Suspending In-person Worship
and Gatherings
Dear St. Christopher’s,

Out of a desire to slow the spread of coronavirus, Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows has asked all churches to cease in-person worship and gatherings until at least the end of March. Please know this decision was not made lightly but with much prayer, conversation, and public health advice around social distancing, vulnerable populations, and slowing the spread to ease the burden on our healthcare system. Gathering in community for worship, fellowship, formation, and outreach is both sustaining and transformative to our spirits. There are other ways to gather though; we will practice them and God will be with us. I confess though that I grieve the loss of sharing the sacrament of communion with you; it is only one way that God dwells in us, but it is one that is central to our common life. We will be the church in new ways in the time ahead and I know that God will bless us through the experience but there are also losses to acknowledge. 

After consultation with our wardens, here is what we have decided for life at St. Christopher’s:

Sunday morning worship and in-person gatherings at the church are cancelled through March. That means NO worship this Sunday.  Meetings and small groups can choose to meet via phone or video calls and we are preparing to help with that; leaders of the individual groups will decide how they would like to proceed and communicate with their groups.  

Pansy Flower Pick-up will happen tomorrow morning from 9:00 to 11:00 am.   At this time you can also drop by to borrow a Book of Common Prayer from the sanctuary if you do not have one at home. We will have opportunities in the coming weeks to participate from home in the daily office (short prayer services) and it might be nice for you to have one on hand. Needless to say, the church needs them back when we re-open.  

For this Sunday, March 15 , worship will be pre-recorded audio of morning prayer and a sermon with the Rev. Chana Tetzlaff will be available at the worship button below:
We will be experimenting with technology in the coming days to explore alternatives, but this is the only method that we can be sure will offer sound at a quality that you would want to listen to.  

It has been a fast-paced few days of making plans and changing plans. By mid-week next week we will have more to share with you, but please know that the following things are on our radar.  

Formation and Fellowship: The broader church networks are full of ideas on how to connect with children, families, youth, and adults at this time. Program staff will be curating resources and figuring out what will work best for our context and in what format. For now, there will be nothing in-person. 

Pastoral Care: The Rev. Chana Tetzlaff and parish nurse Sue Blase will look at our membership list to identify first those who may be more isolated right now. They are also brainstorming ways that we can all regularly stay connected with one another’s needs across the board. I know that many of you are willing to help in any way you can and we will seek ways that we can assist one another in the weeks ahead. All non-critical pastoral care - premarital counseling, sick visits, etc. - will be done via phone for now. If someone is in serious or critical condition, clergy will make visits with all the proper precautions taken. Please do not hesitate to call or email clergy. Coronavirus has added stress to this time, but health concerns and personal struggles still continue as well and connecting with one another in prayer and conversation helps. 
Outreach: For the economically vulnerable, this is a critical time. St. Christopher’s has been an important part of the network of feeding programs in Carmel, particularly through the summer meals program. As Carmel develops its plan to serve the vulnerable, we will help in any way we can. Let’s give them some time, and we will publicize how to help once we know.  

Administration: The staff will all be working to ensure that the ministry of the church continues. We are able to maintain good social distance in our offices, so we will remain open but we will also be incorporating some working from home. Please call ahead if you are dropping by.  

Dropping by: The changes we are making are designed to promote social distancing. If you are coming by the church to borrow a book from the library or drop off hats you’ve knitted or because you need to do something related to a ministry like Altar Guild or feeding programs, that is fine. Please call ahead to make sure we are open if you don’t have a key and take all the normal precautions you do in public spaces - wash your hands frequently, observe reasonable social distance with staff or if you are with someone else, and don’t come if you are sick.    

Giving: This is a time of economic uncertainty for many including the church that relies on giving that mostly comes during Sunday’s worship services. If your monthly income is not affected, please consider giving online here and maintaining your giving to other community charities.   
Worship: As mentioned earlier, this Sunday we will not worship at St. Christopher's, and we will have a a pre-recorded service (use worship button below), and by our Wednesday weekly news email we will know the format for next Sunday’s worship. There will be other opportunities for worship with the daily office which will also be announced at that time.
It’s been a long week, and it’s a long email to show it. Take a deep breath. God has given us everything we need to do what we are called to do. Our call to love God and love our neighbor is the same today as it was last week; we will just be attentive to loving God and our neighbor in a different way. Please join me this Sunday in having a time of worship at the kitchen table or sitting on your back porch with a cup of coffee; pray for those who are really struggling during this time, and then embrace the Sabbath. Take a pause from the news cycle, from thinking everyone is over-reacting, or from thinking everyone is under-reacting. Read a book. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Take a long walk. Be grateful that while much has changed, much of what matters remains the same.  

Let us rest in the peace that passes all understanding and go forth to love and serve the Lord.