SEEDS May 20, 2020

The above postcard is a photograph of Christ Church Episcopal taken over 50 years ago.

A message from Pastor Erik:

With Governor Baker allowing places of worship to open this week, I wanted to reach out to you and help you understand what that means for our congregation. 

For now we will continue to operate under the directive from Bishop Fisher, NOT to have in-person worship at least through the end of June. After that date, we will be led by a thoughtful document created in consultation with highly regarded epidemiologists in the Commonwealth as a joint project by both Episcopal Diocesan offices in Massachusetts. Based in science, this path forward also uses the idea of “loving our neighbor” as it’s theological guiding principle. 

While we are a Federated “Lutherpalian” congregation and our Lutheran side offers “suggestions” rather than “directives” those Lutheran suggestions from Bishop Hazelwood’s office match very closely with the Episcopal directives. 

Under that directive and the reopening guide from the Episcopal Church, opening first requires that a number of public health benchmarks are first met in order to proceed. As I bring this to you on May 19th, we have not met those benchmarks in the Commonwealth as a whole or in Berkshire County. Once those benchmarks have been met which require sustained downturns in new cases, PPE supplies and significantly more available testing among others, we will potentially be given the green light in the Berkshire Deanery, to conditionally open using the Massachusetts Safety Standards for places of worship. 

I do need to warn you however, that practically speaking for our particular sanctuary’s physical layout, those standards would allow us to only open three pews on each side of our sanctuary and each of those six pews could only be occupied by members of a single household to meet the physical distancing requirement. 

There would continue to be no Eucharist in either kind, there would be no in person coffee hour, no sharing of the peace, and masks would need to be worn by everyone at all times. 
Again, we have not yet even met the Public Health Benchmarks which might allow us to even consider that level of opening and frankly, when those Public Health Benchmarks are met, I am personally reluctant to believe, particularly without receiving the Sacrament, that the benefit of opening with that level of restrictions it will be worth the risk to you, the people I care very deeply about. 

On a pastoral level, and as a priest who earned a biochemistry degree, studying the AIDS virus as it grew into a pandemic in the late 1980s, I do not see these latest Commonwealth permissions to reopen as wisdom based in science. Both my background in science and the principle of “Loving my neighbor” call me to lead our parish to err on the side of caution when it comes to reopening. I will gladly listen as you tell me down the road that “we could have opened earlier” rather than be forced to reflect at a graveside, that “we opened up too soon.” There are too many stories already from churches and pastors who are voicing that exact regret. 

So for now we will continue to worship online only and I urge you, even with the easing of some restrictions to be cautious. The best practice remains for us to stay at home except when we must venture out for absolute essentials, continue practicing social distancing, wash your hands a bunch, wear a mask when you are out, tune into worship online, continue to love your neighbors by supporting our feeding ministries with our school families and seniors and continue to join me in Loving our Neighbors in this way.  

Please join us for worship at 10:00 on either Facebook or YouTube (the link to YouTube is on our website). You may download the bulletin below in order to follow along on Sunday.
Sheffield Farmers' Market Opens Next Friday
We ask for sustenance
Las t week, on May 12, our Education for Ministry study group we an essay, “Character, Conflict, and Covenant in Israel’s Origin Traditions,” on approaches to a feminist interpretation of the five books of the Pentateuch. Since history is written by the victors, grappling with the stories of women and other marginalized people may require looking behind, or even beyond, the narrative. Carolyn Sharp, the author argued that we do this by considering how we honor all subjects, how we interrogate the relations of power, and how we reform community. To us this meant exploring how we become aware of what is not present. Using Henri Nouwen’s eucharistic formulation What is Offered ? What is Broken? What is Blessed? What is Given , we delved into this issue by considering Covid-19 funerals. 

God, Our Mother: we are amazed by your persistent presence.
We confess that we feel overwhelmed and too often imagine your absence
We ask for sustenance.
We give thanks for your gift of adaptability and resilience
on behalf of your shadow people,
so that we may become more aware of the unseen.
Karen Byers, Mentor
Keep Meals for Elders Going
If you are a Thrivent member, you can help us raise funds to support our Meals for Elders program by applying for a Thrivent Action Team Project. And to help you do this from the comfort of your own home, Dave Spidal will walk you through the online application over the phone. The application process is fairly easy, but there are a few nuances that Dave will help you with if you have never done it before. Give Dave a call or contact him via email for more information. He's listed in the church directory. If you want to learn more about this or how to become a Thrivent member, call the office on Mondays or Wednesdays.
Thank you for the giving
Thank you for sending in your offerings. It is keeping us going in these difficult times. You may write a check and mail it in to:

Christ Trinity Church
PO Box 127
Sheffield MA 01257

or if you are tired of writing checks...

try a method that is really fun and so much easier, once you have it set up.
Begin by clicking below to get to our page. Make a choice from the dropdown box at the right of the page to indicate where you want the money to go.
Feeding Kids
The Marketplace Cafe has been preparing delicious, balanced, school family meals since we started this program at the beginning of the pandemic. Once again, they have 60 school family meals covered for delivery this Friday.
We thank you, the community, for your generosity. If you want to help feed your neighbors for next week, you may place an order with the Marketplace at 413-248-5042 ext. 2. Please do this by noon on Tuesday. The delicious meal feeds a family of four and runs about $26. We're committed to keeping this going through June 12th, but with enough community support, we can keep feeding our neighbors in the summer.

We can do this!
Help now!
Thanks !

Feeding our Elders
When your family or your doctor advises you not to go to the grocery store, acquiring food to make every meal can be pretty tricky. Our Elder Meals program means you don't have to think about that for one day each week. The program is so appreciated by our seniors and is still going strong. We plan to keep delivering needed meals through June 13th. How long we are able to provide meals to folks in Sheffield after that will depend on the support that we receive from you. The meals are expertly and lovingly prepared by our friends at John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant .

Coffee Hour
At 11:00 Sunday morning after our live-streamed service, please join all of us for a  Virtual Coffee Hour on Zoom .  
Meeting ID: 833 803 679
One tap mobile: +16465588656 US (New York)
Dial in: +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)

Christ Trinity Church | 413-229-8811
180 Main Street
PO Box 127
Sheffield, MA 01257

Our virtual worship services are Sundays at 10:00

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You can find us on Instagram at CTCSheffieldMA 

Find some recent sermons on our YouTube channel

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