An Update from Pastor Mike
July 3, 2020
Dear Hope Family,
In my letter to you today, I had hoped to make a big announcement about opening Hope for indoor in-person physically-distanced touch-free mask-wearing weekend services starting July 18 & 19 … but our Open Hope Planning Team wisely decided yesterday to put those plans on hold (paused, not stopped). To put it another way, our green light has turned yellow.
All plans in this season of uncertainty are tentative. For most of the past month, COVID-19 data was trending in favor of reopening the Worship Center (with safety measures in full effect), and we were ready to go! But we’re hitting the pause button on that announcement now due to a clear 7-day trend line increase in COVID-19 per capita cases and percent of positive tests in our area (sources: Iowa Department of Health, Harvard Global Health Institute).
I’m disappointed, and I know many of you are, too. Our patience has been tested. Online Services and Outdoor Services are great, and the Holy Spirit has shown up regardless of where we meet … still our souls long to worship the Lord together in-person inside our familiar Hope sanctuaries (sanctuary literally means “safe place”). To come this close only to see the light turn yellow a few days before our big announcement is, as the cool kids say, a major bummer.
Then again, patient endurance is something God can use to strengthen us (Romans 5:3-5), so let’s keep the faith and let’s hold on to the hope that either this light will somehow go green again before July 18 & 19, or soon after.
Our Open Hope Planning Team (14 church staff representing multiple campuses) will continue to prayerfully and carefully consider the COVID-19 trends, adhere to CDC guidelines, and consult with church leaders and doctors. We care about both your physical safety and spiritual health, and we’ll continue to communicate with you openly and frequently … stay tuned!
Let’s pray, church, for the healing of our world from COVID-19. Let’s do our part through social distancing and wearing masks in public. And let’s hope we can start worshiping together in our Worship Center soon! Holy smokes, when that finally does happen, it’s going to be awesome!
Keep the faith!
P.S.- No matter where we meet for worship, there’s still plenty to get excited about! This weekend, Hope will celebrate the 4th of July holiday with online services Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm, or a socially distanced in-person Saturday 5:00 pm Outdoor Service in our church parking lot (lawn chairs or drive-in). We’ve had a ton of fun with these in-person outdoor services, so we’ll keep this option going until we can move inside. No need to pre-register for outdoor worship – turns out our parking lot is bigger than it looks, and there’s plenty of room for everyone! Pastor Nick or Pastor Ben will open a new sermon series called Surprise! #NewRules, focusing on the revolutionary kinds of surprises Jesus consistently brings. If you think Jesus is boring or predictable, you’re going to be … well, surprised!
PPS- Camp Hope VBS is coming soon! Thousands of kids from Iowa, and all over the world, are already registered to “get s’more of Jesus” at Camp Hope from July 13-17 … and since VBS is all online this year, there’s unlimited room for more! Invite your friends, kids, grandkids, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and neighbors to join us online. There’s still time to get your optional VBS Kit (for just $10!) that includes a Camp Hope T-shirt, craft materials and other fun surprises to help enhance your at-home VBS experience. Since we can’t bring thousands of kids together for VBS this summer, we’ll bring VBS to you, wherever you might be!
An Update from Pastor Mike
May 22, 2020
Good morning, Hope!
For the sake of keeping things fresh, and offering a COVID-19 update at the same time, I’ll write this week’s letter as an FAQ (frequently asked questions) …
Q: Is it true that Hope has no plans to reopen for in-person worship?
A: It’s not true. We have detailed plans put together by a superstar team that’s been meeting weekly via Zoom for a couple months with one goal – safely reopen Hope for in-person worship. We review data, weigh risks and prayerfully ponder lots of possibilities.
Q: My grandma’s church just restarted in-person worship. My other grandma’s church set a date (July 1, September 1, May 17, Christmas, next summer …) … what is Hope’s date?
A: God bless your grandmas and their churches! Every church is unique. Most local churches, including us, hope to re-start in-person worship again soon. A few local churches already have for a variety of reasons, according to their pastors: technical issues with online worship, financial concerns, impatience, or deciding the risk is worth it. At Hope, we’ll open our doors for worship again when it’s legal, wise and safe. We’re getting closer. 7-day trends of COVID-19 new cases and percent of positive tests in our area are starting to decline. If current trends continue, we’ll announce a tentative date soon. Stay tuned!
Q: What are Hope’s criteria for re-starting in-person worship?
A: In response to a lot of prayer, God has given us peace and confidence to follow published CDC phased reopening guidelines, one wise and faithful step at a time. Dallas & Polk Counties are currently in Phase 1 (maximum gatherings of 10), and our planning team monitors the data daily. The physical safety of our church family matters, as does this community we love and serve. We aren’t going to put people at risk for selfish reasons.
Q: Isn’t worship essential? Haven’t you preached for 25+ years that we need to worship?
A: Yes, it is. Yes, I have. And Hope has been worshiping (and will continue to worship) every week via HopeOnline.tv throughout this abnormal season of uncertainty. Online worship may not be the same as an in-person experience, but the Holy Spirit doesn’t need a particular worship venue or setting to fill our hearts with God’s essential love. Let’s not be spiritually superficial. As God would have it, our theme (set last year) for this weekend’s sermon is “Getting to the Heart of the Matter” – a sermon on the biblical definition of worship (John 4). I can’t wait to preach (Saturday night, Sunday morning) on this timely topic, and I’m sure Pastor Andy (Sunday night) feels the same. Open your heart and let God deepen your understanding of what “worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23) actually is … and is not.
Q: What will in-person worship look like at Hope when we start again?
A: This is where Hope’s plans get creative and fun!
First, we’ll continue to pour our best into the weekly online services, so if you are feeling sick, have a high-risk health condition, or you just prefer to stay home for a while longer, then we’ll keep bringing worship to you.
After we reach CDC Phase 3 regionally (social distancing, but no cap on gathering numbers), hopefully sometime this summer, we’ll take full advantage of the good weather by offering an in-person outdoor Saturday 5:00 pm service in the parking lot. I’ll preach, and the band will sing, on the grass island in front of our main entrance. Socially distanced seating areas (formerly parking stalls) will be numbered and reserved in advance (for you, or you and family members). Every seat will be sanitized, masks will be required (we’ll provide extras if you forget), and access to bathrooms inside will be limited in numbers for your safety.
Behind the seating area in the parking lot, we’ll have room for a “drive-in worship” option (praise Jesus in your car!). If it rains, we’ll all park our cars in the reserved seating area (the service will go on, rain or shine!). If reservation requests for one Saturday 5:00 pm service exceed available space, we’ll add another service (or more) to make room (safely) for all who want to attend.
If the outdoor service works, we’ll do it again the following weekend, and through the summer, until we can safely move our in-person services inside (socially distanced in our Worship Center, Chapel, Bridge, Gym, etc.). If there’s a need, we’ll add Hope is Here neighborhood worship gatherings, too.
We’ll keep doing that, along with online worship, until social distancing recommendations are lifted. Then, Lord willing, we’ll have a full house all-church family worship reunion as God leads us into the promised land of a new (even better than the old) normal! Hopefully soon …
Keep the faith!
PS- Vacation Bible School registration opened last weekend, and the enthusiasm for this year’s session is off the charts! Thousands of kids are already signed up for Camp Hope – an exciting online neighborhood/home-based version of VBS from July 13 -17! Rumor has it that there might also be a Camp Hope for teens and adults this summer – we’re not going to let a virus keep you, or your kids, from all the fun of getting to know Jesus better!
PPS- We’re getting closer to reaching our goal of making and distributing 10,000 masks to our mission partners throughout central Iowa! Thank you, Hope! You can still drop off or pick up material to make masks at the main entrance of our church building.
An Update from Pastor Mike
April 29, 2020
Dear Hope Family,
I want to update you on Lutheran Church of Hope’s plans and criteria for adding in-person worship gatherings to our live online services and daily ministry videos (HopeOnline.tv and Hope's Channel on YouTube).
The short update is … hopefully soon, but not yet. When it becomes legal, wise and safe (not just legal) for Hope to gather for in-person worship again, we will joyfully do so. Until then, we will continue to gather online instead.
In more detail (and the details get exciting if you read to the end), here’s a longer update …
Earlier this week, Governor Kim Reynolds announced that some retail businesses (restaurants, malls, etc.) can reopen in 77 of 99 Iowa counties (not including Dallas or Polk) with social distancing. Governor Reynolds also lifted legal restrictions on religious gatherings in all 99 counties (in recognition of constitutional liberties afforded to religious organizations), leaving it up to individual churches to decide for ourselves.
I respect and appreciate the heavy burdens elected leaders carry as they make important and complex decisions that affect many people. They are in my prayers. I also understand the concern for getting the economy going. Jobs, income and providing for family needs matter, but so does making sacrifices together to minimize the risk of spreading a highly contagious and deadly virus in our church or community.
Currently in the Des Moines area (and most other locations where Hope has a campus or local site), COVID-19 cases and death rates are still on the rise. As long as that’s the case, worship gatherings of more than 10 people might be legal, but also unwise and unsafe.
We don’t want to rush back too soon and put our church family, or the community we love and serve, at risk. Instead, at Hope we’ll continue to pray for healing and discernment, consult with doctors and keep a close watch on virus trends.
At the same time, we don’t want to wait too long to get back together again as a church family for in-person worship. Hopefully we can do that soon … but even when we do, social distancing will almost certainly remain in effect. CDC guidelines call for a gradual increase in gatherings, from 10 to 50 to 100 people on up, one “phase” at a time.
Challenging times call for creative solutions … and that’s why we’re planning to launch “Hope Is Here” worship gatherings in our current church buildings and beyond soon! Recently, we measured 6-foot gaps in every large room (Worship Center, Chapel, Bridge, Gym, etc.) at every Hope campus to determine the maximum socially distanced capacity. When it’s time to gather for in-person worship again, we’ll start with multiple services in multiple rooms at multiple times each weekend in groups that align with CDC guidelines (50, 100, etc.). We’ll take reservations for worship to ensure we don’t go over capacity, and we’ll keep adding more in-person service options at various times as long as there’s demand, even if it means extending Hope beyond our church buildings …
You can help! If you have access to a potential “Hope Is Here” worship gathering space – community room, office space, storefront, etc. (following the lead of Hope’s current local sites) – that might hold 25-100+ socially distanced people, please email Hospitality Director firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at church (515-222-1520). Hope, because it comes from the Lord, always finds a way!
Imagine how fun and refreshing it will be to connect (six feet apart for now!) with new friends in your church family as you meet for weekly “Hope Is Here” worship gatherings! Imagine these “Hope is Here” worship gatherings sprinkled all over central Iowa, in our church buildings and beyond!
Finally, imagine how good it will feel to endure this season of uncertainty and find our way to the “new normal” (way better than the “old normal,” because we will be stronger in faith, hope and love) – wide open church doors with every seat in every Hope building filled on a Sunday morning, praising God with songs and shouts and maybe a few tears of joy … yep, it’s going to be holy!
Until then, I’ll see you online and (coming soon) at a “Hope Is Here” gathering …
Keep the faith!
Pastor Mike Housholder
PS- For more on Hope’s future plans, check out this week’s Pastor Mike Drop podcast episode #2019, “Reopening Churches,” below … or tune in on YouTube, Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Pastor Mike Drop
April 28, 2020
An Update from Pastor Mike
April 17, 2020
Dear Hope Family,
He is still risen! Thank God! The resurrection of Jesus produces hope in our hearts, and I can’t think of anything our world needs more right now than hope.
In this COVID-19 season of uncertainty, we’re seeing a huge increase in the number of people seeking hope from God. Last year, 30,000+ people worshiped with Hope on Easter Weekend. This Easter, just a few days ago, 100,000+ people worshiped with Hope online and on WHO-TV … plus many more will watch the service on demand at HopeOnline.tv. Turns out Jesus’ TV ratings, for the best possible reasons, are off the charts! He is risen, and deep in our hearts—even the most skeptical hearts—we need that hope-filled good news. So, we will continue to be the church and proclaim it. We will pray. We will help. We will love.
Worship this weekend—Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:15, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm—will focus on the Great Commission our risen Lord gave his church. We feel the urgency of that call. A few months ago, God gave Hope a clear new vision to, among other things, broadcast the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ to 10 million people over the next 10 years. Who knew it would start to come so quickly during these difficult days?
In addition to weekly worship, we’ll keep posting online daily devotions and videos: Pastor Mike Drop, 90 Seconds of Hope, Hope Live, Friday Chats with a Pastor at noon and weekend post-worship Prayer Rooms—have become consistent sources of spiritual renewal for many.
We’ve also created YouTube Channels and playlists for targeted groups: REVIVE for young adults, Kairos for college students, Ignition for grades 9-12, PowerLife for grades 6-8, HopeKids, Page 2 Bible Study, along with ways to engage with Celebrate Recovery, Traditional Worship and services with American Sign Language and Spanish translations.
Beyond digital outreach, we’re also reaching out in more traditional ways. Even though the primary focus of our Lenten Outreach shifted due to the onset of a global pandemic, still you generously continued to send in offerings to build 92 new churches in western Africa! Amazing!
Meanwhile, care calls to every household in our church family continue. If you need help, please don’t wait for your phone to ring. Call the church at 515-222-1520. We’re at your service to listen, pray and help as we are able.
Our God Squad from Hope is partnering with local missions. And this weekend, we’re increasing our efforts to make masks for our community. Some already have masks or can make their own, but many can’t. We can help. This weekend, we’ll post simple how-to-make-a-mask videos on Hope’s Facebook Page. Then, after you (and your kids!) make the masks, please drop them off outside the main entrance of HOPE, and our God Squad will distribute them—let’s deliver thousands—to neighbors in need.
The darkness is real, but so is the light! He is risen! There Ain’t No Grave that can hold Jesus down, and there’s no virus that can keep Jesus’ church down! Keep the faith!
PS: Our online Alpha Course kicks off this Tuesday night and is a great option for anyone wanting to grow further in their faith. I invite you to check it out!
A Financial Giving Update from Hope
April 6, 2020
We find ourselves in an unprecedented time. Our world has been turned upside down, impacting things both big and small. But, even amidst all of the changes happening all around us, an amazing opportunity has been presented to us to be the church, reach people in new ways, and live out our mission of reaching out to the world around us and sharing the everlasting love of Jesus Christ. God is bigger than any pandemic, and continues to show up in big ways through Hope:
- We may be practicing social distancing… but we’re definitely not practicing spiritual distancing! Hope’s staff has been hard at work providing daily opportunities for people to connect, grow, pray and worship. You can search through these online, or follow along on our social media pages.
- Worship has moved to completely online … and we’re seeing record numbers! Our weekend services are seeing higher attendance than ever before, which means we’re reaching more people than ever before … and that has an eternal impact!
- Our missions, prayer and care teams have been connecting with people in need virtually, and working with our mission partners to provide essential services for our community. Hope’s God Squad Team (a team we email weekly with local service opportunities) has more than doubled in numbers these past two weeks, proving once again, what an amazing group of individuals that make up our church family!
God is good! And, it continues to be good to be the church, Hope!
We do also want to provide an update on financial gifts to the church. While 50% of our church family currently give their offerings online, that also means 50% of people historically give in person through weekly offering baskets, which aren’t currently available. If this is you and your family, please know we have a number of options available for you to help us in continuing to support the mission of Hope:
- Give Online
Here is a step-by-step video tutorial of how to set up your online giving. It’s quick and easy, and provides the opportunity for one-time or recurring gifts. You can also call 515-222-1520 and a member of our Finance Team would be happy to walk you through this.
- Download Hope’s App
Giving can also be done quickly via Hope’s free app, which can be downloaded in your phone’s app store.
- Via Mail
Checks can also be mailed to the church office: Lutheran Church of Hope – Finance, 925 Jordan Creek Pkwy, West Des Moines, IA 50266
Currently the West Des Moines church office is open Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm (you can visit other campus pages for other office hours). Please know that based on recommendations by state leaders, these hours are subject to change. (For the safety of our church family, we ask that if you are currently experiencing any cold-or-flu-like symptoms, please refrain from dropping off your gifts in person at this time.)
Thank you so much, Hope, for your continued support! It is a tremendous blessing to be a part of this church family, and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in the days, weeks, and months ahead through Hope! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call: 515-222-1520.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And, be blessed. We continue to be praying for you!
An Update from Hope
April 4, 2020
We’ve heard so many great stories of our God Squad stepping up to answer the many requests we are getting from the community. With that in mind, if you have any photos from any of the work you’ve done as part of the God Squad, please submit them to email@example.com. Thank you!
With some new timelines extended, the need is becoming greater.
Here are the latest requests:
- HOPE MINISTRIES BETHEL MISSION – They are looking for volunteers in 2 areas.
1. Their Café is in need of sack lunches to serve the clients in their community through end of April. Please assemble each lunch in individual paper lunch sacks. Lunches should try and include: peanut butter/jelly sandwich in sandwich bag, cookie or dessert in sandwich bag, fresh fruit, small bag of chips, bottle of water. Contact Leslie Green for delivery hours at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. "Pod pockets!" - Pod pockets are made with single detergent pods wrapped in single dryer sheets then twist-tied with a positive note of encouragement for their clients. It’s something simple that residents can take with them and throw in with their laundry.
Drop off for both is at Bethel Mission, 1310 6th Ave., Des Moines. Call Terri or Leslie at 515-265-7272, or email email@example.com.
- MASK MAKING – As you’ve probably seen from the news reports, the federal government is likely going to be recommending that people begin wearing face masks in public. In addition, there is an ever-increasing need for masks at nursing homes/senior citizen centers. The clear message in all of this is that we are going to have a heavy demand for masks, especially for the more vulnerable. With that in mind we are putting out the plea to our God Squad to begin making these non-surgical masks so we can distribute in the near future. This video will give you a simplistic approach to making the mask, but certainly not the only approach. When you have completed making your batch, please drop them off at the following campuses Hope WDM, Hope Grimes, Hope Ankeny. DROP OFF ONLY, no distribution at this time.
- FOOD PACKAGING/DISTRIBUTION - Lutheran Church of Hope Grimes (along with a handful of other Grimes churches) will be one of five Des Moines area locations where food will be packaged, distributed, and delivered to homes. Food Bank of Iowa will deliver the food initially to Hope Grimes, while volunteers will package, distribute, and then distribute the food where needed. Volunteers will observe social distancing and be in teams of 10 people or less.
Use this link to sign up, package, distribute the food, and other helpful information.
- BIDWELL RIVERSIDE – Our local mission partner assisting low income families has seen a greater increase in demands with their pantry. They are in need of food, plastic grocery bags, toiletries, diapers (size 5/6), and feminine hygiene products. You can simply put the bags in your trunk or the back of your SUV and Bidwell workers will have someone in the parking lot directing cars. They can talk to you through your closed window, you pop the trunk, and they grab the items. Also, something easy to do at home is to make no-sew T-shirt tote bags out of your old T-shirts. Here is a link for this simple project.
DROP OFF LOCATION is 1203 Hartford Ave, Des Moines. If you have questions, the contact is Missy Reams at 515-244-6251, Ext. 5, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- IMANI FAMILY CHURCH - organized in 2007 as an outreach to the refugee community from East and Central Africa, and a missions partner of Hope’s, has these urgent needs for members of its congregation: toilet paper, jasmine rice, beans, diapers (size 2 & 5), beans, cereal, paper products, laundry soap, dish soap, cooking oil, corn flour, rubbing alcohol, sanitizer, produce, fruit.
DROP OFF will be at Imani Church, 815 8th Street in WDM. Contact is Pastor Joshua Kyunde at Joshua.email@example.com or by calling 515-779-1428.
- Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) – has a couple of requests for volunteers.
1. Volunteers to distribute food at mobile food pantry sites. Check out the available options and more info here.
2. Volunteers to assist with packaging food bags at the downtown warehouse. For more info and to sign up, click here.
3. Volunteers to take the calls and gather the necessary information for orders and/or volunteers who can pick up and deliver. All CDC safety measures will be taken into consideration. Call Shoshana Salowitz 515-277-6969 Ext. 18, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- DES MOINES PUBLIC SCHOOLS - is in need of several pop-up tents to provide cover for volunteers as they hand out food to students. These tents will be placed on concrete in orde to help shelter the food distributors on rainy days. If you are able to donate one, please reach out directly to Vanessa Howell with DMPS at 614-390-9565 to make arrangements for drop off.
- FOOD BANK OF IOWA – continues to look for volunteers to both assemble emergency food packages AND volunteers to sanitize/clean the facility before and after volunteers have come and gone. Groups are limited to 10 for food assembly. Food assembly times are Monday-Friday from either 9:00-11:30 am or 1:30-4:00 pm. Sign up to volunteer with the food assembly here. To help clean/sanitize the facility prior to and after volunteers leave shifts: email Michaela Devaney at email@example.com. Report to Food Bank of Iowa at 2220 E. 17th Street, Des Moines. Phone is 515-564-0330.
- YMCA – Still accepting a basket of items that would assist residents who are confined to their apartments during this self-isolation or quarantined period. Items they are looking for include: canned fruit, canned veggies, canned meat, instant oatmeal, microwave dinners, peanut butter, bread, produce, snacks, pasta & sauce, water, trash bags, hand soap, toilet paper, puzzles, adult coloring books, Search Words, Sudoku, crossword books. Food would be delivered to 2 SW 9th Street location. Their employees would take from your vehicles. Contact info: Sarah Wigen at 515.288.2424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are hearing of anyone needing groceries delivered, please notify email@example.com for volunteers that could be mobilized.
Thanks everyone! You are making a difference!
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!