Senior Warden Notes
More change and adaptation.
It appears clear that it may be some time before we can gather again for in person worship. The Covid-19 numbers in Monroe County have finally begun to stabilize and even decline (though not consistently). This is a vast improvement over July. But the diocese wants to see a sustained decline in both new cases and the positive testing rate before services resume.
I was fortunate last week to attend a meetings that offered more clarification. In a regular gathering of clergy, the Bishop and Canon Tidy allowed senior wardens to also attend. We learned that each county can now move forward when local conditions are met, even if the diocese as a whole does not meet the criteria.
At the moment, Monroe County is, proportionately speaking, not much better than Miami-Dade. But given our smaller size, there is hope that we might meet the goal before the mainland counties. If so, we may no longer be constrained by conditions in Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach. That is certainly great incentive to encourage our friends and neighbors to help us slow the spread.
Having said that, I want to issue a strong call to all of you -- both summer locals and those who will be returning for the season soon -- to help envision better ways to communicate and build community with the tools we already have.
I think we've all thought of the current situation as a "holding pattern". We're streaming services mainly as a way to stay connected until things "get back to normal." Now we may need to think about building community with the tools we have in the current situation for some time. In other words, the work of the church can't be on hold until we can gather, touch and hug again. We need to not only maintain, but strengthen, our bonds to one another.
The choir, under the leadership of music director Tim Peterson, has formed a Facebook group. I strongly applaud this move and commend the idea of unofficial "gathering spots" on the Internet to each of you. You don't need official sanction from me (or anyone) to get together on the web.
If people who summer in the Chesapeake area want to chat, then please find a forum and do so. If you have an interest in church history or travel, then by all means, start a group and start sharing and discussing.
Next week, at the vestry meeting, I will be urging my fellow vestry members to brainstorm about how to open additional channels of communication. Like most older folks (I'll let you decide whether to include yourself in that grouping) I know little beyond Facebook, and now, Zoom. I'm not even sure if Twitter or Instagram can be useful for community sharing. But I bet some of you do.
One thing I do intend to initiate is an official St. Paul's Facebook group. Unlike our "page", the "group" will be for open sharing and discussion. But, in these stressful times, such groups must also be moderated to ensure that inappropriate or hurtful content is not posted or retained. As soon as we are ready, with proper protocols in place, we'll launch that.
Meantime, I, and other lay leaders, will be looking to those of you with social media or editing skills to offer advice, and perhaps some volunteer time, as we move forward. For example, unlike the Sunday service, other things we post to YouTube or Facebook need not always be "live." We may be able to put together a music or educational program without violating diocesan rules by melding together content from different times.
Who wants to lead a coffee house meeting? Who wants to organize a discussion panel? Who has video and audio editing skills you might be willing to donate? Should we have rotating groups like dinner groups, so ten or twelve random people can "Zoom" and check in with one another (without dinner)?
What emerging social media platforms do you know about that we should also know about? Is Webex better than Zoom?
We will gather again. It will happen. But let's not be "on hold" any longer. If you know of social media opportunities and platforms that work, please let me know. If you have skills in putting together video clips into a program and can offer some time at little or no cost, please let us know. If you have ideas for educational or social program formats, let's explore them.
It is a new world, and, until we can return to what is familiar, we might as well set out to conquer the space we now inhabit. Please email me at email@example.com with your thoughts and ideas.
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Thanks to all who wrote me last week about re-opening the church for visitors and private (non organized) prayer. We will work with the diocese in the proper Episcopal way to move forward - hopefully, separating the matter of our iconic building as a holy space (and sacred community shrine) from the issue of resuming services (which will undoubtedly take longer).
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We remain very excited about the lay leadership training program known as EFM (Education for Ministry) to be offered this fall. If you are interested, Please email or call Susanne Woods at Susanne.firstname.lastname@example.org, 305-407-7003.
Church office phone: 305-296-5142
Church mailing address: 401 Duval Street, Key West FL 33040. Pledges and offerings can be mailed here or made electronically at the church giving page.