Dear Friends in Christ,
I write to update you after our Vestry meeting this morning with our response to concerns about the COVID-19 virus. After conversations with public health officials, physicians, and parishioners, we decided to suspend all of our public worship offerings for one week (including Sunday and Wednesday worship and formation). While there is a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty around this virus, we want to be clear that our decision is precautionary, not reactive, and it was made with the health and best interests of our parishioners at heart.
Given the size of our town and the age of many of our citizens, the medical industry here could very easily be overwhelmed if we were to experience an outbreak, and people are returning now after having traveled all over the world for spring break. We will reevaluate this decision next week, when we will hopefully have more information and can better know how to proceed.
As an alternative to public worship, we will send a liturgy that can be followed at home, along with the lectionary texts for Sunday and a pre-recorded sermon. This will give us the opportunity to commune in worship electronically, and to still be remotely together as Christ’s body. We will also send a link which will allow you to worship via livestream with our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, who is making this offering available because many churches across the country have also suspended their public worship.
Our historic nave will remain open, as it always is, for individual prayers and devotions, and your clergy will continue to be available for prayer and pastoral needs as they arise. Please feel free to call on us at any time and make use of our building that has for 160 years been a refuge and a strength for so many. The church office will also remain open and our essential ministries will continue (i.e., Rise and Shine, AA meetings, etc.). Small groups may still meet, but are encouraged to take extra precaution when gathering and avoid physical contact.
We know that the closing of schools, the tightening of public restrictions, and the subsequent impact on businesses and family lives will create hardships and inconveniences for many among us, so we encourage you to take special care with those who are most vulnerable and in need through these days. We will be making a special effort to reach out to our elderly members and offer to assist in any way we can. We also know that Interfaith Compassion Ministries, the Pantry, and our other social service organizations will continue to experience a high level of need. Please consider making extra contributions to these organizations as you’re able.
This is an unprecedented time for all of us, and we are all trying to find a faithful way forward. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me, our Vestry members, or any of our clergy and lay staff by e-mail or phone.
“Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
A Collect for Guidance from the Daily Office of Morning Prayer
Book of Common Prayer, page 100