From the Rector

To the faithful of St. Andrew's,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation. 2 Cor. 1:3
We are all keenly aware of the ongoing concern regarding the coronavirus. As we consider what this situation means for us and our common life together, I commend to you the pastoral letter below from Bishop Martins.
In it, the Bishop encourages continued participation in corporate worship while addressing some practices which might help limit the spread of communicable illnesses. It is timely to the current circumstances but also offers counsel during any widespread illness including the annual cold and flu season. Please take the time to read his letter, and if you have any questions or concerns, I will be glad to address them.
Most importantly, I echo the bishop's call to pray and invite us to intercede for:
  • All those who are affected;
  • Their family and friends;
  • Those who minister to them; and
  • An end to this illness.

God bless,
Fr. Ben

Savior of the world, by your cross and precious blood you have redeemed us;
Save us and help us, we humbly beseech you, O Lord.
The Almighty Lord, who is a strong tower to all who put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth bow and obey: Be now and evermore our defense, and make us know and feel that the only Name under heaven given for health and salvation is the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Responding to a Public Health Crisis
by Bishop Daniel on March 4, 2020

Beloved in Christ,

As you are aware, the COVID-19 virus (“coronavirus”) has emerged only in the last couple of weeks as a serious threat to public health. It is a situation that cannot help but affect church communities, as evidenced by the cancellation of next week’s planned meeting of the House of Bishops as an in-person event.

I am not a public health expert, so I hold any  technical  opinions quite tentatively. But it does fall to me to exercise leadership as concerns the principal thing we come together to do–that is, celebrate the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day. I here offer counsel on three specific aspects of our worship life on Sundays.

First, come to church!  Unless you are ill to a degree that you would stay home anyway, the current status of the outbreak does not merit measures so extreme as to disrupt this central element in our common life. If anything, it is even more important than ever for us to let our communities function in a way as close to normal as possible.

Second, avoid shaking hands at the Peace . From all I can tell, hands and fingers are the primary culprits in the spread of any communicable disease. Some have suggested avoiding  any  physical contact at the Peace, but I believe this is not necessary. The classic historic gesture for this liturgical act is actually neither a handshake nor a hug, but the mutual placing of hands on one another’s shoulders or arms. The photo above illustrates what I’m talking about. Of course, we should all heed the advice about frequent and thorough hand-washing. I would urge anyone who handles communion bread, either before or after consecration, to conspicuously wash his or her hands just prior to doing so. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, while a popular symbol of conscientiousness in this regard, offer no protection against viruses.

Third, suspend the practice of communicants intincting the host in the chalice . While this may seem counterintuitive, the risk of contracting a viral infection from fingertips accidentally having been in contact with the consecrated wine is many times higher than simply drinking from the chalice in the traditional manner. We might also all bear in mind the long-established teaching known as the “doctrine of concomitance,” which holds that  both  the Body and Blood of Christ are fully present in  either  the bread or the wine. If you choose to receive the consecrated bread only, you are receiving both the Body and Blood of our Lord. You are not short-changing yourself, or getting only a “half portion.” The important thing is to avoid dipping your own host into the chalice.

With these modest changes to our habits, I believe we can weather the storm of the epidemic and maintain the safety of our assembling for worship. Do hold in your daily prayers all who are affected by this distressing turn of events.

+Daniel Springfield