Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
We continue to move further and deeper into our new, digital/virtual age as this season of quarantine (some of my clergy colleagues have dubbed it “Coronatide”) stretches on. Endurance is never easy; fortunately, we have a Faith that is replete with examples to inspire us—including, of course, Our Lord Jesus Christ, himself.
In the midst of our ongoing endurance, I wanted to share a reminder of what we’re now doing and to offer a brief mention of what’s on the horizon.
The previous newsletter introduced our current schedule of livestreamed and Zoom offerings. So many of you have being tuning in, logging on, and taking advantage of online social media and teleconferencing software to stay connected with each other and with our tradition of worship, prayer, and study! It has been absolutely delightful to see such robust engagement and participation in these new forms of our traditional ministry. It’s been hard to figure out how to “do church” when the most basic aspects of “doing church”—gathering together to worship and pray and experience the sacramental presence of Christ—have been taken off the table for the foreseeable future. Thank you all for your grace and flexibility!
It warms my heart more than I can tell to see your comments, prayers, and AMENs pop up on the screen as I’m livestreaming our Spiritual Communion services on Sunday and Wednesday mornings. It’s very strange, and not at all something I would have expected, but there’s a real kind of intimacy that we’ve been sharing, being so instantly connected during worship, that is the opposite of what I thought would happen with digital, online services. I hope that y’all have felt it, too. And I hope that, when we do find a way to reestablish our tradition of face-to-face worship in the shared sacred space of our church building, we will come back to that practice somewhat changed by this time in the desert. That we’ll bring this newfound connection into the pews and up to the altar with us.
I’ve also been delighted to see the enthusiasm with which we as a parish have engaged the practice of praying the Daily Office. Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury who created the first Book of Common Prayer for the Church of England way back in 1549, always intended the Office to be the daily practice of all baptized Christians, not just the clergy. I think we’ve gotten closer to achieving that ideal in the past couple of months than perhaps we had for a long time prior. That’s been truly wonderful to see.
So as for what we’re currently doing, our principal worship service (Sunday @ (9:30 a.m.), our midweek service (Wednesday @ 9:30 a.m.), and our Daily Office services (various days throughout the week, depending upon who is available to lead the service; generally 9:30 a.m. for Morning Prayer, 5:30 p.m. for Evening Prayer, and c. 7:30 p.m. for Compline) are being livestreamed via the All Saints Facebook page:
In addition, we’re using the Zoom platform to host a “virtual coffee hour” at 10:30, after Sunday morning worship; a weekly Bible study (Mondays @ 11 a.m.) based on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for the upcoming Sunday, and a more casual mid-week “Faith Talk” gathering (Thursdays @ 12 noon).
The link for virtual coffee hour is:
The link for Bible study is:
The link for Faith Talk is:
Theoretically, those links should work on an ongoing basis from week to week. (We’re crossing our collective fingers!)
Please also remember that I am keeping “office hours” during the week to make sure that I am available for any pastoral care needs that you’ve got. You can reach me (during those hours, or at any time) at 920.266.9262 ~ and there is voicemail if I don’t happen to pick up in time. Official office hours are Monday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
One last reminder: if you are interested at all in possibly leading some of our livestreamed Daily Office services—which are designed to be lay-led—please contact me at email@example.com, and we’ll get you connected with this important ministry.
As for what’s on the horizon, Bishop Matt, in conjunction with the diocesan Covid-19 Task Force has put out some new rules that allow for parishes that wish to resume a limited celebration of Holy Eucharist to do so. Details are available on the diocesan website, but the gist of it is that there can be no more than four people involved, including the priest; that all persons must strictly observe the six-foot minimum safe distance from each other at all times; that only the set group of the same four people can be involved from week to week (in other words, having a rotation and taking turns defeats the whole purpose of social distancing). This restricted worship team would physically and spiritually be “standing in” as representatives present in person on behalf of the whole parish.
As a member of the Task Force myself, I wholeheartedly endorse these restrictions. The question, however, is … do we as a parish want to pursue adding a service of Holy Eucharist back into our weekly worship at the present time, given the restrictions that we’d have to observe? The Vestry and I have been discussing the matter, and indeed we are working on mapping out an overall plan for going forward through—and beyond—quarantine. Bear in mind that our congregation, like that of most Episcopal parishes, is largely made up of folks in the high risk categories as described by the CDC; we will therefore, as my dad would say, “proceed out of an abundance of caution.” It’s likely that we’ll need to observe stricter precautions than the civil authorities put in place. It’s also likely that we’re not going to see anything that will seem “normal” to us for another 12 to 18 months, at the earliest. So the question of resuming Eucharist needs to be placed in that larger context.
That said, I would dearly love to hear your thoughts, ideas, feelings, concerns, etc., on the subject. Please email me (at the address above) and let me know what you think. Likewise, let me know how our current ministries are working for you, and/or how they could possibly work better. This whole thing is very new to all of us (the last pandemic in these parts dating back to 1918!), so we’re all in it together. And we’ll get through it together.
Please know that you’re all in my prayers, and that we can all trust in the Grace of God, the power of Jesus Christ, and the strong, loving arms of God’s Holy Spirit to carry us through any time of trial.
Peace & blessings,