Senior Warden Notes
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.
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.