Jesus is a rock in a weary land,
a weary land,
a weary land;
my Jesus is a rock in a weary land,
a shelter in the time of storm.
ELW 333

Dear Friends in Christ,

I know this is hard work, being separated from one another and depending on people in vocations deemed essential to take on greater risk for all of us. After another week of working remotely and practicing social distancing, lots of conversations with many of you reveal that I am not alone in feeling weary, frustrated, and afraid at times. Those conversations remind me that I am not alone. I hope that being together, apart, reminds you that we are not alone. We don’t have to pretend that we are OK all the time. That’s why it is increasingly important to reach out to one another and to encourage others to reach out to us in times of need.

Some things to share:

  • The Southeastern Iowa Synod Council met briefly Saturday morning, March 28, to set the date for the 2020 Synod Assembly. We plan to gather Friday & Saturday, August 7-8, 2020 at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines. Like the date and location, the nature of the gathering has changed. While the primary purpose of any assembly is to experience the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ, the business we need to accomplish while together in August is the election of a bishop, vice president, and members of the synod council. We will keep you posted as the contours of the assembly as it takes shape.

  • We do not yet have answers to questions about assembly registration. If you had registered for the May Synod Assembly, please be patient with us. We will let you know how to proceed as soon as we are able to sort things out. Because of the ongoing uncertainty about this unfolding pandemic, congregations may consider appointing different voting members if anyone who is currently planning to participate falls into a defined “high risk” group for the coronavirus.

  • This week’s resource update will include information particularly important to congregation treasurers and/or administrators. Watch for that, and for unfolding news of how the CARES Act (the relief legislation recently signed into law) may positively impact congregations financially.

  • At the recommendation of public health officials, President Trump has extended social distancing guidelines through the end of April. Our office will remain closed during that time. As we work, we will stay “connected” and will do our best to work with you in ways that support the mission that has been entrusted to us all.

It is now clear that April is too soon for in-person worship to resume in congregations. Most of us have already begun to grieve the prospect of being apart in Holy Week and on Easter. But when public health is at stake, being apart is the loving thing to do. Do not lose heart.

Easter still comes.
The tomb is still empty.
And Jesus does not wait until this “storm” has passed to bring us life.

Blessings and health to you all,

Bishop Michael L. Burk