A Pastoral Letter to the Members
of Immanuel Lutheran Church
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” (Psalm 122:1)
Dear fellow redeemed,
As many of you have no doubt heard, in her latest proclamation (04/27), Governor Reynolds outlined a plan for reopening Iowa. This plan includes an exemption for religious gatherings. Beginning May 1, gathering size restrictions are being removed for churches and places of worship. This means that our gatherings no longer need to be limited to 10 people or less, provided that we continue to adhere to social distancing measures and increased hygiene practices to reduce risk of transmission of COVID-19.
After consulting with our head trustee, elders, and chairman of the congregation, it is our intention to resume regular services in the Sanctuary beginning next weekend (May 9-10), following the same careful practices that we have been using in our smaller services. The following plan will remain in effect through the month of May:
• Beginning next week, we will resume regular weekly worship on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and Sunday at 10:00 a.m. with no limits on gathering size.
• Until we have a better idea of how many people we can expect for Holy Communion at each Service, please let us know how many in your family will be communing. You can go to our sign-up page or call the Church at 648-3756.
• Sunday School will remain suspended for the month of May. Adult Bible study will resume at the usual time (8:45 a.m.) beginning on Sunday, May 17.
• Services will continue to be live-streamed and recorded through May and can be found on our website at www.immanuellutheraniowafalls.org/services as well as at my YouTube channel.
The following practices will be observed to maintain reasonable social distancing measures and increased hygiene:
• We will rope off every other pew to keep adequate distance between groups.
• Offering plates will not be passed and services will continue to be printed out in their entirety to avoid having many hands touching the hymnals.
• Sanitizing wipes will be placed in each pew for families and individuals to wipe down their areas after use.
• We will not use the Communion kneelers at this time. Communion will be distributed at the front of the Nave, keeping a six-foot distance between each family unit.
• Handshaking and close contact should be avoided as much as possible before and after the Divine Service.
• I will continue to sanitize my hands immediately before distributing Communion, as I have been doing. And we will continue to soak the purificator in Everclear to cleanse the rim of the Chalice.
• Though not required, people may feel free to wear masks during the Service.
• Out of an abundance of caution, we encourage people who are at high risk or who are not feeling well to remain at home and to watch the video of the Service.
We hope that with these measures in place, people will feel confident and safe in coming back to the Church for corporate worship. However, we understand that there may still be those who are not comfortable returning at this time or feel that we are moving too quickly. For this reason, I will also be available for small group/family services by appointment for those who wish to avoid larger gatherings.
I continue to be grateful to you for your patience and understanding. And I praise our God and Father for a wise and prudent Governor who not only cares about the safety and health of Iowans but also respects the right to the “free exercise of religion” recognized by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Please remember to pray for her and for all our elected officials, as well as our Christian brothers and sisters in other states whose constitutional rights are not being respected in the same way.
Let us also keep in remembrance the many citizens who have lost jobs and livelihoods and the doctors and nurses and medical staff who are fighting this ongoing battle. We pray that the threat of this virus may be resolved very soon.
The peace of the Lord be with you!
Rev. Paul L. Beisel, STM., received his Bachelor’s degree from Concordia University, Nebraska, in 1997. He completed his Master of Divinity at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN., where he also received a Master of Sacred Theology in 2004 focusing on Exegetical Theology. Pastor Beisel served Concordia Lutheran Church in Warsaw, IL., and Messiah Lutheran Church in Keokuk, IA., from 2002 until receiving a Divine Call from Immanuel Lutheran Church in Iowa Falls, IA. He was installed as Immanuel’s pastor on November 15, 2009. In September of 2015, Pastor Beisel journeyed to South Sudan, Africa, where he taught the Book of Matthew to fourth year seminary students (sponsored by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation).
Pastor Beisel was born in Oklahoma City, OK., on May 19, 1975. He spent the majority of his childhood in Pittsburg, KS. From 1986-1987, Pastor Beisel lived with his family in Taichung, Taiwan. Since then, he has traveled to Thailand and Germany. Pastor Beisel and his wife, Amy, are the parents of Susan, Lizzy, Martin, and Theo. Pastor Beisel enjoys time with his family, music, tennis, reading, fine dining, and for good measure, some Lutheran Satire.
Pastor Beisel welcomes your e-mails.