Our Building is Closed but the Church Remains Open!

May 26, 2020

Beloved of God,

Our building is closed but the church is open. The most helpful words I’ve seen to describe this openness come from Tom Trenney, Minister of Music at First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska, and a friend of Luther College. (Thanks to Dave Judisch for sharing these words with me.)

Our church is open.
Open to patience and wisdom.|
Open to science and common sense.
Open to discovering new ways to connect when it is unsafe to ‘do it the way we’ve always done it.
Open to saving lives by giving up some of the traditions and sacraments we hold dear. Open to wearing masks to show we love our neighbor. |
Open to keeping the sanctuary closed so more of us can come back together safely when it is time. |
Our church is open to following Jesus who, himself, spent time in the wilderness. 
We will remain open, and someday, by the grace of God, we will be able to worship together again.

I would add to this that we remain open to the Spirit of God at work in so many ways among us in this time!

Certainly, we do need to consider when and how we can reopen the building and resume in-person worship. Our COVID-19 Task Force, the Congregation Council and I are doing just that. The Task Force and I are working on our specific plan. We’re being guided by the phases of Federal Opening Up America Again document whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/ and a document from the ELCA https://bit.ly/ELCAreturn as well as a conversation Dr. Michael Osterholm held with ELCA bishops and pastors on May 7: https://bit.ly/2LQxn6L. The Upper Iowa River Conference Rostered Ministers of the NE IA Synod of the ELCA also drafted a statement based on the ELCA document that you can view here https://bit.ly/UIRCstatement

As the Task Force works on our plan, our Congregation Council is deciding on a month to month basis about whether to open the building and grounds and resume in-person worship. At the May meeting, the council voted to keep the building and grounds closed through June. Worship will continue to be online in June. We are being cautious as a number of in-person worship services, weddings, funerals and choir rehearsals have been identified as super spreader events. We are also wanting to wait to make any changes until we see the effect of the reopening of Iowa and Wisconsin.

We are exploring outdoor worship with physical distancing measures in place. However, many members in the high-risk categories would still not be able to participate in outdoor worship. Families with children have reported they would struggle to participate as children don’t do physical distancing well. Since we are an inclusive and welcoming congregation, we don’t want to gather in ways that will exclude the vulnerable.  There is also a lot of activity happening around town in which people are not physical distancing. We don’t want to be in the position of policing people as they move into and out of the outdoor worship. Further, research is indicating that singing and speaking in unison, even outside, is still risky.

We will continue to explore outdoor worship options. However, given the limitations with outdoor worship, we are continuing to focus on ways we can serve the whole congregation well at this time. I am glad to report that KWLC will be able to broadcast our Sunday services again, at 9:30am on KWLC am beginning on May 31. The Worship and Music committee will be looking at how we can support singing at home in this time.  We are also exploring ways to offer a modified version of the service in which Holy Communion is shared with those who are homebound. We are considering offering this service for one household at a time outside the church building or outside your home. Watch for more information about this soon.

Please continue to keep the COVID-19 Task Force, the Congregation Council, all our leaders and me in your prayers at this time.

Peace to you today,

Pastor Amy

Epic Scholarships Awarded for 2020-2021

The Good Shepherd Mission Endowment Committee is announcing the recipients of  scholarships and grants for the 2020-2021 academic year.  Good Shepherd members Erik Johnson, Hallie Johnson and Ava Holland have been awarded $1000 EPIC  (Educational Partners in Covenant) scholarships; all three will be attending Luther College.  Erik is a senior majoring in Political Science, Hallie is a sophomore majoring in English and Nordic Studies, and Ava will be a freshman and intends to major in Global Health.

Angie Sadler is the recipient of a $500 grant for her diaconal studies as a Phase II student at the Lutheran Diaconal Association.  She anticipates completing her program in 2022.
The Good Shepherd Mission Endowment Fund was established in 1993 for the purpose of providing financial support for members of the congregation attending Lutheran institutions of higher learning. Awards from the fund are bestowed annually.  


Hello volunteers.  State Farm has offered a way to help us with the purchase of a new upright freezer.  Here is the post from their Facebook page.  If you are not on Facebook but know someone who is, please ask them to post/tag for you.  You can go to the Paul Hudson State Farm Facebook page to tag/post.  They hope to raise up to $1000 and expect their corporate agency to match it.  Thanks for considering this.  Carol


During this crazy and challenging time, we want to help our community!

The Paul Hudson State Farm Agency has committed to raising funds for an upright freezer for the Decorah Community Food Pantry. In order to do this, we need YOUR HELP to eat LOCAL and support our great area restaurants who are rising to the challenges of providing carryout/pickup food options.


1) On Thursday and Friday, April 30 & May 1, grab some carryout/pickup food from a local restaurant in Decorah or a surrounding community. 🍕

2) Post the restaurant name or tag the place you visited in the comment area below (pictures are
encouraged). 🌮

For each comment made, the Paul Hudson State Farm Agency will make a $5 donation to the Decorah Community Food Pantry with a maximum of $1000.

Thank you for your willingness to join in our efforts to make a difference! Be a good neighbor and share the love! ❤

Message from Pastor Amy – April 28, 2020

From Pastor Amy:  The Good Shepherd Congregation Council decided at the April 21 meeting that we will continue worship online and the building will remain closed through May. We will consider changes to this on a month by month basis.

We are being guided by the federal document “Opening Up America Again.” This document indicates that a phased reopening can begin once these criteria have been met: 1) 14-days of declining symptoms 2) 14-days of declining cases 3) Hospitals able to treat all patients without crisis care 4) Robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing. As our area does not yet met that criteria, we are not moving into reopening at this time.

Notice about In-person Church at Good Shepherd, April 27, 2020

A message from Pastor Amy:

The governor has lifted restrictions on spiritual and religious gatherings as long as the church, synagogue or other “host” implements social distancing guidelines and increased sanitary cleaning. However, the count of confirmed cases in Winneshiek County doubled over the weekend. The Good Shepherd Congregation Council determined at our April 21 meeting that we would remain closed through May and will determine on a month by month basis when we will return to worship. We will remain closed for the sake of the neighbor. As Christians, we are called to make sacrifices out of love for others. For the good of the neighbor and the health of the common good, we will continue to worship together using the online offering.