October 2020

October 2020

I Appreciate You

The coronavirus pandemic has been rough on everyone. The virus itself has taken many lives and afflicted many others with serious illness. Our efforts to combat its spread have themselves taken a toll on our economy and our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Patients have been suffering, healthcare workers have been suffering, nursing home residents and staff have been suffering, businesses have been suffering, employees have been suffering, the elderly have been suffering, teachers, students, and staff have been suffering.  Nearly everyone has been suffering to one degree or another.

My primary perspective, of course, is from the Church. I can say that our congregations have been suffering in unique ways. This is due to a number of factors. It is in the nature of Christians to gather together for worship, as our Lord commands us, so we have a lot at stake as we make decisions about how to respond to the coronavirus. Congregations are made up of church members, individual people with a wide range of convictions on our coronavirus response, all of whom have a significant role in church governance and decision making. Pastors and their people have been forced into very unfamiliar circumstances as they adapt to new ways of providing worship opportunities, both online and in person. And as our economy suffers and attendance at in-person services has dropped, most congregations are experiencing a dramatic reduction in giving.

As a result of all these pressures, many congregations are experiencing unprecedented levels of conflict, both between people and pastor and between people and people. Many pastors find themselves trapped between a rock and a hard place: regardless of the pastor’s own convictions, if he’s too cautious, he has members who accuse him of faithlessness to Christ, and if he’s too bold, he has members who accuse him of folly and of devaluing human life. Many of the struggles faced by congregations are easily blamed on the pastor. I have spoken with many, many colleagues who are experiencing exactly this, to one degree or another.

That is why I am so grateful to you, my congregation of Holy Cross.I know there are a wide range of opinions among our members on the coronavirus. I know the safety measures we have taken at Holy Cross are a pain, and are too much for some and not enough for others. I know that you are all facing your own unique strains and pressures as a result of the coronavirus. And yet, through all that, you have consistently treated me and your fellow church members with nothing but graciousness, understanding, and respect—that is to say, with love.When we first had to suspend on-site worship services, you responded with kindness, even as you continued to affirm that in-person gathering for worship is essential for Christians.


When we transitioned to online worship services, you responded by coming out of the woodwork to encourage Ellen, Vivian, and me, and to express your gratitude.


When we started a P.O. Box for mailing offerings, you responded with an outpouring of generosity that put us well ahead of our budget even as the country was reeling from lockdowns.


When we held remote meetings, you responded by adapting to the new technology and continuing to carry out the necessary business of our congregation.


When we reopened, you responded by adjusting patiently to the safety measures we put in place. Now our attendance is approaching what it was before the pandemic began!


When we transitioned to live streaming our services, you responded with kindness and understanding as I learned the ropes of a new system.


In short, through everything we’ve been dealing with, you, the congregation that our Lord has entrusted to my care, have impressed upon me that we are family in Christ, bearing with one another in love. I am deeply grateful to you all for your love and support, which has made what could have been a time of unparalleled trouble and distress into a time of joy and peace. I thank my God for you all, and I am confident that as the pandemic continues, and hopefully soon comes to a close, He will continue to lead us to grow in our love for one another through the faith He has granted us in the forgiveness of our sins in Jesus’ name.

God's Blessings,

Pastor Neuendorf