March 13, 2020

Dear Friends,

St. Stephen’s has been faithfully serving the Santa Clarita Valley for almost 60 years. As we move through this time of uncertainty, we are committed to providing a space for all to worship and ways to remain connected as a community of faith.  

Our baptismal covenant calls us to seek and serve Christ in all people. Part of that means doing what is best for the most vulnerable among us. After consulting with parish leadership, parish & preschool staff, and diocesan leadership, we have decided to take some decisive steps to help ensure the health and well-being of all the members of our congregation.

Effective immediately we are suspending all extra-curricular gatherings, outside of worship, for the next three weeks. Specifically, the following activities are temporarily suspended or postponed:

  • Sunday School
  • Coffee Hour/Survey Sundays
  • Youth Group
  • The Lenten Study
  • Stations of the Cross
  • EfM
  • Thursday Book Group
  • Choir rehearsals (Parish, Youth, Bells)
  • The DOK Lenten Retreat on 3/21
  • Immigrant Support Circle on 3/22

We are exploring tools for virtual gatherings to engage upcoming committee meetings such as Finance, Vestry, etc.  

Please note that in this time of heightened anxiety, we believe it is critical to continue to make our spaces available for those attending 12 step meetings so as not to risk interrupting any individual’s journey with sobriety.

Our preschool remains open while we follow the guidance of LA County health officials and our local SCV school districts.

While we are committed to providing a space to gather for worship, especially in a time of crisis, we will be making some temporary amendments to our worship experience as well.

  • For the next three weeks, we will not celebrate Holy Eucharist and will offer only Morning Prayer on Sundays and Wednesdays.
  • Music during the 10AM service will involve only congregational singing.
  • We will not pass collection plates and instead will have a central location to place your offerings.
  • The conclusion of services will see us depart from the campus back into the quiet, contemplative mode of the Lenten season rather than into coffee hour.
  • We will not have acolytes at any of our services until Palm Sunday.
  • There will be no Sunday childcare provided until Palm Sunday.
  • We will be streaming the 10AM service via facebook live find us here (facebook.com/StStephensSCV) and providing electronic worship programs over these next weeks via email and our website for those who choose not to come to church and still wish to share common worship.   

As a reminder, here are some things you can do to help care for yourself and others:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, supplement with hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face.
  • Stay hydrated. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects, especially cell phones and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes. 
  • Any who are not feeling well should stay home. Any who are in one of the "high risk" categories as defined by county health officials should stay home. 
  • In order to help keep yourself and others safe from infection, practice “social distancing” maintaining a 6-foot distance in public gatherings whenever possible and avoid casual physical contact.
  • Reach out to those you know are isolated. Pray for those who are ill and anxious, their caregivers, healthcare professionals and community leaders.
  • The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has created these Home Cleaning instructions and Home Isolation and Care instructions.

The fact that we are experiencing this complex time in the wilderness season of Lent reminds us that we are on a journey that will culminate in resurrection. When feeling fearful, remember that God is with you. You are not alone.

If you have questions, or need to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out. My firm commitment to providing pastoral care to the members of our community remains unchanged. I, along with the vestry and staff, are committed to doing all that we can to monitor the situation, coordinate with diocesan leadership, and county/city officials and to offer clear and regular communication as things evolve.  

In the meantime, I offer this prayer shared by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and ask you to join me in holding it closely in our hearts as we move through the thick of this wilderness time.

God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to all who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness; you are God, and we need you.
This we pray in Christ our Lord. Amen .

Faithfully,
Christopher+