March 17, 2020
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Since I last wrote you concerning COVID-19 President Trump has issued some new guidelines, and last night the vestry and I met with Dr. Baber to discuss St. Philip’s continued response. Based on the new guidelines and Dr. Baber’s recommendation the vestry voted to suspend all in-person activities and events at St. Philip’s for two weeks, March 18 – April 1. This includes:
- Sunday and Thursday worship services;
- Sunday School;
- The Wednesday evening lent series;
- The Thursday morning Bible study;
- Open Table;
- Daughters of the King;
- The NA meeting;
- St. Philip’s Episcopal School;
- Use of the sports court;
- The Uvalde Food Pantry; and
- Philip’s Closet.
The vestry and I will meet with Dr. Baber on Monday, March 30, to reassess the situation. In the meantime the vestry and I will continue to keep up with guidelines and recommendations from health officials and Bishop Reed and Bishop Curry.
Bishop Reed will be making a statement tomorrow. Today Bishop Curry said, “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.” He encouraged online worship during this time.
It was an easy decision for the vestry to suspend in-person services, events, and activities. It is the right thing and in some ways the only thing to do. The effects of this decision, however, will be difficult, inconvenient, and require each of us to make adjustments. We like each other and like being together. Togetherness will still happen but in new and different ways.
Worship and Meetings
We will still worship and meet, just not in person. We will continue to live-stream through Facebook at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
We are working on continuing our other activities such as Sunday School, the lenten series, and Becky’s Bible Study, as well as creating additional options for prayers and devotions through video conferencing. We are setting up an account on Zoom. We will keep you advised as we make progress in this direction and send you a schedule of Zoom activities as soon as it is available.
This will be new for many of us and it won’t be the same as being in person but there are lots of ways to be together and wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, he is there among them (Matthew 18:20).
While we need to distance ourselves from each other, we must be careful not to isolate others or let ourselves become isolated. Distance not isolation is key here. This is where you can help. Please call, text, or e-mail and check on each other. Let me or a vestry member know if you need anything or know of someone who does.
In addition to the above-described Sunday worship and Zoom meetings, we are setting up a structure for contacting and checking on all parishioners. Jennifer Williams is coordinating this with the Daughters of the King and Uvalde Lamplighters. If you would like to help with this and are not part of either group please email Jennifer or call the church office 830/278-5223.
Offerings and Donations
Please, as best you can, keep up with your offerings and pledges. You can mail your offering to the office, drop it in the mail slot on the Mesquite Street doors, or donate on Facebook or the church’s website.
Also, please consider a donation to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund. We want to continue helping the people of Uvalde as well as our parishioners, especially those who might lose employment or work hours as a result of COVID-19.
The office staff and I will keep our current schedule as follows:
- Monday – Thursday: 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
We will let you know if this changes. Please do not come by the church unless you need assistance or have something that can only be dealt with in person at the office. All outside doors will remain locked. If you come to the office please ring the doorbell located on the right side of the Mesquite Street doors.
I will continue to be available for all pastoral needs. Please let me know if you need anything or know of someone who does. You may e-mail me or text or call at 830/261-9957.
- If you need to visit we can do so in person, by phone, or Zoom depending on what best fits the situation.
- I will be available for hospital visits.
- I would like to know if you are ill whether at home or in the hospital.
- Please contact me if you need assistance with finances, food, medicine, or something else.
One of the things I noticed this past Sunday with all the changes we made to the liturgy is that I did not miss what we omitted or the way we used to do it. I missed people who weren’t there. I found myself, however, being more intentional about what we were doing and more attentive to who was there.
It wasn’t liturgy as usual. I was present in a different way. The changes allowed for and even demanded a different type of presence. What if we let the current inconvenience and disruption focus our attention on who and what really matters? What if we let it make us more intentional about what we choose to do or not do? That sounds a lot like a holy Lent, the kind by which lives are changed, and resurrection is experienced. I pray you a blessed and holy Lent.
God’s peace be with you,
P.S. Say your prayers and wash your hand, Jesus and germs are everywhere.