Brothers and Sisters,

One of the most difficult things about the Covid-19 outbreak for me personally is that the very things that bring me joy as a Pastor and as a human being are now discouraged for the purposes of protecting the vulnerable. Worship, fellowship, caring for each other, and the simple pleasure of just being together feed my soul. I love eating out with friends, going to a movie, and conversations over a drink. These are a few of the activities that bring me bliss and make life meaningful. But now these very things must be sacrificed in order to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus on our communities.

I find myself missing what I took for granted. God help me but committee meetings even look good now. At least I would be interacting with real people! Yet I need to remember that our connection as the body of Christ continues despite the challenges of living in this new reality of Covid-19. Our hands may not be able to touch, but our hearts still can.

I wanted to give you an update on our plans at Heartland. At this time, we are operating under the guidance of national and local authorities discouraging any gatherings larger than 10 people. (It may arise in the near future this will even be discouraged with more stringent restrictions forthcoming) The session is discussing our options as we move forward, and we will strive to keep you informed as we move forward. Here are the latest updates.

1) Worship will be online for at least the next few weeks. There is a link on our Website that should help you find our worship on Facebook Live.  I should warn you that it is likely, according to the best estimates of a faithful response to the virus, that in person worship will be discouraged at least through mid-April and even into May. We will keep you updated.

2) Session will be postponing our Papusa/Palm Sunday celebration. Also, it is a very real possibility that our Easter celebrations will be affected. This is hard for me to imagine but we will let you know as soon as we make our decisions.

3) Peter, the Band, and I are making plans for our online worship to be a little different. I told the Band on Sunday that we need to think of Sunday worship as a jam session to lift our hearts and spirits in this challenging time. Some members of the church will be leading singing because God knows you don’t want to hear me sing! I am exploring ways to make the sermon less about me standing in front of the camera. You even will have the option to mute the Pastor!

4) We are lucky in that we have been streaming our worship for quite a time now and in fact, just installed new microphones (purchased by memorial gifts). We have ideas in how to make it more like worship for you and would appreciate your feedback!

5) Elders and Deacons are contacting many of our older and more vulnerable members to check in and see what they may need. Please let us know if you have any needs and contact me at 608-338-9905.

More updates will be forthcoming. Let us pray for each other and for the world. We will get through this together and by God’s Grace!

P. Alex Thornburg