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Greetings Friends,
 
It is with reluctance, an abundance of caution, and a great deal of hope that we post this to notify you that as of 5 pm on Friday, March 13, we have closed our building to public use, including worship and all meetings through the end of March. There will be no worship on Sunday, no meetings during the week, and no access to the building for members of the congregation at this time. We hope that this closure will only be necessary through March 31 and we will provide regular updates. We are working on our short-term and long term plans for prolonged closure and re-opening when this public health emergency has passed.
 
Members of Vestry and the Shared Ministry Team participated in the ECMN webinar with Bishop Prior on Friday and learned from a panel of experts of the risks to our most vulnerable members if we remain open, and recommendations for how to go about a temporary closure. The bishop was very specific in calling us to tending the following three things:
 
  • Personal Health
  • Public Health
  • Pastoral Care
 
You can keep up with diocesan and churchwide developments and responses here:
https://episcopalmn.org/covid19-response
 
For most people COVID-19 (the novel Coronavirus) poses low risk, yet for the elderly, immunocompromised, and the vulnerable, it can be deadly. St. Luke’s congregation consists of a large population of folks who fit into the high risk categories, many for multiple reasons. It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure we are taking all necessary precautions and actions to ensure their safety and well-being. We have the full support of the Bishop to do what we feel is best for our faith community.
 
The decisions we make today affect the reality of what we will see 2 to 4 weeks from now. We cannot stop the spread of this virus, but any precautions we take will help slow its spread and potentially curb its activity. We need to protect the members of our parish as well as our neighbors and our community by helping slow the spread and “flatten the curve” of this virus, so we are not contributing to an already challenged health care system. 
 
The truth is we do not know how long this virus will last and we do not know if closing the doors just through the end of March will be sufficient. Your leadership team, Clergy and Vestry, has taken the initial steps to secure the building over the weekend. We are working with our tenant, LifeWorks, to establish appropriate and acceptable disinfecting protocols so they may continue to serve their clients; an already vulnerable population.
 
If you have keys to the building, PLEASE DO NOT ENTER THE BUILDING UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. We will be contacting all keyholders to ensure safe protocols for all. We will communicate with you as soon as the leadership team has had time to collect more information as this situation evolves. We are checking emails and the phone and need your cooperation and assistance in spreading the word of this temporary closure.  
 
With the cancellation of all worship services, meetings, Lenten Study, choir rehearsals, etc., we can use the time between now and the end of March as an opportunity to explore new ways we can come together as a faith community in support of one another and in support of our neighbors and Hastings. We recommend going on line on Sunday to view live worship broadcast from the Washington National Cathedral with Bishop Curry preaching, or our own Cathedral's worship broadcast from St. Mark's in Minneapolis. Both links will be posted on our Facebook page and website.
 
Please watch our Facebook page for updates and feel free to call church as always if you need assistance or have a pastoral emergency. The building may be closed, but our caring congregation is alive and well. We will be in touch again soon.
 
“God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage t
o all who wait or work in uncertainty.
 
Bring hope that you will make them equal
to whatever lies ahead.
 
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
 
This we pray in Christ our Lord.
Amen.”
 
Faithfully,
Your Shared Ministry Team
Wardens and Vestry