Back to church!

Back to church!

Returning to public worship. August 2, 2020


27. July 2020In NewsBy Scotty Williams5 Minutes

After four months of Social Distance Worship, we are getting back to public services!

We Are Blessed

Since March 15th All Souls has worshiped at a distance, and throughout this time we have seen God do some amazing things among us. One of these amazing things is that we reached a lot of people around the world, and we even helped other congregations find alternative ways of gathering. Every week I received emails of thanks from different countries, and I was overjoyed when fellow pastors called to say how we inspired them. Yes, we are a small fellowship facing many challenges in our city, but in this time we have been blessed to impact and encourage others.

We have also been blessed to weather a catastrophic storm, for many congregations great and small did not survive the blow of COVID-19. Along with emails of thanks came emails expressing deep grief; a grief from the loss of fellowships that have been pillars to communities for many years. And with the loss of congregations comes the loss faithful people, and especially leaders that have carried the Church while lifting up the truth of Christ. During the past four months I have mourned for heroes that shaped my faith, from Ravi Zacharias and John Lewis to J.I. Pack and C.T. Vivian. Nevertheless, we have been blessed to not mourn a death at All Souls, or to lose any leaders from our Synod and fellow congregations in St. Gallen.

Hope is the fuel that ignites the light and carries us forward.

– Robert W. Reagan Jr.

We Are Back

Indeed, we have been blessed to weather the storm of COVID-19, and on August 2nd we will get back to the sanctuary of Kirche Rotmonten. On that day we will offer up our thanks and praise together again, and we will celebrate the hope of Christ that has carried us these past four months. In short, we will get back to having public services, but we will not get back to “normal” or the way that things were done before. Of course, we will follow the liturgy that we know and love, but we will also have some special rules while worshiping together. These rules are:

*Sign in and use hand sanitizer before entering the sanctuary.

*Practice social distancing during the service (the pews have been marked to help with seating).

*Avoid shaking hands with and hugging others; alternative greetings can be used (e.g., touching elbows).

*Hum during the times of singing.

*Sneeze or cough away from others into the crook of your arm.

*Those who wish to wear a mask during the service are free to do so.

*Those who feel sick in any way should not attend the service.

These rules are in place so that we can safely gather together, and I thank everyone in advance for keeping them during the service. Also, many thanks for participating in Social Distance Worship, and for the messages of encouragement with suggestions for each post. I know not what the future holds as we return to public worship, but I do know that the Lord is with us and will be with us as He was from March to July. And I know that He is doing and will do great things among us and use us for His glory.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving and Protection

O God Who is faithful and good, we thank You for Your blessings and strength that have carried us through this troubled time. Thank You for the Holy Spirit which binds us to You and to one another, and has kept us in fellowship despite the distance we have had to keep. Lord, as we return to the sanctuary where we offer You our thanks and praise, keep us safe in worship and uphold us by Your steadfast love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 


Pastor's Desk: Summer 2020

Pastor's Desk

July 2020


Casting Your Anxieties

As a young boy the summer season always meant one thing, two months of baseball while school was not in session. For eight weeks, from Monday to Saturday, my friends and I would gather at the park and enjoy a continuous string of games with make shift bases and homemade jerseys. We would also have a contest over who could make the fastest and hardest pitch, and when I think about this I’m reminded of this verse from the book of 1 Peter:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

The word Peter uses for “cast” is ἐπιρίπτω (epiripto) in koine Greek, and unlike what we often imagine it does not mean to simply throw our troubles to God. In fact, it is pitching our troubles as fast and hard as we can, and the Lord does more than catch them like a baseball in a glove. The Rev. Ruedi Basler writes that God absorbs our cares in Himself, and when we cast them we should have the goal of getting them stuck in Him. We should strive as hard as we can to get them lodged and embedded in God, and He will always take the heavy hit because He truly cares for us.

Our anxieties should be “stuck” in God.

– Rev. Ruedi Basler

The Proper Time

When I first learned the meaning of casting all anxieties, I thought it was a requirement or formula for the proper time. If I made the fastest pitch, like the baseball contests of my youth, then God would exalt or lift me up from all the things that troubled me. But as I studied the letters of Paul I learned that this was not the case, for in Jesus Christ the Lord has already brought about the proper time. In Ephesians Paul says:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Through Christ, the Lord has conquered everything that can troubled us, and we share within victory and are raised up or exalted with Him. And we cast out cares it is not earn the proper time, but to offer thanks and praise to God for bringing us the proper time. Of course, within this life we will still face many anxieties, but we can cast them with a joyful force unto the Lord Who cares for us.

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

Leave It There

Since our last public service in March before the COVID-19 lock down, I have been pressed by many anxieties regarding the future of All Souls. I have watched as the current pandemic has brought an end to other young congregations, and in response I have prayed and worked with an urgent sense of worry. After all, I was not trained for such a situation in seminary, and I have often flown by the seat of my pants in leading worship and pastoral care. Furthermore, I am anxious for how things will be when our services resume in August. Will some people not return? How will the liturgy be? How will we celebrate the Sacraments? Will we have another lock down?

Indeed, these past few months have loaded me with many cares, and each time I am overwhelmed I pitch them to our loving Lord. But sometimes, I am tempted to take anxieties back up again, and when I do I listen to a hymn called, “Leave It There“. On Sundays, when baseball and other sports were not allowed, my friends and I would sing this hymn with our Elders in Church.; as it did then, it reminds me now to not pick burdens up again and to leave them with the Lord in confidence and trust.

This summer I pray that you would do the same as you cast your anxieties. May you throw them as fast and as hard as you can, and leave them with Him Who cares for you. And if you find yourself tempted to take them up again, click on the link above and listen to the song or pray the prayer that is written below.

Blessings and I wish you a wonderful summer with joy, peace, and rest,

-Pastor Scotty

A Prayer For Casting Cares

O most loving Father, You call us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing except losing You, and to lay all our cares on You, knowing that You care for us. Grant that fears and anxieties in this mortal life may not hide from me the light of Your immortal love shown to me in Your Son, Jesus. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.

 


Black Lives Matter To Us

Black Lives Matter To Us

How All Souls is showing solidarity.


9. June 2020By Scotty Williams2 Minutes

At All Souls we believe that every life matters, and because of this we are not afraid to say that Black lives matter. As we have done in the past with other suffering communities (e.g., refugees), we stand in solidarity with the Black community around the world. This solidarity is not based on a political stance, but the command of our gracious Lord that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Here is how we are showing love and standing in solidarity:

Speaking Out

Our pastor is doing interviews with local radio stations, newspapers, podcasts. Here are links to three of these interviews:

Tipp St. Gallen (starts at 1 hour and 2 minutes)

Life Channel Radio

Sacred Collective

Reaching Out

At the request of youth from the local community, we have started the holding solidarity circles where people can gather to engage the topics of race and social justice through discussion, lament, and hoping together. The first solidarity circle was held on June 6th in Kirche Rotmonten, and was well received.

We are planning on having more solidarity circles, so be on the lookout for the dates and times which will be posted on our Events Page.

Helping Out

There are some people who have asked for resources (e.g., books) and pastoral guidance as they seek to understand the topic of race and the racial tensions that the world is currently facing. If anyone is in need of these things, please contact us. We would be honored to assist you.

One great resource is an article written by one of Elders titled, “Learning About The Origins Of Racism“.


The new normal

The new normal

How will Church be as the lock down ends?


30. April 2020By Scotty Williams6 Minutes

We cannot go back

As countries begin to slowly emerge from COVID-19 lock downs, there are many people expressing a hope of getting back to normal. In fact, there are even some who have protested for normality, but the hard truth that we must accept is that we can’t go back to how things were. Dr. Bréne Brown writes that we have to “settle into a new normal”, and this includes our worship lives or gathering within the Church. Of course, there are some things that will stay the same and continue, but there are many things that will not be the same when services start up again.

So, for example, numbers of the elderly have died during the pandemic, and many of them were faithful members of parishes for decades. Their loss means more than just a lower number in membership, it also means a loss of wisdom that has carried congregations for many years. Furthermore, the pandemic has suspended celebrating the Sacraments, and when they are celebrated again it will be under several restrictions. Those who serve Communion might have to wear gloves and possibly masks, and baptisms might take place outside of regular services. And then there are those within the risk groups who must stay at home, and not enjoy the fellowship of gathering with the body of Christ.

Indeed, there are many things that will change when Churches reopen, and the goal should not be business as usual or getting back to how things were. The main goal of every congregation should be settling into the new normal and helping people to navigate the new world this normal has brought about.

We’re going to have to settle into a new normal while grieving the loss of normal, which is a big ask of people, collectively. – Brené Brown

An exit plan

For the past few weeks, the All Souls Council has been thinking and praying about the new normal, and after much discussion they have begun to see a way for our community to settle in. Of course, there are many unknowns and things must be done day by day, but the Council feels that we need an “exit plan” like the one that Switzerland is following now. As we emerge from quarantine we cannot jump back to full services, for there will still be federal restrictions for all public worship gatherings. In other words, we will gradually make our way back to the sanctuary, and we will do so in stages following those that the Swiss Federal Council has set.

The first stage will focus on Inreach and bringing our community back together, and this will be done through small gatherings led by Elders called “shepherding groups”. In accordance with federal regulations these gatherings will consist of five people, and they will meet for an event where they can have fellowship while social distancing and have a short time of discussion on a spiritual topic.

In addition to shepherding groups, we will continue with Social Distance Worship on Sundays, and our pastor will be offering a weekly study series via Zoom on the early Church called, “Didache”. We will also be intentional about gatherings for those in risk groups, and will create events where they can participate, fellowship with others, and receive pastoral care. Those in risk groups are encouraged to share ideas for events that are suitable for them, and you can do so by contacting Charmaine or our pastor. The inclusion and safety of those in risk groups is a top priority, and we count it a privilege and a blessing to assist them in this time.

Again, the first stage of the exit plan will be bringing our community back together, and our Council will send regular updates on the next steps in the coming weeks. In this process of reopening All Souls they hope that others will be inspired to join us, and settle into the new normal which is filled with joys that are yet to be discovered. Despite the hard truth that we cannot go back to how things were, we have the hope that we can go forward to greater things than what we had before. And with this we have the hope of the constant presence of the Lord, the Lord Who was with us in the old normal, is what is now, and leads us on.


Give us a ring!

Give us a ring!

As the pandemic continues, help is just a phone call away.


27. April 2020By Scotty Williams1 Minutes

At the beginning of the current pandemic our Elder of Outreach, Karsten Risseeuw, wrote an article where he gives a list of daily tips to create a Corona-free space and decompress. One of the tips on Karsten’s list is making calls to others, and this includes Church leaders like the Elders that serve our community. Therefore our Council says, “Give us a ring!”, and invites everyone to reach out by calling the Church office (079-559-0940).

If you are in need of prayer for and assistance with a problem or you simply want to say hello and share some good news , help and a listening ear are just a phone call away. Also, many thanks to those who have reached out to fellow parishioners; this is part of what it means to be the body of Christ and is growing our community in fellowship and faith.


Stories In Stone – devotional readings before Easter

Stories in Stone – devotional readings before Easter

Day by day devotionals, featuring painted stones by Anja Knöpfli


This year Anja Knöpfli, one of our parishioners, is painting story stones to illustrate the events of Holy Week. Each morning we will feature one of these stones with a Bible reading and a special prayer that can be used as a devotional while observing the days of Holy Week. Many thanks to Anja for sharing her artistic gifts!


Monday: Jesus cleanses the temple

April 6th, 2020

Matthew 21:12-12 (ESV)

“And Jesus entered the Temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the Temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the Temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to Him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”

And leaving them, He went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.”

Holy Monday Prayer

My Lord Jesus, as You entered the Temple in Jerusalem enter my heart and cleanse it now. Drive out the money changers that are my sins, and break their power by Your grace and truth. Lord, let me walk in freedom and confidence in God’s great love; the love which led You to the cross to give Your life that I might live. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.


Tuesday: Jesus curses the fig tree

April 7th, 2020

Matthew 21:18-22 (ESV)

“In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, He went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And He said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Holy Tuesday Prayer

My Lord Jesus, though I try my best to serve You I am often like the fig tree. Sometimes it feels as if my faith is leaves without any fruit, and I fear that You will curse me and cast me away from Your presence. But through Your Word I learn that You are gracious, merciful, and filled with love, and that serving You is not about the condition of my faith. Lord, to serve You is all about Your faithfulness; the faithfulness which You displayed while going forth to Calvary. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.


Wednesday: Jesus laments over Jerusalem and is anointed at Bethany

April 8th, 2020

Matthew 23:37-39 (ESV)

37 While looking over the city, after speaking to the crowds and His disciples, Jesus cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Matthew 26:37-39 (ESV)

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to Him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to Me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have Me. 12 In pouring this ointment on My body, she has done it to prepare Me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Holy Wednesday Prayer

My Lord Jesus, when the crowds saw that You would not bring war they rejected You and made You weep, but the woman at Bethany anointed You while accepting Your humble way of peace. I ask that You give me grace to live in ways that bring You joy, and to anoint Your head with the sweet perfume and oil that is obedience. May my thoughts, words, and deeds be a song of praise to Your great name; a song that says with sincerity, “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord”. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.


Thursday: Jesus celebrates the Passover with His disciples

April 9th, 2020

Matthew 26:17-25 (ESV)

17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will You have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.’” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

20 When it was evening, He reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, Me said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with Me will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray Him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Maundy Thursday Prayer

My Lord Jesus, though death passed over Israel in Egypt it would not pass over You in Jerusalem, and as You wrestled with its shadow Your eyes beheld the shadow of betrayal by a close friend. You could have run away and saved Yourself from all the pain, but You took courage and faced the cross that the world might know God’s deepest love. Lord, give me courage to not pass over the coming days, but to stay with You until the grave where You will rise on Easter morn. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.


Friday: Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemene

April 10th, 2020

Matthew 26:36-46 (ESV)

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And He said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, My betrayer is at hand.”

Good Friday Prayer

My Lord Jesus, as You cared for the disciples when they failed to keep watch with You, You also care for me in my times of failure. Like them I have fallen asleep to the realities around me, and especially the reality of Your marvelous strength. The strength which was made perfect in Your weakness, from the weeping of Gethsemane to the anguish of Golgotha. And the strength which is made perfect in my weakness, and calls me to stay awake and trust in You when all seems lost. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.


Saturday: Jesus is buried and the tomb is sealed

April 11th, 2020

Matthew 27:57-66 (ESV)

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while He was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Holy Saturday Prayer

My Lord Jesus, I stand within a strange place; the place between Your death on Good Friday and Your resurrection on Easter morn. Like the Roman soldiers, who were charged to guard Your stony tomb, my worship today is a vigil where I keep watch with the Word of God. Lord, may I rest within the hope that You have conquered sin, and may I trust within Your promise that death is not the final word. In this silence I know that life will spring forth with the dawn and ask, “O death, where is your sting? And grave, where is your victory”. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.

––

The concept of Stories in Stone is © All Souls.
The images for Stories in Stone are © Anja Knöpfli.


Social Distance Church

Social Distance Church

How can we worship together while services are cancelled?


Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we have had to cancel our Sunday services from March 15th to April 4th, but this does not mean that Church is cancelled. Instead of buildings and social events, we believe that the Church is the followers of Jesus who are united together by His grace, the Father’s steadfast love, and the abiding fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

It is out of this belief that we have created an alternative way of coming together in this time, and we call this alternative way Social Distance Worship. Each Sunday, while we are apart, a special liturgy will be posted on our website. This liturgy can be followed in the comforts of your home, and it includes recordings of the sermon and worship songs led by our musicians.

Though you are free to do Social Distance Worship at any time, we ask that those in the Switzerland do each session on Sundays at 12:00 which is our regular service time.

We hope that this alternative way of gathering will be a blessing to you and enrich your spirit. And we pray that it will be bring us closer to our Gracious God and one another.


Coronavirus Update: All services cancelled

Corona virus: All services cancelled

There will be no Sunday services or other gatherings until further notice


No services till April 4th, 2020

We will not be able to avoid the Coronavirus. All current measures aim to flatten the curve of infections. This will help our society and country to deal with the rapidly spreading virus. In line with government strategy, we will refrain from services until further notice. The situation will be reevaluated by the beginning of April 2020.

St. Gallen, March 13th, 2020

 

Dear Friends,

As you all know the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading rapidly across Switzerland, and the World Health Organization has now declared Europe as the epicenter of the pandemic. Furthermore, the Bundesrat has announced a series of regulations that would greatly affect our worship gatherings, and the guest minister for our upcoming service in St. Mangen is unable to travel due to President Trump’s travel ban on Europe. In light of these new developments, and concerns for the health and safety of our members and all who worship with us, I now think that we should cancel services from March 15th until April 5th.

I have spoken with our Council Chair, Barbara Signer, and she also feels that cancelling is the best decision for our congregation at this time. Nevertheless, plans for an alternative way of worship called the “Social Distance Services” are in place . These services will entail a liturgy that can be found on the website with videos of the sermons and recordings of songs from previous services. Also, many apologies to those who were not contacted when this decision was made, and under normal circumstances I would have made sure to get everyone’s input, but the current circumstances are not normal and immediate action was and is required.

To be clear, cancelling services is very difficult for me, for my ordination vows call me be faithful in leading God’s people in Word and Sacrament. But those same vows also call me to protect the flock of the Good Shepherd, and to protect the flock in this instance requires social distancing. I will still perform my pastoral duties as good as I can at this time, but I will only do visitations in the event of a pressing emergency.

Remember that, as our brothers and sisters at Redeemer Grace Geneva have said, the Church is not a building or event. The Church is all of us united together by the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

May the Lord bless you, keep you, and give you strength and courage in this season,

Scotty

 

Rev. Dr. Scotty J. Williams
All Souls Protestant Church

Be informed

The Swiss government and cantons all have appropriate information about the current status. Please check their websites regularly.


The "Pest Lied" liturgy

The "Pest lied" Liturgy

A prayer service for the Coronavirus and other epidemics


While suffering from the Plague in 1519, Ulrich Zwingli wrote a poem called the “Pestlied (Plague Song)”. In this three-part poem he documents his experiences with the sickness and how he comes to find hope in the promises and strength of God.

In light of the new Coronovirus, our pastor has written a prayer service liturgy that centers on Zwingli’s poem. You may view the liturgy by clicking on the image below, and feel free to use and adapt it according to the needs and worship style of your congregation. All we ask in return is that you acknowledge that this liturgy comes from All Souls Protestant Church in St. Gallen and East Switzerland.

Many thanks and God bless.



Call To Prayer: Coronavirus

For the Coronavirus epidemic

Call to Prayer March 2020


Help, Lord God, help in this trouble!

I think death is at the door.

Christ, stay with me, for You have overcome it.

-Ulrich Zwingli (Pestlied)

Dear Friends,

In 1519 a wave of the Plague moved along the Rhine, and after making its way through Basel and Schaffhausen it came upon the city of Zürich. At the time Ulrich Zwingli was pastor of the Grossmünster, and for several months he had stayed behind to ease the city’s suffering. You see, unlike everyone else Zwingli was not allowed to leave, for as Leutpriester or people’s priest he was like a captain on a sinking ship. While others could run away, he was bound by duty to keep his post, and to take the risk of getting the Plague until the final Zürcher had left or died. By all means, a bribe or two could have bought him a quick getaway, but despite this option he chose to stay and proclaim a promise that the Lord had made.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

In the face of pestilence Zwingli cherished and proclaimed this promise, and as his spiritual children we must do the same while facing a new pestilence today. Like the Plague the Coronavirus has made its way through different cities and countries, and we are constantly receiving news of how it has surfaced in another place. Furthermore, we are now getting news of Corona cases in Switzerland, which have changed the way we go about life from washing our hands to greeting our neighbours. We find ourselves in an atmosphere that is charged with a number of deep concerns, and it even touches the worship place and changes how we gather together.

Last Sunday at All Souls there was hesitance as we passed the peace, and this led the Elders to wonder if we should err on the side of caution and cancel all of our March events. To be clear, such caution is not unreasonable or a lack of faith, for our Council’s top priority at present is the health and well-being of others. After much discussion it was decided that the World Day of Prayer and the Brunch Seminar will be cancelled until further notice, but services will continue as planned until our cantonal Church says otherwise. Furthermore, this Sunday’s service will be a time of prayer for the areas affected by the Coronavirus, and for the peace of Switzerland and St. Gallen as our leaders seek to address the epidemic. The service will also feature readings from Zwingli’s Pestlied (Plague Song) that he wrote while recovering from the Plague which he contracted as he kept his post in Zürich.

In accordance with the regulations issued by our canton, we have set these conditions for all upcoming services:

  1. Those who have recently traveled to potential risk areas are kindly asked to not attend. These areas currently are China, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, and Italy.
  2. Those who are feeling sick are kindly asked to not attend.
  3. Those who attend must be careful during all personal contact with others (e.g., refrain from shaking hands and giving hugs).
  4. Those who attend must wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer (sanitizer dispensers can be found throughout the Church building).

Again, the health and well-being of others is the top priority of our Council, and as we worship together we want everyone to feel as safe as possible. I invite you to join us this Sunday at 12:00 in Kirche Rotmonten where we will pray for the world and its current troubles, and if you cannot join us then I invite you to pray wherever you will be.

Like Zwingli we will keep our post and proclaim the Lord’s promise in Deuteronomy 31, that He is with us in all things and He will never forsake us.

Blessings and may the grace, peace, love, hope, and joy of Christ be with you all,

-Pastor Scotty


Coronavirus: A Prayer For Medical Scientists by Alden Solovy

God of wisdom,
Bless medical scientists and researchers around the world
With insight and skill, dedication and fortitude,
As they combat coronavirus,
So that their work yields knowledge and understanding,
Speedily finding a vaccine, treatments and deterrents to its spread.

Source of life,
Grant public health and government officials
The strength to act swiftly and decisively,
With compassion and understanding,
In service to humankind,
Fighting this outbreak
And the other diseases that still plague the planet,
Diseases threatening the lives of our brothers and sisters,
Nations and communities,
Young and old.

Rock of Ages,
Bring an end to disease and suffering,
So that all may know
Your compassion and Your grace.

Praised are You, God, healer of flesh, and maker of wonders. Amen.