St. Luke’s second “virtual” Administrative Board Meeting on Monday night presented an uplifting outlook on how soon the church can open its doors again. Read below about the meeting or you may watch the entire presentation below as well as fill out a church wide survey.
“We’re going to love on each other and we’re going to strive to do the right thing. We will pray that God will lead us, and we will know when that time is right. The good news is, I think it’s growing near.” – Dr. Bob Long
Speaking to the camera via the church website (stlukesokc.org), Senior Pastor Dr. Bob Long announced that members can enter the building with an appointment starting June 1. That’s also when small groups, such as Bible studies or Youth groups, can meet at the church as long as they make a reservation. Large rooms, thorough cleaning, and social distancing will be utilized to ease the concerns anyone may have about the COVID-19 pandemic.
St. Luke’s is also planning to offer a summer “Wednesday Night Alive” with small classes that meet both in person and online.
“We want to have that opportunity so we’re growing in our faith this summer,” Dr. Long said. “That’s going to be exciting and I hope you will choose to take advantage of those things that you feel comfortable participating in.”
When can we all get together for worship again? St. Luke’s staff will be meeting with key leaders and doctors the week of June 15 to review local COVID-19 statistics. Depending on the data at that time, Dr. Long said the reopening date for in-person worship could be anywhere from June 28 to July 19. While new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are coming down, the decision to reopen also depends on when the congregation is ready.
“You know, there’s nothing worse than throwing a party and nobody comes,” Dr. Long said. “So you can go online right now and you’ll find a survey… you can help us to know, what are you thinking?
“I would rather be a month too long not worshiping than a week too soon, where we would come back and someone would get sick. We mean too much to one another to try to do that.”
Members are encouraged to visit stlukesokc.org/survey and answer a few questions about a return date that is comfortable, what precautions you plan to take, and other factors.
Edmond Campus Pastor Rev. Josh Attaway gave an update on St. Luke’s food outreach program, noting the church kitchen staff has gone from cooking 90 meals every week for “Meals On Wheels” recipients to nearly 1,500 meals a week – in just the past two months. Combined with the “Mobile Market” truck, St. Luke’s has provided more than 100,000 meals to people affected by the pandemic since mid-March. It’s all been possible through more than $575,000 in special grants and gifts from OG&E, Bank of Oklahoma, The Rotary Club, the Richison Family Foundation, OKC-County Health Department, and others. Those financial gifts have allowed the church to partner with 22 local restaurants to keep their businesses open by purchasing meals for our families in need.
“It has taken so many people giving of their time and their gifts and their resources so that we can be living out our calling as a family of faith to share God’s love and bring hope in this world,” Rev. Attaway said.
Speaking of generosity, this year’s Easter Offering raised a record $259,420 for local missions and ministries. An additional $57,000 was given for the Benevolence Fund, used to help members who have struggled due to the pandemic.
Senior Executive Pastor Rev. Wendy Lambert shared impressive numbers concerning St. Luke’s online worship service on Sundays at 10:50 a.m. A typical Sunday worship attendance across all campuses pre COVID-19 is close to 2,200. Since Easter (April 12), that attendance number has more than doubled to 4,922 – meaning more people are joining St. Luke’s for worship now than during last year’s Easter service.
“We are not alone,” Rev. Lambert said. “God is with us and we are all together in a family of faith, connected through Christ. Whether we are in the same building or in the same state, we are together in Christ.”
The church’s online presence will soon be expanding. Equipment is being purchased that will allow the Edmond contemporary LifeLight service to be livestreamed on Sundays as well.
“This church is 131 years old. I fully believe St. Luke’s is going to see another 131 years,” Dr. Long said. “We will look back at this time and we may say we didn’t get to meet together for 14 weeks or 18 weeks. We will look back and we’ll say, you know, but we worshiped, we were the church. We were out in ministry to the community.”
Message from Dr. Long – April 24, 2020
In consideration of the recent discussions of reopening that has been discussed at the local, state, and national levels, we wanted to share how St. Luke’s will determine when in person worship and programming will restart. The leadership of the church has been assessing several resources: Local, State, and National Guidelines; data from the CDC and Oklahoma Department of Health; and local medical experts.
There are two main considerations on how we analyze the data.
1. Attendance Restrictions
As long as there are limitations on how many can be present for worship, we will wait to reopen. None of us want to turn anyone away on a Sunday morning because the worship space has reached the maximum capacity with spacing guidelines.
2. Decline of the COVID-19 virus
We want to look at reopening when the majority of people feel comfortable in returning. This is a more subjective analysis based on the rate of infection, impact of some businesses in the community reopening, and discussions with church members.
Because we are bound by local restrictions, we are not able to reopen for in person programming at this time. Please check the website for updates as they occur. The church offices will also remain closed with the only staff on site being the ones whose jobs require it.
We are appreciative of the difficult work of governmental agencies to provide guidelines in this process. Some of the guidelines will allow small churches to resume at an earlier date than a larger church like St. Luke’s. While we are anxious to see everyone and be together, we have the health and safety of our congregation as our highest concern.
If any of you are struggling financially or emotionally because of the pandemic, please don’t hesitate to contact the church office at (405) 232-1371. We are in this together and want to help one another through this time.
Please continue to uphold the ministries of the church in your prayers, as well as those who are on the front lines of combating the pandemic.
Remember that while we are physically apart, we are still connected in Christ.
Dr. Robert E. Long
Easter Message from Dr. Long – April 10, 2020
This weekend we celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Christ. When we gather remotely from around the city, state and nation, we will join together in singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!” We will celebrate our faith and celebrate our family of faith. We will also celebrate all that we are doing as a family of faith to bless others in our community.
Thousands of people are receiving meals through St. Luke’s food outreach programs. Hundreds of children are attending childcare at our four locations while their parents provide essential services to the community. And tens of thousands are worshiping and growing in faith online. We will be together again soon, but in the meantime we are all Sharing God’s Love and Bringing Hope to the World in many different places. I’m so proud of us for being the church in the midst of this current crisis, just as we have done for the past 130 years.
I also have confidence that God will lead us into the future as we make a difference through sharing Christ, growing in faith and serving the community. Thanks for visiting us online at St. Luke’s and Happy Easter!
State of the Church Meeting – April 6, 2020
“Through your volunteering and your financial gifts, we are making a difference. You truly are sharing God’s love and you are bringing hope to so many in need. Thank you so very, very much.” – Dr. Bob Long
During St. Luke’s online State of the Church meeting Monday night, Dr. Bob Long delivered a message of hope and gratitude to our family of faith as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
“We found ourselves truly ‘reinventing church’ in about two weeks, turning on a dime and trying to figure out how are we going to carry out living our values, sharing Christ, growing in our faith, and serving our community. I’m just proud of everybody for all that we’ve been doing to make that happen.”
Since several churches have stopped their food programs due to health and safety concerns, St. Luke’s has taken on more responsibility to feed our most vulnerable neighbors through Meals On Wheels OKC. Dr. Long said St. Luke’s has gone from coordinating and delivering 500 meals a day to 800 meals a day, “…and we know that we will soon be up to a thousand in the next couple of weeks.” The increase is possible because of generous financial gifts, such as a $150,000 donation from Chad Richison through the Richison Family Foundation. It will provide more than 20,000 meals to homebound seniors in need over the next eight weeks. Recently, more than 700 boxes of shelf-stable food were picked up at the church and delivered to Meals On Wheels recipients by volunteers, and hundreds more were delivered to the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County.
“With that kind of support, it’s enabled us to buy the food and make this happen and grow in incredible ways,” Dr. Long said. “With all of your help volunteering and with all of your generous giving, St. Luke’s has become the place to turn to. We’re answering the call. This is our time in history. This is our moment to be ‘the church.’ We’ve never faced a time like this before and we’ve answered the call.”
Rev. Phil Greenwald, Executive Pastor of Administration, said the financial support of the church has been strong. First quarter contributions have been 4.4 percent ahead of projections, and up 7.4 percent over this time last year. All this despite no one being in the sanctuary to pass the plate. Online giving and text message giving has increased every week. Through March, more than $56,000 was received for food and outreach programs. By Monday afternoon, that number had grown to over $87,000. More than $19,000 has been received for the Benevolence Fund, which helps members who are struggling financially due to the crisis.
“We understand there are going to be people who lose their jobs, others whose income is reduced,” Rev. Greenwald said. “We know it’s such a time of incredible uncertainty. So we want to be really sensitive to that in our plans. We want to be helpful and supportive of anyone who may have a need.”
Rev. Wendy Lambert, Senior Executive Pastor, said online attendance has been increasing at an incredible rate. The first four Sundays before St. Luke’s transitioned to Online Only worship, the average online worship attendance was 594. On March 15, the first Sunday of Online Only worship, the attendance grew to 2,974. On March 22, that number increased to 5,861. On Palm Sunday, there were 7,599 people worshiping with St. Luke’s online. That’s nearly three thousand more people than the combined attendance of last year’s Easter services, which was the highest Easter worship attendance ever.
“I’m truly grateful for the technology that gives us that immediate connection, but in reality, we are connected through Jesus Christ,” Rev. Lambert said. “Whether we are in the building or at home, we are a family of faith, and I’ve never been more aware of the importance of the family of faith than right now and how much I love all of you and miss you.
“Please do not get comfortable worshiping from home, because when this time of separation is over, we want to see you. We’ll be there to welcome you back when that time comes.”
Rev. Josh Attaway, Edmond Campus Pastor, joined the meeting from his home while holding his newborn daughter, Lucy.
“She is doing well. She is healthy,” he said. “Even in the midst of these crazy and uncertain times, we’re grateful that we get to be together. Grateful for the gift of a family of faith and what a blessing it is to have that community of support around us.”
He also shared that over 20 community groups and Sunday school groups have been meeting digitally through slack and zoom. Reminding all of us that, “We know it is our faith, our trust in God’s love that sustains us. When we grow in our faith together, we know that we are not alone.”
Message from Dr. Long – March 19, 2020
These past weeks have been unpredictable and rapidly changing, day-by-day, and even hour-by-hour as the entire world is dealing with the threat of Coronavirus. There is still so much that is unknown surrounding this virus and it can leave us in a place of fear and uncertainty. Events are cancelling, schools are closing, restaurants are transitioning to carry-out only… even Disney World felt the need to shut its gates to encourage social distancing in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus.
I remember the first time I took Marsha and our children to Disney World 35 years ago. Kelly was about four and a half and Paul was nearly two. Paul was too small to be able to ride the roller coasters, but Kelly was just tall enough to ride, so I asked her if she wanted to ride with me. “Now, Daddy, they aren’t scary, are they?” She asked me. “No, they will be fun!” I told her as we got in line to ride Space Mountain. If you’ve been to Disney World, you know about Space Mountain. It’s a roller coaster completely enclosed in a building, totally dark, so you can’t see much of anything except “stars” in the sky. There are ups and downs, twists, turns… and there is no way to know what will happen next because you can’t see the tracks. I was having a ball, but Kelly was screaming at the top of her lungs! Not knowing what was going to happen, the fear of the unknown made this amusement park ride a terrifying experience for young Kelly.
That’s where we are right now. We are riding a roller coaster in the dark as we continue to get all this information about the coronavirus. This past week we’ve all been asking questions: How dangerous is it? How do we stay safe? What’s the right thing to do? How long is this going to last? We have so many questions and few answers at this point. It’s like riding a roller coaster in the dark. The impact of the virus is affecting every person in our community—even if everyone remains physically healthy. Greed and fear are driving the stock market and things are shutting down. We want to believe that we are in control of our lives, so when it becomes clear that we are not, it’s easy to let fear control our actions.
We are in the season of Lent, a reflective season where we have the chance to examine our faith at a deeper level to see the inherent need each of us has for a Savior. We have the chance to look into our hearts, let go of distractions, and focus on the most important experiences of our faith. Right now, you and I have are facing uncertainties about health, the economy, what may happen. It might appear that there is much that we’re not in control of, that we tend to lose sight over the things we can control.
We are in control of our outlook on life and how we spend our time. We decide our attitude; do we choose gratitude or fear? Will we allow ourselves to become self-centered or will we continue to focus on the needs of others?
Let me make a suggestion. Right now you and I should be having a daily devotional, every day we’re taking time to read our devotionals, we’re spending our time in prayer, and as we spend our time in prayer and as we’re reading our devotionals we focus on how much we love God and we will focus on how much God loves us. Faith is trusting in God’s constant love of us as His children and that helps us deal with not being in control of the circumstances that happen around us. Christ came to set us free from all that would hold us back from living the life for which He had created us. We can practice gratitude and focus on the needs of others – even when we are riding a roller coaster in the dark.
COVID-19 UPDATE – March 17, 2020
As we continue to monitor the developments regarding COVID-19 concerns, St. Luke’s is adjusting the ways we can experience worship, grow in our faith, and stay connected as a family of faith. We want to let you know about some of the things we are doing to follow the guidelines from the government.
As of March 17, all St. Luke’s programs and activities as well as outside groups that meet at any of our campuses are canceled through March 31.
Additionally, church offices are closed to the public and staff will work remotely when possible. Staff members will continue to be accessible via phone or email. In person meetings with pastors or other staff will be by appointment only and social distancing will be practiced. All of the staff are actively working to ensure that our family of faith remains connected through these unprecedented times.
St. Luke’s Childcare Centers will remain open per the guidance of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. We are increasing sanitization practices and remain vigilant in providing hygiene protocols to children and employees.
St. Luke’s wants to provide a sense of normalcy in our lives so we will continue to broadcast Dr. Long and Rev. Lambert’s WNA class on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. We will also live stream worship on Sundays at 10:50 a.m. We are actively developing additional ways to share, grow and serve through this situation. Please continue to look for St. Luke’s Daily Devotions and additional content on our website and social channels.
We are encouraging community groups and Sunday school classes to meet digitally through Slack and Zoom meetings. If you are a leader of a group please contact Rev. Josh Attaway at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how this can be accomplished.
Please continue to be in prayer for all of those affected by this virus in Oklahoma and around the world. The church office phone number is monitored 24 hours a day, please call if you have a prayer request or any other needs. The church number is (405) 232-1371.
Because of the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, St. Luke’s is canceling all in-person worship and classes across our campuses tomorrow, March 15. We will stream a special Online Only service during our normal 10:50 a.m. worship time.
The health and wellness of our church and Oklahoma City community are important to us as we continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly.
During these trying and uncertain times, we are still called to be the church. Please continue to be in prayer for all of those affected by this virus here and around the world. Consider inviting a friend to worship online for a message of hope. We will continue to keep you updated about future events and programming.
Dr. Bob Long, addresses the concerns around the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the current situation at St. Luke’s concerning worship for Sunday, March 15. Dr. Long also shares three things that we can do right now in this uncertain time.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably felt a wide range of emotions lately with all the coverage of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As followers of Christ, we are not called to live in fear. But it is also important that we don’t act recklessly so as to negatively affect our own health or that of another. As a church, we are called to balance the ministries of bringing people closer to God, serving those in need, and worship – with the concerns that are brought about by COVID-19.
To be perfectly clear, we have not heard of anyone in our family of faith who has been tested for the virus or who has been exposed to it. Yet in the wake of different organizations suspending their events, I wanted to let you know of the actions we’re taking to be the church here and now.
First, we are not canceling worship. If a mandate is given for us to close, we will update you, but we are planning to have great worship at all of our campuses according to the normal schedule. We have heard from a few individuals that they felt it best to watch the service online rather than attend in person. If you feel uncomfortable attending worship in person, please join us live at 10:50 a.m. on Sundays at stlukesokc.org/live or on our Facebook page, Facebook.com/stlukesokc.
Second, we will let you know of any scheduling changes of our programming.Currently, everything is continuing as planned with two exceptions. We have become aware that some schools are telling students that if they travel during spring break to a place that is a “hotspot” or becomes one, that they won’t be allowed to return to class until a time of quarantine and/or screening. Because of that, we have decided to cancel our middle and high school spring break mission trips. We are planning activities for them to participate in at the church.
Third, we have been implementing a plan to allow everyone to feel as comfortable as possible when attending any programming at St. Luke’s. There are those in our family of faith whose physicians have advised them to limit touching other people. Out of respect to their needs and out of a desire to prevent any awkward situations between two people who have different levels of comfort right now – we are going to ask people to do more smiling and “elbow bumping” and only shake hands or hug if you have asked the other person first. Of course this will be difficult for the time being because we are a friendly congregation! But, please do your best to consider the needs and feelings of the other person; they may have a greater concern of the virus than you. We are working to create an atmosphere that people will know that they can still come and be able to maintain the level of contact of which they feel comfortable.
Cleaning Our cleaning crew does an incredibly thorough job throughout the week covering the entire church. We have been working with them to provide repetitive cleaning to areas that encounter the highest contact; they will be utilizing hospital grade disinfectant.
Food Service While our kitchens continue to maintain the highest standards, we will change the way we serve food. Rather than have “serve yourself” buffet lines, we will have servers wearing gloves serve the food to each person.
Holy Communion Holy Communion is a very important sacrament but we will not serve it during Sunday morning worship for several months. When it is served at times other than Sunday morning worship, we will hand each person a small individual cup and piece of bread. All of our communion servers will continue to practice handwashing and use hand sanitizer.
What can you do? Wash your hands. Use soap and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. This is one of the primary ways to limit the spread of the virus. Be thorough when you wash and do it for at least 20 seconds. You can sing the Doxology or recite the Lord’s prayer and make it a devotional moment!
Stay connected. We will continue to have worship and ministry programming. If you are sick, please stay home and watch our online service or television broadcast, Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on KOCO Channel 5. If you decide to stay home, please let us know so that we can stay connected.
Stay informed but not inundated. Listen to your physician’s advice but take a break from the constant barrage of news. Be sure to make time for God each day. Spend time reading your Bible and your daily devotion. Write down three things each day for which your grateful.
Share God’s Love If you know people who either don’t have a church home or who are staying home from their church, make sure to let them know about our online worship service or television broadcast. Send notes of encouragement to people you know – especially those who are alone.
Pray Pray for the development of a vaccine, pray for those who are sick; pray for those who have lost loved ones; pray for all medical staff; pray for people to not give in to fear; and pray for opportunities to share God’s love and bring hope to the world.
In times like these, it’s good to be a part of a family of faith. I’m grateful to be part of the family of faith with you!
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To notify us of a prayer request, please fill out our form, or call the church office at 232-1371.