I hope everyone is well and coping with the rapidly changing situation. If anyone needs assistance in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or to someone else you might trust.
An old friend asked what prayer guidance I would offer in response to the coronavirus. I said;
“Certainly we would want to pray for those impacted either by the virus itself or the pain of our needed response, for those in helping and medical professions, for those in fear (including ourselves) to not got stuck or lost there, and for the strength to stay hopeful and committed to making choices that benefit the whole community and not just ourselves. I would also say to turn our prayer into action by reaching out to others to allay a sense of isolation and to lend a hand where needed (and possible).”
All of our lives have been disrupted, I pray that inconvenience is the worst many of us will face. This is a time when our commitment to live out a faith that rests on concern for the other and the well-being of the larger community will be tested. If we continue to model the example of Jesus on our own lives and hold fast to the power of hope that rests in God’s promises, then, together, we will journey through this to whatever lays on the other side, Jesus alongside us all the way.
I have been busy trying to put together how we can continue to gather virtually while we are unable to be together in person. There are a bewildering array of choices available to us and navigating those choices without the luxury of time has been a challenge, but I think a picture of our lives in this liminal period is becoming clearer. All of this information can also be found on our website on the Online Resources page which you can navigate to from the home page menu.
First, worship. Moving forward, we will have a single time of live worship each Sunday morning at 9:00am for 30-40 minutes. I have tried to find a means by which everyone can participate regardless of their access or comfort with the internet. We will be using an online service called Zoom which allows audio and video participation through the internet but also has the ability to call in from any phone.
To connect for audio and video, go here: (https://zoom.us/s/332988592). You may be asked to download the app if you have never used Zoom previously.
To connect by phone call 253-215-8782 or 301-715-8592. You will be asked to enter the meeting ID, which is 332 988 592 followed by the # sign. If it asks for a participant ID, just enter the # sign again.
If you are unable to join us for the live worship, that service will be recorded and available at YouTube, you can follow the link or search for our channel, Camillus Episcopal. You can also find a link on our Online Resources page.
I will also pre-record two short videos that will be available on Wednesdays and Sundays. These will also be on our YouTube page and will be posted on Facebook as well. These are short devotions, less than ten minutes, with scripture, prayer, and a short reflection from me.
You are also welcome to join our Bible Study, which will also be using Zoom Monday evenings at 6pm. You can join us on Zoom by clicking here. We are currently working our way through the Gospel of Matthew. Bible Study notes for each chapter are available on our Bible Study page.
In addition, we will be working to check in on everyone as time goes by. To encourage you to keep in touch with one another, we will be mailing out a list of members with contact info to everyone.
Given the governor’s statement this morning, I would ask everyone to please not come to the church for the time being.
If you are concerned about your donations, I would encourage everyone to move their giving online as our access to the post office and church office may become constrained. Online giving is very easy, you can set up an automatic withdrawal at any interval you choose, using your bank account info or a credit/debit card. All transactions are handled by a secure third-party processor. You can give online by following the give online graphic on our website homepage or by going directly to https://onrealm.org/StLukes/-/give/now.
I pray that you all stay safe and well, please follow the recommendations from the relevant authorities, keep to good practices so you stay safe and don’t endanger others.
March 16 2020
I am writing to you again because much has changed since my last letter, just two days ago.
The bishop communicated with me late Saturday evening that all services and gatherings should be put on hold for the foreseeable future. I do not know when that directive might be lifted, so for now we will not have Sunday worship or any other meeting at the church until such time as the bishop believes it is safe to do so.
I heartily concur with her decision, and though it is, frankly, a little bewildering to think of Sunday without gathering together; I think it is important that we all contribute as much as we can to ensuring that our health system is not overwhelmed and that our most vulnerable neighbors remain as healthy as possible.
For the time being I will also not be doing any non-emergency pastoral visits to ensure I don’t spread the infection to anyone. I am still available for emergencies and by phone (971-227-3106). Please do not hesitate to be in touch for any reason; spending time with you is the best part of being your priest.
The church is not closed though. The sanctuary will be open Monday through Thursday between 9am and noon for anyone wanting to come in for individual prayer or reflection. It will also be open on Sunday mornings, though I haven’t determined the exact hours yet. I will be in the office during our regular office hours and business will continue, even if it looks different.
If you do come in for prayer, if there are others present please follow good practices to ensure minimal opportunities for transmission such as;
- wash your hands or using hand sanitizer when you arrive and before you leave
- maintain 6 feet of separation
- no touching, including shaking hands or hugging
- if you feel physically unwell, please consider staying home and being in touch with your medical provider
I am looking at ways that we can continue to gather virtually using online tools. There are lots of options and as many parishes in other dioceses have already ventured into this, I will be drawing on their experience to find a solution that would work well for our community.
Aside from church, I encourage everyone to take every precaution, especially if you are part of a higher risk group. This is an opportunity for us to be there for one another. If you need someone to go to a store for you or are short of a critical household item or food, please let me know and I will ensure we get your needs met.
And Sherry, our Treasurer, asked me to let you know that if you are concerned about your pledge, those can be mailed to us, dropped off during regular office hours, or you can give online from our website. Just go to www.stlukescamillus.org and in the upper right hand corner you will see the Give Online graphic; just click on that and it will guide you through a simple process to make a donation.
I will continue to be in touch, but you will find all updates on our website at stlukescamillus.com/coronavirus-update
peace and blessings to you in this most trying time,
March 14 2020
St Luke’s as a part of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York is following the guidelines established by our bishop (you can read that here) in this time of heightened vigilance concerning the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
As of now, we welcome any who choose to gather for worship at our regular Sunday worship times. However, we will not be celebrating the eucharist, that we might reduce the opportunities for interpersonal touch that might inadvertently transmit an infection. We will offer our prayers and praises to God, we will hear from the Holy Scriptures, and at 10:30, we will sign of our faith in hymnody; in other words, we will worship.
That said, I would encourage anyone whose immune system is compromised, who suffers from any respiratory illness, or who is otherwise at risk to please stay home at this time, until we have a better understanding of the situation and how this infection spreads. I will work to be in touch regularly with our whole community and especially those who are isolated. If you are isolated and need assistance of any kind, please do not hesitate to contact me. My email is email@example.com and my cell number is 971-227-3106.
We will also refrain from other gatherings during the week, so no Bible Study, mid-week eucharist, or Prayer Circle.
There are some precautions we can take to minimize risk to one another as we do gather. These are good practices at all times, especially during cold and flu season.
- Wash your hands. This is the best preventive method to reducing infectious diseases. Alternatively, or additionally, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (minimum 60% alcohol) on your hands. We will ask who assist in communion to use hand sanitizer and we have ordered hand sanitizer for everyone’s use
- Exchanging the Peace. This ancient practice is an important part of our liturgy, but please know that bowing to one another, and greeting each other verbally without handshake or hug, is an acceptable alternative.
- Refrain from Intinction. Many believe that dipping their bread into the cup of wine is preferable to drinking from the common cup, but the scientific research proves just the opposite. Intinction is the riskiest way to partake of communion. I would strongly suggest that you commune in one of two ways—either drink from the common cup or receive the bread only. We use fortified port wine which studies show minimize risk of transmission of disease and we will continue using our silver serving ware, as that too minimizes risk.
- Stay home if you are sick. This is perhaps the best way you can care for others, by reducing the risk of exposure if you are infectious.
- Clergy greeting after services. I am always pleased to greet folks after the service and will continue to do so. Greeting with a bow (as at the peace) is perfectly acceptable. Good will can be conveyed in a variety of ways, so do what feels comfortable to you.
I suspect we will hear more dire news in the days and weeks to come, and it is natural enough for us to be drawn into that orbit. As a faith community, we will be guided by the CDC and our public health professionals, but I encourage us all to avoid the impulse to give into our fears. Use common sense, proper health techniques, and access the health care system readily if you think you may be ill.
peace be with you,
The Rev Jon White