December 10, 2020
St. Paul's Episcopal Church

This Week's News Highlights

Important Covid-19 Announcement

On Tuesday, December 8, a parishioner who had attended the Sunday, December 6 service of Holy Eucharist tested positive for the coronavirus. (The test results were received on Wednesday and conveyed to the church on Wednesday evening.) A notice is going out to each person who was at that service and to each who has signed up for upcoming services to specifically advise them of this situation.

The person who tested positive is asymptomatic and not showing any symptoms. (The test was part of a routine series of tests for unrelated medical reasons.) The person had NOT attended services the previous Sunday (November 29). Prior to December 6 the person had last attended services on November 22nd.

After consultation with medical professionals and other parish leaders, the wardens have chosen not to cancel services this week or going forward. This decision was made for the following reasons:

  • Unlike the early months of the pandemic, it is not now feasible to isolate the virus. It is now dispersed in the community and each of us likely encounter asymptomatic potential carriers in our daily activities. Therefore, public health measures are largely built on risk reduction.

  • St. Paul's practices strong safety protocols. Those attending services remain six or more feet apart (except for members of the same household), masks are required, no singing is allowed and attendees disperse quickly without gathering after services.

  • The timing of the test result (only two days after the most recent attendance at church and 16 days after the prior attendance), along with our safety protocols, makes it highly unlikely that the person contracted the virus at church. Based on feedback from medical professionals, it is also unlikely that the person was in sufficient contact to have transmitted the virus during the service.

St. Paul's will always be transparent about information and each individual must decide how to react as events unfold. If you were at church on Sunday, December 6, you may choose to be tested for the coronavirus. You may choose to revert to participating in services via Facebook only for the time being. These are important individual decisions. We do urge each person to take actions which are right and proper for him or her.

Should a more widespread outbreak be observed, St. Paul's could very well suspend live services again. But, for the moment, we will focus on rigorous observance of harm reduction and mitigation strategies (masks, distancing, etc.) and will inform all involved whenever any information for making personal decisions about attending services is available.

Our Service This Week

Holy Eucharist on Facebook and for those in person will be at 8:30 AM on Sunday. See below for how to attend by either mode of participation. Please consider the above information in making your decision about attending this service or any other in person. Facebook Live continues to be a safe and meaningful way to join in worship each Sunday.
St. Paul’s Remembers Victims of Covid-19 from Monroe County

On Friday, December 4, Wendy Niven, Dean Warden and Tim Peterson led a moving short remembrance programs on Facebook Live to honor the 28 people who (at that point) had passed away due to Covid-19 from Monroe County. Shown above, Wendy and Dean light 28 votive candles while Tim played Mozart’s Ave Verum on the church organ.

If you have not already seen the video you can view it here.

Afterwards, Tim tolled the church's working tower bell 28 times. You can view the video of the tolling here. It was a solemn and meaningful moment for our community.

Please Buy A Brick and Build a Legacy

Please consider buying a personalized brick for the brick paver portion of the Memorial Garden.
This campaign will support maintenance of the memorial garden and needed repair and restoration projects involving the Historic Rectory, main Church and other buildings on our campus.

The cost of a 4 x 8 brick is $100. Each brick will accommodate up to 3 lines and up to 18 characters per line, including spaces. You may order a Donor Brick with an additional donation of $35; this is a duplicate of the brick being placed in the garden.

You can order your brick(s) here. (

Christmas at St. Paul's

This year we will have three live services and two opportunities to participate via Facebook.

Because attendance will be strictly limited at the live services, please carefully consider the information below in making your plans. (Also please consider the Covid-19 announcement above.)

Live services will be at 5:30 and 8:00 on Christmas Eve. Sign up in advance will be necessary to assure a seat and only 46 people (plus ushers) can be admitted. There will also be a service of Morning Prayer (no Eucharist) on Christmas Day at 10:00 a.m. Again, advance sign up is necessary to assure admittance.

Please avoid bringing visitors not usually part of your household to the service. It is not forbidden, but it both strains capacity and increases risk to others.

There will be two opportunities to view services via Facebook in real time with other parishioners. The 8:00 p.m. service will be broadcast on Facebook Live. The 5:30 service will be “rebroadcast” as a Facebook Premier at 10:00 p.m. (it will not be broadcast live at 5:30.) The Facebook Premier format allows those watching to comment and share thoughts in real time just like a live service. One of the two Facebook opportunities is the preferred way for parishioners to worship (and greet one another) this year.

Procedures to reserve your space at services

This information is important

Currently, a limited number of people are allowed to attend services in accordance with diocesan protocols. If you would like to attend, you will be asked to sign up in advance. Contact information will be required.

To attend a Sunday please send an email to indicating the following information:

  • Your name and the names of any family or household members who will attend with you.
  • Your email address
  • Your cell phone number

Email is greatly preferred, but reservations can also be made by calling the church office at 305-296-5142. If nobody answers please leave a message with the information.

(The procedure outlined above will also be used to reserve space at in person Christmas services.)

To allow for a proper count, and to allow volunteers to prepare for your attendance, please complete your reservation by 2 PM on the Thursday before the Sunday you wish to attend. Please remember that you must wear a mask for the entire service and please arrive 10 minutes before the service begins.

The check in form now allows for attendees to indicate on the Sunday they attend if they will attend the next Sunday. Unless there is a change in circumstances, you do NOT have to notify the office if this option is utilized.

Please remember if you are at risk or have been exposed to the virus to NOT attend right now. We are all together, whether via Facebook or in person, and we worship together both ways.
Sunday's Service

Join us Sunday for Holy Eucharist at 8:30 AM. Sign up in advance to attend in person (see above) or join us 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. (You may need to refresh the page a few times if the "live" window does not appear promptly at 8:30AM.)

Did you know you DO NOT need to have a Facebook account to view the service or visit our Facebook page? Simply use the Facebook page link to go directly to our Facebook page (even if you don't have your own Facebook account). Follow the directions above.

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

Junior Warden's Report
By Greta Philips-Ford
The volunteer group will reconvene after the first of the year. I would like to take this time to thank everyone for their support for the many projects that we did manage to accomplish this year during these unusual times. I feel blessed for being a part of this community. 
On example of such a project is the fountain under the outdoor altar in the Memorial Garden. To see a short video of the fountain in operation, click here. At the moment we have it running but it will require more work to be truly restored. (It still will spring leaks without replacement parts. Your generous help and the labor of volunteers will make this happen in the new year.)

I hope all of you share the warmth and love of your families; and share that love with others around you as you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

"Peace on earth, good will toward men"
Senior Warden's Report
By Ray Warren

Kudos and Thank you to:

  • Tim Peterson, for being the backbone of our daily operations these days. I had to call on him after hours (again) to upload a video to Youtube tonight. That happens more than I wish were true. Tim gets pulled into his job at odd hours, but he never complains. And, in the absence of singing, his organ renditions during Sunday services are true tonic for the soul.

  • Bruce Hagemann, who selflessly receives pleas for help from the TRUE Fund and carefully works with each applicant to determine we if can help and if there are other community resources to which he can direct the applicant. It is hard work that requires tact, empathy and judgment. We are very lucky to have him not only as our verger (when full services resume), but as co-chair of the Search Committee, a member of the Vestry and crucially, as the administrator for the True Fund.
  • David Eyer and Greta Philips-Ford, who purchased amazing poinsettias for the church nave and chancel and arranged them. Dave even fashioned structures to create poinsettia “trees” - and I am told more is to come each week. A very good reason to tune into the Facebook Live services. Both of these leaders are an inspiration.

  • Our hard working Office Administrator, Lisa McCarthy, who is laboring under quite a burden scheduling services, answering questions about memorial garden niches, weddings (which we can’t have now, but about which there are still inquiries) memorial bricks, and dozens of other issues each day in addition to a full load of “regular” duties involving bills, vendors, the diocese and parishioner needs. We only pay her for 16 hours a week and we get far more than we can rightfully expect. She is a blessing.

  • Dr. Brian Wagstaff, Lilla Whiteside, and Junior Warden Greta-Philips Ford, for being ready and willing to take phone calls during the dinner hour while we considered how to handle news on the Covid-19 front. We are evolving from a very top down driven parish to a very team oriented one.
- - -

A few words about the news (above) regarding a parishioner who attended services testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

First, the “person” is described above in very generic terms to protect his or her privacy. But there is a real person beyond the word “person” and I know this individual well.

She or he took every precaution. The “person” is not a science denier or reckless (by an any measure). All the things we do to mitigate risk (masks, hand washing, distancing, refraining from unnecessary travel, etc.) greatly help. But none are a perfect shield. At some point some of us will become infected. Our job is to keep the number as low as possible, but even the diligent among us are vulnerable.

Right now “the person” is asymptomatic and feeling well. Let us hope and pray that that continues. Indeed, a second test has been taken which, hopefully, may yield a verdict that the first was a “false positive.”

Just remember that there is a real person involved. A beloved person. And while you may not know exactly who that person is, God does. And we must all pray for continued health and healing.

- - -
In light of a positive test, should we have closed the church, at least for one week? That was seriously considered. But the consensus of several knowledgeable people with whom we spoke was that such an action was neither necessary nor even helpful. Our safety protocols were designed with the specific idea that it is entirely possible that somebody on any given Sunday is a silent carrier of the virus. If that were not the assumption, the distancing, the limitation on numbers, the mask requirement, the prohibition of singing, etc. would make no sense.

Of course, we need to look for patterns and to make sure that we are not contributing to spread. But the fact that, in one case, we have confirmation that what we always assume to be true was, in fact, true does not change things. It merely confirms the working hypothesis on which we have operated since we re-opened.

What is vital is that the church leadership communicate with those who must make their own decisions in light of every known fact. Tomorrow (Friday) an email will go out to each person who attended last week and who is signed up to attend this week. The facts are outlined in this newsletter above as well. Please use the knowledge we share to be prudent and safe. (If you are signed up for Sunday and wish to change your plans please notify the church office.)

I will return to church on Sunday because I am scheduled to usher and I trust our protocols (and my own adherence to them) to minimize the risk as much as possible. But I URGE anybody with concerns to consider taking some time off from live participation. Earnest participation by Facebook is real participation. God knows your heart and God does not want any human sacrifices. When you worship with the community at home God is there just as God is at the church.

Sr. Warden Ray

Jr. Warden Greta


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.

A Message from Tim Peterson

Our local community chorus, The Keys Choral Arts, will be presenting a virtual Christmas Concert this year. “Premiering” on Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 4 pm online at

Christmas Carols and Cocktails will be available for online viewing for 2 weeks, beginning with this ‘premiere’. Information is available on their website, They hope to see you all online.

Remember, you can find prior recordings of past concerts and musical offerings on St Paul’s Facebook page, or on YouTube.

We Pray Each Day

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

Thanks to Bruce Hagemann, Lisa Laskow, Mary Simmons, Samantha Hall, Sarah Hall and Tim Peterson 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.

Please pray this week for healing for

Brittany (Sherri Hodies’ daughter), Beth and Jon Peterson (sister-in-law and brother of Tim), Mickey Malgrat, Peter Nanos, Zane Wruble (daughter of Kathleen Bratton), Irene Eyer, Mark Sandground (husband of Judy), Craig Cates, Crystal Cates and Kathryn Heldt (mother of Lisa McCarthy).

We pray for the departed and their loved ones:

Cheryl Cates and Kevin Scott (friend of Ray Warren).

"Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servants"

(Send your prayer requests to for future publication and to be included in the Sunday service. By default requests will be listed for four (4) weeks. But if the need continues, please let us know.)

We celebrate these November birthdays

Victoria Albury 12/02
Linda Sparks 12/03
Chase Langdale 12/04
Brooke Myers 12/05
Philip Schneider 12/08
Jackie Gahan 12/10
Sarah Kindinger 12/12
Keith Hernandez 12/14
James ("Kip") Colligan 12/15
John Payne 12/15
Byron Colley 12/18
David McLaughlin 2/18
Zoe Pischke 12/19
Samantha Hall 12/20
Greta Schneider 12/22
Edward Toppino 12/23
Caimyn Eage 12/25
William Porter 12/25
Harvey Lynch 12/27
Laurence Marius, Sr. 12/29

(If your name is missing from this month's birthday list please send a note to so we can add it.)

We Celebrate November Anniversaries

Kevin & Barbara Mitchell 12/06
Nancy & Barry Hitch Campbell 12/17
David & Karen Horan 12/20
Nat & Lyle Harris 12/23
Robert & Jane Burchett 12/26
Roger & Shirley Sweeting 12/27
Janette & Warren Chalmers 12/28
Kim Grizzle-Malgrat & Mickey Malgrat 12/28
About the TRUE Fund

By Bruce Hagemann

Recently, on one of the news programs, the reporter was interviewing a restaurant owner in California about the impact of the recent government shutdown on restaurants due to Covid 19. She gave a history of her restaurant and talked about the good and bad times that her restaurant has gone through. 

When she was describing the frustrations and the challenges she has gone through during this time, she became very silent, tears were beginning to swell in her eyes and suddenly her experience became very personal. Once she regained her composure she said, “I am hanging on by a fingernail.”

Even though this story came from California, Key West has the same stories. 

Recently, I had a phone call from a gentleman that is employed in the service industry. His story was the same as this restaurant owner. During the conversation, he said he never had needed to ask for assistance, and he felt awkward asking for assistance. I assured him that we could help him and thanked him for calling for assistance.

For many individuals and families in our community, this time of the year is an exceedingly difficult one financially. I thank each one of you that has given to the TRUE Fund this year. If you can donate during this time it will be greatly appreciated. It will help tremendously those in need in our community.


[To earmark a contribution for the TRUE Fund, be sure to note "True Fund" on the check or in the notes on your electronic donation through the church giving page.]
Sunday school is canceled during the virus emergency.
Back issues of The Epistle are available here.

These communications are currently edited by Senior Warden Ray Warren. Send questions and comments to the editor here.