April 2, 2020
Dear Members and Friends,
During this time of increasing restrictions, I will be writing a weekly pastoral letter in order to keep in touch.
As I’ve mentioned before, it is very painful to be denied the opportunity for normal social interaction, but perhaps this forces us to reflect on what holds us together spiritually. We were blessed by a spirit of unanimity during our long process of aligning with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Making this transition with no dissent whatsoever witnesses to the fact that God will do wonderful things when His people move forward with one heart and mind in the power of the Holy Spirit.
One sinister consequence of the present health emergency is that the social distancing required can drive wedges between people, further exacerbating our sinful tendencies to become self-absorbed, angry, hostile and suspicious of everyone and everything. If this goes on for an extended period of time, things could get very nasty indeed.
I prefer to look on this time as God calling His people to repentance and renewed trust in His sovereign control. The verse guiding my thinking is 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
As believers, we are quick to pray that God will “heal our land,” but what about repentance? Our personal and national sins have long cried out for God’s judgment, but we still feel entitled to live an uninterrupted good life.
This week the Presbyterian Church in America, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and the Anglican Church of North America have called for a day of fasting and prayer on Good Friday, the 10th of April. This is an opportunity I gladly embrace. I also ask the Session and all our members and friends who are healthy, and feel God is calling you to do so, to unite with us as we come before God’s throne and pray to Him, for mercy and a spirit of true Biblical repentance. This may not result in short term relief. There is no “quid pro quo” with God. But prayer and repentance enables us to see this pandemic through His eyes, instead of viewing the present crisis through the lens of media hysteria and the ever-changing pronouncements of political figures.
Although our Easter season and traditions have been disrupted, I will ask the Session if we can celebrate Easter together at some subsequent point when normal services resume. It would be wonderful to have our usual Easter breakfast followed by an 11 AM Worship Service. After all, in Christianity, death is followed by resurrection ant that can be celebrated at any time.
Love, Ken Larter – Minister
March 26, 2020
Dear Members and Friends,
The elders met last evening to examine our
response to the current health crisis and make any adjustments necessary to
best serve our congregation. We appreciate this is a fast moving and
complex situation, so intend to meet as necessary to ensure the exchange of
accurate information and maintain ongoing contact with you.
After discussion, two motions were passed
unanimously. “Session meetings will be held both in person and
electronically so Elders may participate in whatever manner they feel
comfortable. In person meetings are desirable but not always possible or
advisable. The use of electronic means will give everyone the opportunity
to participate.” “Regarding worship – Dr. Larter will continue preaching
from the Sanctuary, and physical attendance is discouraged. Electronic
Worship will continue to be provided and is encouraged.”
Great concern was expressed regarding our many
older members and friends, who according to medical evidence, are most
vulnerable to the dangerous consequences of this virus. We assure you the
Lord is as present with you in your homes, as He is with us in the
sanctuary. We have been greatly encouraged by the number of people who
participated in online worship, and the Session will discuss the possibility of
continuing this form of outreach even after the present crisis has passed. From
a ministerial perspective we have the promise that “Where two or three are
gathered in His Name,” He is there, and we are still part of one body with you
In so far as possible, weekly phone calls to the
congregational households will continue. If you have any special
needs or concerns, please express them to your Elder or Deacon. The
Minister remains available for pastoral emergencies, while continuing to
observe the usual precautionary measures. Clergy still have permission to
visit parishioners who require special attention, particularly those who might
be critically or terminally ill.
Our hope and prayer are that this scourge will soon ease its pressure on all of us. But whether the time be long or short, it still requires the people of God to learn the lessons the Lord is trying to teach us. We close with words of scripture: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
In His care,
Ken Larter – Minister and Moderator of Session
March 20, 2020 – Suspension of In-person Worship and Other Gatherings at the Church
Dear Members and Friends,
The Session has met and in light of the President’s guidelines, and in response to the best medical advice currently available, made the following decisions.
Until further notice we will suspend all physical gatherings of people at Deerfield Presbyterian Church. While I will continue to lead Sunday morning worship with Zoom technology we urge all members and friends to stay home. You may attend Sunday morning worship at 11:00am via your phone or computer. See the information below. At this time Sunday School, Youth Group, and all other physical gatherings of people will be suspended.
A plan has been approved whereby our Elders and Deacons will be in touch with each family weekly in order to check on your welfare and take note of any special needs or concerns. I remain available for pastoral emergencies. It is important during this time of “social distancing” to remember we are still one body. When one suffers, we all suffer. This draw back on our normal interaction is very distressing to me, but concerns about our health care system being overloaded have necessitated this course of action.
Please pray for those who are ill, and those who care for them. Ask God to give wisdom to those who lead us. While we long for this medical emergency to pass, it is essential to learn whatever lessons the Lord desires to teach us. There is more than our comfort at stake, and if we do not take this opportunity to “grow in grace and knowledge,” we will have missed the most important thing of all.
God bless you all. I look forward to the soonest possible resumption of our normal programs and activities.
Ken Larter, Minister