My Beloved Church,
I participated in a Zoom meeting with the Bishop this afternoon, and heard many of my colleagues express the strong opinion that parishes should suspend services during this crisis. St. Stephen’s has not yet made that decision, although I expect that a directive from the Bishop and/or the Governor will be coming soon. Those who attended the 10:30 service this morning stayed afterwards for a conversation about how we can support each other if we can’t gather in person. I’m profoundly grateful for their wisdom. What we decided can be described in roughly three categories.
Checking in with each other: Many of the people gathered this morning expressed their deep willingness to call and check-in on those who might be isolated in their homes. If you live alone, expect a call in the next few days. The person who calls will see how you are, ask if you want to be called again, and if your answer is yes, ask how often you want to be called. It’s up to you how much contact you want to receive. People are also more than willing to bring you groceries or anything else you need. And if you need a pastoral visit, please don’t hesitate to call me personally (or call me personally if you just want to chat). A group of people are also planning to send cards to our parish members, just so you know that we’re thinking about and praying for each other every day.
Technology: We live in an age where it is possible to keep meeting as a Christian community even when the church is closed. To that end, we decided to livestream Sunday services, and to meet daily at 12:30 PM for noonday prayer using Zoom. In order to join via video, just click the link right below “Join Zoom Meeting.” You can join through your web browser or download the app when they ask you if you’d like to. You can also call in using any of the numbers below. We won’t be able to see your beautiful face, but we will be able to hear your voice. We’ll be using this format for Noonday Prayer (just click on the link and you should be able to see it). We haven’t done this before, so it may take some getting used to, and we might fumble around a bit getting it figured out. Let that serve as a good reminder that only God is perfect.
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Meeting ID: 549 241 958
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Financial Support: We are well aware that some people will lose income during this time, especially students who depend on work study and other parishioners who work in the hospitality industry. If you are experiencing financial hardship, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. The early church held everything in common, and taking care of each other is a deep seated Christian ethic. We will find the resources to help you pay rent, utilities, groceries, or for medical needs. And if you ask me to be discreet about giving you help, I will be. I have a discretionary fund, and this is what it is for.