NEWSLETTER – July 2020
Evangelisch-Lutherische St. Markusgemeinde
Vancouver, B.C. 1573 East 18th Avenue V5N 2H4
Liebe Gemeinde, liebe Freunde,
Ich sitze gerade in meinem Büro und erfreue mich des schönen blauen Junihimmels. Was macht den Monat Juni so besonders? Warum lieben die Menschen den Juni? Die Antwort ist: Es ist das Licht. Es sind die langen Tage. Das Licht der Sonne erhellt die Tage im Juni länger als in anderen Monaten. Wir Menschen lieben das Licht und den Sonnenschein. Sie tun uns gut an Leib und Seele. Wer in Vancouver wohnt der weiss, wovon ich spreche, da der Himmel hier oft verhangen ist und ich sehen kann, wie es die Leute nach drauβen zieht, sobald nach langer „Dunkelheit“ wieder die Sonne scheint. Wen wundert es da, dass die Bibel Gott gern als Sonne beschreibt, die in unser Leben hinein leuchten will.
„Ja, Gott, der Herr, ist die Sonne, die uns Licht und Leben gibt.“ Psalm 84,12 (Gute Nachrichtübersetzung) Ein guter Satz, gut zu hören in diesen coronagrauen Tagen. In diesem Zusammenhang habe ich mich auch an ein schönes Lied erinnert, dass ich oft und gern mit unseren Christenlehrekindern in der ehemaligen DDR gesungen habe.
„Gottes Liebe ist wie die Sonne, sie ist immer und überall da. Streck dich ihr entgegen, nimm sie in dich auf.“
Ein schönes Motto für den Sommer, der vor uns liegt. Dieser kurze Satz sagt uns: da ist ein Licht in dieser Welt, dass durch keine Finsternis erstickt wird. Ist es nicht ein schönes Gefühl, sich in dieser Liebe Gottes geborgen zu wissen? Tut es nicht gut, darauf zu vertrauen, dass Gott immer da ist, dass er mich mit seiner Liebe so umgibt, wie die wärmende Sonne. Wenn ich manchmal etwas länger in der morgendlichen Sommersonne sitze oder liege, dann kann ich diese Wärme auch in mir fühlen. Eine wohlige angenehme Wärme, die mich umhüllt und zugleich erfüllt.
So ist es auch mit der Liebe Gottes. Man bekommt nie genug davon! Wie der Sonne, so möchte ich mich auch der Liebe Gottes entgegenstrecken und sie in mich aufnehmen. Sie kann mein Leben und Denken zum Positiven ändern und leicht kann ich diese empfangene Wärme auch an andere weiterreichen.
Wenn Sie in diesen sommerlichen Tagen in der Morgensonne sitzen sollten oder spazieren gehen und die Sonnenstrahlen auf Ihrer Haut spüren, dann denken Sie daran: Die Wärme möchte Sie auch an etwas anders erinnern – an die Liebe Gottes, mit der Sie jeden neuen Tag in Ihrem Leben umgeben sind.
Ich wünsche Ihnen und Ihren Lieben einen schönen Sommer.
Freud und Leid
Im Juni verstarb unser Gemeindeglied und langjähriges Mitglied im Kirchenvorstand Herr Konrad Nadler. Wir bitten den Herrn den Verstorbenen in Gnaden anzunehmen und die trauernden Hinterbliebenen durch sein Wort zu trösten. Die Trauerfeier wird zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt stattfinden.
Unser Kirchenmusiker Dubravko Pajalic hat mich gebeten, auch an dieser Stelle nocheinmal allen Musikern zu danken, die uns bei der Ausgestaltung unserer Online-Andachten im Juni geholfen haben, indem sie uns ihre eigenen Aufnahmen zur Verfügung stellten. Wir danken dem Vancouver Chamber Choir, Frau Angelique Po, dem Vokalensemble Sirventes Berlin (21. und 28.Juni) und unserem Instrumentalkreis (21.Juni) ganz herzlich für Ihre Hilfe.
Wiedereröffnung der Kirche
Wie Sie ahnen werden, sind wir intensiv dabei an der Wiedereröffnung der Kirche zu arbeiten, wobei unser erstes Gebot ihre Sicherheit ist. Bitte lesen sie die Informationen auf den Seiten 4-6 dieses Briefes, die Pastorin Kristina Breit, die die Vorbereitungen koordiniert, zu diesem Thema gesammelt und zusammengestellt hat. Danke für Ihr Verständnis, Ihre Geduld und Ihre Unterstützung.
St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
Vancouver, B.C. 1573 East 18th Avenue V5N 2H4
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.(2. Tim 1:7)
Dear brothers and sisters,
When I checked my Facebook page last week, I found a very interesting article written by one of my Germany colleagues. He and his co-workers have tried to find a theological approach to the crisis that has been triggered by corona. I found their approach thought-provoking and want to share some of their thoughts with you.
First of all: The Corona-pandemic has shaken all corners of the world, all orders, systems and countries. It has shown to us, that despite all technical and scientifical achievements we cannot control nature. And, we have learned how vulnerable our lives are – in every aspect. The virus does not make a difference between rich or poor, old or young, nationality, social standing or anything else. The only difference made is: how your system is set up to deal with this, if your health-care is free and available for everyone, if a society watches out for those who are more likely to become seriously ill, and if the society and everyone in it is willing to restrict themselves and work together for the well-being of all. But after all, the pandemic is a crisis.
Crisis is a Greek word and originally means something like: decision, discernment, or decisive turn. A crisis is a situation in which all basic elements are questioned and is always a difficult situation. However, a potential solution is also assumed to be part of a crisis and considered to be available within the crisis.
The very first crisis the bible talks about is the creation: out of the chaos God creates a living space. But this living space depends on God’s ongoing control of the chaos and the floods. And at the end of the story of Noah’s arc, God makes a covenant, that he will never again destroy the creation, that live on earth will continue as a circle of growth and decay. Any natural disaster like an earthquake, but also the virus are part of this circle as an opportunity to bring forth new life and to develop new life.
On the other hand, many people speculate if the virus is part of a bigger plan of God. Some even assume it is the work of the devil, or God’s punishment which calls us to change our lives. The virus then would be a medium of education for us. But we need to remember that the virus affects everyone, does not differentiate between people according to their behaviour. Therefore, it cannot be a punishment of God, as it even affects Christians of all denominations, age, orientation and so on. The book of Job and even more Jesus’ death on the cross, both show: God does not treat us according to our behaviour or way of life. Otherwise Job would have not been hit with all the disaster, Jesus would have not brought peace with God through the cross. And where we believe in God, there is no room, to believe in an independent devil.
Maybe it is rather helpful to be reminded by the story of creation, that the nature must be controlled and regulated by humans. God passes the responsibility and ability to deal with nature onto the humans in the very beginnings of creation. As people being made in the image of God, we are called to be creative, to discern and decide what will be solutions in this crisis. As those who are called to be “keepers” of the garden, we are part of this garden at the very same time.
But when God passed on responsibility to the humans, he did not disappear and distance himself. The whole bible reminds us that God is a God who cares, who is near his people within the crisis, even in situations where they do not see or recognize him. Just remember Jakob fighting at the Jabboc-river. For Jacob it is a life-threatening, life-changing situation – he will limp afterwards! – but he also learns: God was so close to him, as he could have never even imagined. God did not leave him, in fact: he was right there.
God’s presence in crisis, it also shows on the cross. God himself puts once again boundaries to the powers of death and chaos. In the resurrection God opens a new way of life, new opportunities and gives us the hope that even in the deepest crisis, there is a way out, a tomorrow, a way to and for life.
And, as God has given us the power, the discernment and the possibility to make decisions – we can help in overcoming this crisis. I do not have to repeat what we have heard many times in the news: the steps and measures we can follow to reduce the spread. I do not have to repeat, what I have said before: steps on how to reach out and support each other in this crisis.
New life within the crisis: I personally have made the experience, that some of my relationships have changed: I have grown closer to people around me, I have renewed friendships and contacts to colleagues here and in Germany because we help each other with ideas and tipps, I have re-connected with people, simply I was concerned about them. As tiring as this time is, I also see the growth, the new life flourishing.
I wish all of you, that you make your own experiences of new life, of growth and the power you have to make a difference in this time of crisis.
In Christs love,
Dear Church Members,
in the last meeting on June 9th, the Church Council decided to begin the process of planning for the reopening of our buildings, restarting our groups, and having in person Church Services. I would like to share with you all some of the challenges we face and where we are at with our planning right now.
In the beginning of the pandemic, we thought we could reopen quickly and pick-up where we left off. Sadly, this was not the case. Going forward we will have to adjust the way we gather to ensure the safety of all our Church Members and these adjustments will have to stay in place for an extended period of time. The restrictions that have been put in place by the BC Government on the number of people gathering indoors, will stay in place at least until the end of the next flu season. This means we must plan long-term and consider how COVID spreads.
Infections with COVID can spread through:
a) Aerosols – Little particles in the air, that can carry the virus. They are distributed into the surrounding air and inhaled by our breathing. This is a challenge for indoor meetings, as the aerosols can stay in the air for up to 5 hours.
b) Contaminated Surfaces – Surfaces on which aerosols have settled or have been touched by someone carrying the virus.
c) Sharing Food and Drinks – Aerosols settling on shared food, cutlery, dishes and more.
This means we must consider how we can keep our gatherings safe and keep everything as clean as possible.
At the council meeting, a 5+ Step Planning Guide for a staged reopening of our buildings and a restarting of our groups was accepted. The steps in this guide are not written in stone but give a general idea what the next steps could look like. Currently our reopening plan looks like this:
- Church and Memorial Services, Sunday School, Sunday Youth Classes
- Re-inviting low-risk groups of St. Marks
- Re-inviting low-risk community groups.
- Re-introducing Holy Communion, Re-introducing Holy Baptism
- Additional Steps of reopening which will need to be planned out as we are nearing this stage
As mentioned, this plan is not written in stone! It is something like a travel guide for the journey we are taking together. It will need to be assessed and adjusted according to the situation. We will be using government policies, recommendations, and requirements to guide our decision making. We will also monitor the general situation to see what the next steps will look like.
Where Our Plans Are:
Church Council has decided to prepare for a gradual reopening of our Church and its buildings for Sunday services, Sunday School and the Sunday Youth Classes. This allows us to get an idea how gatherings will work in this situation, and will give us a chance to adjust our approach as necessary.
Church Council adopted the following policies until further notice:
- All group meetings are suspended, and no meetings shall happen in our buildings and on our properties while we prepare for reopening and during Step 1.
Exemptions are for the preparation of reopening, cleaning, council meetings and the recording of services or the services itself (including Sunday School and Sunday Youth Classes). This allows us to keep everything as clean as possible and signal to our neighbours and our community that we are taking the situation seriously and will reopen slowly and with caution.
- People who have symptoms related to COVID-19, have travelled recently outside of Canada, or have been in contact with a person who showed symptoms are not allowed to enter the Church. We ask everyone who feels sick, has symptoms or knows they have been in contact with someone who tested positive, to stay home.
- Upon entering and leaving the church, we ask everyone either to use the hand-sanitizer provided at the entrance/exit or to wash their hands in one of our washrooms.
- In all our buildings and on our properties a 6 foot distance shall be maintained at all times between those who do not belong to the same household or “bubble”. Please do not shake-hands upon arrival or exit or hug each other if you are not from the same household. For the time being we simply must be happy to see each other, gather for our services and know we are not alone.
- Masks are not mandatory, but we kindly ask and strongly recommend wearing a mask while you are in our buildings. This simply helps to limit the number of aerosols in the air – of those air-particles that could carry the virus.
- Whenever we come together for a service or for a group meeting, a list of all people present shall and will be prepared. This will help us in case one of us gets sick, to quickly notify anyone who might have been in contact. I hope we never need it, but I want us to have the lists, when we need it. Please help us to remember the lists and to maintain them. We will have to keep the lists for 30 days, after that they will be destroyed.
- Until further notice, no food shall be prepared, consumed or shared in our buildings. All our kitchens are closed for usage at this point. No hot drinks shall be prepared or shared. Everyone can bring a water bottle for personal use. But we ask you kindly not to share any drinks with each other.
Dear Church Members,
We still have no sure time of reopening. Pastor Ermisch and I hope that we manage to be ready for opening some time in August. Please understand – there is no guarantee that this is possible. Among the things that we have to finish before opening are a hygiene-policy, a detailed safety plan for Work-Safe BC and our Insurance Company, arrangements with our cleaning company and last but not least: a careful preparation of our buildings and of those who will need to help when we resume in-person services. I really look forward to having all of you “back in church”. Many things will be different, but that is not important. What is Important is: we can gather to worship, hear God’s word and be assured, that we are walking through this together. A lot will be different, but we are still the same people: children of God gathering as St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.
You have all done such an incredible job by providing us with the necessary funds to help keep us going, now your task also will be to help us to regather in a safe manner. Each one of you can contribute by simply following the rules and the instructions of ushers upon your arrival at the church.
In the next Newsletter, hopefully we will be able to tell you all more about how our services will work, what they will look like, and what you can expect when you arrive for worship. Please Stay Safe – we really want to see you back at church!
For the Church Council,
Pastor Kristina Breit