our church over the next few weeks.  The situation is extremely fluid, so please bear with us as we make plans for the safety and health of our membership; yet also continue to gather to worship the Lord in spirit and truth.

As I write this, many businesses have decided to shut down for two weeks.  All schools in our area are closed.  Other businesses are closed.  The goal of these closures is to take preventative measures in order to stop the spread of this virus.  In my lifetime I cannot remember anything of this nature.  Truly, I cannot.

Having said this, fear is absolutely the wrong stature.  As Christians we do not proceed from fear – we proceed from faith.

Therefore, this is what the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church plans to do:

For Now, We will continue to hold public worship on Sundays. We will finish up the last two new members classes as the group is small. We will also continue with our plans for our scheduled Youth Gathering this Saturday. We will also discontinue our Men’s & LWML prayer breakfasts / dinners until we get through this. We will also cease worshipping on Wednesday’s, thus minimizing additional exposure. Based on District guidance, our service numbers fall well under the maximums for public gatherings at this point. We hope to be back on schedule by Holy Week, But again we will take a “wait & see” approach before making these decisions.  We will cease using the “common cup” for now. We will be using individual cups for both the host and the wine. Those preparing communion will be gloved thus minimizing any contamination. We will also be standing at the rail rather than kneeling to again limit the contact with surfaces multiple people may touch.

It is also an important reminder for us that the financial needs of the church do not disappear during these times. If you would still like to continue tithing during this time, there is now a link to donate through PayPay on this site and our facebook page. If that doesn't work, you can always mail your checks into the church office!

 Our custodian will continue to clean twice a week to include all door handles, sink handles, etc…to ensure that they are fully cleaned.  Also, there is hand sanitizer available when you walk into the sanctuary.

If you have been recently ill, or are currently ill, please remain home until all symptoms of illness have passed.  [If you are coughing, sneezing, sore throat, etc…]You will not be held accountable for missing the Sabbath: it is an act of love to not pass illness to another.  All information from the World Health Organization says that transmission is mostly through droplets from another human being. [I.e., coughing, sneezing, etc…] So if you are experiencing symptoms of illness, please remain home until all symptoms have passed. [BTW, this is good advice regardless of this outbreak]

I have spoken to the Sunday School Superintendent and she plans on being here for Sunday School this Sunday.  As do the other teachers so Sunday School will proceed as regularly planned this Sunday. Updates regarding the following weeks will sent out.

If you are planning on not attending worship, you can always watch the recorded version of our sermon.  You can go to our website and go under the Sermon tab and select the appropriate date. The will be uploaded no later than 1230 on Sunday afternoon.

If you contract the coronavirus please let us know.  We would like to inform our church body of possible exposure.  [Not that I, or anyone else, would use your name personally.  We would simply say, “someone that attended worship on X date has been found to have the Virus…] or some other like thing.

These are the steps being taken by St Paul’s Lutheran Church at this point.  Please allow grace with us and towards each other during this trying time. Now, I would like to take a moment and give a message from the Bible.  Something strange may be happening from our purview, but this does not surprise our Lord.  Please remember Jesus’ words in Luke 21:11-13, “11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness.”

Beloved, this virus is an opportunity to practice faithful Christian witness.  We will not panic.  We will not live in fear.  Please remember – please remember – that the question over whether or not we will die has already been answered.  It is answered in the affirmative – yes, we will.  The question is not will we die but will we truly live.  And for those that trust Christ the answer is, “yes!” 

Please remember Jesus’ words to Martha in John 11:25-26, “25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"  Beloved – do you believe this?  It is a great question.  I believe it.  I firmly believe it.  The Jesus we believe in is completely sovereign and completely in control.  There is no one like Him.  Confidently trust Him in this time.  In addition, love your fearful neighbors.  Calm them.  Turn them to Christ at this time. 

Beloved, this is just the beginning of birth pangs and these pangs have been felt in other generations.  God is simply waking us all up to the fragility of our lives and this world and He is calling us to our knees.  So, do that.  Pray.  Pray for wisdom.  Pray for peace.  And live lives holy and well-pleasing to the Lord.

Please remember Jesus’ words in John 14:27 – some of the most beautiful promises Jesus gives.  It reads, “27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  Fear is not of God: Peace is.  We have the Prince of Peace Himself with us.  Amen.
Your pastor and friend,

Gary Pomrenke