Christ Church, Frederica
Dear Christ Church,
I write with an update on COVID-19 preparations and changes as they pertain to life at Christ Church. First, know that you are in our prayers. We are slowly working our way through the directory to check in with everyone, and in the meantime, don't hesitate to be in touch with any of us at the church, as well. These are anxious times for all of us and we, like you, are taking it one day at a time, for that's all we can do. I encourage you to find the Rector's Rambling included in today's News You Can Use later this afternoon, for a spiritual reflection on this time.
We will do our best to keep communicating with you via these emails and letters, News You Can Use, phone calls, Facebook, and Zoom. The latter two require some level of technology, either a smart phone/tablet or a computer. We know that parishioners have differing levels of technological ability, however, we encourage you to learn and utilize both if at all possible. Zoom is a video conference platform that allows users to see one another. Most of our classes and groups are shifting to Zoom while we cannot gather in person.
This is a long communication because there is much to communicate. There will be more communications in the days to come, as well. Everything is changing and we want to keep you as informed as possible. Your parish is here for you and for the wider community.  
As I said on our Christ Church Facebook page this past Monday, "We can shut her doors, but the Church never closes. ...the light of Christ burns even in the midst of the darkness of uncertainty, fear, and anything else that troubles us. Our faith isn't about buildings, but about the love of a God who creates us, redeems us, and sustains us. We are the Church. You are the Church. And in this time, unlike any time we have lived through before, don't forget to be the Church. The world needs you and the light of Christ within you, now more than ever."
God be with you until we meet again,

With the recommendation of the CDC to refrain from gatherings of more than fifty persons for at least eight weeks, we are essentially looking at an eight-week period with no public worship at Christ Church. This affects Holy Week and Easter, and while that grieves us tremendously, your staff is working to find ways of making these holy days and the joyous feast of Easter meaningful in other ways. We will be in touch about those specifics as those dates draw nearer. If the situation and the recommendations change, we will change with them.
In the meantime, we will continue to stream live on Facebook for the Sunday 9:15 am service. We are also using Facebook Live for Evening Prayer at 5:00 pm each day and will likely add other services to Facebook as we continue through this time. We may also advertise opportunities to pray together via Zoom, so that we can see and hear one another. In addition, Kathleen Turner hopes to share musical meditations periodically as well. Each of these will be advertised via email and our Facebook page, and anything on Facebook Live stays on Facebook for later viewing. Other offerings may be available to watch via YouTube, and those links will also be shared.
We will try Communion Under Special Circumstances again this Saturday evening and Sunday morning. If you would like to receive communion, please call the office (912-638-8683) to reserve a time for a semi-private communion. We will only serve groups of four at a time with a reservation so that we can adhere to social distancing guidelines. You MUST call for a reservation. If you do show up without one, you will see a schedule posted on the door that shows any available openings. You can write your name in an open space and enter the church at that time, but again, please do not enter the church without having an assigned time.  
Pastoral Care
We will be doing pastoral care over the phone and via video chat for the foreseeable future. We will do our best to visit persons in crisis, however, please know that hospitals and retirement communities are not letting clergy make visits. We may not even be allowed to visit for end-of-life moments because of their policies, but we will do our best. Again, we will rely on technology. Please let us know if you or someone in your family is hospitalized or in need of pastoral care and how we can reach you/them. The reason for such strict policies is out of a fear that clergy might become vectors, spreading the virus to the most vulnerable population.  
We also need your help and your effort in the area of pastoral care. Please, please, please, reach out to your friends and acquaintances at Christ Church during this time. Call the folks you are used to seeing and share the love of Christ through fellowship. We must care for each other and our neighbors during this time.
Groups, Classes, and Guilds
All groups that can move their meetings to Zoom are encouraged to do so. We can help set up the meetings with the church's Zoom account, and we are preparing tutorials to help instruct parishioners how to use Zoom. We know that Zoom will not be accessible to everyone, but it is the best option we have at the moment. If you are part of a class, a guild, or another group at Christ Church, stay tuned for when those sessions might restart via Zoom. They will be announced as they are scheduled. Any group that cannot utilize Zoom is effectively cancelled until social distancing recommendations have been lifted.
Operations and Pledging
The Parish Office is effectively closed, although there will be staff coming and going and answering phones. Please don't visit the office at this time. Meetings with clergy or others can be scheduled, of course, but the staff has been encouraged to work from home as much as possible to further lower the risk of transmission.  
That said, the Church continues to have expenses and we hope that many of you will be able to continue to support the church financially by electronic pledge payment or by mailing pledge payments to the church at 6329 Frederica Rd. St. Simons Island, GA 31522. Instructions for electronic payment will be sent later this week. Despite much of our programming being halted, the staff is still working diligently to care for the parish and carry out many ministries in new ways. Together, the staff and Vestry have already agreed to cut expenses by 20% right away, in anticipation of a reduction in income. Many of these cuts are temporary and are only deferred to a later time, as we anticipate a rebound in the months to come. The Vestry also established an emergency line of credit last year to be used in such situations to ensure that we remain liquid and pay our staff.  
A separate letter will address our Rooted. Growing. Building. Campaign.
We invite all parishioners to support community relief efforts as they are able. We are doing the same from the church's perspective and will continue to do so. Two things we are actively addressing are Backpack Buddies and support for the St. Athanasius food pantry. Backpack Buddies will now utilize small group packing teams working in small shifts with disinfectant precautions for all involved. We will distribute bags at schools while they distribute meals to students. If you can help support St. Athanasius' food pantry, the needs are great and expected to grow. Donations may be left on the front porch of the Christ Church Parish House at any time, or the back porch at St. Ignatius on Saturdays, during Communion hours, and we will deliver the food to Brunswick.  
Two local non-profits (there are others) that will be doing good works to address this current crisis include: 
FaithWorks - many of you know FaithWorks and their many outreaches, from The Well, to Sparrows Nest and much more.
Firebox - a relief organization here in Glynn County, started by the folks as Southern Soul to support restaurant workers in need. Many restaurant works are or will soon be out of work.
Rector's Sabbatical
Things change quickly. A week ago, I was still sharing sabbatical plans with all of you. Today, those plans are up in the air. Currently, the eight-week recommendation about no group gatherings extends beyond the planned start of my sabbatical. I will not take sabbatical leave while the parish is facing the challenges of this time. It may be the case that I cannot take sabbatical at all, depending on how we are all directed to address this pandemic as it continues. I have already had a campground in California cancel our reservation for late June. I suspect there will be other cancellations. I am in conversation with the institution that has awarded a grant for my sabbatical and we will assess whether it's possible to reschedule part or the entirety of the plan. If things improve dramatically, it may be possible to start and end later than anticipated or spread the time out over two summers. Like many things, planning is fluid right now and I'm learning as I go. My first priority is to continue to provide pastoral leadership to Christ Church during a time of crisis. 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, 
    abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
He shall say to the LORD,
"You are my refuge and my stronghold, 
    my God in whom I put my trust."
He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter 
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He shall cover you with his pinions,
and you shall find refuge under his wings; 
    his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, 
    nor of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, 
    nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
               - Psalm 91:1-6
Christ Church, Frederica
6329 Frederica Road
St. Simons, GA 31522