An Update from Hope
March 17, 2020, 6:00 pm
To reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus through social distancing, Lutheran Church of Hope has cancelled all in-person gatherings of 10 or more people in any of our church buildings until further notice. During this time, Hope will move all services and ministries online …
- Worship with us LIVE every weekend!
Download the Hope app on your smartphone, Roku or Apple TV box
- Connect with God and one another & find resources for all ages, from kids to adults!
For more on what we’re doing together at Hope for you, our church family, and for this community we love and serve during this season of concern, please tune in to today’s episode of the Pastor Mike Drop podcast below – “Life in Uncertain Times”...
Keep the faith, Hope! God’s got this! And God’s got you! #pray #help #love
March 13, 2020, 9:00 pm
Dear Hope Family,
I’m sending this update tonight to inform you, with a heavy heart, that for the first time in the 25+ year history of Lutheran Church of Hope, we will suspend all public gatherings for worship this weekend – all services at all Hope locations.
The good news is we will still have worship this weekend. Hope has a long history of broadcasting LIVE weekly services online. Instead of showing up in person, please join us at HopeOnline.tv on Saturday at 5:00 pm, Sunday at 8:00, 9:15, 11:00 am or 5:00 pm. The Traditional 8:30 am Service will also be recorded and posted by 7:00 pm Sunday evening. Our sermon theme this weekend is “How to Pray,” and given the current level of angst in our world, I can’t imagine a more appropriate subject to preach on. We turn to God in prayer because nothing less will do.
Please know we, the leaders of Hope, have not made this decision apart from an abundance of prayerful pondering, long conversations with numerous doctors, community leaders, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), megachurch leaders throughout the USA and neighboring church leaders in Iowa. We have felt the full burden of our responsibility – as the largest church in Iowa – to the thousands of people who gather in person to worship the Lord at Hope every week, and to all the local churches we are blessed to know as friends.
Yesterday (Thursday), I wrote a letter to our church family, and updated it this morning, encouraging everyone to worship with Hope online.
Since then, however, several governors of Midwestern states, mayors of nearby cities, as well as several prominent medical professionals, have asked large churches like Hope to cancel public worship services and offer an online only worship option.
Ultimately, we could not get past the very real and sobering possibility that by holding public services at Hope this weekend, our life-giving church could be a setting for the spread of the life-taking coronavirus for the people we serve and love.
Some of you are already familiar with online worship at Hope. For others, this will be your first experience. It’s easy to find us. On your personal computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, go to HopeOnline.tv. You can also catch our services throughout the weekend on Facebook Live. Or you can download the Hope app on your smartphone (Apple or Android), Apple TV or Roku.
Please note we will take this week-by-week, and we will keep you posted. We will also provide updates early next week regarding the status of our schedule of events for smaller groups at Hope, as well as new digital resources we will produce and provide for you, your families, and your groups during this time. No matter what happens, we will be here for you as a church. When it’s not possible for you to get to church, we’ll bring the church to you.
My heart breaks for those who are sick, and those who are scared. The coronavirus is a global pandemic unlike anything our world has seen for generations. As a result, there’s no small amount of concern. This current darkness is real. But so is the light! Let’s not forget that we worship a God who is a healer, a life-giver and a champion over all enemies. And this God will see us through.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
- Psalm 103:2-4
Keep praying. Keep helping. Keep loving. And keep the faith. See you at HopeOnline.tv this weekend! Invite your friends!
Peace be with you,
Mike Housholder, Senior Pastor
Lutheran Church of Hope
A letter to Hope from Pastor Mike …
Updated: March 13, 2020, 7:15 am
Dear Hope Family,
Life will be different for a while due to the coronavirus. This is unfamiliar territory and the news reads like bad fiction. Major sporting events vanish, airlines cut flights, travelers cancel vacations, the World Health Organization declares a pandemic, celebrities test positive, daily routines change and colleges close.
FAITH & FEAR
With rising levels of anxiety, it’s important to remember the God we put our faith in is bigger than our fears, and bigger than any virus. Hold on and keep the faith! We are not alone. As we seek a path without a map, we still have each other, and we have a God who promises to remain with us no matter what …
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. - Isaiah 41:10
THIS WEEKEND’S SERVICES
The same God who sees us through challenging times also commands us to love our neighbors. Out of love for your church family, I encourage you to stay home and worship with us via HopeOnline.tv if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms, a compromised immune system, or any concerns about being around groups of people right now. Starting this weekend, we will broadcast every service from the Worship Center LIVE – Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:15, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm. The Sunday 8:30 am Traditional Service in the Chapel will also be taped and available on demand by Sunday at 7:00 pm.
At this time, the CDC & Iowa Department of Public Health has issued “no recommendation to cancel mass gatherings.” If that changes, we will of course adjust our plans. For now, then, if you feel well with no symptoms, you’re welcome to join us in person at any service. We implemented a number of temporary safety measures last weekend, and will add more this weekend … …
Our Facilities Team has a well-deserved reputation for keeping our church buildings sparkling clean. Until this season of concern passes, they’ll focus even more time and attention on repeatedly wiping down and sanitizing all touchpoints, and deep cleaning every room at Hope.
We will continue to implement our creative greeting alternatives – a wave, a smile, a nod, a thumbs up, a point – rather than a handshake or hug. We love you, but for your safety and ours, we’re discouraging any kind of touch greetings until virus fears subside.
Greeters will now serve a dual role as the friendly folks who warmly wave and welcome all to worship, along with serving as door openers (so you don’t have to touch handles on your way in).
HOPEKIDS & STUDENTS
This weekend was scheduled as a “Family Worship” weekend several months ago, so we will not offer HopeKids (our version of Sunday school) this Saturday night, Sunday morning or Sunday evening. We encourage children to worship together with their family, and we will include a children’s sermon at all services in the Worship Center this weekend.
We will not pass offering plates during worship until further notice. To give your regular offering to support the ongoing mission of Hope this weekend, please do so online (it’s simple to do) … or, if you are at worship in person, please drop your offering in the designated bins at the entrance/exit of the Worship Center and Chapel.
The Lord’s Supper is offered weekly at our earliest Sunday Services – 8:00am in the Worship Center & 8:30am in the Chapel. Creative challenges call for creative solutions, so this weekend, we will distribute sealed pre-packaged Holy Communion packets with volunteers wearing sanitary gloves.
As much as we enjoy our weekend meals together as a church family, out of an abundance of caution and love for you and all who attend worship at Hope, we will discontinue all pre-service and post-service meals at Hope for the time being.
ACCESS TO ONLINE WORSHIP
For those who are new to online worship with Hope, set up is a snap and it’s free. Go to www.HopeOnline.tv and click the large rectangular box near the top left of the screen – that’s it, you’re in! As noted above, all our services starting this weekend will be LIVE. To view our services on your TV at home so the whole family can worship together, just connect your mobile device to your TV.
If you’re feeling strong and healthy, have no symptoms of a cold or flu, and want to help people in need during this pandemic, please sign up for Hope’s “God Squad” by filling out this form or calling the church office at 515-222-1520. If a need arises that we can meet, we will contact you. Thanks in advance for your support!
WE’LL BRING CHURCH TO YOU
If you can’t make it to church, we’ll bring church to you during this season of uncertainty.
Last Sunday, I preached on How to Work Through Our Worldly Worries in light of the coronavirus. On Wednesday, Caroline Boehnke-Becker, an ordained pastor and medical doctor, joined Emily Langpaul and me on the Pastor Mike Drop podcast for a helpful conversation about Faith & the Coronavirus. This weekend, whether you attend in person or worship with Hope online, you’ll hear a sermon by me or one of our other pastors on How to Pray.
Given the circumstances, I think the timing of a sermon on prayer as part of a Lenten series called "Right-Side Up" is just what we need. In unfamiliar times, it’s easy to feel lost and scared. But we’re in this together as a church family and more importantly, our God is with us!
Wash your hands. Be wise. But most of all, be the church! Keep praying. Keep helping. Keep loving. God’s got this, and God’s got us!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
- 2 Timothy 1:7
PS- Please keep checking the Hope website and “like” my public Facebook Page for regular updates and communications regarding any schedule changes or announcements. And please keep praying for God to heal our world. Thanks, Hope!