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LLC Board: Winter Services Announcement

Winter Services Opening Announcement in Phoenix, March 20-22, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in faith and all who are joining these services via this broadcast,

We warmly greet all of you and welcome you to these online broadcasts from the Phoenix Laestadian Lutheran Church on behalf of the sponsoring Arizona congregations as well as the LLC Board!

These special services are being held in an unprecedented manner. The church benches are empty but you, the service guests, are virtually present listening from the comfort of your home. Even though we long to be gathered together, the message and comfort of God’s word still reaches each of us bringing blessing, hope, and joy! May it also reach those who long to find the peace of heart and conscience seeking a gracious God.

The traditional LLC Phoenix Winter Services have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a sobering effect on the entire world. Nonetheless, God’s Word assures us that there is nothing new under the sun. Nothing happens without God’s knowledge. Let us put our trust in God!

As we consider the uncertainty that this crisis brings, it is good for us to pause to pray for our local authorities, national leaders, and medical professionals. We cannot fully understand the challenges they face, yet through their efforts we receive blessing and protection. They are ministers of God for our good (Rom. 13:4). We pray with the songwriter, Shield us and grant us your blessing. / Help us, Lord, most high. / Wisdom impart to our leaders; / may they regard their Creator. / Power is from on high; / virtue is in Your counsel./ Shelter our native land. SZ 535:1

In North America, national and local authorities have given us guidelines to help slow the spread of the virus. They have, using their best judgement and available information, continued to recommend that large gatherings be limited, both religious and otherwise. The LLC will continue to monitor the situation following the guidelines of the appropriate authorities, and will make changes accordingly. The Board is especially considering our upcoming camps and Summer Services.

The LLC recommends that each congregation follows the instructions of their national and local authorities. In these times, let us endeavor to lay aside our personal opinion about the seriousness of this pandemic and trust and heed the advice of our local, state, provincial and national authorities. We trust that God gives them needed wisdom to make decisions that need to be made in this time.

At this time, the LLC has suspended its LLC sponsored camp activities and foreign mission trips. We will continue to monitor this situation and reinstate these activities as possible. We have also cancelled our LLC Ministers Camp, which was scheduled for this April. We are also monitoring the situation as it may affect our LLC Summer Services and Annual Meeting scheduled for July 2-5 this year in Marquette, Michigan. We will announce any decision on whether these services will be held or not by May 1.

Just as the previous generations have worked together in times of natural disasters, war and economic turmoil, let us each take responsibility to do our part to help. We especially want to remember our elders and those with underlying health conditions while not forgetting that human life is fragile for all of us.

We can in faith also look for God’s blessing in these developments, blessings which for now may be hidden. We have been reminded what is most important in life, living faith and peace with God and how Jesus instructed us to care for our neighbor in love and with prayer. One other blessing in the midst of this trial is that it has provided a good opportunity and time to focus on those in our households, our closest ones.

Brothers and sisters, as we go forward day by day, may God give us continued patience and forbearance. Let us remember to pray! Pray on behalf of those who have fallen ill from this virus, for those who care for the ill and for those whose livelihood suffers from worldwide economic turmoil. Pray for the families who are affected as schools close and routines are upended. Let us remember those who are alone, those who are suffering, or need assistance at this time. Let us also comfort and support our children and youth who may feel distress in this uncertainty. We join with the words of the songwriter, Heavenly Father, God of all, / care for us, the weak and small. / Care for neighbors, family, / friends and loved ones dear to me. SZ 510:1

Let us look to God in all things. The psalmist writes “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1,2).

Again, a warm welcome to all of you to our online services!

May God richly bless and comfort us through these services!

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