Senior Warden Notes
People of St. Paul's, we are at a crossroads and your help is needed. For once, that is not a plea for financial support. (That is also always a worry in the summer, but your faithfulness is inspiring.) Rather, I need to communicate with you where we stand.
In an electronic meeting this week with clergy and senior wardens, our bishop reiterated that our churches will not be opening any time soon. This confronts us with a point of reckoning.
We are a liturgical and connected church. How and whether we should question authority is a serious matter for prayer and reflection. I don't know the way forward, but I trust that we can find it together.
I would, most heartily appreciate hearing from you, my brothers and sisters, on what you think of allowing access to our building (with rules and precautions). Should our gates remain locked - perhaps for months more? Are we called to withhold the one place on Duval Street that offers spiritual sustenance for ourselves, and our neighbors, from the community?
It breaks my heart to know that the Catholic Church is open for prayer (and services) and that the Methodists manage to have services. But the Episcopal Church, the first church organized on our island, is missing in action now. (Not only our church, but St. Peter's as well.) Our gates our closed.
I am NOT proposing that we gather in disobedience. Actual, in person services, may be far away. But I am suggesting that our building, which has always been open every day of the week, perhaps could again be a place of refuge, prayer and reflection - and a beacon in the wilderness. Weekly I hear from parishioners, and more breathtakingly, from non member islanders, wanting to merely visit the church they maintain and love. Some are nearly desperate with grief - and I don't know what to say.
What do you think? Is this something our vestry should take to our bishop (humbly, but with conviction), or should we wait silently? (Sometimes waiting and not acting on emotion is exactly the right call.)
God has not appointed me as the arbiter of anything. I do not have the wisdom to answer that question alone. St. Paul's is God's house, lovingly maintained by God's people. What do you want your vestry to do?
Personally, I do not see how we can remain withdrawn from the world, locked up and absent, and fulfill our calling to Key West. I wish we had more ongoing programs and outreach efforts. That is something toward which we must work diligently going forward. But, perhaps, for the moment, we can again provide the one thing we have always provided - a holy space on Duval Street.
But again, I am just one person. I could be wrong. I, and your vestry, truly need to hear from all perspectives.
My contact information is listed below. I need your counsel, advice and prayers. As does your vestry. Please pray. And then let us know your thoughts, hopes, fears and views.
Anything you want passed to the entire vestry will be forwarded. If you want to communicate with me alone, that is fine too. No opinion is wrong. We are in uncharted waters and the way forward must, by necessity, be together - in one boat. But if I am to continue to look at those locked gates, at least I need to know that is what you feel we need to do. Please help us decide.
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The buzz about the lay leadership training program known as EFM (Education for Ministry) to be offered this fall is growing. If you are interested, Please email or call Susanne Woods at Susanne.email@example.com, 305-407-7003.
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I have no news to report on our parish profile. Hopefully we will hear from Miami soon. Our thanks go out again to the Search Committee for their work and their continued patience.
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Church office phone: 305-296-5142
Church mailing address: 401 Duval Street, Key West FL 33040