A Special Announcement by the Rector on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Ones,

I want to update you as to some changes we are making as we continue to monitor and respond to the spread COVID-19.  

As the World Health Organization wrote in a recent communique, this is a time to let “hope be the antidote to fear,” “solidarity be the antidote to blame,” and “our shared humanity by the antidote to our shared threat.” By learning new ways to walk together, and placing our whole lives in God’s hands, we will find a way.

Following Bishop Bonnie Perry’s advice, and, after thorough consultation with my clergy, staff, and lay leaders, we have decided to make alterations and changes in our worship and program life. We do so not to fan the flames of fear, but to implement preventative measures to meet the challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19 without completely curtailing our common life and worship: 

  • All of our worship services, programming, and events will continue. This includes our Sacred Jazz Concert this Friday and Saturday nights. All of these gatherings will be available through our live-feed on Friday night found on our website, which will enable you to follow along from home. Sunday School and Nursery will continue to be offered.
  • Starting immediately, we will not be offering the Eucharist at our worship services. All of our services will be Services of the Word, which bring together language and structure from Morning Prayer together with the Eucharistic readings and service music reflecting the season of Lent. Keeping our eyes on the Word will be a good thing for us to do in such a challenging time.
  • Our offertory practice of “passing the plate” will evolve. Instead of handing the plates to each other, we will have the ushers keep hold of the offering plate to limit the number of people who touch it.  
  • On Friday we will launch a new “church at home” experience. Anyone who feels more comfortable observing our Sunday 10 AM service from home can still attend virtually and have new options for staying connected. We will be releasing more information about this in the next few days via email and social media.
  • We will soon introduce an easy way for ministries and committees to hold virtual meetings.  With the possibility of having to meet remotely, we are using a platform that will allow people to audio or video call into meetings, so the work of the church and fellowship opportunities can continue.
  • Finally, we are putting in place plans to do a special “every member canvas.” The purpose of this effort is to reach out to you personally so that we remain connected to each other even as we monitor and change how we physically gather. As we make these calls, keep in mind that we will be listening for your best ideas, too.

These changes have been made with precautions we have already put in place. We are washing the tops of the pews after every service, and placing hand sanitizer throughout the church. We are also making sure that all fixtures or items (such as stuffed animals) that could harbor the virus are removed from circulation.  

As events unfold, we may need to make other changes as necessary. We believe that we are being prudent, but it is hard to predict the reach and extent of this pandemic. So we ask for your empathy and patience as we try to serve you faithfully, just as we respect your decisions regarding what you feel you are called to do.  

Please be sure to exercise your best judgment regarding your own health and safety. Rest assured of our continued love and affection for you no matter what you decide regarding your own participation and attendance.

Please let any of the clergy know if you have questions, concerns, or want to help. 

As we take these steps to help keep ourselves safe, let us find new depth in our prayer life. To that end, let me offer the following prayer:

Loving God, we pray for those who are sick and their loved ones, and for those who have died because of this virus. 

We pray for those who are oppressed by fear and for those who are losing the income that sustains them.  

We pray for all those who offer care and support to those who are sick. 

We pray for those in the medical, scientific, research and pharmaceutical communities devoting their time and talent to counteract this pandemic. 

We pray for all our elected officials and all those who hold the common trust that their wisdom and compassion will increase. 

Finally, we place our unshakeable need in you, our unshakable God. 

Be our consolation during these anxiety producing times. Amen.

I am grateful for my clergy, colleagues, and staff who have helped me make these important changes so that we remain connected together in Christ. May our Lord protect us and heal those who are sick as we walk together in faith.