Well, though some say church folks only work on Sunday, all of you know that is not the reality at Good Shepherd. Between the church staff, our mid-week activities and Good Shepherd School, there is something going on at 211 Franklin Road virtually ALL the time. And what we do requires many hands in order for everything to run smoothly and to serve the people of Good Shepherd, as well as the children and parents of our school.
On Friday, March 13 all of this came to a screeching halt. That was the last day all Good Shepherd staff and school personnel were together in one place—the church. On that day, we told 140 students and about 120 families that the school needed to close, and the bishop decided we needed to suspend all in-person gatherings and worship services for the foreseeable future.
Now, it’s been 8+ weeks, and I hope you’ve noticed, but we’ve been busy. Busy doing what we can. And we’ve learned that we can do a lot. We can use our Facebook page, YouTube channel, and website to broadcast services. In Week 1 we managed to go online with Morning Prayer from the church, offer Godly Play, meditation time, and beautiful music from the choir. It wasn’t necessarily smooth, but I’d like to think it was a pretty good effort. Since then, we improved our sound quality and have added more and more content. This week you can find the following online: Morning and Noonday Prayers, Compline, Godly Play with wondering and response time two days a week, Youth group time with Bible study and Evening Prayer, Sunday formation classes, music from the choir, and continuous online engagement with Good Shepherd School students. I remember thinking at the beginning of the shutdown, “What will I do with the building closed?” Honestly, the staff and I have worked harder than ever to “Be the Church” online. And I want you to know that it has been a labor of love. It’s not the same as “Being the Church” at 211 Franklin Road, but it’s as close as we can make it for y’all and the many new folks who have seen our offerings.
Although we aren’t gathering at the church now, we will soon, God willing. So, Barbara’s team continues to care for the building while the office staff is hard at work, though from home, planning the week’s activities, recording, editing, communicating, and creating all that you see each week online. Our regular ongoing church expenses haven’t changed much due to the shutdown, but our income is down somewhat since we haven’t regularly gathered or passed the plate, though some tithe envelopes have been mailed to or dropped off at the church.
In an effort to ensure we were able to pay our church and school staff during this time, we applied for a loan under the Payroll Protection Act (PPP). This was a time-consuming and arduous process that fell mostly on the backs of Nicole Seiferth, our parish administrator, and Sandy Skorput, our school director. I am excited to tell you that our application was approved, and we received our loan on April 20th. This loan is merely a stop gap, safety net to ensure that we can continue to employ ALL church and school staff during this time period, while they continue to work hard to maintain our faith and school communities. The PPP loan will be forgiven as long as we maintain our current workforce and personnel for the duration of the loan (8 weeks). We are so grateful to have received this loan as it will certainly be a great help to us during this period. It is not a windfall, nor is it meant to substitute for our pledged gifts from the members of the parish.
At this point we don’t know when we will get back together for regular, “live” worship or even what that might look like. And yet we are committed to doing everything we can to offer worship and formation as best we can, utilizing our staff and the technology at hand.
In this time of “exile” from church, please know how precious and dear the Good Shepherd community is to all of your staff. We miss you and look forward to when we are back together.
Grace, peace and love to you all,
Alleluia! He is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!