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'I know that you will continue to find creative ways in which your congregation can stay close,' she wrote to pastors.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Bishop Laurie Larson Caesar, head of the Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is asking pastors across the state to cease worship services for two weeks.The head of Oregon's Lutheran community is calling on churches across the state to cease worship services and group activities as attempts continue to curb the growing number of COVID-19 cases.

Bishop Laurie Larson Caesar, the first woman elected to lead the Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said in a letter to Oregon pastors on Saturday, March 14, that canceling services is an important step toward fighting the disease.

Congregations should refrain from gathering or worshipping together in person for at least two weeks, Caesar said, or "until such time as we know it is safe to resume our regular schedules."

"I know that you will continue to find creative ways in which your congregation can stay close, give comfort, pray, and serve," Caeser told pastors. "You will and are creating video worship opportunities, crafting at-home liturgies, instituting phone trees and more."

Caesar said church members will look to pastors for calm, wisdom, compassion and courage.

"As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, God will never leave us alone," Caeser said. "'Do not be afraid for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will hold you in my right hand.'"

Caesar oversees more than 30,000 Lutherans in 111 congregations statewide.


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