Dear Brothers and Sisters of Immanuel & St John’s,

I’m writing with sad news…the State and County Health Departments have officially and unequivocally closed all congregations for worship until April 22 (though it will probably be a bit longer in my estimation). They are threatening a $10,000 fine on any group religious meeting in-person, no matter how small.

We have been two of the few congregations who have continued to hold in-person worship services, and up to this point we have been carefully following their previous rules of social distancing and minimal occupancy guidelines. But those have now been rescinded. Any further assembling will be a clear breach of the law.

In consultation with leadership from both Immanuel and St John’s we have decided that we will comply with this order. We will not hold worship services until the Public Health officials deem it safe to do so.

We are doing this to minimize the spread of the very dangerous COVID-19 virus. This isn’t an attack on us as religious people; it is a public health issue. As Christian people we obviously care deeply about the health needs of both our own members, and of the general population around us. The NY State Dept. of Health, and our local Health Dept. deem this break in public assembly critical to local Public Health.  

At this time we are planning to postpone Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services until the next Thursday/Friday we can safely meet again. For Sundays between now and then I will (with the help of technology angels) post a brief service of word and reflection on both congregations’ websites. Please check in with those sites for further information.

Immanuel: http://www.lutheranolean.org/  & St John’s: http://www.stjohnsallegany.com/

The Peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor Derek