News & Notes

April 2020 Update

April 01, 2020

As I write this, I feel regret that festivities of Lent and Easter take a backseat to the impact of COVID-19. Normally at this time of year we would be preparing for Easter, planning to attend Easter services and to gather with loved ones.

Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impact worldwide. It shows us that we cannot protect ourselves from everything. This previously unknown disease has caused anxiety and affected the lives of families and individuals. Such a threat naturally also affects people’s behavior and thinking. It is a reminder of how fragile we are and how we cannot control all things life brings.

For a moment, though, let us pause to reflect on the events of Easter. Even in the troubling times we live, a child of God has the greatest hope, the hope of resurrection in the glory of heaven. Jesus has opened the way for us.

Rejoice, O flock of children! Your faith is not in vain.
The sepulcher is empty. The enemy is slain.
Since Jesus won the battle with death and sin and hell,
where clouds and fear were reigning, there light and gladness dwell.

So, keep the feast of Easter! O flock of children, sing!
To Christ, the Lamb victorious, let thanks forever, ring!
Rejoice with full assurance as little children do.
The holy place of glory is now revealed to you.
(SHZ 117:1,3)

May God grant you and your loved ones a blessed Easter!

Authorities have given guidelines to help slow the spread of the virus. We are therefore unable to gather, and social gatherings are also limited. This does not, however, prevent us from hearing God’s Word. Congregations broadcast services online, and the LLC is working to enhance this area of work.

Updates on LLC Activities

  • The LLC continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and follows the guidelines of appropriate authorities. We will make changes and updates to our operations accordingly.
  • The traditional LLC Phoenix Winter Services were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, the Phoenix and Glendale congregations hosted online services March 20–22. We have received much positive feedback about these services and realize that even in this way God continues to care for His own.
  • Although Winter Services were canceled, technology made it possible for the LLC Board and staff to meet online for regularly scheduled meetings.
  • At this time of this writing, 2020 LLC Summer Services planning is moving forward as planned. The Summer Services planning committees along with the LLC office will monitor developments and make a decision by May 1st on whether services will be held.
  • All LLC camp activities have suspended for the time being. SLC Ministers Camp scheduled for April has been canceled; it may be rescheduled for a later date. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as necessary. Changes will be communicated to congregations in a timely manner.
  • Given increasing travel restrictions, some students returned home early from their opisto year. We have been in contact with the opistos and students’ families to help ensure a safe return.
  • LLC in connection with the MW3 Committee is closely monitoring how COVID-19 affects foreign mission work and mission fields. We abide by travel guidelines and restrictions established by various countries’ governments, including those of countries where we hold mission services.
  • For the time being, foreign mission trips are suspended. We have canceled planned trips and are not currently purchasing flight tickets for future trips. We will resume mission trips only when government agencies have deemed it safe to do so.
  • Meanwhile, we explore the possibility of arranging translated online services for Ecuador and African countries where possible.
  • The LLC Humanitarian Aid Committee continues to monitor developments in foreign mission fields during the COVID-19 outbreak. The committee will provide support to these areas as is necessary and possible.
  • Our Publications department planned to release two new books at Winter Services. One is Weighing the Walk, the fourth in the editorial series What Do Believers Say? The second book is a board book titled Jesus Loves Me. With the cancelation of Winter Services, the books are available for purchase on LLC’s website. They will also be available at your church bookstores.
  • The LLC Annual Meeting notice, agenda and delegate packet will be sent to congregations in mid-April. In addition, the 2021 Draft Operating Plan will be sent for review. The theme of the plan is “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isa. 40:11). A video will be available for the congregations to view. The video is especially intended in support of delegates as they plan for the LLC Annual Meeting. Since we are currently unsure whether Summer Services will be held as scheduled, we are making contingency plans for the LLC Annual Meeting.

God graces us with a time of work. May He continue to guide the efforts in His kingdom.

Eric Jurmu

 

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