Suspension of Parish Activities - UPDATE
To the St. Wilfrid’s Community
From the Interim Rector Bill Doggett+
2/18/20
 
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

These are strange times we are living in, aren’t they? I am fond of telling both my children and the parishes I serve that good information leads to good decisions, but it is extremely hard to find good information these days, at least that isn’t changing hour by hour. But now we are called upon over and over to make decisions of consequence for our lives and for the lives of others.
Of course, the fundamental fact that underlies all of our choices hasn’t changed – God is with us and loves us no matter what befalls us. But while knowing that is a great comfort in times like these, it doesn’t necessarily help us figure out the best way to protect ourselves, those we love, and our neighbors from a pandemic, especially one where many of us may be infected with the virus and not even know it.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been your Interim Rector long enough to get to know many of you, or for you to know me. But I want you to know that I am here for you in every way that I can be, as are the other clergy and leaders of the parish. We are trying very hard to understand what your needs are and how we may serve them. You may call or e-mail me directly at any time if you have concerns, information important to the ministry of the parish, or if you need prayer or conversation. My phone number is (202) 421-3061 and my e-mail address is rector@stwilfridschurch.org
In addition to the guidelines and restrictions that the CDC, Orange County, and other public agencies have been providing, the Bishop Taylor and the Diocese of Los Angeles have been offering helpful guidance and setting rules for the churches and institutions of the diocese. We are all greatly saddened that one of the restrictions the bishop has imposed will keep all churches in the diocese closed through Holy Week and Easter Sunday. You can read all of the diocesan information and Bishop’s letters at http://www.ladiocese.org
As difficult as all of this is, please know that these measures will save lives. We can’t, at the moment, hope to reduce the number of infections there will be in the long run, but by slowing down the rate at which the virus spreads we can help ensure that there will be enough medical personnel, hospital beds, and equipment to treat all those who do become infected.
The staff and Wardens have been meeting electronically to plan a pastoral response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to respond to the continually changing news and rules. Here’s what we have decided so far:
WORSHIP
·      For as long as we are able, we will continue to live-stream a Sunday service from the church. This week we are planning a Morning Prayer service at 8:30 AM, with the video available to view at any time after that. We are hoping to include music that will be easy to sing with at home. Information about how to access the service online will be sent in an e-mail and be available on our website and Facebook page.
·      We will be offering information about how to observe a meaningful Holy Week and blessed Easter at home, as well as planning for the best streamed services that we can muster.
OTHER MEETINGS
·      All onsite meetings and events at St. Wilfrid’s whether by church groups or outside groups are suspended until further notice. I’m sorry to say that this includes our Recovery groups. If you need help organizing an online meeting for a church group, please e-mail the office for assistance (terry@stwilfridschurch.org).
COMMUNICATIONS and PARISH LIFE
·      The Church Office will be closed until further notice, and our staff will be working from home as much as possible. Voicemail and e-mail will be regularly monitored. E-mail addresses for clergy and staff can be found by clicking “Contact Us” on the “About Us” menu on our web page or at this link: http://stwilfridschurch.org/about-us/contact-us
·      We will be contacting every member of the parish by phone. We want to find out who has needs that we can assist with, including shopping and transportation as well as prayer and guidance, but we also want to just stay in touch.
·      We will be electronically sharing useful information with you, including the bulletin for Sunday worship, news from the parish, diocese, and wider church, and other documents or links that may be helpful or comforting, including some Sunday School materials for families with children at home.
·      Our regular weekly electronic communications will continue, and we will do our best to keep the website and Facebook page up do date with new and useful information.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
·      Monica and Kevin McBennett are heading up a team to stay in touch with our parish family and to coordinate assistance. Please let them know if you need assistance or are able to offer help with shopping, transportation, or other needs we haven’t yet imagined. Their number is (310) 430-9281.
LENTEN BOOK STUDY
·      I will be sharing a study guide and my own reflections on Radical Welcome for those of you who want to continue with our Lenten Book Study, and we will be creating an online space for group discussion.
PRESCHOOL
·      We had hoped to keep the Preschool open to provide daycare for the children of essential workers, but it turns out that we will be unable to do that. This Friday will will be the last day of operations until the restrictions on gathering are lifted.
Jesus is always telling his followers not to be anxious. If it’s any comfort, you can be sure that he was saying this to people who lived in times that were as difficult as ours. Please remember that God is always with us, and you don’t have to believe that God sends us difficult times to test us in order to believe that God can lead us to find good in the worst of times.
Please keep in touch with your neighbors and those you know are living alone. Share what you can, whether it’s food or a patient ear. If you still have income, remember to support local business that are staying open but suffering losses. And if you are able, keep your pledge to St. Wilfrid’s current so that we can support our staff, pay our bills, and be able continue to support outreach efforts to our neighbors.
Above all, please continue to pray. Pray for one another. Pray for those who are infected with the virus. Pray for the medical professionals who care for the seek and who seek a vaccine. Pray for the children who are at home and for the college students whose schools are closed. Pray for those who are at work keeping us safe and fed, and for those who cannot work and may face lack of food and loss of shelter. Pray for our leaders who must make difficult decisions every day. Pray for the Recovery groups that will be unable to meet during this crisis. Pray for all who face fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, that they may know not just God’s presence, but the presence of others in their community. And when you’ve done all that, if you can spare a prayer for the clergy, staff and leaders of St. Wilfrid’s, especially those who serve in our Preschool, we’d really appreciate it.
Blessings,
Bill+