March 13, 2020 Pastoral Letter in Response to Coronavirus

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I begin with the words of Jesus Christ, to whom we belong. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
My Pastoral letter regarding the corona virus and the effects it has had around the globe, in the United States, and may have on our future as a community of faith is not written out of or determined by fear, but through prayer and reflections on how the Holy Scriptures guide us as we live together as Children of God. When I was called to serve Shepherd of the Glades, I shared with the call committee and the council that I believe there is a reason the Holy Spirit alighted upon Jesus in the form of a dove. The dove, although it has two opposing wings, flies gracefully when the opposing wings work together. I also stated that the core of our faith as believers in Jesus is Loving God with all our heart soul and might, and loving our neighbor as our self. (See Luke 3:22 and Luke 10:27) The current national response to the corona virus may be the first test of these two core teachings I have lifted up since the time of my arrival. As a community of faith, Shepherd of the Glades has members who have very different views about the corona virus and how it is being handled. As a leader of this faith community, remaining silent regarding ways we can live out these two principals of faith during the current global pandemic would not be helpful. Therefore, I want everyone to be aware of the steps we have taken thus far regarding loving our neighbor as our self. I understand that we will have differing views regarding the nation’s response to the virus, but rather than allowing it to cause division in this body of Christ, it is my hope that we can use God’s Word to be a light to our path in this unprecedented time in the history of the Christian Church in the USA. The responses taken thus far by the Church and whatever decisions the future may hold will be determined through prayerful consideration of how we can work through this health epidemic as a faith community. We will also utilize the gift of medical professionals who have been called to study and educate the public about this virus. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has an entire website dedicated to information regarding COVID-19 (the corona virus) and you can access that information by going to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/index.html.
Since Sunday, March 8th, changes in communion practices were put into place to protect those who are most vulnerable from getting the corona virus. The distribution of wine via intinction is still available for those who wish to receive it, but it is acceptable to receive just the host and Christ will be present. Beginning Sunday March 15th, the Pastor will be the only person to distribute the host with a continuous flow and we will no longer kneel at the railing to receive communion. Wine and grape juice will continue to remain optional. On Sunday, March 8th, we began the process of not shaking hands during the passing of the peace We now simply bow to our neighbor or wave a sign of Christ’s peace. We will no longer shake hands with Pastor prior to or after Worship. You will continue to be greeted with a smile and a loving greeting. From my perspective, the passing of the peace of Christ is a necessity and should not be eliminated from the liturgy. We need to share Christ’s peace with one another and reconcile with one another before God. It is very biblical. (See Matthew 5:24) Beginning Sunday, March 15th, we will no longer pass the offering plates. The offering plate will be in the Narthex and you may place your offering in the plate either before or after Worship. Offering is a form of Worship as we return to God what God has first given to us. We ask that if you are unable to attend Worship that you continue supporting the ministry of Shepherd of the Glades Church. If you would like to give electronically, please contact the office and we will discuss what form of electronic giving or automatic withdrawal will work best for you.
Another pending change will be the availability to livestream our Worship service on the internet and also make it available for viewing at a later time. I am working quickly to implement this change as it may be one of the most important changes for those who are unable to come to Worship. The worship bulletins are already on the website. The Worship services have been available on our website, as well, as an audio file, but it has not been well maintained and updated. This will change beginning this week. Availability of online audio and video services will become a priority as many public gathering venues are being shut down in an attempt to contain the virus. An audio file of the worship service should be available for you to listen to as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday following that week’s service on our website at www.sotgweb.org.
There will likely be more changes in the near future as things are changing rapidly with regard to closures and CDC recomendations for public gatherings including places of Worship. Again, I share this information not out of panic or worries, but out of love and concern for our faith community at Shepherd of the Glades.
As I was writing this pastoral letter, after prayerful consideration and deliberation, a very difficult decision was made to postpone the passion play for this year. This decision was made out of an abundance of care for our community. This was not an easy decision to make, but it is to be noted that Ecclesiastes writes that there is a time for every matter under heaven. This year is a time for Shepherd of the Glades to postpone the passion play and pray that we will be able to return to this tradition in the future.
I was also just notified that the Everglades Choir concerts sceduled for Saturday the 21st has been cancelled and they will not be performing this Sunday.

As the leader of this faith community, it is my desire that we continue to gather together for Worship and small group activities as long as we are able to do so safely. We will make changes as necessary and, of course, we will follow all CDC guidelines and the recommendations of local authorities. I invite you to follow Jesus command to not let your hearts be troubled in these times and do not be afraid. This season and time will pass. But please! If you are not feeling well remain at home, even if you have an assigned duty for Worship that Sunday! If you are concerned about getting the virus and are limiting your other social engagements, remain at home and call the church so we can stay in contact with you and make sure you still are able to get access to Worship materials online. We will have bulletins for you to access and follow along available as well. It may be difficult to adjust to these changes, but remember that whether you are the right wing or the left wing of the Holy Spirit, we belong to Christ, and all things are possible through Christ who gives us strength and direction.
May the peace that passes all human understanding guard and keep our hearts and minds on Jesus Christ. Amen +

Pastor Jeff Ungs
Shepherd of the Glades Lutheran Church, ELCA

6020 Rattlesnake Hammock Road
Naples, Florida, 34113
Worship at 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM
(239) 775-0696 Church
(641) 529-2479 cell phone

What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

March 2020 Calendar

The highlight of March, 2020, is the the season of Lent with Lenten Wednesday services at 5:30 p.m., with soup suppers following services in Hanson Hall. March 1 is Shepherd of the Glades’ annual Strawberry Sundae between services at about 9:40 a.m. Pastor’s Bible study is every Tuesday at 2 p.m.; the Women’s Bible Study is on the second Friday of the month at 10:00 a.m. To view the calendar for the month of March, click the following link: March, 2020 Calendar

February, 2020 Calendar

The highlight of February, 2020, is the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday service on February 26th at 5:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday Worship is followed by a soup supper to which all are invited. Each Lenten Wednesday through April 1, there is a 5:30 p.m. Lenten service with soup supper following. Teen Challenge will be visiting Shepherd of the Glades on Sunday, February 16th, and participating in worship. The annual meeting of Shepherd of the Glades will be between services on Sunday, February 23rd. Pastor’s Bible study is every Tuesday at 2 p.m.; the Women’s Bible Study is on the second Friday of the month at 10:00 a.m. To view the calendar for the month of February, click the following link: February, 2020 Calendar

January, 2020 Calendar

The highlight of January, 2020, is our new stewardship campaign, “2020 Stewardship Vision” with stewardship temple talks each Sunday worship service. There will be a “Welcome Back” Luncheon on January 12th with guest speakers from Thrivent on income and retirement. Bible studies also start in January: Pastor’s is every Tuesday at 2 p.m. and Women’s Bible Study is on Friday, January 10th at 10:00 a.m.-both in the Choir Room. To view the calendar for the month of January, click the following link: January, 2020 Calendar

Installation of Rev. Jeffrey T. Ungs

On Sunday, November 3, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. you are invited to a very special event. Please click here: Ordination Invitation

Pastoral Update

Subject: Interim Pastor update

To: All Shepherd of the Glades Lutheran Church members & friends,

Sunday June 23rd, 2019 will be the final day of service to SOTG provided by Pastor Bob Hoffman. As interim Pastor, Bob ( and his lovely wife Colleen ) have become a special part of our church family, and we are all grateful. During the month of June please join me in thanking Pastor Bob for his ministry at SOTG.

Pastor Jeffrey Ungs, our new full time pastor, will begin at SOTG on August 1st, 2019. During the month of July, before Pastor Jeff arrives, the Synod and Connie Schmucker, Assistant to the Bishop, have arranged for Pastor Frank Lee of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Naples, FL, to provide pulpit services for SOTG. Thank you, Pastor Lee.

Due to the unexpected recent death of Rev. Bill Bogholtz at Christ Lutheran Church, Cape Coral, FL, the Synod requested that SOTG release Pastor Bob early, effective July 1st, 2019, so that Pastor Bob can begin his new interim call in Cape Coral.

Thank you and God bless,

Lawrence Buettner, Council President

Shepherd of the Glades Has Called a Pastor!

To find out who Shepherd of the Glades has called as a new pastor, please click here: New SOTG Pastor

2018 Stewardship Campaign

Commitment Sunday, where everyone presents their gifts, time, and talents to the Lord, was Sunday, January 28, 2018. In preparation for Commitment Sunday, the following video, showing the life and ministries of Shepherd of the Glades Lutheran Church, was prepared. You may see the video by clicking the following link:

Copyright © 2020 — Shepherd of the Glades, ELCA | Site design by Trevor Fitzgerald