COVID-19 Response // Message from the Rector
A MESSAGE FROM THE RECTOR:
There’s a certain amount of talk in scripture about stillness. I think of Jesus who said to the storm, “Peace. Be still.” I think of the psalmist who says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). I think of the Jesus who wanted to get away from his disciples and have some time alone to pray. Stillness is a part of who we are as Christians. Yet, I think even Jesus would agree that it is hard to be still in the midst of pandemics.
For most of us, news of the corona virus (COVID-19) has brought about anything but stillness. The situation seems to change daily as we sit and wait in our homes. We distance ourselves from family and friends. We worry about limited supplies of groceries. We are more alert to sneezes, coughs, and handshakes. The routines of our children have been disrupted.
Where is the stillness in the midst of all this? I heard the Right Rev. Gene Robinson once say, “Sometimes Jesus stills the storm and sometimes Jesus stills the child.” These words have always stayed with me. The storms of COVID-19 are swirling all around us. I can only imagine what the lives of our health professionals looks like right now. I feel that the winds of this situation will continue to blow for quite a long time. Two nights ago, I received a communique from our Bishop. At the encouragement of our Presiding Bishop, she will continue the suspension of public worship through Holy Week and Easter Day. This is, indeed, unsettling news – something I’ve never experienced. But I trust in the wisdom of our church leaders and know that these decisions are grounded in protecting the most vulnerable and to keep this illness at bay. All of these measures are meant to “still the storm” and we have to take responsibility for our part, even though it is disruptive.
The St. Paul’s leadership and staff is busy developing ways to help you cultivate a sense of stillness. Even though we can’t be together physically, we can still be connected, and connections help us be still. The hope is to create opportunities for daily worship, study, and stillness. This season of Lent is intended to help us grow. We will not be able to do that in the more traditional ways with which we are comfortable. We will need to try new ways of being “Church away from Church,” remembering that we are the body of Christ regardless of where we meet. Hence, the name of our specially-designed programming during this time will be called “ChurchAway.” It reminds us that we are disciples both in our church building and outside of it. We are a community, and that community, by its very nature, is an instrument of stillness.
A first step toward routine and stillness begins next week. Each day, I will offer a live, online service of Noonday Prayers that includes a simple reflection. Since many of you are working from home, I hope that this brief service will provide a needed break – a time to be with yourself, be with God, and be still.
More ChurchAway opportunities will be made available as they are developed. You can find resources here, on our ChurchAway webpage.
And, don’t forget . . . there is the telephone! Please take this time to pick up your church directory and reach out to a member of St. Paul’s and let them know they aren’t alone. Sometimes, yours is the voice that can bring stillness and comfort.
Thank you for your flexibility as we move through this season and discern what it means to be responsive, calm, and attentive during this time. And, remember that there is always a stillness inside of you. God planted it there at your creation – a way that God connects with and speaks to you. You only have to remember that it’s there and feel God’s calming presence, even as the waters are choppy. Jesus is with us in this boat, and, as promised, he will not leave us without comfort.
A reminder: the church offices are closed; your clergy and staff are working remotely. You can reach them by calling the church office and leaving a voice mail. If a pastoral emergency arises, please call (804) 349-3020. Contact information for clergy, staff, and vestry may be found at www.stpaulsrva.org/staffandleadership
With every prayer for peace, good health, and stillness, I remain
Message from 3/12/20
In consultation with the Vestry, taking advice from the CDC, The Diocese of Virginia, and from other parishes around the Communion, here are the steps that St. Paul’s is taking:
Effective immediately, St. Paul’s will cancel all services of public worship. This includes worship and programming on Sundays. We have been in touch with the family of Sonny Harris and will sadly need to postpone Sonny’s funeral. According to the guidelines, we will also cancel the weekday noon services and activities, including the Lenten Lunch Series. After so much planning, we realize this will come as a huge disappointment to some of you. Our Emmaus ministry will provide to-go bagged lunches for the next two weeks. After March 25, Bishop Goff will re-evaluate the situation and make further decisions about worship going forward.
Some meetings and small groups will be able to continue meeting online. Staff and group leaders will attempt to be in touch with all groups over the next few days to answer any questions or programming concerns. If you are uncertain about a meeting or event, call the church or the leader of that event.
During this time, the St. Paul’s office will be closed. The staff will keep regular hours working from home. Please know that your clergy are here to respond to your pastoral needs or to pastoral emergencies. As always, we are available and can be reached by calling the church office or the pastoral care emergency line (804) 349-3020.
For more resources and ways to connect with St. Pauls visit CHURCH AWAY PAGE.