March 14, 2020
To Our Parish Community:
We wanted to let you know our plans for the Coronavirus outbreak. 

We’re going to keep our congregation and staff safe, continue to adjust our practices to maintain safety, and be more present in the lives of our people and our neighbors at a scary time.

We want to be with you in any way that we can.

We don’t know what will happen with the virus, but we know who we are. We are created in the image of a loving God. We are a Christian community committed to belonging, searching, and connecting.

Now is the time to live that mission- but we’re going to live it in a new way, at least for now.

Here’s what we’ll do. 

We won’t hold regular, in-person Sunday services tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. 

For a time we’re shifting to a new way of life that we’ll continue until the COVID-19 outbreak abates. 

We want to keep our community safe & connected. Right now, this means moving away from large gatherings and moving towards a focus on pastoral care, resources for regular spiritual practice, opportunities for service, and invitations to our neighbors.

This shift will mean that we won’t hold our regular four/ five Sunday services or two Wednesday services. 

We’re not setting an end time right now for this shift. We’re preparing to be affected by the virus at least through June; we might be able to shift back to our “regular” schedule before then.

This Sunday. 

We’ll hold an online forum tomorrow at 9:30 am and online Morning Prayer at 10:30 am. It will be very simple and via Zoom.

We’ll send the information again via email tomorrow. It will be easier to access if you download the Zoom app . You can also call in on your phone.

There will be no in-person worship tomorrow.

A way to live our faith in these times.

We’re shifting to a new “way of life” that offers care, connection, grounding practice, and a sense that we can help our City, all without having us gather in the ways that we usually do.

Christians have always adjusted how we gather to respond to the needs of the world. In the sixth century the Benedictine spirituality began in response to the craziness of their time.

We believe this shift responds to what our Parish and our neighbors need right now. We’re turning towards a long tradition to experience God’s love through a regular way of life. Work, school— and almost every routine that helps us to function— has shifted suddenly.  Our faith provides us a way for comfort and resilience. 

Here’s how it will look.

> We’re going to find new ways to care and connect with our Parish, wherever you are . We are mapping the congregation, reaching out individually, and looking for ways of local connection.

> We’ll offer spiritual practices that offer solid ground through resources online, through email, and potentially through small groups . One of these practices will be an online opportunity for prayer & worship on Sunday morning. We’ll have some way to support daily prayer and to offer music meditations.

> Invite our wider neighborhoods to share in these practices/ online resources . We have already begun a social media campaign to increase our neighborhood visibility. 

> Convene faith communities and social service agencies to help provide safe, non-medical support to New York’s most vulnerable people As Heavenly Rest did after 9/11, we will find ways to serve with each other.

We realize these changes move us from a place that’s comfortable but feels unsafe right now to a place that is safer but feels uncomfortable— because it’s new.

We will take all these activities at a pace that we can sustain. We’ll start slowly. We can build, experiment, try new things, and try familiar things in new ways.

How long with this shift last?

We don’t know. We don’t know what will happen with the virus or on what timetable.

We’ll continue this way of life together until the virus abates. We want to be able to come back together as soon as possible.

If we’re not able to gather as we always do during Holy Week and Easter, then we’ll have those services in the way that we can that week— and we’re also going to hold a full, big, joyful Easter service when we can be altogether again. 

We are Easter people and we live in hope. Our faith tells us: our most difficult days aren’t ever the last days.

And, we’ll stay together and be true to God’s call in the difficult days ahead.
Faithfully yours,
The Rev. Matthew Heyd,

Caroline Williamson,
Senior Warden
Evan A. Davis,
Junior Warden