Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

A lot has happened in the last 96 hours:

  • On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health recommended cancelling all events with more that 250 people. 
  • On Sunday, the US Centers for Disease Control recommended that no gatherings with more than 50 people take place for eight weeks. 
  • On Monday President Trump issued guidelines that called for Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. 
  • Today there are new directions for our Early Learning Center regarding class sizes.

Some may be asking, “Is this a time when we should obey God rather than men?”


In this connection we need to remember a couple things:

  1. The Fourth and Fifth Commandments apply in a situation like this.  We are to obey and respect the governing authorities as they carry out their God-given responsibilities, and we are to do all we can to protect our neighbors and keep them from harm.
  2. At the same time God certainly desires that Christians gather together regularly for worship.
  3. In limiting the size of worship gatherings, the government is not attempting to deny our freedom of religion.  Rather, government authorities have issued mandates that they believe will protect citizens from harm.
  4. Since all of these biblical principles are valid, it is proper for us to strive to comply with governmental regulations on the one hand and, on the other, to find alternate means to enable God’s people to be fed with Word and sacrament.
  5. This is an extraordinary opportunity to let our light shine as we look for ways to serve the people in our community in Christian love.


Last evening our Board for Lay Ministry met to discuss – and make decisions on – these issues.  These are the decisions that were made:


  • All worship services are suspended until further notice.  This includes both Sunday worship services and Wednesday evening Lenten services.  So, there will be no Lenten service on Wednesday, March 18.
  • Until further notice, the board has also suspended all other church activities:  Coffee & Donuts after Worship, Sunday School, Bible Study, Lenten Suppers, Choir Rehearsals, and the March 29 Voters’ Meeting
  • Pastor Rieke will continue confirmation instruction via video conferencing.


The board encourages all our members

  1. To make time for regular devotions and prayer
  2. To watch WELS worship services on television or the internet.  We will also explore the possibility of livestreaming.  More information on this will be made available later in the week.
  3. To maintain contact with each other so that we can be sure that the needs of all of our members are being met.  This can be done by telephone, text messaging, email, or on our congregation’s Facebook page (First Lutheran, La Crescent).


A reminder about offerings:

Please remember that the church’s expenses will continue during this time. 

Offerings in January and February were 20% higher this year than last year.  We pray that this will continue throughout the year.

However, the expenses in January and February significantly exceeded income.  There was a significant shortfall for the congregation and for the Early Learning Center.

Probably the easiest way for you to continue your offerings is by mailing them to the church office (414 Main Street, La Crescent, MN 55947)


A word about communication:

The pastor and the encouragement team will make every effort to make weekly phone calls to members until worship services resume.

We can quickly and easily send out email announcements to members.  But not everyone uses email.  That is why this letter is going out by “snail” mail to all local addresses.  (If you have children living outside our local area, please communicate this information to them.)

IF YOU DO NOT USE EMAIL, PLEASE CALL THE CHURCH OFFICE (507-895-4775) OR ME (608-881-4041) during normal business hours so that we can prepare an up-to-date list of members who need to be contacted by telephone. 

Don’t hesitate to call me just to talk and share your concerns.


Link to an article: Martin Luther Actually Had Some Good Coronavirus Advice Back in 1527


As always, we place ourselves in our Savior’s loving care.

Serving You In Christ,

Pastor Mark