Good evening, everyone,
As many of you likely experienced, today has been a whirlwind of updates, closures, news, and more regarding COVID-19 and the responses coming from a variety of places. Before we go further, I'd like to offer "A Prayer for Facing Uncertainty" from the New Zealand Prayer Book:
"God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to us as we await in uncertainty. Bring hope that you will make us the equal of whatever lies ahead. Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness; you are God, and we need you. AMEN."
There are several items to share with you all, so please bear with me as we dig in:
Bishop Matt Gunter issued an updated statement today with more guidelines for congregations within the Diocese of Fond du Lac to follow. He will be sharing (or has shared) more detailed guidance with clergy and Vestry wardens. You can find his statement by CLICKING HERE. This includes recommendations for those of any age who are immunocompromised, have chronic lung or heart conditions, and/or those who are diabetic. It also includes recommendations for those parishioners ages 70+, effective Monday, March 16.
Effective immediately, all in-person Youth Ministry programming at All Saints, including Sunday School, Youth Choir, Youth Group, and related activities, are suspended until further notice. These suspensions include Fr. Christopher's Lenten reflections on the Desert Fathers between Sunday services and the Monday morning bible study group.
Effective immediately, the Youth Choir will not sing during worship on Sunday, April 19 as originally planned. Our amazing leaders, Heidi & Ian Bates, are still committed to using the music planned at a future date, so please do hold onto your music & folders! When we are able to hold rehearsals again, we will be in touch.
Effective immediately, we will be observing a "No Contact" guideline during worship outside of our own families. When greeting one another at worship, please share warm verbal affirmations or use basic signs from American Sign Language. CLICK HERE to watch a 33 second video on how to sign "I love you" in two different ways! A slight bow, a hand wave, or the peace sign are also great ways to acknowledge your neighbors without physical contact.
Effective immediately, per both Fr. Christopher's & Bishop Matt's recommendations, intinction (dipping your Communion wafer into the wine) is prohibited. You may choose to receive the Communion wafer and drink from the Common Cup, or you may choose to receive only the bread. Both are acceptable. If you'd prefer to not receive the elements at all, we still encourage you to come forward to receive God's blessing. Simply cross your arms over your chest to indicate such at the Communion rail.
Effective immediately, there will be no Coffee Hour on Sunday mornings following worship until further notice.
The All Saints Vestry & Father Christopher are still meeting tomorrow as planned and will determine what other precautions All Saints will take parish-wide. Further updates will be communicated sometime either tomorrow late afternoon or in the evening hours. We thank you in advance for your patience and flexibility.
Fr. Christopher and I will be meeting early next week to determine how to best offer at-home and virtual resources for families to utilize during this time. We want to help parishioners stay connected, particularly those who are being asked to stay home from worship, as well as all families within our Youth Ministry. We trust that with God's help, we will get through this all together, and we really want to work to provide support as much as we are able.
Live-stream Sunday services, for those not attending worship services in-person over the next few Sundays, are currently offered at St. Thomas, Menasha (CLICK HERE) and Grace Episcopal, Sheboygan (CLICK HERE). We highly encourage you to join for worship within our diocesan community. There are other priests within the diocese who offer the Daily Offices via Facebook Live (e.g. Fr. Chris Arnold, Oshkosh; Mthr. Erin Kirby, Minocqua) for those interested in joining that way. Please also continue to keep an eye out for updates regarding worship opportunities for All Saints.
Summer Camp for the Diocese of Fond du Lac is currently still a go in June. However, with the development of school closures in WI over the next two weeks (and possibly longer), the diocesan staff will be monitoring the impact this has on school districts and communities around the state. The current plan is to make a decision in April.
THANK YOU ALL for all you're doing to navigate all this new territory with us. THANK YOU to those who have emailed, texted, called, and have been in touch today as things kept unfolding. THANK YOU to everyone for your patience, flexibility, and ideas to help folks in our community. I am grateful for each of you.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)
Blessings to all,