LCMS President Gerald B. Kieschnick has issued a statement in response to the recent swine flu outbreak, offering words of pastoral encouragement and pointing to LCMS resources aimed at helping churches navigate the crisis and keep members healthy.
Kieschnick’s entire April 30 statement is as follows:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
What tremendous words of comfort these are as our nation, indeed, our world, faces the potential of an influenza pandemic. The psalmist continues, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” Because of the tremendous love our Heavenly Father has for us, evidenced most fully in the life, death, and resurrection of His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the fears and insecurities that might otherwise overwhelm us give way to a sense of quiet peace and readiness to alleviate the suffering of our fellow human beings.
In the wake of this outbreak, reports are surfacing almost by the hour of school closings and church cancellations (including a very small number involving LCMS congregations) as well as restrictions on business and other forms of travel. At the time of the writing of this memorandum, cases of swine flu have been confirmed in 10 states—a number that seems likely to grow. And there has been a death on U.S. soil—a Mexican child seeking treatment in Texas.
Congregations, agencies, professional church workers, and lay leaders of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod are urged to remain alert regarding the status of the outbreak and to follow the guidelines provided by local, state, and federal public-health officials. In addition, disaster coordinators in each LCMS district have been provided with guidelines to assist congregations in dealing with a potential flu pandemic. Further, LCMS World Relief and Human Care offers an assortment of resources — congregational planning procedures for a possible pandemic, a preparedness checklist, and links to information from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization — at www.lcms.org/?15119.
Above all, in the midst of any potential or actual calamitous event, as Christians we cling to and communicate the comfort of our loving God, who says to us: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). So with the psalmist we boldly declare, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:11). God’s grace, mercy, and peace be with us all!
Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
“Transforming lives through Christ’s love … in time … for eternity …” John 3:16-17
Posted April 30, 2009