OSL Responds to COVID-19
Pastoral Letter #34
Week of 20 January 2021

Dear Our Savior’s,

In this season of Epiphany, we are exploring the places in our lives where we encounter Emmanuel, God-with-us. Last week, Pr. Justin proclaimed that we can experience an epiphany when we see a true picture of ourselves and he invited us to reflect on what we discover about God in those moments when our greatest vulnerabilities are exposed. This week, Pr. Randy will help us reflect on those places where we have experienced a radical change of direction because we have discerned God calling us to a new adventure. Wherever you’ve been and wherever you go, may you always know that God goes with you.

Hope Has a Ring to It
On January 19, the historic bell at Our Savior’s rang out over the city at 4:30 p.m. along with other church bells across the nation in memory of all who have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and as a witness to the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus. We continue to pray for those whose lives have been impacted by illness and death, that they may know the compassion and healing of the Great Physician.

Open Question Season
In our last letter, we told you that each of you plays a critical role in shaping the future of the ministry we share here at Our Savior’s. To that end, the Governing Board invited you to respond to a few “open questions” so that your thoughts and ideas may be considered at the board’s planning retreat in February. At this retreat, the annual vision for ministry will be discerned. This statement of purpose and direction will set the course for us to follow as we identify ministry goals and objectives for the year and a plan for funding this ministry we share.

If you have not done so yet, please make time to prayerfully respond to this year’s round of questions, which you will find here, or you may complete the paper survey enclosed with the letter mailed this week and return it to the Church Office by January 31. Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership.

Annual Meeting of the Congregation
The annual meeting of the congregation will be held on Sunday, January 31, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. in The Gathering Place. A minimum of seventy-five (75) voting members need to attend to make the meeting official. The Governing Board intends to keep the agenda brief so that we can tend to the business of the church in a safe and responsible manner. Pandemic protocols will be followed.

In addition to electing three new members to the Governing Board, the congregation will vote on proposed amendments to our Constitution and Bylaws. The proposed changes to the bylaws are minor, but the changes to the constitution are substantial. These changes are necessary not only to align the constitution with the bylaws, which were ratified by the congregation in January 2020, but also to bring our constitution into compliance with the Model Constitution for Congregations of the ELCA.

You may review both the current constitution and bylaws, as well as the versions that will be voted upon at the annual meeting, here or at the Welcome Center.

Giving Electronically
The mission we share of proclaiming Christ and nurturing faith that connects to everyday life is made possible through the generous contributions of people like you. In this pandemic, despite the challenges associated with gathering in person, we have been able to continue providing innovative, life-changing ministry because of your faithful support. Thank you!

The pandemic has forced us to rethink the Offering as an element of worship. With fewer of us attending in-person, we have come to appreciate the benefits of giving electronically either in the moment of a worship service or automatically as a scheduled transaction. Safely giving via text message is as simple as sending the word sharing to 73256. Giving online is another convenient option; simply go to oslchurch.com/generosity/. And setting up a secure automatic transaction from the account of your choice is as easy as calling Barb Haugan (336-2942), who will help you enroll in our First Fruits program. To simplify the giving of your regular offering and to provide greater stability to the ministry of Our Savior’s, we invite you to consider giving electronically.

Church Leadership 101
In February, we will launch the OSL Leadership Development Academy. Intended for laypeople who sense the Holy Spirit nudging them to serve as a leader in the church, this program is designed to equip and empower them through a guided journey of spiritual growth, self-discovery, and learning about leadership, communication, diversity, and governance. The first cohort of up to 12 participants is forming now. To register or to get more information, simply call the Church Office, 336-2942.

Our Ministry of Prayer
As Pr. Justin reminded us this week, God is revealed to us often in our greatest vulnerabilities. Clinging to that promise, we pray this week for: all who are involved with the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine; for our community leaders and their staff; for healthcare workers, teachers, and all frontline workers; for (healing) Dave Haugen, Roseann Johnston, and Deb Versteeg; and for (grieving) Lloyd Leaders, Alan and Pam Leaders, Pauline Buckstead, and the family and friends of Maxine Leaders, and for Ervin, David, and Gregg Fetters, and the family and friends of Shelley Fetters. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

In Christ’s love,

Your pastors at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
Randy Gehring,
Tim Lemme,
Justin Kosec,
Shelly Gehring

Click below for a South Dakota Department of Health chart displaying expected vaccine availability in South Dakota (as of 1/6/21):