December 3, 2020
St. Paul's Episcopal Church

This Week's News Highlights

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.
St. Paul’s to Honor Victims of Covid-19 - Bell to Be Tolled for Each Victim At Midday on Friday

[If you are reading this before mid-day Friday, please tune into our Facebook Page at noon. If you read this after Friday (December 3), check the Facebook Page for a recording of the event.]

To facilitate public reflection, and to express our community’s sense of loss, St. Paul’s Church will have a short Facebook live program at noon on Friday and will ring the church’s bell one time for each Monroe County resident who has died of Covid-19.

At noon St. Paul’s Music Director Tim Peterson will play Mozart’s Ave Verum on the church organ. A votive candle will be lit for each victim. The short ceremony will be broadcast live on the Church Facebook Page ( ).

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. 

At the conclusion of the musical piece, the church will ring its tower bell once for each Monroe County victim (28 as of Thursday, but subject to change if state reports indicated a higher number.)

Residents and visitors in Old Town are asked to stop, wherever they are, during the tolling of the bell to reflect and pray for all the victims of Covid-19. The church will not be open, but it is hoped that residents will pause wherever they are to remember, reflect and pray while the bell tolls.

Help Save a Landmark With A Truly Special and Lasting Gift

Looking for a meaningful Christmas gift that will endure for years and help maintain and preserve St. Paul's as well? Please consider buying a personalized brick for the brick paver portion of the Memorial Garden.
A number of bricks were purchased and placed last year and earlier this year to support the centennial celebration for our main church building. This new 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. With an additional donation of $12 you may purchase a Donor Certificate to frame or to present on Christmas morning.

You can order your brick(s) here. (

Christmas at St. Paul's

Christmas at St. Paul’s will be different this year. As the community church for much of Key West, we are usually bursting at the seams with as many as four services. 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.

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. (Remember that you can also find the recordings of the services on our Facebook Page after they are broadcast for the first time.)
If you choose to attend a live service, please keep in mind:

  • You almost surely will have to sign up in advance. Attendance will be limited to 46 per service (plus two ushers). Once the attendance cap is reached the service will be closed. It is likely that there will not be room for last minute sign ups or walk ins.

  • We will prioritize St. Paul's parishioners until COB on Friday, December 11th. After that it will be strictly by order of sign up. So, again, if you want to attend, do not tarry. Please email or call the office as soon as possible.

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
Calling all Volunteers – 9:00 at the church!

This Saturday will be our last volunteer Saturday for the year! We will be marking and storing the hurricane shutters for next year. Thank you everyone for all of your hard work, we could not have done it without you! 

We will start up again after the first of the year. Of course, if anyone has extra time and wants to help around the campus during this time please feel free to email me and I will joyfully find a solo project or two to keep you busy!

The “12 Days Christmas” virtual run/walk fundraiser is tentatively scheduled for December 19th—start your training and your costume! We will be sending out information via the Epistle and Facebook!

Don’t forget a buy a brick - it will make a wonderful Christmas socking stuffer for the individual that doesn’t need another dust collector!
Senior Warden's Report
By Ray Warren

It has been a long hard week here on the island. The national news is grim, with Covid-19 on the rise everywhere. Closer to home, one or more prominent local residents was taken by Covid-19. (I’m not going to speculate on names beyond what has been publicly disclosed.) Then, one of our beloved parishioners was hospitalized for a non Covid condition. (She is, thankfully, recovering at home now.) Another church family (very close to me) had a real scare when a co-worker tested positive. (The family tested negative, thank God.) For me personally, these events were compounded by the news that a friend of many years from North Carolina had died by suicide at the age of 53.

In the middle of much darkness, I hope we’ll cling to the light. Because there is light.

In an unprecedented show of unity and cooperation, the nations of the world worked together to create vaccines in record time. With luck, these may soon begin the distribution process. An example of One Human Family writ large.

Our community rallied around one of its most prominent families in its time of loss. And though it is a politically prominent family, politics had nothing to do with it. Allies and former foes alike expressed genuine grief.

I am from an era when people could disagree politically and still be friends personally. I remember Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan putting down their boxing gloves to share a beverage. I hope those days of reaching out beyond petty things will return.

In trying to find a way to offer solace and comfort without creating a dangerous gathering, St. Paul’s developed the idea to toll our one working church bell once for each Monroe County victim of Covid-19 just after noon on Friday. (see more above.) We are blessed with a central location and an iconic presence on the island. I hope our efforts bring unity and peace to many who are suffering now.

We will ring the bells not only for sadness, but as a sign of hope. St. Paul’s has always been, and always should be, more than the home to our own congregation. It has been frustrating not being able to do more during the pandemic. I hope our efforts are the beginning of many times when our century old building will again be a place for communal joy and reflection for the entire Key West community.

(Personally, I will remember not only Cheryl Cates - a tireless volunteer for the entire community, but young David Sweeting. The Sweeting family has been a bedrock for your community for so long. I got to know the senior David when I was a eucharistic minister and he was the thurifer. I will always mourn the random nature of this particularly cruel pandemic.)
The church itself is beautiful with a tree, garland and poinsettias thanks to the selfless efforts of Tim Peterson, Irene and Dave Eyer, Dean Warden, Derek Pierce, Greta Phillip-Ford and Phyllis Peta. (If somebody else contributed labor or materials let me know. I want to shout it from the heights of Solares Hill.) Thanks be to God for such dedicated parishioners.

- - -
Also thanks to Holle Campbell and Sherri Hodies for volunteering to organize a possible Conch Train (or Trolley) Christmas lights tour. That is what I love about St. Paul's -- ask and the members will come forward.

However, in light of the emergency facing our community, I determined that we cannot morally encourage people to gather on a trolley or a conch train. Believe me, I hate it as much as I know many of you do. I know we desperately need opportunities to fellowship in person. I feel the loss of one more treasured tradition to the pandemic. But this is not forever. With unity and the help of science we will get past this.

I take full responsibility for this decision and apologize to those who will be understandably disappointed. The reputation of St. Paul's and the health of our members is paramount. At this point I think we can still safely have limited services. But we cannot guarantee proper spacing (even with cutting capacity in half) on such a tour. I am grateful to Holle, Sherri, Michelle Garcia (who offered invaluable advice from her prior work on this project) and Historic Tours of America. It is just not the right time to take chances

- - -
Now, a plea. ("Come let us reason together" - Isaiah 1:18) With potential medical advances on the way this spring, please consider carefully whether attendance at our live services is right for you.

It is a blessing to be able to hear the organ and to physically receive the sacrament. But these are also perilous times, and it may be that joining the service via Facebook Live is the better choice in the short term.

The coronavirus is now so widespread on the island that each of us must consider it likely that we encounter infected individuals (many of whom may be asymptomatic but still infectious) every day. That means we have a MORAL duty to mask up and avoid crowds whenever possible, not only on Sunday, but every day.

In my own case, for example, I will not be at this Sunday’s service because I traveled to Virginia and did not return until Monday. Although I feel healthy and have no reason to think I was exposed, out of love for my fellow Christians, I will wait another week before returning to church.

Because of the number of potential secondary and tertiary exposures (known and unknown) we can’t necessarily notify everyone when they happen. We will notify all who attend when we know of an actual case among attendees. But there remains the possibility of silent exposure from family, friends and jobsites.

Please remain faithful to the parish. But please remain healthy so that we may enjoy one another’s company for many years to come.

In planning for Christmas, I especially invite you to join us on Facebook at 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and to interact in real time with your fellow church members. We are having services with limited capacity, but it is far safer to experience St. Paul’s safely at home this year.

- - -
The end of the calendar year is fast approaching. Please consider supporting St. Paul’s now, in December, to help us go into the new year in a secure position. We have managed to stay healthy due to sacrificial efforts by volunteers who have done much of the work for which one would normally pay work crews. We are not in crisis. But we are in danger.

The revenue from visitors (both at services and in the donation boxes in the church itself) has been lost since March. This is particularly serious during the high tourist season when we depended on that funding source.

I’m not qualified to give tax advice, but I have been told that:

a) “People who are age 70 ½ or older can contribute up to $100,000 from their IRA directly to a charity and avoid paying income taxes on the distribution. This is known as a qualified charitable distribution. It is limited to IRAs, and there are other exclusions and considerations as well”, and

b) “If you want to support charities without dipping into your cash reserves, think about donating appreciated assets such as stocks or privately held business interests directly. This strategy can eliminate capital gains taxes you’d incur by selling them separately before donating the cash, therefore ensuring that your intended charity receives the full value of the asset.”
By all means, don’t rely on me (an unqualified lay person) for formal tax advice. But please do consider asking your qualified tax advisor about options for supporting St. Paul’s during this crisis.

[And if you are a qualified tax or investment professional, please write me about authoring a column to assist us all in making decisions here near the year's end.]

I know that it will greatly assist the Search Committee if it can report a strong financial position to candidates considering become our next Rector.


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.

Thank You Tim and Company

Congratulations to Tim Peterson, Dean Warden, Ann McFarland, and Tom Scheck for a fantastic December "From the Organ" concert. Stay tuned for news about January's offering.

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, and Kathryn Heldt (mother of Lisa McCarthy).

We pray for the departed and their loved ones:

Adrienne Shryock (mother of Sarah Kindinger), 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
Jackie Gahan 12/10
Sarah Kindinger 12/12
Keith Hernandez 12/14
James Colligan 12/15
John Payne 12/15
Byron Colley 12/18
DavidMcLaughlin 2/18
Zoe Pischke 12/19
Samantha Hall 12/20
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
Dave Eyer's column will return.
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.