Message from Pastor Dan on Reopening LCI
June 26, 2020
Dear LCI family,
As we get into the summer months, many of you are no doubt wondering when we will “reopen” the church and “get back to normal”, as shelter in place is lifted, and businesses are starting to do. There are two answers to that question: one is the formal answer – i.e. what processes are in place to make sure we can open safely, which I will describe. The other is a much more disappointing, but honest answer, which I will start with.
The truth is, we will gather in person for worship at some point, but we will not be “going back to normal” anytime soon. Worship as we know it has been dramatically changed by the novel coronavirus, and we have made it a priority to keep our community safe by not gathering people in large numbers, which could spread the virus. I have talked to many of you, and you are aware of this and supportive of it in principle, which the Council and I very much appreciate. We are fully aware how disappointing this is. We long so much to see one another, to hug or shake hands, to talk again in person over a cup of coffee (the “third sacrament”!!) and so on. We miss each other. It hurts to be separated. It is an unusual and disorienting time. We get it. Nobody wants this, but it’s what health and safety requires of us for the moment.
All of that being said, it is not true that nothing is happening – quite the contrary. Like pretty much every other institution of modern life, over the past three months we have had to reinvent ourselves as a community and how we do what we do. The facility is shut down, but “the church” is not closed – the church is never closed because it is the community of the baptized. YOU are the church. True, being the church is significantly more challenging than it was in early March, when we gathered for worship at 8:30 and 10:30 am on Sunday mornings; had coffee hour and Sunday School for all at 9:30 (doesn’t that sound nice?), but that doesn’t change who we are in any way.
How we have changed: we prepare worship services that are recorded and put up on our YouTube channel. They are posted to our Facebook page and e-mailed out to the whole congregation Sunday mornings. We have daily devotional videos (most days) from the pastor and other staff and lay volunteers (thank you for your help with this!). We have coffee chats on Sunday mornings at 10:15am over Zoom, along with other meetings and gatherings on the Zoom platform. I know that some of you meet for social distance one-on-one meetings to offer encouragement and support, which is great as long as you keep a safe social distance!! We are a church family and we have to take care of one another, and as annoying and frustrating as it is, we have to take these precautions seriously. Wear your mask or face covering! Keep a safe distance! The virus does not care if you aren’t feeling up to it or are sick and tired of staying away!!
I just really want to thank all of you for the patience and the grace you’ve shown through this difficult time, both to me as your pastor and to our dedicated Council members, who probably feel like full-time employees lately. It’s really a testimony to who we are as a community gathered around Christ’s light; rooted in God’s grace and love.
Going forward, we have a Reopening Task Force that has brought a proposal to the Council about reopening safely. The Council did not vote on the proposal at its June meeting, but will take another look in July. It includes a detailed written plan of the objectives and values of the church in taking on this work, and exactly what precautions will be taken to keep people safe when we do finally reopen (which we will). Those will include things like keeping a safe social distance, face coverings, emphasizing hand sanitizing and washing, cleaning hard surfaces and not sharing food. Worship will also not include corporate singing, passing of the peace by hand shaking or hugging or anything that involves physical touch. Communion will have to be handled with extreme care. Of course those who are sick, elderly and/or have underlying health issues need to stay at home.
When we do “reopen”, the first services are likely to be open-air, on the back lawn, but we have not set a date yet. There will also be information for renters and outside groups about conditions for facility use. Please stay tuned for more information after the Council meeting on July 14. And we may open the sanctuary for a set number of people, at set times for private prayer and reflection, according to the above guidelines.
In general, be prepared for this to take longer than you think it will. But know that no matter what, God is in charge, and we are doing our best to be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in his name that we gather – in whatever form we can.
Peace and Blessings,
Message from Pastor Dan
May 22, 2020
The White House has announced that churches are "essential services" and must reopen immediately - as in, this weekend. I agree that worship is essential to being the church, but to be clear, we are not opening the LCI facilities for public worship this weekend. We are in Phase 2 of the State of California's Roadmap to Recovery, which does not include in-person worship just yet.
LCI has a Reopening Task Force working on how to gather safely, which includes Kevin Grayson, epidemiologist; Mike Evans, biologist and lung researcher, Gretchen Peralta, nurse, Craig Lundgren, lawyer; Becky Linvill, an administrator at U.C. Davis; and me. That group, in consultation with our Congregation Council, will determine when and under what conditions it is safe to open our facility. We simply are not going to put people in harm's way.
Remember too: the church is not closed, the facilities are closed. The church is the community of the baptized. We will continue to offer online worship services and daily devotions, Zoom gatherings on Sunday mornings, including Sunday School, coffee hour and Bible study; in addition to many other connections you all are still making with one another to show each other you care for one another as one Body in Christ. Rest assured, when it is reasonably safe, we will gather again.
As a reminder: we have our Congregation Electing Meeting this Sunday at 10:15am by Zoom. Look for a link by email or log on to the link you received by regular mail.
Reopening Task Force Update
May 13, 2020
The LCI Council convened a Reopening Task Force at its April regular meeting, which reported back on May 12. No Council action was taken. The task force consisted of Mike Evans, Kevin Grayson, Becky Linvill, Craig Lundgren, Gretchen Peralta and Pastor Dan. The next stages may include opening the sanctuary for private prayer at set times and/or open air services on the back lawn, once the stay at home order is lifted and only when the County health officer gives the okay. In all gatherings in our facility, safety precautions will be taken (e.g. face coverings) and proper social distance will have to be maintained, which means many of our practices will have to be adjusted accordingly. In other words, we will gather again, but things will look different for a while.
The services would still be recorded and posted to YouTube for those who cannot or who choose not to gather with us. We are still working on a live-streaming option. We are committed to the health and safety of our members, following the guidance of county and state health officials and the latest science about COVID-19, and thus we are not in a rush to set a date for reopening the facilities. Thanks for your patience in this difficult time.
LCI COUNCIL UPDATE
April 30, 2020
Thank you so much for your overwhelming response and generosity to our call for increased giving during this difficult time. In addition, we have received a Payment Protection Program forgivable loan to cover some of our LCI personnel costs for 8 weeks. This forgivable loan is part of the CARES Act; learn more here:
Lastly, Thrivent has offered to defer our mortgage for 3 months; Council will consider how to proceed at our May meeting focusing on the option of “interest only”. Specifics on the giving response & status of the LCI deficit will come in May from our wonderful treasurer Dave Kukis.
Now let’s provide a shoutout to the resounding activity that is occurring in regards to taking care of each other, including phone calls & hosting/attending group gatherings through Zoom calls. The need continues as we do not know when we will start gathering again, and reaching out to others helps everyone.
Want to help out in making phone calls? Reach out to Jeff de Ropp (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is making sure all of our LCI members and friends receive a contact.
Wondering what is a Zoom call? Joining can be as simple as dialing in on a phone to as sophisticated as using your computer or smart phone to join electronically with live video. You can find simple directions for getting started with Zoom by clicking here, and Jeff de Ropp can provide help too.
Zoom meetings have been a wonderful way for gathering to see and hear each other. I know of several examples where Zoom is being used within LCI in this way, but please share upcoming opportunities to connect for others in the Wednesday LCI email Update aka Wednesday Three Things by emailing email@example.com.
Peace be with you,
The LCI Council
Important message regarding LCI finances & operations
April 15, 2020
Dear LCI members and friends,
We hope you were blessed by our services for Holy Week and the Daily Devotionals done by Pastor Dan. We thank you for your generous giving, even in this time of financial and emotional stress, which supports our on-going ministry efforts. We are grateful for the work of Pastor Dan, Jeff Schulz, and Lindsey Burns in preparing and recording four wonderful Holy Week services.
As described in our email to the congregation on March 25 (see below), LCI ended 2019 with a deficit of over $40,000; that is, we borrowed from our reserves (but not Sanctuary Renovation, Columbarium, or Endowment) to pay on-going expenses. Council has taken a number of steps to reduce spending, some of which flow from not meeting in person:
1) Suspended janitorial service
2) No nursery operations
3) Reduced office staff hours by 50%
4) Michelle Doolittle has graciously gone voluntarily on unpaid maternity leave.
5) Pastor Dan has generously requested the suspension of reimbursement for 2020 professional expenses and cell phone fees.
6) Building heating/AC turned off.
7) All expenses whether budgeted or from reserves require Council approval.
8) Most office expenses (printing bulletins, mailings, other consumables, etc) have been reduced to zero. Many expenses related to the facility (janitorial and other miscellaneous supplies) have been reduced.
In addition to cutting expenses, we have:
A) Applied to Thrivent for three months of mortgage relief.
B) Submitted a Paycheck Protection Program proposal, a Small Business Administration COVID emergency program that churches are eligible for.
(Please note that, as an expression of faith and hope, the congregation of LCI budgeted 5.5% Synod Mission Support in 2020. To honor this decision and reaffirm our faith and hope, this commitment remains fully in effect).
With these steps, and thanks to generous giving by the congregation, there has been no growth in the deficit in 2020. But, to reverse the deficit, the Council believed stronger measures were necessary, and voted that effective April 15:
9) Office staff hours will be reduced from about 25 hrs/week before COVID down to a maximum of 5 hrs/week, all allocated to Leena, with Julia placed on unpaid leave.
10) Hours and pay for both Jeff Schulz and Lindsey Burns will be reduced to half of their current levels.
As a Council, we are carefully monitoring cash flow. If our expenses outpace giving, we may need to make further interim staffing reductions.
We cannot overstate how much the Council values the work provided by Pastor Dan, Jeff, Lindsey, and Leena. As seen in the successful Holy Week services available online, all of them were highly engaged in the work necessary leading up to and within the worship services themselves.
In closing, we are grateful to all of you who make up LCI’s church body and the support you provide to each other and LCI ministries, especially during this difficult time. If you have questions or would like to know more about what is within this e-mail, please feel free to reach out to Carol Huegli, 530-304-5942 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jeff de Ropp, 530-761-3284 or email@example.com.
Peace be with You.
URGENT MESSAGE ABOUT LCI’S FINANCES
March 25, 2020
Friends in Christ,
The LCI Council hopes this letter finds you and your loved ones in good spirits as we navigate this challenging moment together. Although we are currently unable to meet in person, we remain connected through our support of one another and in our mission to Share Christ’s Light Daily. You can view Sunday worship and Pastor Dan’s daily devotion on LCI’s YouTube page by following the link on the LCI homepage https://www.lcidavis.org/.
We are writing to provide an update on the financial challenges LCI currently faces, which were mentioned in the Stewardship Follow-up Letter you recently received. The Council held an emergency session on March 17th and determined that it is imperative we share these important financial details now and begin working together on a solution immediately to ensure both the short and long-term health of our congregation.
LCI’s 2019 budget was $375,888 and its 2020 budget is $361,358, for an average of ~$30,000/month. Congregational giving typically peaks during the Easter and Christmas holidays and is lower during the rest of the year, especially summer. In 2019, LCI received $325,972 in monetary support—beginning 2020 at a deficit.
Additionally, even before the full impact of the Covid-19 virus was felt, annual pledges for 2020 dropped to $177,192 (37 commitments to date) versus $257,052 (61 commitments) for 2019. This is reflected in a 32% decrease in January/February giving compared to the same period in 2019. Unfortunately, the current giving projection based on January-March is insufficient to maintain LCI’s daily operations, even in the coming months; requiring significant budgetary cuts, including staff (who have been apprised of the situation). We are trying to limit further impact on our general reserves as we consider expense reductions, and want to affirm that we will only use the Columbarium, Endowment and Sanctuary Renovation funds as designated. In addition, we are applying to Thrivent for short-term mortgage payment relief which can help relieve some stress, but it alone will be insufficient.
This is where ALL OF US, the congregation, can be part of the solution. The foundation of this church, and what truly makes it a living embodiment of God’s Word, is the people. Through generous giving, we all make it possible to maintain our facility (mortgage, insurance, and utilities), employ dedicated staff, and provide music, youth and adult ministries, plus much more. To continue to Share Christ’s Light daily, LCI needs our help. Simple ways to help:
· Use online giving with Credit or Debit Card or PayPal at https://www.lcidavis.org/give.
· Mail checks directly to LCI, 1701 Russell Blvd, Davis CA 95616
· Set up recurring payments between LCI and your bank
· Need help setting up your online giving: Jeff de Ropp, Congregation Vice President at firstname.lastname@example.org
· Increase monthly giving: Damian Genetos at email@example.com, please include the dollar amount.
The Council is scheduled to meet again on March 31st. At that time, we will continue discussions and take necessary action to remedy LCI’s current gap between income and expenses to ensure the health of the church. We hope to hear from you before then.
Thank you for your continued support.
Peace be with you,
LCI Congregation Council
For additional questions, feel free to contact Carol Huegli at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-304-5942 or Jeff de Ropp at email@example.com or 530-761-3284. We are also exploring how we can use Zoom to hold a Congregation forum.
A Word from Pastor Dan
God’s people have always faced challenges. The New Testament documents all kinds of persecutions and difficulties that those in the early church had to endure. However, for the church in every age, they knew that their prize lay elsewhere than in the suffering of the present moment. Whether it was persecution or imprisonment or even death, their security always lay in the promise of God to them in baptism. Because Christ has died and rose again, there was nothing to fear.
Our congregation is facing a serious challenge, along with the wider church. Our financial picture is less than ideal. No one knows what the future will hold, but God is always full of surprises. Finances in the life of the church ultimately are about our faith – our capacity to trust in God for our wellbeing, and to let go of the small stuff. We must be honest and responsible in our stewardship, and at the same time trust in God’s providence – that no matter what, the Lord will provide. We are entrusted with a mission and we will weather this storm, as God’s people always have, even if there is short-term pain that we have to bear together.
A wise teacher once told me that congregational conflict can be the “chaos of the Spirit doing something new”. Let us hope and pray the Spirit is at work in our midst, bringing about something new. I pledge to walk with you through this as your pastor, as best I can. Let’s keep each other in prayer.
Yours in Christ,
Davis Lutheran Church of the Incarnation
March 19, 2020 Update
Sunday Services: Sunday services are available online. Pastor Dan, Jeff Schultz, and Lindsey Burns will be recording services with video help from Abajh Singh. They will have it available for you to view by 8:30 am each Sunday on the LCI Web Page.
Daily Devotions: Pastor Dan is recording a daily devotion. You may view this also on the LCI Web Page.
Pastoral Care: Pastor Dan is available. Please call him at 530-219-3735 (cell).
Office: The LCI Office is closed until further notice. Please use the office e-mail for communication at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pastor Dan email@example.com, Lindsey Burns firstname.lastname@example.org, and Jeff Schultz email@example.com are also checking their e-mails.
Please note that phone messages to the LCI office are not being reviewed. The safety of our staff and congregation is our primary concern as we take appropriate precautions as recommended by Yolo County Health & Human Services and the California Department of Public Health. LCI staff is reviewing their e-mail regularly while working limited hours off-site.
Activities: all LCI on-site activities cancelled until further notice
Giving: Please keep giving. Our church is your church and sustained through our giving. You may mail checks to LCI (1701 Russell Blvd, Davis, CA 95616) or give electronically through a PayPal account or using a Debit or Credit Card at Give to LCI
LCI WORSHIP AND ACTIVITIES CANCELLED
March 14, 2020 Update
Dear LCI Members & Friends,
Due to the coronavirus pandemic worship and church activities are cancelled through March. As shared in the Wednesday Update, we are taking steps to ensure safe church services in light of the coronavirus outbreak. We plan to provide an email solely for this purpose on a weekly basis until we feel it’s appropriate to incorporate into the Wednesday Updates.
Thank you for those who met with us between services on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Our original plan was to summarize that discussion, but given the more urgent directives from public health experts, we are now focusing on how worship will continue.
Keeping that in mind, we all are responsible to keep our church healthy and disciplined during this time. You have provided immense support to Pastor Dan, Jeff de Ropp and me to provide leadership for LCI. Given this responsibility and following the decisions of other Davis community churches, we are canceling the Sunday 8:30 and 10:30 services through March.
We understand that this is a larger step than discussed on March 8, but it is one based upon prayer and current information; specifically, that in the past week cases of infection continue to rise rapidly, WHO has declared a pandemic, the Governor has declared a state of emergency, and locally all schools were closed as of Friday afternoon. In addition, the California Department of Public Health issued guidance that included the following: "Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people, while also following social distancing guidelines."
Other Davis churches closing tomorrow include Davis Lutheran Church, University Covenant, First Baptist, Discovery Church, Bayside Davis, Davis Chinese Christian Church, Davis United Methodist, St. Martin’s, Davis Community, and Christ Church.
What will be available?
Recorded Worship Services: A recorded service will be available after noon Sunday on the LCI YouTube Channel found here.
Pastoral Care: Yes, Pastor Dan is available by phone, Face Time, e-mail, or in person by appointment.
In closing, canceling an “open” service was a very difficult decision. It is complicated by the critical need for weekly offerings to ensure bills are paid. Even though we will not see each other, this is your church. Please continue your offering in some way:
LCI online giving: Click here
Giving by Mail: LCI, 1701 Russell Blvd. Davis, CA 95616
(We do not currently have a way to drop envelopes when church is closed).
As a reminder, check regularly for up-to-date information at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov, stay home if you have a virus or the flu; and lastly, pray for those responsible for leading our country and the world, those responding to the needy, and those suffering from anxiety and loneliness during this time.
Pastor Dan, Carol Huegli & Jeff de Ropp