Sunday School Still in Session at Ascension. Everyone will be required to follow all safety protocols (i.e. masks, distancing etc.)
IN-PERSON WORSHIP HALTED
Dear Ascension Family,
We have had several in-person worship services. These have highlighted some issues that need to be worked on so all can experience a quality worship service that keeps the focus on worship. We have some sound system challenges and other technical aspects that are all correctable, with some work. The Re-Opening Team, along with the Worship Committee and the Technology Committee, are working on these items. It will take time, equipment upgrades, and probably, purchases, to correct these challenges.
We continue to monitor the pandemic in Wyoming and Cheyenne. On October 20, 2020, the Rt rate for Wyoming was 1.26, the second highest state in the US. There were 251 confirmed cases in Wyoming reported that day. These are facts which we need to take seriously. Laramie County is listed number three in terms of cases, behind Albany, and Natrona Counties. The cases are rising and are showing no signs of leveling off or declining. In light of these facts we are going to temporarily halt in-person worship effective immediately.
The reasons are:
- The need to get our technical abilities in line with our worship goals.
- The threat of infection to our staff working at services, especially our Pastor.
- Making worship a safe place for all our Ascension family with proper safety protocols.
We understand that this is frustrating, and some may consider unnecessary. However, we have a responsibility to make worship as safe as possible for all who wish to attend. We will continue to monitor the pandemic and work on our technical challenges; we will re-start in person worship as soon as it is safely feasible. We can all aid in getting this pandemic under control by following the advice from the CDC:
- Wear a cloth mask when in public.
- Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from others.
- Wash your hands.
- Stay home if sick or showing any sign of illness.
Thank you for your patience and your prayers during these unusual times.
Your Parson’s Post:
It’s a three-block walk from the school in Audubon, Minnesota, to the Lutheran church where, each Wednesday during grades 3 and 4, our little class of Lutherans participated in Release Time. That was a different day when religious education had a place in the school week. The unsupervised walk released the 10 or so classmates and me to squash snowballs over one another’s heads or “skate” on the icy street during winter months. We walked, ran or dawdled, chattering nonstop with classmates or choosing the time for quiet. That small-town street gave us space.
I soon will be released from this year-long intentional call with you. Ascension graciously provided space for Wes and me; we are grateful. We had not anticipated its conclusion so abruptly, yet this is our choice. Together, Wes and I have decided it is my best choice. No specific plans are before us. We will ponder and pray about next steps.
Ascension also will need time and space. I pray that after the congregation discerns God’s way forward, an astute shepherd will be emboldened to identify, equip and walk alongside leaders from the congregation’s gifted general membership. May the snowball fights be only in good fun. In God’s good timing, may Ascension call a pastor who has qualities to better contribute to an environment of lively trust and interaction. I tried valiantly to be that pastor. Perhaps my direct call of key leaders has thwarted the opportunity to bear that trusted role.
As we release ourselves from one another, please receive Wes’ and my gratitude. I share here two verses from the reading I have used at the small-group communion farewell services on Ascension’s southeast lawn:
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.—Romans 12: 4, 5.
We mark this unity even as we participate along different paths and streets. Thank you for the path we have shared this year.
Pastor Rebecca Aardahl
Morning devotionals via Zoom are held three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It opens at 7 a.m. Devotion conversation is from 7:20–7:34 a.m.
The Women of the ELCA (WELCA) will begin a three-part series called “Holy time: Remembering the past, recognizing the present and re-imagining the future.” The Zoom meeting on Tuesday, September 15, at 9:30 a.m. will revolve around the Rev. Meghan Johnston Aelabouni’s Bible study that delves into how history and the current circumstances can help us live into God’s promises. For information, contact Shirley Toppenberg.
Sunday School Rally Day
The Education Committee plans to hold Rally Day for Sunday School after worship on Sunday, September 27.
Pastor to finish one-year term call
After an intentional discernment process, Pastor Rebecca Aardahl told the Church Council August 13 that she had decided to conclude her one-year term ministry at Ascension and to explore new opportunities elsewhere in the church. She had stepped into the position following the retirement of our pastor and her husband, Pastor Wes, because of health reasons. “Sadness and gratitude are all mixed together,” she wrote the congregation, noting as the Aardahls “name these endings, we hold you in our hearts.”
According to Council President Rick Moler, as Ascension moves forward, the Church Council will confer with the bishop’s office about the options “we have with regards to an interim or bridge pastor and the call process and procedures.” It is hoped this information will be available for the September council meeting. “In the meantime, the Worship Committee will be working to ensure services move forward smoothly in conjunction with the Tech Committee and the Reopening Team,” he said.
Although we were not together on Palm Sunday, we awoke to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle front page picture and story about the work led by Denise Martin and her volunteers to make palm crosses from frond leaves. The crosses were then mailed to Ascension members.
Contributions fight local food insecurity
Food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the household level. It may be an occasional or a constant lack of nutritious food.
Did you know one in six children in Wyoming struggles with food insecurity? Or more than 35 percent of Wyoming school children qualify for free or reduced lunch? Or about 71,000 Wyoming residents face food insecurity each year?
St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, Needs, Inc., COMEA, St. Christopher’s Pantry, Friday Food Bag and the Cheyenne Salvation Army are some of the local groups that attempt to help those in needing food. At Ascension, we provide some staples through the Little Free Pantry.
Please remember those in our community who don’t have enough food. As you make your regular grocery run, consider donating to any of the local organizations who provide food and help to keep our Little Free Pantry stocked.
Outdoor worship with communion will be held at 9:30 a.m. on September 20 and 27 at Ascension. Both services will be available by Zoom.
Town Hall planned September 17
On Thursday, September 17, at 6 p.m., Rick Moler, Ascension Lutheran Church Council president, will host a Town Hall for the congregation to ask questions or provide feedback. For the Zoom link, call the church.
Please watch this video about our Faith Builds work which we share with area volunteers, beside the Stephenson family, as we build their home in Cheyenne.
Ascension’s morning work group on Aug. 22 at the Habitat and Thrivent Faith Build effort. Homeowner Jaime Stephenson is the waving worker.
Charlie Stevens debuts bluegrass album
Ascension’s Saturday night music leader, Charlie Stevens, has just released his first album called “Success.” This album draws from the instrumentation and the storytelling traditions of bluegrass and presents these elements with a modern spin. The album takes the listener on a journey through some of the subgenres, and influential genres, of bluegrass. It features a Celtic-inspired fiddle tune, a progressive jam with shifting time signatures, folk-ballad inspired love songs, an instrumental waltz as well as straight-ahead, driving bluegrass. Go to his website at charliestevensmusic.com for information about purchasing the album.
‘Let us make and break bread together’
During worship April 26, Pastor Rebecca preached on the Road to Emmaus story from Luke in which two disciples saddened by the death of Jesus do not recognize Him on the road but invite the man to dinner. It is when Jesus becomes the host that their eyes are opened. “At that ordinary table they catch a glimpse of His kingdom,” she said, “and everything is made new.” Pastor noted that this “story sets the pattern of our worship each Lord’s day.”
For many years at Ascension, Shirley Kaetzer has baked communion bread and had planned to demonstrate the process to the First Communion class. With physical distancing preventing that, Shirley created a video to show us all how to “make the bread” until we can “break bread together on our knees,” as the old spiritual says.
Now we have a “church yarn that knits us together” not only during this pandemic but also for many years to come. Watch it here:
Written ideas sought for $70,000 gift
While you are social distancing at home, the Church Council wants you to put on your thinking caps and provide input on what to do with the $70,000 gift from Christ Lutheran Church upon its Holy Closure. The first step in the process is to gather ideas and thoughts on how to utilize part or all of the money by submitting them in writing to Council member Rick Flohr or any other Council member. Make sure each idea is on a separate sheet of paper; be specific about your idea(s); include any necessary details, and explain the importance to Ascension. After the ideas are gathered, the next step will be a town hall-style meeting. For information, email Rick at [email protected]