So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
Dear ones,
Blessings on this rainy 50 th anniversary of Earth Day! As our worlds seem to have shrunk to the size of our homes plus the distance to the grocery store, I hope we will stop today, to give thanks for the beauty of our fragile earth, and to commit to living in ways that will help to protect our planet. One of the gifts of the coronavirus is a markedly reduced carbon footprint - fewer cars, fewer flights, fewer ferries… perhaps we will think differently about these things when the freedom to go anywhere and do anything comes back. You’ll find ten ways to celebrate Earth Day at the end of this note – I hope you’ll take advantage of some of them!

Along with sending lots of love to you this week, I wanted to send an update about some of the things we are learning and experiencing as we move through this time of being church without gathering. The first is to say thank you for your amazing generosity! Along with remaining current with your pledges, some of you have made special Easter offerings, some of you have made offerings for the “offering plate,” and some of you have contributed to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund which has allowed me to help with rent and utilities and groceries for people who have lost their jobs or significant amounts of their income. Thank you and bless you – you are an amazingly generous community and you are making a big difference in the lives of people both within and outside of St Barnabas. 

Unlike many churches, we are making our way financially during this time. We have reduced costs where we can – turned down heat, reduced landscaping and cleaning services (while still employing the people we’ve worked with for so long), and everyone on staff is working from home. Your Vestry and Finance Committee continue to meet (via Zoom), and with the help of the Treasurer and Julie our bookkeeper, we are keeping a close eye on the finances and making contingency plans in case our financial situation changes significantly. We have applied for a paycheck protection loan through the SBA, which, should we receive it, would cover two months of payroll for the church and day school staff. Whether or not those funds become available, both the Vestry and Finance Committee have committed to paying all employees at their full rate through the end of the year.

And yes, I continue to miss you! I am so glad you’re all connecting with each other through text and email and phone conversations. Know that I would like to hear from you, to hear how you are navigating, to hear how your household is impacted, to hear how your relationships with God and each other are changing in this strange season... so send me a note and tell me how you’re doing. And if I may offer any assistance, be it pastoral or financial, please be in touch.

We have done a good job slowing the virus in Kitsap County and I think it won’t be long before we will need to be thinking about how we will come together again, when finally we are able to do that. I know things won’t go back to the way they were, but I don’t yet know just how they will go. The clergy of the diocese meet weekly with Bishop Rickel and tomorrow’s conversation will be the first to focus on how we will come back together when it is time to do that, which we imagine might be in June. I realize that I’ve finally settled into a rhythm and routine that is about to be disrupted by yet another whole new way of doing church in masks with social distancing! But just as we’ve done all along, whatever we do, we’ll do it together!

Don’t forget to join us tonight at 5:00 for Evening Prayer. You received an email from St Barnabas this morning with the link to join. We’re praying Compline together on Mondays and Fridays – you’ll receive links on those mornings as well.

Know that I hold you in heart and prayer, that I miss you more than I can say, and that I am profoundly grateful to you and for you as a community of people walking the way of Jesus and loving each other so beautifully. Thank you and God bless you all. 
Faithfully, Karen

Adapted from Leah D. Schade
1.       Observe And Wonder.  Begin taking a few minutes in observation, contemplation, and appreciation of your natural surroundings. Explore your yard, or a green space nearby, or even a crack in the sidewalk where weeds and grass have pushed through. Cultivate the habit of noticing. What lives here? What passes through? Learn the names of the trees and plants – they are your neighbors in God’s Creation! Let this time center you in prayer, wonder, and gratitude.
2.       Plant And Grow.  Make a plan for your garden. Even if it’s just a pot on your porch or windowsill, think about what you might like to grow this season.
3.       Share Pictures On Social Media.  Posting the plants and trees in your world helps others to cultivate their appreciation of nature! When you post your pictures, you can share that caring for God’s Creation is something you feel responsible for.
4.       Play Earth Day Bingo!  This is a great activity to do with children. Make up a card with things in nature they might find on a walk around your neighborhood or in the backyard. Include squirrels, birds, trees, grass, flowers, bugs, clouds, or anything else you notice when you look outside.
5.       Advocate Online.   Find out what environmental legislation is currently under consideration in Congress.  Call your representative and senators and encourage them to support the strongest protections for our planet. Tell them you are a Christian who votes on climate issues and ask them to support climate legislation. Call your local mayor’s office and ask if there is a task force for addressing climate preparedness. If there is, thank them and ask how you can help. If not, ask why. Share with them what you’ve learned about how climate change will likely affect your community.
7.       Pray for the Earth And For Vulnerable Communities.  Write your own prayer of lament, confession, thanks, or intercession about Creation. Share it on social media along with a favorite nature picture. Consider sharing it with Rev. Karen and the congregation.
8.       Take The Creation Care Pledge And Use The Diocesan Carbon Tracker.  Weather and the challenge of climate change are on our minds and in the news these days. We watch floods and extreme heat challenge communities in our country. We watch the plight of refugees fleeing drought, famine, and economic collapse. We feel it in our hearts as well. Participating in the challenge to reduce our carbon emissions is one thing we can do as people of faith, to care for God’s creation.
9.       Honor Native Legacy.  Do you know that St Barnabas sits on the land of the Coast Salish, Duwamish and Suquamish peoples?  Do some research about the history of Indigenous peoples in the places you’ve lived and traveled. What disturbs you? What humbles you? What surprises you? How might you reconsider your relationship with the natural world in light of Native American practices of honoring our relationships with all of creation?
10.   Thank Those Who Have Nurtured Your Love Of Nature.  Think about the people who have taught you the most about nature and environmental concerns, and have nurtured your love of nature. Write them a note to thank them for what they taught you. If the people are no longer living, write your letter then go outside and read it.