May 23, 2020

Dear Friends, 

We live in a political world. My hope here is not to enter a political fray at all, but rather find this time important to remind you of our faithful response to be a loving community committed to the mission of the Church. 

The President of the United States commentary yesterday regarding congregations of faith being considered "essential" and must re-open immediately creates the necessity for me to write and remind one another of our careful attention to a safe environment and thoughtful return to some sort of public life as a congregation. 

Please know of these important and faithful conversations and protocols. 

1. As to the President's remarks. Please know that most states in their COVID responses have by policy already considered religious institutions as "essential" because of their understanding of the separation of Church and State. This is true for the state of Pennsylvania. Churches and religious congregations have been from the beginning in the category of "essential" and were formerly encouraged not to gather out of civic response to COVID, but not restricted to do so. 

2. From the beginning the bishop, our diocese, and congregational leaders have rightly followed protocols to cease public worship and gatherings out of a responsible sense of civic duty and to slow the spread of COVID-19. It has been difficult for us to be separated physically from one another, but necessary! You have been great, and we have done our part and in doing our part we have helped slow the spread, and protected the significant portion of our beloved community who are in the at risk category, and we have helped ease the burden on our hospitals. Thank you! 

3. In the coming weeks and months, we will begin to creatively adapt to our circumstances and begin to thoughtfully gather again for public worship opportunities but following thoughtful guidelines created by public health officials and our diocesan leadership. For the Cathedral, which is a larger body than most of our congregations, this will take thoughtfulness, creativity, devotion, and patience. 

It will also not look like the large gatherings we all treasure, but rather a mixture of small gatherings and larger virtual gatherings. It will also mean smaller, adaptive, and focused coordination of our outreach efforts. We will do this!

4. To that end, the vestry and I have appointed a task force to create protocols and practices that keep us as safe as possible AND keep us focused on adaptive ways in which we MUST continue to pursue our mission of making Christ known in our city, our diocese, and around the world. 

5. The task force consists of incredibly competent professionals, all of whom have expertise in their field and devotion to our Lord and the mission of our Cathedral. The task force consists of three physicians, a nurse practitioner, a PA State Department of Public Health policy practitioner, a corporate executive with COVID safety protocols, a senior Vice-President of St. Luke's hospital, a College executive and administrator with oversight of all things COVID, and a Lehigh University professor with oversight of safely opening laboratories. The task force also includes a Dean, and a Cathedral Administrator. This group has already begun its work and will lead us in the coming weeks and months. When we are prepared and guidelines allow it, we will begin to cross new thresholds in our life together. Please know that for a considerable while, the sweetness of our large gatherings are things to have been treasured, and our new way of being will certainly bear new fruit! We/You are being so faithful, and we will continue to be so! The task force is co-chaired by Dr. Connie Andrejko and Karen Boksan, you may contact them by email  candrejko@onsiteneonatal.com kboksan@rcn.com .

6. Finally, as we enter the summer months please know we also will be counter intuitive to our regular schedule of things. What you should know for the near term:

*Sunday May 31. Feast of Pentecost. Virtual Worship- 10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist

*Sunday June 7. Virtual Picnic Sunday! 10:00 a.m. 
  •  Zoom, Facebook, and Livestream gathering. 
  •  High School Seniors honored, Scholarships
  •  Dance off Challenge winner declared!

Summer Schedule - Begins June 14, 2020
(Expect heavy reliance on Virtual) 

Sundays: 
9 a.m. 321 Contact Worship with Zoom Fellowship Time
10 a.m. Principal Worship with Zoom Lemonade and Ice Tea 
12:30 p.m. Spanish Worship with Zoom Coffee Hour

Mission Imperatives: 
  •    Navajo Land support project- Led by Senior High Youth (stay tuned)
  •    New Bethany Ministries Support
  •    Fountain Hill Elementary School Support
  •    Interfaith Dialogue on Race (Virtual) 
  •    Vacation Bible School (Virtual) 

You are a beloved and faithful community. Please know we will communicate as we cross next phases of our public life. In the meantime. Keep being the Church! You are magnificent. 

Blessings. 

Tony


The Very Rev. Anthony R. Pompa
Dean and Rector
Nativity Cathedral | nativitycathedral.org