Dear Friends in Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have received word from Bishop David Reed that he is “calling on all clergy and congregations of West Texas to cease gathering in person for worship and meetings until April 1.” He added that “we should be prepared to see it extended for significantly longer, depending on the continued spread of the virus.”
Therefore, beginning this Sunday, March 22, St. George will suspend our in-person public Sunday morning worship until such time as our ecclesiatical and local and national health and governmental authorities deem it safe to resume in-person public worship.
We will stream our worship at 10 am on both YouTube and Facebook Live as we did this past Sunday. Those on the Worship Ministry Schedule are free from obligations for Sunday worship until we resume in- person public worship, All Sunday morning and afternoon activities until we can return to in-person public worship.
In a previous letter to clergy and churches, last Friday Bishop Reed said, “we seek to act in love and not from fear. Not gathering physically for worship becomes, by grace, a gift of sacrificial love to our larger communities and to the most vulnerable in them, as we actively seek to be instruments of Christ’s healing and peace, rather than unwitting conduits of coronavirus.” (emphasis mine)
We are all continuing to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. And no one knows how and when things will resume in a more familiar way. We are not alone in this seismic shift in moving to online worship and suspending activities. Episcopal Churches across the country are taking similar steps to help stem the tide of COVID-19.
In a letter to The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said, “It is reasonable to assume that some form of recommendations restricting public gatherings will continue for some time,” He continued, “Considering this changing landscape, I believe that suspension of in-person public worship is generally the most prudent course of action at this time, even during Holy Week and on Easter Day.”
You will receive the eSpear on Friday and in it you will find links that will take you to YouTube or Facebook Live. Facebook users will be able to interact with us during the service. And you will be able to share our feed with your Facebook friends. Inviting your friends to church with you in this way is a simple yet very loving, pastoral thing to do in times like these.
We will also include a downloadable PDF bulletin with the full service including lyrics to our worship music. I encourage you to print it out for you and your household and participate just as you would if we were gathered in sanctuary.
We have decided on a way to deliver Christian Formation lessons to you in short videos. The staff members are putting those together even now. Adult Confirmation curriculum is in process of being created and distributed. Youth Confirmation curriculum will be next. There is still time to prepare for Adults and Youth to participate in Confirmation instruction – all the lessons will be on demand. If you would like to receive these lessons for you or your teen, please click here to fill out our Request for Confirmation form.
We are also working diligently to provide resources for spiritual nourishment and formation for your use as we move through this time. Information will be sent as that becomes available.
The bonds of affection that hold us together in Christ Jesus transcend physical space and distance. The Holy Spirit is holding us and holding us together during this time. The technology available to us, which oftentimes can feel intrusive, will be a wonderful tool for us to stay connected with each other until these troubled times pass and we can once again gather together in joyous celebration.
Please know that I am holding you all in my prayers regularly.
Stay well and God bless you.
Click Here to read Bishop Reed’s Letter to the Diocese.
Facebook Livestream: @saintgeorgechurch
Youtube Stream: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOAqu-IOWyPDG7RF1TfYPyg
Prayer from Bishop Reed’s Letter
Lord God, Father Almighty: We easily take so much for granted until it is threatened. In this time of pandemic, make us deeply mindful of our need for you. Help us to cherish anew all that we have received from you—the gifts of life, health, families and friends, the Church. Rekindle in us the desire to strengthen these precious gifts and to be knit together in you. While our worries and fears are real, give us grace to not give in to them. While our inconveniences and hardships are real, give us eyes to see those who truly suffer and to find ways to serve them. Remind us daily that those who abide in Christ are never truly separated, and even as we are physically distanced may we find deeper and closer community. Send your Holy Spirit to bring healing and peace to us, and to our communities. And may we find wisdom and power in you to disrupt the disruptions. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, Healer of our souls, Savior of the world. Amen.