3-18-20 letter from LCC Leadership

Dear Life Covenant Church family,

 

In the past few days, our government officials—Mayor Collins, Governor Bullock and President Trump—have undertaken measures not seen in decades to stop the spread of COVID-19. At all levels of government, they've requested that we not gather in groups—even groups over 10 people. That’s tough for churches where we love to be together in community for fellowship, for worship and for growing together in Christ.

 

Considering this, the Leadership Team has made the difficult decision to not have in-person worship services until further notice. We do this because we love each other, we love our community, and because we respect our leaders. We will, however, continue to have our regular live worship services via Facebook Live. I will be live from the sanctuary with Matt at our normal service times of Saturday at 5:30pm and Sunday at 9:00 and 11:00am. We’ll sing, we’ll share a children’s story a little bit differently and invite children to interact with me online, we’ll continue with our series called “72 hours” and we’ll add a 15-minute interaction time at the end of the service as well.  We are thankful for advances in technology that make this possible.

 

Also, we are going to continue to follow the lead of Governor Bullock and the school district in regards to our children which means our children’s and youth activities are temporarily halted until further decisions are made. Deanna Carlson, our Children’s Ministry Director, is working to provide families with resources for their children. Jolanda Songer and Matt Swider are in touch with their students as well.

 

Further, our building will remain closed until further notice. All classes and small groups that meet there will be postponed. Check with your small group leader about your group, because some will be meeting via technology. The church office will remain open and all of our staff is available on their cell phones.

 

While the building is closed, let’s be clear that the church—which is all of us—is NOT closed. I want to make some specific suggestions for you in the next week.

 

Join us online for a Worship Service. View it together as a family, sing along, add comments to the live stream, open your Bibles with us, fill out the sermon note sheet,  and interact online with the children’s story. In preparation for the service, read the passages about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane found on the “72 Hours” bookmark or on our website.


Be generous. 

  • Please continue your generous giving to our church during this time. As a congregation, we are committed to pay our staff, and to give to local ministries and worldwide missionary partners. To give, follow the instructions at www.lifecchelena.org/giving or by texting “givetolcc” to 1-888-364-GIVE (4483) and follow the instructions.
  • Look for needs of people around you and let’s be generous. It’s been encouraging to watch this happen already.

Stay connected.

  • Call people. In this time of separation, use a phone call, Skype or Facetime to connect. I believe those forms of communication are better than a text or email right now. Before all of this, we talked about how loneliness is becoming an epidemic, let’s fight that with purposeful connection. I encourage you to make at least two purposeful connections every day!
  • Share prayer requests by emailing them to lynnette@lifecchelena.org or by calling the office.

Thanks for reading this. Thank you for answering the perplexing questions of this past week with love and compassion. I love you and am praying that we will respond to the challenges ahead with courage and great hope.


Sincerely in Christ, 

 

Keith Johnson

3/15/20 Letter from LCC Leadership

Friends of Life Covenant:

 

We want to update you on Life Covenant’s response to what is happening around us in Helena. The Leadership Team has decided to suspend all youth programs for the week of March 16-20, 2020. This includes our Pre-School, AWANA, Confirmation, EnFuego, and Voltage. Further, we are going to shut down the entire building for the week. We are asking that no groups meet at the church facilities including adult studies, classes, or outside groups as well.

 

Only minutes ago, Governor Bullock announced all public K-12 schools are closing for two weeks. We will continue to monitor the situation in Helena and make further decisions at a meeting on Thursday, March 19. We have made no decisions yet about next weekend’s services. Thank you for your understanding regarding these matters.

 

I shared some thoughts with the congregation this weekend. Here’s some of what I shared:


…Let’s be careful, cautious, and sensitive to people around us right now. Why? Because as followers of Jesus, we desire to be kind and understanding and gracious to one another as a result of our desire to be like Jesus. Those fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—they need to be very, very, present in our lives in this stressful time.

When people around us are battling for hand sanitizer and toilet paper, we’re going to be kind and gentle and have all kinds of self-control. When others are loud and angry about decisions, we’re going to be peaceful, and patient and have joyful smiles on our face, because we are filled with the Spirit of God.

 

Let’s be gracious and understanding to people like Tyler Ream, the superintendent of Helena Schools, or other school leaders making very challenging decisions right now. Let’s be gracious and understanding in our conversations to leaders and staff of this church. Let’s be gracious and understanding to people like Governor Bullock and his team of leaders who have tough calls to make. Let’s be gracious and understanding to people like President Trump and his leaders and people like Senator Tester, and Senator Daines and Representative Gianforte who have a lot of weight on their shoulders right now.

Can you imagine all the weight these people and other world leaders are carrying right now? The last thing leaders need right now is more stress added to their lives. Maybe even take it step further and send our local leaders here a note of encouragement to say thanks for carrying this heavy burden and leading us.

 

And let’s be people who pray diligently for our leaders in this time of uncertainty. Let’s lighten their load with our prayers. Pray that they will make wise, Godly decisions. Let’s renew our commitment to prayer right now—prayer for each other, but for people all over the world struggling to find wisdom in the midst of all of this.

 

And let’s remember who we are and what we are to be about in a time of fear. Rodney Stark is an historian and he wrote about what Christians did during a time of great fear many centuries ago. He talks about the various epidemics of plague that swept through Roman Empire. This week the World Health Organization called what is going on right now a pandemic.

 

In 165 AD and 251 AD, two plagues devastated cities.  Communities were shattered and individuals couldn’t make sense of the world in light of it. Christian preachers reminded them of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. But they also urged Christians to keep showing love and charity, no matter what. This is what made the difference. And while pagan family members and even pagan medical people fled for safety at the first sign of disease, the Christian community rallied to care for people—not just their own families, but for sick strangers and even sick enemies left behind.

 

What will be said about us, the followers of Jesus in the midst of our current situation? Let’s remember that we don’t have to be fearful. Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in times of trouble,” 1 Peter 5 reminds us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Let’s be faithful, bold, courageous, caring, kind, empathetic, hopeful followers of Jesus in the midst of all that is going on around us right now. Because we are people of hope.

 

Courage!!

 

Keith Johnson on behalf of the Staff and Leadership Team at Life Covenant Church   

3/13/20 Letter from LCC Leadership

Friends of Life Covenant:

 

In the midst of growing health concerns, I want to share some thoughts with you. As information stands at this time, we are planning to continue our current worship schedule. Of course, everything could change quickly, as we’ve seen this week, based on information from local officials. I encourage you to visit our Facebook page, or our church website (lifecchelena.org) for the most current up-to-date notifications.

 

We all have heard about what we are supposed to be doing to be to protect ourselves and to curb further spread of the virus. I don’t need to add to that discussion. What changes, however, will Life Covenant make for the time being? First, as I said last week, the elbow bump for the time being will now be considered a warm hug. Let’s be aware that not all of us have the same ability to resist infection. Let’s be careful because we love each other and are kind and gracious to one another as a result of our desire to be like Jesus.

 

Second, we won’t pass offering plates on weekends but rather we encourage you to place your gift in offering plates that ushers will hold at the doors. We also strongly encourage you to consider online giving. As always, thank you very much for your faithfulness to Life Covenant. 

 

Third, we’ve been sharing communion a bit differently each month this year to seek to understand and identify with our fellow Christians worldwide. In our current situation, we’ll use methods of distribution that will minimize the risks to all of us as we worship.

 

As part of our on-going care for kids and families, Kids Church rooms will be disinfected between services and all church common areas will continue to be sanitized regularly.

 

If you are an individual with a compromised immune system or have any symptoms of illness, I want to encourage you to protect yourself and others by staying home. I also want to encourage you to go to our Facebook page and watch us online via Facebook live. While the streaming won’t be of professional quality and is only a temporary measure, it will give you an opportunity to participate from a distance. Of course, one of our concerns with people watching online is the loss of gathering together in community. We can mitigate this a bit by letting one another know of your online presence with a greeting and comments in the chat line. If you have questions or difficulty or need further instructions on how to do this, please call Pastor Neil’s cell phone 401.585.8517 and he will try to guide you. Again, if you are healthy, we encourage you to attend the regularly scheduled services.

 

In addition, to assist us in being aware of one another’s needs and to aid in our prayer for one another, please let us know if you are ill, by calling the church office, your small group leaders or one of the pastors. This is helpful all the time, but particularly during this time. Let’s renew our commitment to prayer right now—prayer for each other, and for people all over the world struggling to find wisdom in the midst of all of this. We would also like to help connect you to places and people that can help. This is one of those times where we can be the church for one another.

 

Finally, remember that we need not be fearful. In our time of “trouble”, Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in times of trouble,” and I Peter 5 reminds us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

 

Courage!

 

Keith Johnson on behalf of the Life Covenant Staff, Elders and Leadership Team