August 27, 2020
St. Paul's Episcopal Church

More Progress Toward Our Return

At this point it is unclear when we'll be able to resume services at church, but the beginning may be near. The diocese released a report today showing that new Covid-19 cases have indeed declined for two weeks in Monroe County. It appears that the rate of positive tests may also have fallen to less than 5% (another required metric.)
While it is unknown whether parishioners will be allowed back into the church this Sunday or the next, it is possible.

Keep in mind, however, that for the first two Sundays that "we are back" only 10 people (including the priest, cantor and organist) can be present. So only about five parishioners will be asked to attend, along with two trained ushers. This step is required by the diocese and will serve as a test run to make sure we are actually prepared for any unforeseen issues.

If those two weeks go well, we expect that we'll have enough room, even with reduced capacity, to accommodate members of the summer congregation who choose to attend.

Keep in mind that anyone with health concerns, or who feels that she or he is in a high risk group, is encouraged to consider not attending until treatments and a vaccine advance. Facebook live services will continue.

Precautions and special procedures will be in place, but while we live with the virus there are no guarantees.

To download the chart pictured above click here.
Sunday's Service

Join us Sunday for Holy Eucharist at 9:30 AM on Facebook.

To join via Facebook, go to the church Facebook page at the appropriate time and look for the window showing that "St. Paul's Key West is now live." Click on the window.

We will host a Zoom "coffee hour" so members can say "hi" and chat. Please join your fellow parishioners on Zoom at the completion of the service (approximately 10:15 AM) using this link. (Go to to sign up for a free account)

You can open or download the bulletin for the Sunday service here.

This and That
  • The church came through the tropical storm unscathed. There was about two hours of true tropical storm force winds but no property damage. The shutters remain up for the rest of the season.

  • We are getting to the point where we must make a decision about going forward with the Education for Ministry (EfM) program that will start this fall. If you have been on the fence but are ready to commit or have questions, please email or call Susanne Woods at, 305-407-7003.
Senior Warden Notes
Ray Warren
Normal won't be normal

Whether we open for a few congregants this week or in a few weeks, it seems likely that it might happen soon. Please keep in mind, however, that neither the first two weeks (limited to about five parishioners) or subsequent weeks (when more can attend) will be "normal." We'll be asking members to reserve a spot in advance. Temperature will be taken. The hymnals and prayer books have been temporarily removed. (Paper orders of service will be provided.) Masks will absolutely be required (no exceptions) and there will be no congregational singing.

While the changes will probably seem disconcerting, there is something very holy and special about the physical space that is St. Paul's. In keeping with the bishop's directive, I don't enter myself except on rare occasions when I need to check on something. But our building is special and I think you all know what I mean when I say "just being there" is a special form of prayer.


On a related note, we all have to recognize that "re-opening" will actually create additional issues for us because of the place in which we find ourselves regarding a rector.

Fr. Haughton, who has served us wonderfully, is actually St. Peter's priest. If they too choose to resume services then we may need to temporarily alter our own service times so he can serve both churches.

Of course we'd love for the folks at St. Peter's to visit with us to worship with us. But they are also entitled to worship in their own church with their own priest if they so choose.

We don't have the option of moving there because our Facebook broadcasts will continue and they do not have the Internet infrastructure at this point to support it. So, as long as we are sharing their priest, we will need to be flexible.

Down the road capacity, and the need for multiple services, will also become an issue. Right now our large nave can probably handle those who choose to worship in person in the summer and early fall - even including St. Peter's visitors.

But when our seasonal members return, and especially during the holiday season, multiple services will almost surely become necessary. Whether Fr. Haugton can do that has not been discussed.

I know from experience that, despite what those of us who love Key West might think, it is not easy to get the usual "supply" clergy to come to an island 100+ miles from the mainland during a pandemic.

We'll work it out. We've managed thus far and we trust God. I'm just asking that you pray for your vestry, search committee and volunteers because the waters ahead will still be as treacherous as the reef once was to shipping. And recognize that, as Key Westers have always done, we may, at times have to make the best of less than ideal conditions.


Thank you again for your checks and electronic tithes and offerings. This is the time of year when we often put out a special summer appeal. I'm not doing that (exactly) but I trust that, even those who are away, will remember that September is a very lean month here.


I'm still looking for social media ideas (and inspiration), as that is bound to be part of our common life going forward.

This was demonstrated to me in an unexpected fashion on Monday when a short video I posted on twitter showing the waves during the tropical storm at the foot of Simonton Street went (as they say) "viral." It was picked up by the Weather Channel, the Washington Post and a number of other media outlets.

That was a pretty heady few hours of fame for somebody who doesn't know much about Twitter, was using an everyday cell phone camera and has all of 39 followers. If anyone has tips on how we can use Twitter, or Instagram or any other platform better, I'm all ears.

Meanwhile, if you want to see the south beach waterfront during tropical storm Laura you can see the video here.


Sr. Warden Ray Warren:

Jr. Warden Greta Philips-Ford:

Epistle Editor:

Church office (and administrator Lisa McCarthy):

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.

Tim Peterson "From the Organ"

Tim continues! Noon on Thursdays (or afterwards on either Facebook or YouTube - see below.)

This has become one of St. Paul's most popular offerings. Check it out this coming Thursday by checking the church Facebook page at noon and clicking on the live icon when the stream appears.

You can find prior weeks recordings of Tim’s concerts on St Paul’s Facebook page, or on YouTube.

Please Join in Morning and Evening Prayer

Daily Morning and Evening Prayer is being offered on Facebook Live at 730 AM and 5 PM on weekdays.

Thanks to Lisa Laskow, Mary Simmons, Samantha Hall, Sarah Hall and Bruce Hagemann for volunteering to officiate at these sacred moments.

To join in the prayers via Facebook, go to the church Facebook page at the appropriate time and look for the window showing that "St. Paul's Key West is now live." Then click on the window.

"Like" us and turn on live notifications to get a reminder whenever we are offering prayers.

Windows and History

(Resident parish historian Dave Eyer continues his exploration of the history of St. Paul's church windows.)

Window 109- Wedding at Cana

About 1939 or 1940 - Payne- Spiers studio, Paterson, NJ

This window is a favorite of many. Being placed in a south facing window it is brilliantly illuminated most of the day. When Peter Rohlff walked down our center aisle toward the sanctuary area he looked up at this window and said “Ah- George Payne” in admiration.

The Rohlff studio bought the assets of the Payne-Spiers studio in 1981. The history of this firm is complicated by ownership issues and father-son artists both named George Payne. The work is outstanding, however. Note the depiction of the servants. Their faces seem female but their bodies seem male. Few people notice this. Everyone notices the water being poured by the standing servant changing to wine as it enters the jar of the kneeling servant.

In the right panel, the steward of the feast is sampling the new wine and, not knowing its source, wonders why the host will serve the best wine last after many guests already had too much to drink and will not notice. The wedding couple is seated toward the back of the depiction. The groom looks at his beautiful, modest bride. 
In this window, Jesus and his mother attend a family wedding. When the wedding party runs out of wine, Jesus is exhorted to do something. This is frequently interpreted as He or someone going out and buying more wine. It need not be the first quality since the crowd has already imbibed freely. But Mary said to the servants of the wedding feast “Do whatever he tells you”. I think that is the real lesson of this window.

That thought was advanced by our late parishioner Seabrook Wilkinson during Morning Prayer some years ago. Yes- converting water to wine was His first miracle. But reading in the Book of Exodus 7: 14-24, we see that Pharaoh’s court magician changed the water of the Nile to blood after Moses had done it. The real lesson of this window is indeed “Do whatever He tells you”.
Sunday school is canceled during the virus emergency.
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These communications are currently edited by Senior Warden Ray Warren. Send questions and comments to the editor here.