Dear Fellow Travelers,
Wow! What a difference a week makes. Last week we followed health authority guidance by setting out hand sanitizer, disinfectant soap and Kleenex. But the world has changed and so, too, has the guidance civic leaders and medical authorities. Now, the mandate is “social distancing”, that is, maintaining space between individuals. In an effort to provide social distancing, we are taking the following actions.
- Beginning this Sunday, March 15, we will have services at 8:00 and 10:30 a.m. This will allow worshippers more room to spread out in our sanctuary. The 10:30 service will be unchanged. The 8:00 service will not have music, childcare or a children’s program.
- Beginning Sunday, March 15, we will temporarily suspend our Adult Forum.
- Beginning immediately, all small groups and Bible studies will be temporarily suspended. Some of you might wish to explore Skype or Zoom meetings. Let us know if we can help you with that. Needless to say, we cannot prevent anyone from gathering. However, we urge everyone to use good hygiene and social distancing practices. We aim to restart these after two weeks, but will be monitoring the situation
- We will continue our practice of using hand sanitizer before communion.
In addition to these measures, the bishop has given these directions.
- Effective Sunday, March 15, communion will be administered using bread only.
- Effective Sunday, March 15, the passing of the peace by physical contact is to be omitted. Congregants may greet one another by saying, “Peace” or by a wave.
- The following announcement will be made at every service:
“Our Bishop has asked us to read the following announcements":
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, because of the outbreak of the coronavirus and out of an abundance of caution, I am requiring that we change the way we observe Holy Communion until further notice. As a health precaution, this parish will administer only the Bread at Holy Communion. Please remember that receiving only the Bread is considered a full reception of Holy Communion by the Church. We will also not be Passing The Peace by physical contact until further notice.
Due to the possibility of the spread of the coronavirus, those elderly and anyone who is immune compromised should consider worshipping at home on Sundays until further notice. Anyone with any symptoms of cold/flu should stay home and self-quarantine. Anyone who has travelled in any affected area of his country, or another country affected by the virus, should stay home and self-quarantine.
Obviously, these are extraordinary measures and they are intended to be temporary. We are told that life will return to normal eventually. And we are told that by taking these measures, we can reduce the risk to ourselves as well as to others. We all need to think not just of our own health but the health of others That is what love does
This is, of course, a fluid situation and we have never faced anything exactly like this before. We and our bishop are monitoring the situation closely. If something changes, we will let you know.
Until things normalize, we encourage you to draw near to the Lord, for he is our security during times of uncertainty and fear. And we ask that you pray the prayer we sent yesterday (below), or another similar prayer, regularly.
Be gracious to us, Lord, for we are in distress. We are powerless against this coronavirus that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. We cry to you for help. Give ear to our prayer. Almighty God, nothing is too hard for you. We humbly beseech you, Yahweh Rophe, our healer, to stretch out your mighty hand in power to heal those who are affected, to protect us, and to stop the spread of this virus that has already claimed the lives of so many. Do not let us lose heart, but keep us focused on you and fill us with your strength and goodness that we may proclaim your glory into the fear and darkness that this virus has stirred in those around us. Contend, O Lord, with the coronavirus and rescue us from its devastation. Great are you, Lord, and greatly to be praised. O our God, listen to the prayers of your servants and to our pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon us. O our God, incline your ear and hear. We do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O our God, because your church and your people are called by your Name.
Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Grace to you,
The Rev. Robert H. Henson
Grace Anglican Community
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