March 13, 2020
It is with a heavy and sorrowful heart that I am announcing that, beginning today, we are postponing all in-person gatherings at St. Augustine's for 2 weeks. I have made this decision prayerfully and professionally in consultation with our Wardens, medical professionals in our congregation and my clergy colleagues.
While there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community, we believe that it is our responsibility to help flatten the curve of infection by adopting a practice of social distancing. We believe that at this time this is a way to live our faith in a way that is not out of panic but out of a deep and abiding love for our people and our community.
As your Rector, this decision is the hardest one I have had to make in my ministry. As the church, the Body of Christ in the world, we are called to gather together. To say we will not come together in person to worship feels like the absolute wrong thing to do during a time of crisis. In my own life, it is in gathering in church that has given me the love and strength I have needed to get through life's joys and challenges.
That said, we are working to get creative with technology to find ways to offer worship remotely. This morning at 9am I will offer Morning Prayer on Facebook Live (go to St. Augustine's Facebook Page to join in). On Sunday morning at 9:30 am we will offer Morning Prayer via Zoom. An invitation to connect to that will be sent out tomorrow (Saturday, 3/14).
Additionally, just because we cannot gather in person does not mean that we do not find other ways to connect with each other. Please continue to reach out and offer love and support to one another. The power of a text, phone call or email serves as a living reminder of the Christ who dwelt among us and does not leave us. Our Parish Directory is on our website, password: saintas
For my part I will be reaching out to individuals and families over the next couple of weeks to check in. Please contact me directly with any concerns you have at this time and if you or any of your family fall ill. This will assist me in my prayers for you and will also allow me to assess with our leadership if there is any help or assistance we can provide. My cell phone number is 917-723-6949.
Also, some of you may be aware of the news about some Episcopal priests, including the Rector of Church of the Epiphany in Manhattan, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Sam and I have not been in personal contact with these priests since their exposure nor did we attend the CEEP conference in February where a number of clergy appear to have been exposed and infected.
I am acutely aware of the level of fear and anxiety that many of us are experiencing right now. This is an unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in. None of us are going to handle it perfectly. I invite you to have grace for those around you who are scared, even if you are not. We do not know all the things that each other are bearing at this time. What we do know is that we believe in a God who not only knows what we bear but who bears it with us, walks with us, is stuck at home with us. Your fears and doubts are not a lack of faith. They can be a prayer offered up to God for love and grace that we may receive and offer to each other.
I love you. I will miss our hugs, handshakes and elbow taps. Take care. Be well. Know that God loves you. Remember who you belong to and that you are a beloved child of God.
Glory to God who can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation in the church and in Christ Jesus for evermore. Amen.