We have seen significant increases in the metrics of our COVID19 pandemic. I have also been experiencing the pandemic closer to home as a good number of our parishioners have tested positive for COVID19 in the last two weeks, many households are in quarantine and several members of our community have also lost loved ones to this virus. I am keenly aware of the loss and grief we all are feeling as this pandemic rages on, and many of us, myself included, will not be able to see our loved ones this Thanksgiving. I know this is hard. And we are weary. I also know that our perseverance is for the common good and will enable us to be together on the other side of this storm.
We have been worshiping in person and gathering in small groups safely since June. Though with the current significant uptick in cases in our regions, in consultation with the Vestry and Bishop, and in the spirit of the current Allegheny Health Department advisory, as of Monday, November 23rd, St. Paul’s will pause all in person gatherings for two weeks until December 7th.At that time, we will reassess if we need to conclude this pause or make other adjustments to it. This includes all in person worship on Sundays, in person choir, handbells, children and youth gatherings. We will continue to operate the Virtual Learning Center, provide Communion Appointments on Sundays, and provide No-contact Lay Eucharistic Visits. The building will also be available to volunteers. The Board of the Nursery School is making its own decision about its educational model (in person or remote), it most likely will be going remote during this time. All our opportunities for virtual connection and worship will continue.
This coming Sunday, November 22, will continue as planned with in person worship at 8AM, 9:15AM and 1PM.Our Bishop will be with us for our 10:45AM Livestreaming service, which will be his last visitation to St. Paul’s before his retirement next September. We have pivoted Sundae Sunday and Advent Pick-up from 12-2PM to be a “drive through” event, where no one will need to get out of their car. Conveniently, Betsy’s ice cream is served in a cup with a top already – perfect for eating in the car!
I am reminded of St. Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Those ancient words remain true to us today as well. We will get through this. We will get through it together.
Know that Laura and I are here for you if you want to talk, vent, or pray together. Please call the St. Paul’s emergency number, 412-440-8123, if you need any assistance including if you are ill or need anything due to not being able to leave your home.
The Reverend Noah H. Evans, Rector