A Message from the Rector: Caring for Each Other with COVID19
The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part. Ephesians 4:16
Over the last number of weeks, we have seen unfold before us a possibly unprecedented situation as our world experiences the effects of the Coronavirus. We have been asked by our Diocese and the public health community to make modifications to our common life in order to help mitigate any possible spread of this virus. Our Bishop is also sending out a message to the Diocese on Friday morning, which I have seen a draft of.
First, we are a community of faith. Communities like ours come together to care for one another, help us all to grow and mature in the life of and serve the wider community. That is the case whether we can physically gather in one place or not. Our life together is our calling, as it has been in the past, and will be in the future.
Second, we have been asked to restrict large gatherings, excluding worship. Therefore, we have canceled the next two fish fries. We also canceled the Cotillion dinner. We are not serving any food at St. Paul’s; this includes donuts on Sundays. We are continuing the rummage sale on Saturday as planned.
Third, we are adopting or continuing these practices:
St. Paul's Episcopal Nursery School will continue to follow the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics for minimizing the spread of germs at school. It will follow the lead of the Mt. Lebanon School District for possible closings.
For general hygiene:
If you are sick, stay home.
Please wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds (say the Lord’s Prayer). If hand washing is not available, use hand sanitizer
Cover coughs or sneezes with the forearm or elbow (not your hands).
While at Church… Greeting one another at the peace, at the door before or after services: Offer exchanges that do not involve handshakes or hugs, such as eye contact and smiles, a bow or a wave, even the now-popular elbow bump. At the Offertory: Offertory plates will not be passed; they will be stationed by the doors and in the isles. Also, bread and wine will not be brought up from the congregation. Please consider moving to giving online at www.stpaulspgh.org. At Communion: Communion will be offered in one kind, meaning only the bread is offered. The teaching on the Holy Eucharist is that if you receive the bread, you have received the entire Eucharist – you can not receive half of the Lord. Clergy and Lay Eucharistic ministers will continue the use hand sanitizer before distributing communion. Communion will only be offered by standing stations at this time, in order to avoid touching the altar rail.
Fourth, as of this Sunday, we will be live-streaming our 10:45AM service, using Facebook live. You can view the service even if you do not have a Facebook account. You can view it here: https://www.facebook.com/stpaulsepiscopalpgh/. A PDF of our bulletin will be distributed via the weekly email.
Fifth, when the times comes, we are ready to move our adult education classes and groups online using the Zoom platform. The Zoom platform allows for participation both by computer and telephone. Please stay tuned for details on that. Our Children and Youth staff are also preparing faith formation activities you can do at home with your children and family, and we are ready to do online gatherings with our youth as well. We have a creative staff, who are embracing the opportunity of how to continue to grow in our faith during a time like this.
Sixth, I do not know what the coming days and weeks will hold but I am certain that God walks with us through this time and our community will continue during this time. We will continue to pray for one another and for all those impacted. Please join me in being in touch with one another, especially the elderly and the sick. You can call, video chat and write notes. This is an opportunity to work together to care for one another in new and creative ways. We will coordinate meals, and other assistance, for those who may have to be home-bound in the coming days. If you do become sick, please let us know, so that we can be there for you. We will continue to care for one another and serving our community and sharing God’s hope and love at this time of fear and uncertainty.
Last, your clergy are here for you! Laura and I are both available via phone and Skype. Please reach out to us for support, counsel and prayer. These can be unsettling times, and it will be a privilege to either of us to offer the hope of our faith to you personally at this time.
Holy and gracious God, give us the strength to meet the health crisis growing in our world. Enlighten researchers that they may discover the right vaccine against this disease. Guide the doctors, nurses and all medical technicians working with those who are infected to take correct actions for their care. Protect all medical staff and family or friends caring for those who are ill. Bring together the governments and governmental agencies around the world to work together to eradicate this health threat. All this we ask through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen. (This prayer is thanks to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia)