DECEMBER 11, 2020

Dear Sunset Family,

As the weekly COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have set new pandemic highs, we have decided to delay our reopening. 

This has been an agonizing decision for me personally. I have lost sleep over this decision, and I feel very torn.  

On the one hand, after our Governor allowed for up to 100 people to meet in person, our staff has been hard at work getting ready to have both in-person and online worship services available. We miss seeing you all so much. We miss worshiping in person with you. We all desire to safely gather again in person, even in limited numbers. So we were excited about this possibility. I am very sad not to see you each week. 

On the other hand, the weekly COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have set new pandemic highs. We want you all to stay safe and healthy, especially before this holiday season. And we want to support our medical community and hospitals during this time of increasing cases. 

The ratio of COVID-19 hospitalizations to total beds gives a picture of how much strain a hospital is under. Though there's not a clear threshold, it's concerning when that rate rises above 10%, hospital capacity experts told NPR. Anything above 20% represents "extreme stress" for the hospital, according to a framework developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. If that figure gets to near 50% or above, the stress on staff is immense. 

As of Dec 9, Washington County Oregon ICU hospital beds are over 25% occupied by COVID patients.

So as sad as it is to announce, I feel it is wise to delay limited in-person gatherings for worship as an act of support and care for our medical community. We will re-evaluate re-opening after the holidays in early January, which is just a few weeks away. 

I do understand that this will be disappointing news for many. I am disappointed too. And I am truly sorry. 

I look forward to the day when this pandemic is behind us. I can’t wait to see you all in person again. I miss you all so very much. You have no idea how much your presence during our online worship service means to me. Your faithful commitment to Jesus and to His Body at Sunset is an incredible encouragement to my faith.

I love you all very much,

Pastor Steve

March 20, 2020

Dear Sunset Family,
I just want you to know that I carry you in my heart every day. I see and feel the stress, worries, loss, and fears of so many. I pray for all of you every day. Our loving staff and elders are praying as well.
I am looking forward to our online worship service this Sunday. I will give a Sunset Church update and let you know how we are doing church in this season. I have some encouraging words to share.
In light of this ever-changing season. I have decided to press pause on the Highlights in Leviticus sermon series. Instead, I am planning on preaching on a variety of topics that address the current situation we face in the weeks and months ahead. This Sunday, I will be preaching a sermon called “May The Lord Bless You” from Numbers 6:22-27. It is interesting that before Moses led Israel into the wilderness, God blessed Israel in a most powerful way. The wilderness was a time of uncertainty. It was a time when God tested their faith. As we are entering into a wilderness season, I want to begin this season by blessing you with God’s blessing. I hope this will be a word of encouragement.
God bless you,
Pastor Steve

March 17, 2020

Dear Sunset Family,

This Sunday, we gathered together online in response to the health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 crisis. We have seen an extraordinary response to our Digital Church. We saw over 250 families join us live and later during the day! And 150 families took part in the children’s lessons. We can easily project that over 500 people worshipped with us and received the message. In the midst of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, Sunset helped bring calm, peace, and courage.

I am so proud of all of our team for working so hard to make this available for people when they need it most. I also want to thank all of you who so faithfully and generously gave online. More than ever, our sacrificial giving together allows us to be the church during the crisis. We are praying for you and awaiting eagerly the day we can all celebrate together once again!
What Sunset is doing this week in addition to Sunday's live stream:

  • Helping Hands is still open and the team serving will be doing a drive-through/walk-up delivery arrangement for the foreseeable future
  • High School Ministry – D-groups are going through the Prayer Course online together
  • Children’s Ministry – Weekly video lessons and discussion questions for the family are being posted online

Things to be on the lookout for:

  • More Children’s Ministry resources
  • Women’s Bible Study will resume in April with videos of weekly teaching

Off-site events that are canceled or postponed:

  • Supper Groups – Postponed
  • Holy Land Trip – Postponed until September
  • High School Kingdom Worker – Canceled

God bless you,
Pastor Steve

MArch 12, 2020

Dear Sunset Family,

I want to let you know what we are doing at Sunset to help our state health officials combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)––and the anxiety associated with it. There’s a lot to cover in this update, but PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE EMAIL so you have accurate information.


First, as your pastor, I encourage you to fix your thoughts on Jesus. In the midst of this time, we have the peace of Jesus—which is supernatural, unique and powerful. God is at work even now. There is no need to fear or panic. Instead, live with expectancy for ways God will work through this, even as we seek to make wise decisions regarding public health and activities for our church.


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. The peace I give is a peace the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. -- John 14:27


With that important foundation in mind and in light of the current public health crisis, we are sensitive to the threat of the spread of COVID-19 in the Portland/Beaverton area. We have been actively monitoring the recommendations from the CDC and the Oregon Health Authority.  We are taking preventative actions in response to the evolving situation in our area.  

Public Gatherings

To that end, we have decided to follow the guidelines proposed by the Washington County Health Authority, specifically "not to have groups over 250 people."


After weighing our options, in an effort to go “above and beyond” these initial guidelines to protect people and promote peace in our community, the Sunset leadership has decided we will follow their recommendation and hold church services ONLY VIA LIVE STREAMING THROUGH April 8. In taking this extraordinary step, we want to communicate that Sunset is committed to the health and prosperity of our whole community.


We will continue to monitor current events and updates regarding the transmission of this novel virus and keep you informed. As of now, we plan to maintain our current teaching calendar and continue our series Highlights in Leviticus and encourage you to join us from home using the live stream. We also will have available videos for children and questions to ask as you lead your family during worship.


While we never want to respond to uncertainty with fear, we do want to be a church known for deep compassion and good citizenship. The Bible tells us, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you...” (Jeremiah 29:7) 


It’s in that spirit that we are following the health department’s recommendation. This is a Christ-like, sacrificial way to show that we love the most vulnerable in our community above ourselves. 



Let me be clear: Church is not canceled. It’s just changed. 


For these next few weekends, let’s all continue to gather—in our homes, with our neighbors, with our small groups—by watching the livestream of our church services. I encourage you to do this as kind of a “home church”––and possibly a new way to introduce friends and neighbors to Sunset! 


Our livestream services will be full of joy, encouragement, and hope––what everyone needs in times of uncertainty. Whether you’re joining us alone or with a group, send a picture to so we can share it with everyone, or post directly to social media on Instagram or Facebook.


We will be streaming on and Facebook at 10:00AM on Sundays.


Is this ideal? No. I can’t wait to get back to in-person, live services! But it will still be fun. I am so grateful we already have the infrastructure that enables us to provide this solution to continue our mission to make disciples of all nations!


Mid-Week Programs
In our effort to go “above and beyond” these initial guidelines on gathering of 250 plus, we have canceled all scheduled programs and events on campus through Monday, March 30.


However, we will continue to reach out to the most vulnerable in our community through Helping Hands, Pack the Pack, Family Promise and the Red Cross blood drives.


In addition, we are working together across our departments and redirecting staff energies on some creative ways we can support you over these next weeks. More to come soon!



Sunset is and always will be about proclaiming the Kingdom of God. While the COVID-19 health crisis may change how we interact with the world, it does not change our needs and the needs of our community. We must continue to care for those around us - to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of our neighbors and coworkers. So let us use this time to care for those around us intentionally. Talk to your community about how you can support each other. Ask about child care needs, picking up and dropping off groceries, but most importantly, don't forget about your community's spiritual needs. Offer to pray for and with them. Invite them to watch the live stream of the worship service with you on Sunday.


One of the most practical ways you can help is by remembering to support Sunset financially during this time. We encourage you to be an online giver, preferably a monthly recurring giver. Our staff is still working, and our local and global partners who rely on our support are still serving. One of our extraordinary prayers is that giving does not drop off during this season as we continue to be the Church. You can donate in the following simple ways:


  • To give a one-time donation, or become a monthly recurring giver using our online giving platform
  • You can give on your mobile device by texting “sunsetpres” to 77977 and following the link
  • You can also mail or drop your gift by check to Sunset
    Sunset Presbyterian Church
    Attn: Finance Dept
    14986 NW Cornell Rd
    Portland OR 97229


In the meantime, please pray with us for the containment of COVID-19 and for the protection of those primarily on the front lines of service – EMS/first responders, doctors, and nurses. Let us remember those who are particularly vulnerable – the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Take care of yourself and others by paying attention to the best practices from the Oregon Health Authority, which includes some general tips for prevention:


  • Wash your hands often with warm running water and soap for 20-seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand wash product.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes using your sleeve or a tissue, not your bare hand.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home if you're feeling sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched surfaces at home and work, including your mobile devices.

There are steps every household should take to prepare in case they need to stay home for an extended time: 

  • Establish a child care plan in the event your kids need to stay home from school.
  • Make sure you have the necessary food, drinks, medications, and pet supplies if you need to stay home and limit your contact with other people for a couple of weeks.
  • Also, please reach out to your neighbors, especially those who might need extra help, such as older adults or people living alone.


I know God is going to work through this in ways we can’t even imagine now. I have no doubt He will sustain and strengthen us in the days ahead, and redeem this unique season for His glory and our good.  


He can deepen your faith. 


He can deepen your family’s spiritual life as you worship together. 


He can use the homes throughout our city streaming our services to reach people who may never have entered a church building.


As Christians we were called “for such a time as this," to be people who bring peace to a world full of panic.


So please pray for the leadership of our state. Pray for those who are impacted by this disease. Pray that people all over the world will draw closer to God.


I’ll leave you with some Scripture that helps me refocus on God when I’m anxious:


In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. Psalm 25:1


Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25a,27


Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7


God bless you always,

Pastor Steve Ruetschle