Dear Congregational Family,

1. The future of “post-covid-19 church” in America: Christian Post News reports:
As many as one in five churches could permanently close as a result of shutdowns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, according to David Kinnaman, president of the prominent Christian research organization Barna Group.
In an interview a couple weeks ago regarding the status of American churches after months of shutdowns, Kinnaman said although churches were handling things “pretty swimmingly” at first, circumstances have changed for some. He noted that although many churches have opened as states’ shutdown orders are loosened, their services have had “a lot less people coming.” “They’re recognizing that the relationships that they thought were much deeper with people were actually not as deep as they expected,” Kinnaman told NPR.
Kinnaman then explained that, in keeping with research from earlier this year, he still expected to see about one in five churches permanently close within the next 18 months. “If anything, I think that prediction was based on data about two, two-and-a-half months ago, and I think we’re even more likely to see that to be the case today,” he noted. “The disruptions related to giving, and maybe even as important to all that, is that even for those churches that have reopened, they’re seeing much smaller numbers of people show up. So simply reopening a church doesn’t fix the underlying economic challenges that you might have.”
One parameter, he explained, was how there had been a drop in belief among pastors that their churches will survive the pandemic, going from 70% responding that they were “very confident” early on to 58% responding the same more recently. https://www.christianpost.com/news/1-in-5-churches-face-closure-within-18-months-due-to-covid-19-shutdowns-barna-president-238612/
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Barna’s stats are concerning, and I am not readily accepting them, but it is true, “church” as we have known it has certainly changed! I do see God mightily at work through this situation. There is definitely a “shaking” going on spiritually in our land. There is a growing divide. There are many who are drawing closer to God and growing deeper in their relationship with Him. Others are finding that they never really were that committed to God in the first place, and are using the Covid-19 situation as an opportunity to quietly slip away. I believe that there are many opportunities for us to share the Gospel and help people grow in their faith. For us at Ruthfred, the Coronavirus has actually helped us to reach out in some new and very effective ways! There are more new opportunities on the horizon!! Our doors are certainly not “closing” but rather are opening even wider than before! — Pastor Carlson

2. Fall Schedule: We are pleased to be resuming Confirmation Classes, Choirs (Sr, Bell, & Children) this week; along with Sunday school for children and adults this Sunday! A number of circle groups, XYZ, JTTW (morning), etc. are also meeting this month!

3. “Lutherans for Life”: Please keep this in your prayers!! Ruthfred has been part of this ministry for a number of years and we are so thankful for its solid Biblical commitment to life in all aspects. “Lutherans for Life” support and celebrate all life from preborn all the way through to end of life issues at the time of natural death. Today in our world, life is increasingly vulnerable at all stages, and the value of life is often tied to productivity rather than given its proper sacredness which comes simply from the position of being created in the image of God.

Lutherans for Life” has never had a Regional Conference in Pittsburgh before, but one is being held next month, and we are hosting it!!!

a. Theme: “From Invisible to Indispensable.”
b. Date: Sept. 26
c. Time: 9:00am – 3:00pm.
d. Registration: please go online at: lutheransforlife.org/conference
e. Cost: $50.00 (We are working on a 50% discount for Ruthfred members!)

4. Sermon: Title: “To mask or not to mask? That is NOT the question.”
Text: Romans 14.

God bless you as we continue,

“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God”

Pastor Carlson