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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll

August 2020

Who could have anticipated the upheaval that 2020 has brought? Yet Christ’s church continues to be “church” in the midst of it all. For some, worship just isn’t the same watching a video.  For others, a video service is a link to the familiar, a bright spot in chaotic times. When we can’t connect physically, worship somehow brings us together, even if it is from a screen, or a paper copy of the bulletin and sermon.

As some have returned to worship they have found that the familiar patterns of liturgy and singing, of closeness in the pews, of fellowship with friends, has been altered. And yet worship of Christ is accomplished in the midst of that unfamiliarity.

The word “worship” comes from the old English “worthy” and is the act of offering our praise and thanks to the Triune God. It is a response to all God has done, continues to do and will yet accomplish. God is “worthy” of our worship. If we worship with this as our focus, the who, what, where, when, why and how of worship do not matter as much as the desire to worship itself.

We yearn for the day when all of us will be able to safely gather together again in corporate worship to lift up our voices together in praise, thanksgiving, adoration and prayer. Until then, the worship space of our hearts joins us together in Spirit and the protocols put in place to allow for a safe gathering make worship together possible under the circumstances.

These past several months have been challenging when it comes to providing a worship experience that is meaningful and relates from church to home. It doesn’t just “happen.” I want to take this time to thank the Worship Division and Council for their input and advice in planning the video worship services and our return to worship in the sanctuary. Special thanks to my “right hand”  at the altar, Joanne Ricker who worked with me to come up with scenarios for meaningful, contactless distribution of communion and drive-up communion (one of the toughest challenges for our safe return) as well as other aspects of the worship experience.

At the start, it was just myself and Arlene Barnett finding our way through the recording of the service with Dave Coy’s help in the background (you may have caught a cameo appearance from Dave a time or two J). When it was obvious that we were going to be doing this for a while, I found a microphone that could pick up sound from all directions. This allowed for singers to be added to the service. Thank you Arlene, Dave, Tom Drotleff and Ray Wagner for your help in providing a meaningful video worship experience.

When we returned to worship in the sanctuary, Dave became our weekly reader, Joanne became our weekly communion assistant, Kurt Jackson took on the added responsibility of clicking through the PowerPoint presentation and Tom began to work on getting others involved in providing song. Kathy Williamson is now assisting with Communion as well as reading on Sundays. We look to add more readers to the mix shortly. Thank you to Dave, Joanne, Kurt and Kathy along with Jan McKenzie, Marsha Wilson and Mike Newman (singers) for your help in these areas. Thank you to Ken Woerther, Sharon Walker and Tim Gottschling for stumbling through ushering responsibilities in the first few weeks as things were all new to us.

Of course, my thanks would not be complete without mentioning how much Mary Mallory, our church secretary has done and is doing behind the scenes to make sure you can download a bulletin from our website, to create the PowerPoint slides you see each week, and many other details too numerous to mention that help our worship come together each week.

It has been a challenge, to be sure. Let us all pray for the day when it is safe for the ones we are protecting from this virus (by wearing masks, staying socially distant, staying at home and following recommended guidelines) to go unmasked, to hug one another, to get out of the house and gather in the pews of our choice and sing with full voice in familiar form and fashion.

Pastor Alan    

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Phone: 330-332-5042
Fax: 330-332-4405
Email: lutheran251@gmail.com
251 S. Broadway Avenue
Salem, OH 44460