8945 Veterans Memorial Pkwy, O'Fallon, MO 63366 info@hcross.com (636) 272-4505

Holy Cross Lutheran Church and the COVID-19 “Coronavirus”

Thank you for visiting this page.  Here is the latest information about how Holy Cross is affected by the COVID-19 “Coronavirus.”  Please check here for the latest information with the newest listed first, or click here to jump directly to a section on this page

October 28, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We have been made aware that someone who has attended an event at Holy Cross has received a positive test result on Tuesday, October 27 for COVID-19. In our desire to best serve both our congregation, and our community we want to be transparent and open about the facts of the matter.

The person attended the 8 AM service on Sunday, October 25 and also the Fall Festival that evening. While present, this person was careful to remain masked, and to follow the guidelines in place for distancing and interacting at each of these two events. We are also confident, as well as the person, that it was not contracted on our campus, or at our event, but in a different context altogether.

Because of the information we have on hand, and the guidelines being followed, we are confident that the likelihood of transmission is very low.

As a reminder, please follow the CDC guidelines; if you are feeling sick, especially with symptoms of a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, please stay home and join us on the 8 AM live stream, video replay, or with our mailed DVD or CD of our services.

We will continue to move forward with appropriate caution, and will keep everyone informed of any new information we receive.

Through even this, we are even more confident of God’s great care for His people, and we ask you all the more to lift up these cares before Him, knowing that He alone is able to do what we cannot. May our gracious Father continue to watch over you, and grant you peace.

Your servant in Christ Jesus,

 

Pastor Andy Gimbel

Monday, June 29, 2020

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings to you in the name of our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

The pastors and elders have been discussing how to best provide the Lord’s Supper to our congregation during this time. We thank you all for your conversations and ideas about it to help shape and guide our thoughts. We are pleased to announce that we will begin to offer the Lord’s Supper at ALL of our worship services beginning this coming weekend, July 4-5.  However, we need to make sure the proper precautions are taken to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved,

First of all, while we are now offering public worship and the Lord’ Supper here at Holy Cross, let us reassure you that God’s gifts are a “get to” and not a “have to.” In much the same way we have communicated during times of inclement weather, we encourage you to do what you feel is best for your safety and well-being. If you are still uncomfortable gathering together with us in public, that’s perfectly okay.  Holy Cross will continue to offer its weekly 8 AM live stream as well as many of its other online and digital connection points and resources.

For those that will be joining us for public worship, here are the specifics as to how we are going to carry out our plan with respect to the Lord’s Supper:

  • The elements would be prepared as usual in the sacristy, ensuring that before and after handling them, those preparing would wash hands using the recommended guidelines from the local and federal health departments.
  • Individual communion cups would be prepared in such a way that the cups in the tray would have a “buffer” and not be adjacent to any other cups.
  • Those responsible for distribution during the service (pastor(s) and elder(s)) would likewise wash hands immediately before distribution (during the Agnus Dei) using the recommended guidelines from the local and federal health departments.
  • Distribution would be done in a continuous line like what we have done for Christmas and Easter.
  • Communicants will be ushered up to receive the sacrament according to household. We will work to avoid waiting in line. If a line is necessary, it will need to be at least six feet of separation between households. The next household can come forward to receive communion when the one ahead of them has taken an individual cup
  • One of the pastors would distribute the host, taking care to avoid contact. The pastors will wear a mask and/or face shield during distribution.
  • The host will not be distributed directly to the mouth at this time.
  • One pastor and/or elder will hold the individual cup tray for communicants to pick up on their own (again, there will be empty space between all cups).  The pastor/elder at this station will also be wearing a mask and/or face shield.  He will be standing at least six feet away from the host to help keep the flow of people going a little more quickly.
  • The common cup will not be offered at this time.
  • Children and others desiring to receive a blessing will be given one but without physical contact
  • Used Individual cups will be placed in the basket at the typical location and typical fashion.
We have also created a video of these guidelines so that you can help get a better picture and understanding of how it would work.  Click or tap here to watch the video: Communion Procedures on Vimeo  (Please keep in mind that this video was created by pastors who are not video professionals – it’s a little cheesy)

We are also announcing that our building will be open to use for groups and organizations, both internal groups (e.g. boards, committees, LWML) and external groups (e.g. TOPS, Boy Scouts). There are guidelines for these groups as well, so if you are a leader or coordinator of these groups, please contact the church office or visit our website for more details.

Finally, a few have asked me what other precautions we are taking at Holy Cross to ensure everyone’s safety during this time, so here are some updated guidelines based on what we have released earlier this year from our communication dated May 29, 2020.

  • Public worship services will be offered in the sanctuary at the following times:
    • Saturday 2:00 PM (This service would be the best choice for those in the “high risk” category)
    • Saturday 5:00 PM
    • Sunday 8:00 AM, and
    • Sunday 10:30 AM
  • Weather-permitting, all of the doors will be propped open for contactless entry and exit.
  • Seating in the sanctuary will only be in the designated pews so that social distancing is maintained.  Pews not to be used will be marked off with blue painters’ tape.
  • Overflow seating will be made available in the Welcome Center using clusters of blue chairs spaced six feet apart.  Further overflow will be made available in our gym with a video feed of worship.
  • Families worshipping with us will be ushered out at the end of the service by the elders from the rear to the front.
  • Printed bulletins will be provided. However, they are single-use and should be taken home with you or recycled
  • Children’s talks and the passing of the peace will not be a part of worship services at this time.
  • Rather than passing the offering plate, an offering box will be placed in the Welcome Center/Narthex for members to place their tithes and offerings before or after worship.
  • If you have a face mask, please wear it so that you do not risk unknowingly spreading this virus to others.  There will be a limited supply of masks available for those that do not have a mask with them.  As per the CDC guidelines, Children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a mask.
  • If you are feeling sick, especially with symptoms of a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, please stay home.
  • Restrooms will be available; however, we ask that all patrons wipe their use area (seats, handles etc.) in the restroom after use. (Sanitizing wipes are present)
  • The water fountains will be unavailable for use
  • No on-campus Sunday School or Sunday morning Bible classes will be offered.  Please consider joining our online classes that meet throughout the week.
  • There will not be any donuts or coffee available
  • The sanctuary will be cleaned and sanitized before weekend worship, between each worship service, and after the final worship service.  Door handles and all other surfaces will also be cleaned and sanitized according to that schedule.

As stated above, attending or not attending public worship is a very individual choice based on a wide variety of factors. Please know that whatever you and your family decide, we understand and support your decision.

Finally, we would like to once again say a huge thank you to all of your support, your prayers, and the many expressions of encouragement that you have shown to our pastors, DCE, staff, and leaders here at Holy Cross.  It has been wonderful to see how God’s steady faithful hand has been with us in the past couple of months.

Your servant in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Andy Gimbel

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus!

Beginning the weekend of June 20-21, all worship services will be held in the sanctuary and open to the public at the following times:

  • Saturdays at 2 PM (recommended for those in the “high risk” category)
  • Saturdays at 5 PM
  • Sundays at 8 AM
  • Sundays at 10:30 AM

The Sunday 1 PM service will no longer be offered. The guidelines for masks and other social distancing precautions will still be maintained.

We will continue to keep live stream the 8 AM service from our sanctuary as well as to continue our audio CD, video DVD, and resource mailing ministries going. Please continue to stay connected to Holy Cross in the way that works best for you and your family during this time!

– Pastor Andy Gimbel

Friday, May 29, 2020

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings to you in the name of our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our pastors, elders, and congregational leaders have spent many hours discussing what we would do at Holy Cross when the social distancing orders for St. Charles County have eased.  With these restrictions having been lifted earlier this month, we are announcing new opportunities for public worship. These opportunities and the following guidelines will begin the weekend of Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7.

First of all, while we are going to be reopening our doors for public worship here at Holy Cross, let us reassure you that God’s gifts are a “get to” and not a “have to.” In much the same way we have communicated during times of inclement weather, we encourage you to do what you feel is best for your safety and well-being. If you are still uncomfortable gathering together for worship, that’s perfectly okay.  Holy Cross will continue to offer its weekly 8 AM live stream as well as many of its other online and digital connection points and resources.  We know that there are a wide variety of beliefs and opinions on many things surrounding this pandemic, and some may think the following changes will be too timid, while others may think they are too aggressive.  We pray that you will respect the fact that our leaders are prayerfully trying to the best they can to assure that all is done safely and responsibly.

Here are the details of our plan:

  • Public worship services will be offered at the following times:
    • Saturday, June 6 at 2:00 PM (This service would be the best choice for those in the “high risk” category)
    • Saturday, June 6 at 5:00 PM
    • Sunday, June 7 at 10:30 AM, and
    • Sunday, June 7 at 1:00 PM
  • As stated above, we will continue to offer the Sunday 8:00 AM service on our live stream from the sanctuary and it will remain closed to the public.
  • All worship services will be held in the gymnasium. (This is due to a higher available capacity and greater ease of cleaning and sanitation). Please enter and exit through the double grey doors under the red canopy labeled, “Gym.” Weather-permitting, all of the doors will be propped open for contactless entry and exit.
  • When worshipers arrive, elders will be serving as ushers and will guide each family to sit in a specific location in the gym.  Seating will be in the blue plastic chairs which will be placed so that social distancing is maintained
  • Families worshipping with us will also be ushered out at the end of the service by the elders
  • Following the service, please do not remain inside.  You may converse outside respecting social distancing guidelines
  • Paper bulletins will not be provided.  The worship service will be displayed through a simple white-on-black projection on the gym wall.
  • The Lord’s Supper will not be a part of any of our services the weekend of June 6-7, nor will there be a children’s talk
  • Rather than passing the offering plate, an offering box will be placed outside the entry of the gym and kitchen for members to place their tithes and offerings before or after worship.
  • If you have a face mask, please wear it so that you do not risk unknowingly spreading this virus to others.  There will be a limited supply of masks available for those that do not have a mask with them.  As per the CDC guidelines, Children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a mask.
  • If you are feeling sick, especially with symptoms of a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, please stay home.
  • Restrooms will be available, however, we ask that all patrons wipe their use area (seats, handles etc.) in the restroom after use. (Sanitizing wipes are present)
  • The water fountains will be unavailable for use
  • No on-campus Sunday School or Bible classes will be offered.  Please consider joining our online classes that meet throughout the week.
  • There will not be any donuts or coffee available
  • The gym will be cleaned and sanitized before weekend worship, between each worship service, and after the final worship service.  Door handles and all other surfaces will also be cleaned and sanitized according to that schedule.
  • A survey form will be available to gather your comments.  If you prefer, please share them in person outside with one of the elders or one of the pastors.

Following all four of these initial public worship services, the pastors, elders, and other congregational leaders will be meeting to discuss and re-evaluate.

As stated above, attending or not attending public worship is a very individual choice based on a wide variety of factors. Please know that whatever you and your family decide, we understand and support your decision.

You may be wondering what is taking place on the “administration” side of the church as well, so let us answer a few questions that may be on your mind.

Are we still doing “stuff?”
Oh, yes. The pastors and DCE continue to minister to our members and while their work is different from before, their schedules remain quite full. Our office secretary continues to support you, as does our bookkeeper. Yes, the phone still rings. Things need to be done. And we still have bills to pay despite not holding on-site activities. All of the Boards are maintaining their normal meeting schedules and acting on your behalf. We just can’t meet face to face; many meet via Google Meet, and they will continue to meet this way through the end of June.

Where do we stand financially?
Holy Cross has been blessed with the fact that the contributions have remained fairly close to what they were during the first several months of the year.  We have had many that have taken advantage of our digital/online giving choices (Vanco/Simply Giving and also PayPal).  Many contributions have come in the mail or through the church office.

Are there any members that are directly or greatly affected by this pandemic?
We have only been aware of one member who has contracted this virus, but he has since recovered.  There have been several members that have lost their jobs or had work suspended.  The Holy Cross benevolence fund has helped out in some situations where families were struggling to bridge the financial gap.  However, on a secondary level, each and every one of our families are feeling the effects of this pandemic in very real ways.

What about those big events that were scheduled to take place during the spring?
Yes, we have missed out on a lot of events during this time, ranging from the Ladies’ Guild Rummage Sale to the New Member Luncheon, to the voters’ meeting.  The voters’ meeting was held virtually with a letter and online reports.  The rummage sale and luncheon will be held later.  The plans for other events are on a case-by-case basis.

What about the events still coming this summer?
The big ones on the horizon are VBS and the LYF Servant Event.  VBS will be held virtually where families watch a live stream video together each evening.  The LYF Servant event which was originally supposed to be a trip to Michigan, is being reworked into a local service event during the same time frame.

What about the preschool? What have they been doing? What does their future look like?
The preschool followed the orders along with the other area schools this past spring and went to online learning.  Like many other area teachers, our director Darlene Birk went above and beyond to provide videos and online learning as best as she could for the remainder of the school year.  The plans for preschool in the fall are still up in the air while all schools await word from Missouri leaders.  Please keep the Preschool teachers, staff, and board members in your thoughts and prayers!

What about weddings, baptisms, and other times of celebration in the church?
Each of these are being re-evaluated on a case by case basis.  One couple chose to delay their wedding until later.  Another couple will be getting married on the original date, but outdoors at a city park.  Most couples are refraining from baptisms for the time being, though we did have one private baptism in May and another baptism performed by one of our members at an area nursing home while strict no-visitation orders were in effect.

Finally, we would like to once again say a huge thank you to all of your support, your prayers, and the many expressions of encouragement that you have shown to our pastors, DCE, staff, and leaders here at Holy Cross.  It has been wonderful to see how God’s steady faithful hand has been with us in the past couple of months.

Your servant in Christ Jesus,

Pastor Andy Gimbel

Friday, May 8, 2020

The following letter was communicated electronically to the congregation:

Missouri is Beginning to Open
The Pastors, Elders, and leadership are hard at work developing our road to normal. The task is complex and challenging, but with God’s guidance, we will find a way to return while loving our neighbors and gathering to receive God’s gifts!

So What Now?
How we have been connecting is the way we will continue to connect until at least the end of May. We won’t be hosting any worship services, activities, or even the voters meeting. Be on the lookout for a letter about that soon!

You can catch our services on our website, Facebook, and YouTube. Bible studies happen through Google Meet, and you can catch devotions at 8am and 8pm on Facebook.

If you or someone you know isn’t very comfortable online or isn’t online at all, but would like a DVD copy of services, please let the office know!

Monday, March 16, 2020

The following letter was communicated via e-mail to the congregation on Monday, March 16, 2020 from Pastor Andy Gimbel:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ –

Based on the recent news announcements in the last 36 hours, we are going to take action to comply with the suggestions of our public health officials and government leaders.  We will still continue to do ministry as best we can, but we will be making the following changes, effective immediately:

  • Worship services will be held live stream only.  We will be broadcasting our 7 PM Lent Midweek service as well as our 8 AM Sunday service as we have in the past.  These services will not be open to the public.
  • We will no longer be holding worship at our other regularly scheduled times (Wednesday morning, Saturday evening, or late Sunday Morning). Sunday morning education hour has also suspended until further notice.
  • All Bible studies this week have been cancelled, as well as all outside groups and organizations until further notice.  This includes but is not limited to:
    • Weekly Bible studies
    • Grace Evening Guild
    • Ladies’ Guild
    • Altar Guild
    • Quilters
    • TOPS
    • Line Dancers
    • Boy Scouts
    • Choir
    • Handbells
  • All essential meetings will be held via teleconference whenever possible
  • The preschool has also announced that they have closed today (March 16) through April 3 at the earliest.
    • Butter braid orders are due this coming weekend to the church office, so please consider ordering online.  Pickup will still take place as scheduled with as little in-person contact as possible
Even with these changes, we are still here to care for you in any way we can.  Please continue to feel free to reach out to the church, to our pastors, our DCE, and the rest of our staff via phone, e-mail, and other means.
We are working on some more opportunities to provide spiritual care through technology and other means while limiting in-person social contact, so be on the lookout for some new things as time goes.
The staff and leadership will be re-evaluating this situation next week Monday, if not before.
Finally, and most importantly, please continue to pray for our congregation, our nation, our leaders, first responders, and everyone else as they are affected by this pandemic.
May God’s peace and comfort be with you all!
– Pastor Gimbel

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The following letter was communicated via e-mail to the congregation on Saturday, March 14, 2020 from Pastor Andy Gimbel:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

“Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples in the upper room just hours before He was to be arrested and crucified. Today there is perhaps similar anxiety over the COVID-19 “Coronavirus” and the flurry of headlines as a reaction to it.  Let us together take comfort in the hope we have in God through Christ Jesus, our God who is bigger than this situation and bigger than any situation the world has ever known!

So, how is the COVID-19 “Coronavirus” affecting things at Holy Cross?  Holy Cross has been in communication with the St. Charles County Public Health deparment, the LCMS Missouri District, each sending formal letters with suggestions and resources.  The pastors and staff have been checking in daily to both the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Previention (CDC) to get the latest information.  Let us share with you what our plans are right now, the afternoon of Friday, March 13.

1. We will still continue to hold our regular worship services. We believe there is great value in meeting together as the people of God (Hebrews 10:25).  Our worship services are at 5 PM, 8 AM, and 10:30 AM this weekend, with Sunday School and adult Bible class from 9:15 to 10:15.

2. Though we still will be having worship, we encourage all our members to play it safe.  If you are among those who are at an increased risk of contracting a germ or bug of any sort, OR if you are yourself feeling sick, please be encouraged to stay home.  Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  Salvation is not based off of your church attendance patterns (thank goodness for that, right?)  As we have shared during times of inclement weather, church is a “get to” rather than a “have to.”

3. Some things will change slightly. We will be doing away with the formal pre-service handshakes.  We will forego passing the offering plates throughout the congregation and have plates sitting in the back as you exit.  Our Pastors and elders will go to the sacristy and wash their hands before the Lord’s supper (previously they were only using hand sanitizer).

4. Some things will stay the same.  Pastors will still be friendly and greet you before and after each service.  We will still offer both the individual cup and the common cup for communion.  We are still live streaming our 8 AM service on our website (hcross.com home page) and keeping our service archive up-to-date (vimeo.com/hcross). We still offer online giving (hcross.com/give).  We will still continue to hold meetings as scheduled throughout the week. Most importantly, we still proclaim Christ crucified and risen for you!

5. Continue to practice good hygiene in general, such as: washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with unwashed hands, avoiding close contact with others who are ill, coughing and sneezing into your sleeve at the elbow.  Please see the CDC or other government health organizations for more precautions and details.

6. Finally, please join us in prayers.  Pray for all those who have contracted the COVID-19 “Coronavirus,” all those who have lost a loved one from it, from those whose work brings them in the front lines of this virus (nurses, doctors, and other caregivers).

We cannot thank you enough for your prayers at this time, understanding that God is ultimately in control and will work all things out for good to those who love Him. We trust in His promises and rest in His peace.  I’d like to share with you once again the “Prayer of Good Courage” that I shared at the conclusion of my sermon this past weekend (also known as the Collect for Guidance in our Calling) and invite you to pray it with me:

Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending,
by paths as yet untrodden
through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out with good courage,
not knowing where we go
but only that Your hand is leading us
and Your love supporting us;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

– Pastor Gimbel