I am feeling overwhelmed. Are you?
During a global pandemic, costing over 100,000 lives just in this country and the near shutdown of our economy, we have been confronted by a different horror, both new and centuries-old. The killing of George Floyd, an unresisting black man, by Minneapolis police in an eight-minute ordeal has now been witnessed by the world. Since then, our nation has been convulsed by shock, anger, and grief. There has seemed almost nowhere for it all to pour but into sacred conversations -- with God, with one another -- or into the public square.
There are no words to hold all this. Only God can. But with God, we then can and must do our part. Not only with words, but in action, we must be part of the God-centered response. There is more to say about this, and I continue further below.
At the same time, I need to let you know of important decisions for our Trinity community in relation to the pandemic. From significant consultation with the vestry and other ministry leaders, including in a Parish Council meeting two days ago, it is apparent that Trinity should go slowly toward any restart of in-person worship or other activities. Though as confirmed today, Delaware County goes "Yellow" on June 5, Trinity Church will continue for at least several weeks in worship and ministry as we have done since March 29.
This is for several reasons. For one, the diocese is requiring a significant process toward a plan for "re-opening" which must be approved by the Bishop. Even with that plan, diocesan guidance corresponding to the Governor's "Yellow" allows no more than 25 persons in the sanctuary, with masks and distancing, and children are not able to attend. This makes the move to in-person worship while in Yellow seem small comfort. But most importantly, I hear strong consensus among vestry and other ministry leaders, in concert with my own sensibilities, that we are not feeling ready to venture into on-site worship just yet. We are aware of the risks not just to ourselves, but to our loved ones and the vulnerable in our midst. We are still finding news ways to explore life and ministry within the current strictures. And when we recommence on-site worship and other activities, we want to be confident that it's the right timing for our community.
So, again, we are keeping with worship as is, for now. Vestry members and other leaders are organized into teams to work with me on the plan for on-site activities, to include worship. Depending on the timing of Delaware County, we may just skip Yellow and "Go for Green". Even then, there will be safety guidance for worship and other activities, but lessened. I will communicate more about this after meeting with vestry again on June 15, but you can expect through the last Sunday of July to continue worshipping as we have been doing, together online.
Back to the immediacy of the historical moment...we turn first to prayer. This coming Sunday, at the usual time, we will pray and listen for God's voice in the midst of all, trusting God to do more than we can ask or imagine while seeking the Way of the Lord. Then on Monday, June 8, between 10am and 1pm, our Bishop has asked the diocese to join in the Great Litany, the litany of confession and repentance that begins Lent. I will send you those details when I have them. With thanks to Natalee Hill, you will find several links and references on teaching about and responding to racism in the box below. I will write you again next week with further thoughts, and there will also be news of what we will be doing as a diocese.
For now, I urge you to be in prayer, seeking consolation and guidance, so that when we join as parish, as diocese, as community to consider next actions, we do so aflame with God's loving purpose.
Yours in Christ, with love,
The Rev. Dr. Edward E. Thompson, rector