Message from Pastor Amy, March 23, 2020

Letter to the Congregation

Beloved of God, 

There are certainly trying times. Remember this, dear People of God: It is the same God who called Abraham into an unknown land, who led Moses and the Israelites through wilderness and into promise, who worked through politics and circumstance to save God’s people through Esther, and who tore through the heavens to proclaim Jesus as beloved Son that is with us still today. It is the same God. Our realities may change. 

Good Shepherd is continuing to try to do its part to help flatten the curve of this virus. We will continue to care for each other and our larger community via phone, email and online resources. We can care best by practicing physical distancing during this time.

Please stay home if at all possible. This is the most important thing you can do for your own health and for the good of the community. I know it is hard to be stuck at home. This is how we can best practice the love of our neighbor at this time.

All of this information can be found on our website under the NEWS tab on the COVID19 page. Information continues to change quickly so please, those who have email, please check your email often!

In-Person Worship Suspended  

  • Because the CDC has recommended no gatherings of more than 50 people for 8 weeks, we will not hold in-person worship until Sunday, May 17. This includes the next weeks of Lent, Holy Week and Easter. It is so hard to think of not having worship together on Easter. We hope and pray the recommendations change. If not, we will stay the course to do our part. Please continue to support the operating budget of the congregation at this time. See below for more on this.
  • We will offer Worship online Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. See below for more information.
  • We will temporarily suspend all weddings, funerals and memorials until May 11.
  • Graveside services will be offered for immediate family only (funeral home guidelines are very strict now, no more than 10 people including funeral home staff and clergy) and physical distancing of 6 feet will be maintained carefully. Memorial services will be scheduled at a later date.

Building Closed

  • The building will be locked and closed to all except staff, Cantor Jonathon Struve, Treasurer John Moeller,  and Reg Laursen (he has been appointed building manager by the Executive Committee). People requesting financial help will see a sign requesting that they call to make an appointment with Pr. Amy. We will also have a dropbox with pen and paper where they can leave requests.
  • We do not yet have an end date about when the building will reopen. It is possible the building could reopen before we hold large worship services.
  • We are closing the building because
    • We need to limit who enters the building to keep it safer for our staff who will be there to serve the congregation and the community.
    • We want to model the importance of physical distancing with all who use our building. We will ask support groups not to meet in the building but we will arrange Zoom meetings for them so they can meet online.

No In-Person Meetings for Good Shepherd Anywhere Please, All Programming Suspended

  • Because Governor Reynolds has banned all gatherings of 10 or more people and because we serve a very high-risk population, all programming and all in-person meetings and groups related to Good Shepherd will be asked to meet via Zoom (instructions below), phone, or postpone until notified of a change. This impacts Congregation Council, Committee Meetings, Circle meetings, Prayer Shawl, Bible Study and informal planning meetings. Many of these gatherings are smaller than ten people but we need to do our part to protect vulnerable populations and try to prevent community spread.
  • If you had a Good Shepherd group or meeting scheduled at the church building or in another location,  Administrative Assistant Jenny Werner will remove it from the church calendar unless you contact her at the church office 563-382-3963 or by email at  and indicate it will continue via Zoom (see more about Zoom below).

Worship Live Streamed and available to view later as well

Holden Evening Prayer every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. 

Sunday Morning Worship at 9:30am.

To participate in the live broadcast of the service Wednesday, March 25, click on the link: here

If you just click on the link it will open the livestream of the service for you. You can participate live at 7:00 p.m. or watch later, as the service will be archived.

Here is a link to the bulletin we will use each week for the Holden Evening Prayer service. It is only the words as we don’t have permission to post the music. Just click on this link: Holden Evening Prayer

You can print it out at home or follow along on a split screen on your computer or on your phone.

The links to participate in all upcoming Wednesday evening and Sunday morning worship services will be posted on our website: under the WORSHIP tab or by clicking here.

The link will change for each worship service, you will need to find the link for an upcoming service

The bulletins for Sunday morning will be posted there as well as they are available.

You can also go right to our YouTube Channel to see all recent videos of worship, videos from Kathryn Thompson and a video from Brooke. Just click here


 As of right now, it appears that Luther will not be able to broadcast our service on KWLC radio while the campus is closed. We thought it would be available this Sunday but it looks now like it will not be.


Listen to or Read the Sermon The audio and text of the sermon will continue to be posted on our website under the CONNECT tab at the Sermons or by clicking here and on our Facebook page.

Connect with others via Zoom

The congregation now has a Zoom account. Zoom is a way to connect with one person or a group via video or phone (landline or cell phone). We have purchased a Zoom account that will allow multiple meetings using this same meeting ID.

You can join a meeting on Zoom two different ways.

  1. You can join as a video call.  This will allow you to both see and talk to participants in the meeting.
  2. You can join by phone. This will be audio only.  You will be able to hear and talk to participants in the meeting.

We have simple instructions for how to use Zoom. If you would like to use Zoom for your group, call or email the church office at 563-382-3963 or

 Jenny will schedule your meeting via Zoom for you on the church calendar.

Bible Study Via Zoom

Join Pr. Amy for Bible Study every Thursday at 10am via Zoom. Even if you haven’t participated in the past, you are most welcome to join this gathering when we are all in need of community and have more time at home!

To join, just click here and follow all the prompts on your screen. You can trust Zoom and agree to all prompts.

  • It is OK to click “Allow” or “Open” and OK to allow Zoom to use your camera and microphone. 
  • You shouldn’t need to download the zoom app, you can just access the meeting through your internet browser. 
  • You may also see a window that says join with computer audio, you can click on that.
  • Once you are on the call, you may need to click on the “start video” icon at the bottom of the screen. Until you do that, there will be a red line over the camera icon and the video won’t be working.

You can also just join by phone by calling the number below and entering the Meeting ID# when prompted.

Call-in: 1-646-558-8656; Meeting ID: 356 019 3007

You will be asked for a participant ID, just hit pound to skip that.

Shepherds for our Flocks!

Good Shepherd congregation is putting in place a system to help us all stay connected in mutually supportive ways during this extraordinary time. Under the guidance of Pr. Amy, and with the support of the Social Justice Sub-committee, we have grouped the congregation into 10 “Flocks.” Each Flock has 14 or 15 individual and family group members. These Flocks will be cared for by 10 “Shepherds.”  You can think of these Shepherds as an expansion of the pastoral ministry of our congregation. The Shepherds will be in direct communication with their Flocks through phone calls, email, and hand written notes. Shepherds, as much as possible, will assist with arranging support services for their flock – meaning they will contact other members at large – to pick up groceries, medications, or run other necessary errands. Shepherds will share pastoral concerns with Pr. Amy and Pr. Marion who will provide further care. The Shepherds will maintain confidentiality, and will only share needs and concerns with Pr. Amy and Pr. Marion.

Caring for the Larger Decorah Community

The Decorah Area Faith Coalition and Decorah Now have created the Decorah and Winneshiek County Mutual Aid Network. This is a place where you can volunteer to help others in the community or indicate you need assistance. Here is the link for that, and you just click on the link:

The Food Pantry is also in need of young, healthy volunteers who can help to bag groceries and distribute them via a drive-by pick up method. The food pantry will only be distributing pre-bagged food through drive-by pick up. To help, sign up at

The Food Pantry is organizing workers in shifts and if one of the workers gets sick or exposed, then the whole shift will be ineligible for a stretch of time.

Your continued generosity toward our operating budget will be more important than ever during this time. That’s especially true as we seek to take care of our amazing staff. If you’re not using electronic giving via your bank or automatic withdrawal, you can still mail your offering to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 701 Iowa Avenue, Decorah, IA 52101. We are also working on a way you can give directly at the website.

Consider making an extra donation to the Mission Assistance Fund to help those facing financial hardship. You can do that right now by mailing a check to Good Shepherd.  Put “Mission Assistance Fund” in the memo line of your check.

You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers each day.

May the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peace to you,


Pastor Amy Larson