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CURRENT FEATURE STORY

Pandemic Update

September 15, 2021

When the pandemic suddenly began in March of 2020, the staff and Executive Committee had to make quick and important decisions about worship and activities. They immediately turned for guidance to several members who had expertise in infectious disease. A COVID Team was formed to provide insight on how the virus was spread and how we might respond to mitigate illness among our members and the wider community. That team’s guidance was invited by Council President, Dave Engelstad, was convened by Eileen Supple and includes Dave Engelstad, Carrie Henning-Smith, Steve Obaid, Dick Patterson, and Fern Peterson. That group continues to meet regularly to help our leadership stay apprised of scientific data and the developments related to the pandemic.

In the spring as the pandemic eased and we planned to re-open the building, a Strategic Planning Task Force was just finishing up their work. (You will learn more about that in coming weeks.) At the Council of Ministers’ request, that Strategic Planning Task Force agreed to continue to meet under a new name, “The Reopening Task Force,” to help guide us in reopening. They did that work faithfully and then, just as we planned to open the doors to worship, the Delta variant surged, and those plans were set aside. The Strategic Planning Task Force/ Reopening Task Force was thanked for exceptional service, and they concluded their work. 

Now, as the pandemic moves into a long period of evolution impacted by vaccinations, surges, new variants, and varying rates of positivity, ECLC’s Council of Ministers has launched a new Pandemic Task Force that, along with the existing COVID Team, will be positioned to respond rapidly to the changing pandemic environment and provide counsel and guidance to our staff and Council related to making decisions about worship and other congregational activities. The Pandemic Task Force consists of: Carol Bros (chair), Judy Andersen, Trephaena Dehnel, Dave Engelstad, Bryan/Suzi Hinck, Karl Olson, and Elaine Strom. 

We invite your prayers for our staff, Executive Committee, Council of Ministers, Pandemic Task Force, and COVID Team during these difficult times.


Season of Creation 

September 1, 2021

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims its maker’s handiwork. Psalm 19:1

Last year during the month of September we explored the Season of Creation in our online worship. While it was unfortunate we could not gather together in person, we enjoyed filming our worship videos in different outdoor settings (something that was never possible before!). This year, however, we are delighted to celebrate the Season of Creation in the presence of our ECLC community and with the whole of creation! We will continue to worship outside at 9:30am in our parking lot sanctuary through at least October 3. An abbreviated service will be livestreamed at 11am. Stay tuned for more information mid-September regarding our worship plans for the rest of October.

During Sundays in September, we’ll hear stories of scripture where God summons forth creation, evokes praise from creation, and stirs life in creation. We will be challenged to rediscover our intimate connections with creation, to confess the ways that human greed and exploitation harm the earth, and to celebrate the wonder and mysteries of God. Specifically we’ll lift up themes of the earth (9/5), humanity (9/12), sky (9/19), and mountains (9/26). Our Season of Creation will close on Sunday, October 3, when we will celebrate the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi with an outdoor animal blessing. Stay tuned for more information coming soon!


Greetings from Bishop Ann and Shari Prestemon, UCC Conference Minister

August 25, 2021

Congratulations to Pastor Jeff Sartain on your 30th Anniversary of ordination! Though the path to ordination is often challenging, Pastor Jeff’s path was uniquely so. And, his courage and perseverance to follow the twists and turns of that path are remarkable. Further, his ordination in the UCC – nineteen years before the ELCA changed its policies – was one of many building blocks that helped moved the ELCA to become a more inclusive church. Along with Pastor Jeff, we thank the UCC for its courage and faithfulness in leading the way. 

We also celebrate our full communion with the UCC – and the way Pastor Jeff exemplifies the goodness and importance of that communion.  To paraphrase Pastor Eugene Peterson, I believe the calling of pastor is certainly not an easy one. But, if God has called you to pastoral ministry, it is an incredible way to spend a life! Pastor Jeff – we are so glad and grateful you have accepted God’s call. We praise God for your 30 years of ordained ministry – and look for many more!

Rev. Ann M. Svennungsen
Bishop

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Grace and peace to all of you at Edina Community Lutheran Church!  

As you acknowledge the 30th anniversary of Rev. Sartain’s ordination, it’s my pleasure to celebrate that milestone with you and to give thanks for the ministry of Jeff, my friend of over 20 years and my pastoral colleague.  The United Church of Christ was blessed to have Jeff’s leadership in our congregations for many wonderful years and we are grateful for that.  It’s a testament to the beauty of the ecumenical agreements between our two denominations that both the ELCA and the UCC have benefitted from Jeff’s ministry of faithfulness and care.

Congratulations, Rev. Sartain!  May your ministry at ECLC and in our Twin Cities community be a blessing to you and to all with whom you minister.

Sincerely,
Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister
Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ


Teachers, Families with Kids & Youth, and Ministry Partners- Registration is Open!

August 18, 2021

Thank you for taking the time to register and for your ongoing commitment to growing love and justice at God's welcome table and in the world, with ECLC children youth & families. Your registration is a sign of hope and helps inform ministry. Especially important this year! Please CLICK HERE to register.  

Hope is leading us to offer in-person ministry options for children youth & families, following current COVID guidelines which we realize may change. We will begin the ministry year with a Blessing of the Backpacks during worship, and a NEW Faith Milestone Fair between worship services, on September 12. Come, find out how faith is formed for all-ages out of shared baptismal promises!

Sunday School (through 5th grade), Parenting Forward (adults), and Youth Group (middle-school and high-school youth) begin September 19 with Outdoor Children’s Time for Families before and after Sunday School. Sunday School Orientation for new or seasoned ECLC families and teachers will take place the evening of September 22. Wednesday Night Live! (Monthly for middle-school Confirmation youth, with weekly learning and small groups) begins September 29. Weather permitting, we will begin the year meeting outdoors.  

As people of faith, we believe in faith formation through a variety of church forms and learning formats. Even if you are uncertain what faith formation looks like this year, please register all children & youth, birth through grade 12. A full-year calendar will be sent to everyone who registers. If you are a parent, teacher or other partner in ministry, thank you! Please use the registration link to select all of your preferences at this time. We’ve planned a really wonderful year for children, youth & families. Most of which can be shared in multiple formats: in-person and online, in peer groups and family groups, indoors and outdoors, at home and at church! 

Contact Kelly Rowley, Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries at krowley@eclc.org with questions.


Letter from Dave Engelstad - Council President

August 4, 2021

In-person worship at ECLC resumes - outdoors - August 8. 
 
For the next 5 Sundays, you are invited to gather outdoors at 9:30 a.m. in the East parking lot for worship.  
If you prefer to attend worship virtually, an abbreviated live-streamed service will also be provided each Sunday at 11:00 a.m.  

  • Pre-registration is helpful but not required. Click here to sign up.
  • Physical distancing will again be emphasized.
  • Members can make their own choice about masking in an outdoor setting.

In case of rain, prayers of thanks will be offered, and members can worship together using the live-stream option.  Thanks for your flexibility and support as we continue to navigate changing circumstances.
 
Blessings and Peace.
David Engelstad, Council President on behalf of our staff and church leaders 
 
Watch your inbox for an email with more information from ECLC’s COVID team. 
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If you are interested, the Rocky Mountain Synod of the ELCA released this statement last Saturday. ECLC leaders found it a helpful and instructive response to the changes wrought by the Covid-Delta variant.
 
ECLC's Covid team also offers the following information to assist you in your individual risk assessment as you seek to make choices that are right for you.
 
The Live Steam at 11am can be viewed on ECLC’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/edinacommunity, YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/eclccinema/videos, or website at www.eclc.org/online-worship.


Letter from Dave Engelstad - Council President

July 31, 2021

Dear ECLC Friends in Christ,
 
The ECLC ReOpening Committee has recommended, and church leaders have agreed, that tomorrow's worship at ECLC needs to be canceled.  As could happen with a blizzard or ice storm in winter, we have determined that it is not possible for members to safely gather inside or outside tomorrow.  
 
Our primary concern is related to new information about the Delta variant. In a meeting this morning with the Covid Team and Dr. Mike Osterholm, we have learned that: 1) the Delta variant is twice as infectious as the previous variant and can be spread with contact as short as one minute, 2) children are now much more likely to contract and transmit the virus, and 3)leading indicators in MN predict an imminent surge in infections.
 
Given that masks (unless they are a fit-tested N95) cannot provide sufficient protection for members under these conditions, we agree that the risk of gathering in-person tomorrow at ECLC is too great.  Unfortunately, the National Weather Service has also issued air quality alerts due to smoke from Canadian Wildfires and does not recommend outdoor gatherings tomorrow.  Therefore, the decision to cancel worship tomorrow.
 
Our leaders and ReOpening Committee will meet with staff this week to address next steps. And, we can say with confidence that worship—in some form—will resume on August 8th.
 
We’ve taken two steps forward this summer in our goal of returning to in-person gatherings, and now one step back. Thanks for your patience with this step back, and for your hope and energy in moving forward from here. 
 
David Engelstad, President of the Council of Ministers,
on behalf of the ReOpening Committee

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