Pandemic Messages

Good Shepherd Family

Posted
May
21
2020

Dear Good Shepherd Family:

As I shared with you last week, beginning THIS SUNDAY, May 24th, Good Shepherd will begin phasing back in on-site worship services. We will have our regular two morning services (8:00 AM Traditional and 10:45 AM Contemporary). We will continue to live stream both services. (shalimar.church)

The Board of Elders approved a plan that takes into account all current guidelines from the CDC and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. We know that there are a lot of differing opinions out there but as far as precautions go we will err on the side of caution.

We encourage attendees to wear face coverings as they come - medical-grade masks are not necessary, but cloth coverings are sufficient. There is no requirement to wear a covering, but we encourage you to think of the protection of others. As you enter into the church, we will have hand sanitizer to use on your hands.

Please continue to practice physical distancing that has become commonplace in other areas of our lives. In addition to arriving early and taking your seat in the sanctuary, we urge you to leave promptly and maintain at least six feet of distance between you and anyone outside of your household. Please respect each other’s space as you are asked to do a “Wal Mart Greeting” of one another. You may not have a problem shaking someone’s hand, but that may not be true for others.

We will sit by family units (or those who travel to the service in the same vehicle). We will sit in every other row - with the 8:00 AM service sitting in the odd rows marked by pink paper post it notes and the 10:45 AM service sitting in the even rows marked by blue paper post it notes. You must leave at least two empty seats between your family unit and another. Please stagger your seating in relation to those in front of you. Please be gracious - it is more important that everyone be able to have a seat rather than that you have your “usual seat.”
We also recognize you may not feel comfortable attending a worship service, yet. That’s OK. We understand that during these unusual times, we need to make decisions that are best for each of our own unique circumstances. To better serve those of you who do not feel you can return to in-person worship, we will continue to stream both the 8 and 10:45 services. You can join us the comfort of your own home, or tune in to a video of the services that will remain on the church’s website for later viewing.

If you are a member of an at-risk category—65 or older, especially those with chronic lung disease; moderate to severe asthma; chronic heart disease; severe obesity; diabetes; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; liver disease; or weakened immune system—you should consider staying home and joining us via livestream.

If you have had any known contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please do not come to worship until 14 days after exposure. Anyone who is running a fever, cough, or other flu-like symptoms should also stay home. If you develop any of these symptoms after attending worship in the coming weeks, please immediately notify the church staff.

Unfortunately, the current situation will not allow us to resume all aspects or programs we typically offer on Sunday mornings.

We hope that these measures are only temporary. As circumstances change, we will regularly review this plan with the expectation of returning to a more normal version of our worship as soon as possible.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for your patience, support, and steadfastness you have demonstrated to the body of Christ during these difficult times. Witnessing the many ways in which Good Shepherd has come together as a community—and staying in touch with our church family—has been a great encouragement to me.

It has been a privilege to serve God alongside each of you, to hear your testimonies of how God continues to work in your lives, and to serve as your pastor. Please continue to pray for us as we make difficult decisions that impact our life together. Please continue to support the work and worship of the church to the best of your ability, and, of course, let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Ray

Sharing and Caring is in need of the following items. (If you are coming on Sunday please bring what you can with you.)


Canned tuna fish and meat
Beef ravioli, Spaghetti O’s
Hot dogs
Pork & beans
Canned or dry soup
Peanut butter and jelly
Canned vegetables
Canned fruit
Cheese - Sliced American
Eggs
Canned spaghetti sauce    
Dry spaghetti
Rice and dry beans
Macaroni & Cheese dinner    
Cereal     
Juice - bottle or can
Bottled water    
Shelf stable milk
Disposable razors
Toothbrushes & toothpaste
Deodorant
Shampoo, hotel shampoo & soap
Toilet paper


Worship Notes to the Good Shepherd Family

Posted
May
14
2020

Worship Notes to the Good Shepherd Family

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PLAN IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE SHOULD IT BE DEEMED NECESSARY FOR THE SAFETY OF OUR WORSHIP ATTENDEES OR BY NEW PROTOCOLS THAT MAY BE PUT IN PLACE FOR PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS.

IN-PERSON WORSHIP SERVICES RESUME MAY 24th

Beginning on May 24th, Good Shepherd will resume in-person worship services. We will have two morning services (8:00 AM Traditional and 10:45 AM Contemporary). We will continue to live stream both services. (shalimar.church) While churches are not subject to mandates regarding other businesses (e.g., 25% or 50% capacity limits), we are seeking to follow the health protocols for the safety of our church family. Our sanctuary can seat over 320 people. (25% of 320 allows for at least 80 people per service).

We offer the following FAQ to assist you in making a decision to attend in-person worship:

Who may attend?
Ultimately, the decision to attend rests with families and individuals. Good Shepherd is neither mandating nor prohibiting attendance at the in-person worship. To that end, we will be continuing live stream of our morning services for those who believe it is best for them to stay home. We are also strongly encouraging (in accordance with governmental health protocols and guidelines) all those who are in an at-risk category to stay home and watch the live stream at this time.

Who is in the “at-risk” category?
The Centers for Disease Control define “at-risk” those who are 65 or older, especially those with chronic lung disease; moderate to severe asthma; chronic heart disease; severe obesity; diabetes; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; liver disease; or weakened immune system. If you fit one of these categories, or live with someone who does, we strongly encourage you to stay home and watch the live stream at this time

How will we enter and exit the service?
We will enter and exit only through the main sanctuary doors. We ask you to plan to come to worship at least 10 minutes prior and no more than 20 minutes prior to the service. Families should enter as a group, rather than straggling in one by one. The doors will be propped open to limit contact with door handles. We will dismiss by family groups starting with those sitting in the back to avoid contact. We ask that you exit promptly. We need this not only for social (physical) distancing purposes, but in order to do proper cleaning between services.

How will we sit?
We will sit by family units (or those who travel to the service in the same vehicle). We will sit in every other row - with the 8:00 AM service sitting in the odd rows marked by pink paper post it notes and the 10:45 AM service sitting in the even rows marked by blue paper post it notes. You must leave at least two empty seats between your family unit and another. Please be gracious - it is more important that everyone be able to have a seat rather than that you have your “usual seat.”

What about bulletins and hymnals?
To limit possible cross-contamination through frequently touched or shared objects, we will not be using hymnals or bulletins. The words of the liturgy and hymns or songs will be projected on our screens.

What about the Lord’s Supper?
We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper beginning May 24, but we will be taking additional precautions. As a result, the Lord’s Supper will “look different” than usual.

What other precautions are being taken?
As you enter into the church, we will have hand sanitizer to spray on your hands. Please follow the guidelines (20 seconds) for hand washing in the restrooms (and make sure your children do!) and use the paper towels to turn off the faucets and open the restroom doors as you exit. We will be cleaning all door handles and common hard surfaces between and after services and spraying down the pews with Lysol afterward. We will not pass offering plates but instead encourage you to give online. For those who wish, we will have a plate available for your offering. There will be no nursery and no coffee or food will be served. The water fountains will be taped off, and bottled water will be on hand for those who need a drink.

What about masks?
We encourage attendees to wear face coverings as they come - medical-grade masks are not necessary, but cloth coverings are sufficient. There is no requirement to wear a covering, but we encourage you to think of the protection of others.

Continuing Live Stream
Our live stream services are available on either our Facebook page, or anytime after the service you can find our services posted on You Tube. The live stream will only be visible on Facebook during the service. You will not be able to see the live stream on You Tube until after the Sunday morning service. Past worship services are available on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

If you are unable to attend the services in person consider giving your offerings safely and securely online through our website (Shalimar.church) look for the “GIVE” button at the top of the page. or via text at (772-291-5019) . You may also mail checks to the church. Good Shepherd 1 Meigs Dr. Shalimar, FL 32579

Good Shepherd Programs
No Sunday school classes will be held on Sunday Mornings for the time being.
All non-worship activities are suspended or online until further notice.

How You Can Stop the Spread of Germs
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose. (M.E.N.)
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Stay Safe!
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Ray

Re-Opening

Upcoming
May
24
2020

Our soft reopening is May 24th for regular worship services only. Livestreaming will continue for those who are uncomfortable in gathering together this soon. We will livestream both the traditional (8:00 AM) and contemporary (10:45 AM) worship services. For this soft reopening all other activities and events are still suspended.

We are updating our Corona Virus Precautions policy in preparation for your return to the church campus. Exercise your own judgement concerning the level of risk you are willing to take as you venture out. Holding worship services again in the church is not a mandate for your immediate return. Watch your worship service preference online until you are ready.



Gift Card Scam

Day
May
4
2020

Someone has opened up an email hotmail account asking people to send in gift cards. This is a scam. Pastor Ray does not have a hotmail account.



When We Meet Again

Day
April
30
2020

Dear Good Shepherd Family,

Good Shepherd Corona Virus Precautions (When we meet again)

The staff and elders of Good Shepherd are closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We are monitoring all information from the Okaloosa County Health Department. Our plan is to follow their recommendations regarding holding public worship services and other group activities and all other advice they offer. We will continue to hold regularly scheduled worship services online until advised otherwise. (Shalimar.church) If there is a change we will post it on our web site.

We are taking extra precautions such as social distancing here at the church; not because we are fearful, but because we are mindful. Know we are closely monitoring the situation in order to make the best decisions possible. If you have something you feel needs to be addressed, please call me. 850-651-1022.

These are the things we have immediately implemented:

1. Asking ushers/greeters/attendees to refrain from handshaking until the virus subsides. (If you are sick, please recover at home.)
2. Using a bulletin is optional because everything you need is on the screen.
3. If you feel a need to sit alone, please do so and respect each other’s space.
4. We will not be greeting one another in the service physically with a handshake or hug,
but we will be sharing the peace of the Lord verbally.
5. We will not physically pass the offering plate. We will be receiving the offering as you
enter or exit the sanctuary using the OFFERING BOX. Remember you can give electronically via our website or by text to 833-886-1879.
6. I will not be shaking hands at the end of the service, but I will be available if you need to speak to me.
7. We will be wiping down the pews with disinfecting wipes between all services.
8. In Regard to Holy Communion: We will not be serving communion as in the past kneeling at the rail, but in a walk up fashion.

In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Ray

President Harrison encourages support for church workers

Day
April
30
2020


In a video addressed to laypeople, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison describes the tireless efforts church workers have made during the COVID-19 pandemic and encourages congregational members to support and thank their church workers.

“Your pastors and church workers need your love now,” said Harrison in the video. “They are Christ’s gifts to give us
His gifts. Please show your love by caring for them and by saying ‘thank you.’”

LCMS Communications hopes to spread this #LCMSThankYous campaign throughout the Synod to show the appreciation the people of God have for you. We see the work you are doing, thank God for your service, and pray that the Lord continues to bless His church and you continue to find hope and joy in God’s promises kept for you in Christ Jesus.





Another Letter from Pastor Ray

Posted
April
22
2020

Dear Good Shepherd Family,

Another week has passed and things are NOT back to normal.

I hear people asking, "When will this pandemic end and things return to normal?"

I have heard the "worst-case scenario" for the coronavirus pandemic would be like what happened during the Spanish Flu which peaked three different times between the years 1918 and 1920. Life wasn't “normal" for over three years. Let's pray that this is not that.

So what does God have to say about all of this and what is to come?

Listen to what He says in Romans chapter 8;

18, consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed ... 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

God says all that BEFORE we get to that famous verse of Romans 8:28;

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

So maybe we should not be surprised at what is happening and look at this time in history with eager expectation as God works His plan for our good. And that means getting on board with what God is doing.

And what is God the Good Shepherd doing? He is always strengthening His church so they can seek those who are lost.

Maybe the question we should ask is II What should the new normal be?"

This crisis is giving us an opportunity to re-order our lives and to refocus our attention on what matters most, and to recommit to the people we're called to love and serve.

When the “stay at home order" is lifted hopefully we will come out of this with a stronger commitment to our Savior and His mission for our church.

Let's not go back to the old normal. Let's come away from this crisis with a new vision of what a new normal could be. Until then, love your neighbor as yourself.

This week we are praying for the family of Kathy Holbrook who passed away on Monday and for Clay Lewis who is at Ft. Walton Beach Medical Center.

In Christ's Love,
Pastor Ray

Letter from Pastor Ray

Posted
April
15
2020

Dear Good Shepherd Family,

The Celebration of Easter has come and gone. But even though we celebrated like we do every year with special music, hymns and the reading of the Resurrection Story there was something missing wasn’t there?

What I missed most was the physical act of being together with fellow believers, and experiencing Holy Week together as a community. There were many sights and sounds we didn’t encounter: the taste of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday; the darkness of Good Friday; the feel of waving palm branches on Palm Sunday; the smell of the lilies on Easter Sunday and the sound of shouting together “HE IS RISEN!”

Those are very physical and real experiences that we missed this year.

The physical matters...a hug from a loved one; the sound of children laughing; seeing a beautiful sunset after a cooling rain; the smell of the salt air when you walk on the beach; the taste of bacon at breakfast. All of these things matter because God created the world, and He made it physical.

Being alive means experiencing these things.

And that’s why there was something lacking this past Holy Week.

But in spite of it all, that doesn’t change what really matters - Jesus and His resurrection and what that means for us.

In John 11 Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” We will have plenty of time to spend together in eternity, until then rejoice in the victory by Jesus on the cross! Stay focused on fulfilling the mission of making disciples; and living your life in light of eternity.

Invite your friends and neighbors to worship with us on line at 9 AM @ Shalimar.church.

In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Ray


District Wide Prayer Vigil

Upcoming
April
11
2020


The LCMS Southern District will be
live-streaming a district wide prayer vigil
on Saturday, April 11, at 7:00 p.m. CDT.

Strength - Peace - Hope - Healing

Here is a link to the YouTube livestream:
https://youtu.be/p0jm2VTFRss

If you are unable to view the livestream as it is happening, you will be able to view the video archive at the same link noted above.

"What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." (Philippians 3:8-9)    

Southern District - LCMS, 100 Mission Dr., Slidell, LA 70460



Letter to the Congregation

Posted
April
8
2020

Dear Good Shepherd Family,
There are a lot of things we don’t know.

Sometimes I have no idea what the Lord has in mind. Sometimes I think I do. But sometimes things aren’t as black and white as I would want them to be.

Who would have thought we would be where we are today; fighting a virus and under orders to “stay at home”?

It’s Holy Week and we started the Lenten season without any concerns of “social distancing” when we received ashes on our foreheads with the words, “Dust you are and dust you shall return.” Now we are told to keep our distance.

For the first time in my life I will be celebrating a Maundy Thursday service without receiving the Lord’s Supper. For the first time in Good Shepherd’s history the congregation will not be in attendance on Easter Sunday.

So I am asking the good Lutheran question, “What does this mean? Lord what do you have in mind?”

So, I go to God’s Word where the Lord speaks to us.
    •    “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
    •     “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
    •     “Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
    •    ”And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 
    •    Jesus reminds us… “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” And then He asks what I think are rhetorical questions… “Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:19-34

These passages and so many more like them bring me peace, calm my spirit, address my anxiety, and give me pause to say, “Lord, whatever your plan is count me in! Let’s do this!”
In a time like this God is faithful in His promise and presence. His children need to be reminded of and hear this again and again.

I am looking forward to sharing Holy Week with you on line at Shalimar.church

Maundy Thursday April 9 -- Live Stream 7 PM
Good Friday April 10-- Live Stream 7 PM
Easter Sunday April 12 -- Live Stream 9 AM

Can’t wait to say, He is Risen!

In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Ray

Nonessential Movement

Day
April
1
2020

Governor Desantis issued a statewide stay at home order about an hour ago. The order takes effect Friday morning. The order limits the nonessential movement of citizens and  requires the closure of nonessential businesses. Unlike the prior order issued by the Governor for some South Florida counties, this order reserves to the state the authority to determine what is considered essential. However, it does still appear to allow local governments to make further declarations as to businesses that are not essential in that local community.  
 
As to what is an essential activity for citizens at large, the order indicates that the following are deemed essential activities:
                -providing or procuring essential goods or services. 
                -attending religious services.
                -participating in recreational activities (ie: exercise). 
                -taking care of pets.
                -providing for or assisting loved ones or friends. 
 
For those of you who are business owners or managers trying to determine which side of the line your business falls on and for those of you who just want to be fully informed, here is a link to the entire Order:

 
It is a little tricky to determine what the guidance for businesses is as the Order incorporates both a guidance document issued by homeland security and an order issued out of Miami-Dade County, together with several amendments to that Miami-Dade order. Some industries are included in both but others are only on one or the other. I understand the order to mean if your industry appears on either list then you are deemed essential.

As additional relevant information becomes available, I will continue to provide it here.

Stay safe and healthy.
     Sincerely, 
Nathan Boyles
Your Okaloosa County Commissioner
District 3 
850-689-5030
nboyles@myokaloosa.com 



Stay-At-Home Order

Day
April
1
2020

Good Shepherd will continue to stream Sunday Services at 9 AM until we are
given the go ahead to worship in the building.

Worship Schedule for April - All services will be streamed live
(Shalimar.church)

April 5th - Palm Sunday Service 9 AM
April 9th - Maundy Thursday Service at 7 PM
April 10th - Good Friday Service at 7 PM.
April 12th - Easter Sunday Service 9 AM
April 19th - Sunday Service 9 AM
April 26th - Sunday Service 9 AM

Due to the stay-at-home order by Gov. DeSantis, we will not have Palm
Branches available on Saturday, April 4th for pick up in front of the
Sanctuary.

In His Grace,
Pastor Ray



Florida Public Safety Alert

Day
March
28
2020

Much Cause to Rejoice and Give Thanks

Posted
March
27
2020

Still ‘Joy:fully Lutheran’ because of Jesus

In Christ, there is much to rejoice and give thanks for, as we pray without ceasing in these challenging days. LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison holds up the work of Concordia Plan Services and Concordia Publishing House in providing important resources for churches, schools and workers during the COVID-19 Crisis.

The video is part of a set of resources now available at
lcms.org/coronavirus. Visit the webpage to watch the president’s message and find resources to assist you and your congregation.





Dinner for Eight

Canceled
March
26
2020

Dinner for Eight (D48)

Again I want to thank you for volunteering to lead our small group efforts. After meeting with the Elders Board and Pastor Ray and FLM Curtis we have taken the position that we should suspend our D48 meetings for at least 90 days and take another look in early July to see if there are still strong social restrictions remaining.

Please pass on to your D48 group and let’s see if we will take it up again after 90 days. Recall that we have already planned a summer break from June through August so it is sort of like we are breaking early. I know my group did not completely make it through the planned 5 meetings but social distancing is one of the more effective tools we have to combat this contagious virus.

God’s peace to you and your families and your D48 groups. Prayers for our country and the citizenry of our nation and the world as we fight this disease.

Don’t forget that next Sunday we will again live stream GSLC Sunday worship at 0900 CSDT on our Website through Facebook. In case you missed last Sunday’s service it is now one click away on that same website.


This Sunday, Pastor Ray’s sermon [always very topical] will have a special relevance to our reactions to this Corona Virus. Please let me know if you have any questions.

God’s peace

For more information email: Joe Staton.




Easter Sunrise Beach Service Canceled

Posted
March
18
2020

The Easter Sunrise Service has been a long held tradition were we have met annually on the beach at Beasley Park since 1975. Only once did the weather not cooperate (2016). This year we are shut down by the Okaloosa County Commissioners who are following Sate and National Health officials guidelines to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The Easter Sunrise Service is a joint venture of four local Lutheran congregations.



Letter from Pastor Ray

Posted
March
16
2020

Dear Good Shepherd Family,

The Elders at Good Shepherd have been monitoring information from the Okaloosa County Health Department and the CDC regarding the COVID-19 virus.  Our plan is to follow their recommendations regarding holding public worship services and other group activities.

After much discussion and prayerful deliberation, we have decided to suspend the mid-week meal and Lenten service on Wednesday March 18th, as well as Sunday morning worship, March 22th. This also includes Sunday morning Bible Studies and Sunday school and the Wednesday Morning Bible Studies. We will be assessing the situation on a week by week basis to determine the schedule.

Instead of gathering physically we will be posting a shorten service on our web page on Sunday morning: Shalimar.church

We did not make this decision out of fear but out of sincere love for the health of our members and their families.

We are aware of several members who are self-quarantined. If you are one of these members, please let us know how we can best serve you.
If you are aware of any needs at this time please let us know.

These are unprecedented, extraordinary times and I firmly believe that we must not panic or overreact to the threat of this outbreak. I also believe that we need to do everything possible to stay well.

As St. Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

For The Board of Elders,
 
Pastor Ray Angerman



Coronavirus Message from Southern District President Johnson

Posted
March
18
2020

Brothers and Sisters of the Southern District:

Greetings in Christ's holy name in whom there is no fear of death or sickness because in Baptism we have already died with Christ and in His rising again we are assured of resurrected life with Him forever!

As your District President, I want you all to know that your Synod, your District, and your pastors are doing all we can to continue mission and ministry in this unprecedented time of fear and anxiety caused by the rapid spread of the Coronavirus.

First,
I want to point you to Christ Jesus.  In Romans chapter 6, St. Paul clearly tells us that we are baptized into Christ's death, and will be raised with Christ in His resurrection of the dead.  We have died with Christ; therefore all fear of death is defeated in Christ Jesus and we are free, as His Baptized children of God, to love and serve our neighbor during this trying time.  We are free to love and serve our neighbor because of what Jesus has already done for us.

In his work, "Should a Christian flee the plague?" Martin Luther does not ask "What would Jesus do?" Instead he basically asks "What would you do if it was Jesus?" In a quote directly relevant to this time of coronavirus Luther says: "This I well know, that if it were Christ or his mother who were laid low by illness everybody would be so solicitous and would gladly become a servant or helper. Everyone would want to be bold and fearless; nobody would flee but everyone would come running... If you wish to serve Christ and to wait on him, very well, you have your sick neighbor close at hand. Go to him and serve him, and you will surely find Christ in him..."

Second,
I want to point you to your congregation.  Your pastor has never led a congregation through such trying times as this.  He is doing the absolute best he can.  I want to encourage our congregation members to pray for their pastor and congregation leaders.  Support them, be gracious with them, be forgiving of mistakes, and offer to help as you can.

In addition to supporting your pastor and congregation leaders, I want to encourage you to continue giving your tithes and offerings unto the Lord through your congregation.  Even if you are unable to attend worship together for a short time, do not forsake the financial support of your congregation.  Continue to give, as unto the Lord, to support the work of your congregation on your behalf and on behalf of the community.

Many small congregations are in danger of dying as a result of not being able to gather for worship for a month or more if the congregation members don't continue to give toward the work of their church. 

Please, don't withhold your tithes and offerings just because your congregation has canceled worship services.  Continue to give, and give generously, at this time of crisis to support your pastor and your congregation.
 
I have emailed your pastor some resources for online giving and for broadcasting worship services and Bible study online through Facebook Live.  Support your pastor and congregation leaders by encouraging them to put these practices in place, and do all you can to support the work of your local congregation during this time of temporary crisis.

Finally,
This time will pass.  The virus will run its course.  There will be struggles as we move forward from this awful situation.  Continue to pray.  Let me encourage you to continue to be the people of God to your families and neighbors.  Be at peace; put your trust in Christ. "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... (1 Peter 3:15)

We are walking together through these difficult times, you are not alone, Christ is always with you.  He promises to never leave you nor forsake you.  You are in good hands, you are in God's hand.  Go in peace and serve the Lord!

Your Servant In Christ's Mission,

Rev. Eric Johnson
President, Southern District, LCMS

"Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell, I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."  C.T. Studd

Southern District Updated Response

Posted
March
16
2020

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have received numerous phone calls and a greater number of emails yesterday and today regarding the newest recommendation from the CDC regarding the spread of Coronavirus.

The situation is rapidly changing; there is much fear and anxiety in the general population and the Church. I will make recommendations for our congregations as soon as possible as the news changes.

For right now, I encourage you to stay the course.  Do not give in to fear.  Encourage each other in our sure and certain hope in Christ Jesus. Love and serve your neighbor.  Use the opportunity the Lord has given us to speak the peace of his Gospel to those afraid of death.

If you are elderly or have serious hearth issues, be proactive in protecting yourself from exposure to the virus.

If you are healthy, even if you get the virus the CDC says you will likely experience mild to moderate symptoms of fever and coughing.  Like any virus, if you drink plenty of fluids and get rest your normally healthy body will fight the virus. If you get sick, protect others around you by self-quarantine.

The Southern District will be making updated recommendations soon regarding continued worship in light of the CDC recommendation to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people.

So hold tight. Pray. Do not fear. Love and serve your neighbor with the Gospel of Christ Jesus. And look for more info and updates as we move forward through this together.

Your Servant In Christ's Mission,
Rev. Eric Johnson
President, Southern District LCMS



Congregational Planning For Pandemics

Posted
March
16
2020

As we seek the Lord's guidance during the Coronavirus pandemic, a resource from LCMS World Relief may be helpful to your congregation. It is called, "Congregational Planning for Pandemics."



Continue to pray for wisdom, guidance, patience, peace, calm, and opportunities to serve others. God is in control.



Good Shepherd Coronavirus Precautions

Posted
March
14
2020

Good Shepherd Corona Virus Precautions
 
The staff and elders of Good Shepherd are closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We are monitoring all information from the Okaloosa County Health Department. Our plans are to follow their recommendations regarding holding public worship services and other group activities and all other advice they offer.
We will hold regularly scheduled worship services until advised otherwise. If there is a change we will post it on our web site: (Shalimar.church)

Please monitor and follow the instructions from the medical professionals in order to keep yourself as safe and healthy as possible. As per the CDC, high risk individuals are advised to avoid crowds as much as possible.
High risk includes: older adults, persons with serious chronic medical conditions like: heart disease, diabetes, lung disease.

We are taking extra precautions such as
social distancing here at the church; not because we are fearful, but because we are mindful. Know we are closely monitoring the situation in order to make the best decisions possible. If you have something you feel needs to be addressed please call me.

These are the things we have immediately implemented:
1.    Asking ushers/greeters/attendees to refrain from handshaking until the virus subsides. (If you are sick, please recover at home.)
2.    Using a bulletin is optional because everything you need is on the screen.
3.    If you feel a need to sit alone pleasedo so and respect each other’s space.
4.    We will not be greeting one another in the service physically with a handshake or hug, but we will be sharing the peace of the Lord verbally.
5.    We will not physically pass the offering plate. We will be receiving the offering as you enter or exit the sanctuary using the OFFERING BOX.  Remember you can give electronically via our website or by text to 833-886-1879.
6.    I will not be shaking hands at the end of the service, but I will be available if you need to speak to me.
7.    We will be wiping down the pews with disinfecting wipes between all services.

In Regard to Holy Communion:
1.    As has been a practice in the past, all of our Elders will sanitized their hands and will not to touch anything other than the communion trays.
2.    To avoid touching the communion rail, please do not kneel.
3.    Receive the wafer with your open left hand which is closest to your heart.
4.    Do not hold hands after you commune.
5.    You are invited to the Table of our Lord, but it is okay if you don’t feel comfortable coming forward.

President Trump declared today, March 15th to be a National Day of Prayer.

"We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these. No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!"  - President Trump
 
These are extraordinary times; but this too shall pass. One day when we look back may we remember how we faced our trials with faith and trust in God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
 
In His Love,
Pastor Ray
Matthew 6:25-34



LCMS Response

Posted
March
14
2020

Harrison offers comfort, update amid pandemic

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).
In a new video message, Pastor Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), provides a word of comfort to the people of the LCMS amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The video also includes an update on the response of Synod entities and encourages members to be patient and generous with each other during this stressful time.
The video is part of a set of resources now available at
lcms.org/coronavirus. Visit the webpage to watch the president’s message and find resources to assist you and your congregation.





Southern District Response

Posted
March
13
2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus:

Having received numerous inquiries today as to what the Southern District is suggesting in the face of a growing threat of Coronavirus coming to your town and possibly congregation, I feel compelled to give you this brief outline.

1. Pray.
2. Do not panic.
3. Look for opportunities to serve your neighbor with the peace, grace, and mercy of Christ.
4. Don't panic.
5. Follow the mandates of your local, state, and federal health officials.
6. As the Southern District covers 3 and a half states, we cannot give you area specific instructions. Each congregation, school, and preschool needs to stay aware of the changing situation and respond appropriately.
7. Serve your neighbor with the peace, grace, and mercy of Christ being a calm influence in the midst of fear and uncertainty. We know whose we are, and we need not fear for Christ is with you always.

It is at times of great fear and uncertainty when the Christian church often shines the brightest and has great opportunity to share with others the reason for our sure and certain hope in Christ Jesus. Let us cast our fears on Him, because he cares for you, and share the care of Christ with others.

The Lord be with you. May our God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit keep you in His mercy, may the Lord bless you and keep you, may He cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, may He lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Go in peace, and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!!!

Your Servant In Christ's Mission,
Rev. Eric Johnson
President, Southern District LCMS



American Heritage Girls Response

Posted
March
14
2020

American Heritage Girls Troop 1517

The following is the most up-to-date information as of 5pm EST on Friday, March 13, 2020 regarding AHG's response to COVID-19:

Troop Events
For information regarding the status of your Troop meetings and events, please contact a member of your Troop Board. AHG is recommending Troops to lean on the discretion and wisdom of their Charter Organization and/or local/state health departments when determining whether or not to cancel events and meetings. Members should understand and adhere to their Troop sick policy if attending an AHG event. The American Red Cross, as a trusted and valued partner with AHG, has recently offered a
resource aimed at providing tips and safety information that your family may find useful during this time.