March 17, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
None of us could have ever imagined that we would experience a worldwide health crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is having serious implications for the lives of people in our community, in Canada, and around the world. This pandemic has also impacted our life together as the congregation of Zion Lutheran Church. At the advice of the bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Huron Perth Public Health, the Congregational Council has made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel all worship services and public gatherings for the duration of the outbreak. We do not know when we will be able to gather again for worship and other activities within our congregation, but we will continue to keep in contact with all of our members and pray for the health and safety of all who are impacted by this unprecedented virus.
While we will not be able to gather in person for the foreseeable future, there are many ways in which we can stay connected with one another and continue to support the ministry we share in Zion Lutheran Church:
- We will be posting sermons, worship materials, and other information on our congregational website: zionstratford.com. I will also be posting information and updates on my Facebook page: Jeffrey Laustsen.
- We encourage everyone in the congregation to stay connected with one another via phone calls, emails, video chats, and other means of communication. I encourage everyone to take out their congregational directories and call a few people, especially our homebound members and all who may have to self-isolate during the outbreak.
- We encourage everyone to continue to their financial support of our congregation while we are unable to gather for worship. Pre-Authorized Remittance is the best way to continue to contribute to the ministry of the church while we are absent from one another; you can call the church office for additional information. You may also mail your offering envelopes to the church or drop them off in the mail slot which is on the Erie Street entrance to the office wing.
- If we are unable to meet for Holy Week and Easter worship, we will move these worship gatherings to later in the year when we are able to gather again. Since every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, our homecoming will be a most joyous celebration of the joyous message that “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
During these uncertain times, we live in the sure and certain hope that God is with us always and will give us the strength to meet these days of worldwide pandemic in the comfort of a holy and certain hope. May God bless all of us until we meet again!
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Jeff Laustsen
Policy on Addressing Issues and Concerns in the Congregation
“But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” Ephesians 4: 15-16
In order to fulfill its responsibility to “promote congregational unity and good will (and) foster mutual understanding in times of conflict” 1, the Congregational Council has adopted this policy for addressing issues and concerns regarding the life and ministry of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Stratford, Ontario:
- All members affirm their right to express their opinion about the life and ministry of the
- The congregation operates with a direct democracy that supports members in sharing their opinions openly with the Pastor, congregational council and at congregational meetings.
- When a member of the congregation expresses an opinion to a council member, the council member shall ask – “what action would you like congregational council to take with this information?”
- When the member desires to have the information taken to the congregational council, the member shall be invited to bring the information/opinion/issue to the next council meeting and the date and time will be given to the member. The concern, presentation and action taken will be recorded as part of the Minutes.
- When the member does not wish to appear in person, the council member in question may present the information/opinion/issue on behalf of the member at the next council meeting. The member will be required to review the prepared submission by the council member and make any corrections, if necessary, to ensure the accuracy of the submission. Once agreed upon, the member will sign the submission. The concern, presentation and action taken will be recorded as part of the Minutes.
- If the member desires that the council member present the information/opinion/issue at the next council meeting, the member must give permission to the council member to share the member’s name as part of the presentation. If the member desires to remain anonymous, the information/opinion/issue will not be addressed by the congregational council.
- A member also has the option to put in writing, signed and addressed to the Chairperson of the Congregational Council, the information/opinion/issue the member wants addressed.
- In this case, the Chairperson will acknowledge receipt of the correspondence and will share this correspondence with the Congregational Council Executive, who will assess the issue or concern and take appropriate action, or refer it to the Congregational Council.
Amended and adopted by the Congregational Council of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on December 12, 2018.
The Constitution and Bylaws of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, amended February 1, 2015, Article X, Section 7E.