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March 27, 2020 Updates

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Wednesday, we celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her she would become the mother of Jesus. The announcement, nine months before Christmas, is one of great hope and expectation. God is also preparing to do something new and wonderful in us, as well. We are in a difficult time, a time of isolation and anxiety. But we won't be here for ever. On the other side of this crisis, we will have experienced God in new ways, and found once again that Jesus is with us when we need him. We wait in hope for what God is birthing in us now.

Below are a couple updates about how we can still be connected.

For Worship while we are unable to be in church:

  • On Sunday at 10:00am, Bishop Sean and our diocese will offer an on-line worship via Zoom. I will be one of the participants this week. You can log in via computer or dial in via phone.
  • https://zoom.us/j/857403996
  • Telephone dial in number is 646-876-9923 and use code 857 403 996.
  • On Monday at 5:30pm and on Wednesday at 5:30pm, St. John’s will be offering a on-line worship via Zoom. You can log in via computer or dial in via phone. This log-in and phone number code will be the code for all of St. John’s on-line worship services going forward.
  • https://zoom.us/j/2607141332
  • Telephone dial in number is: 646 558 8656, use code 260 714 1332
  • Intercessory Prayers will be offered via my Facebook Live account at the following times:
  • Sunday at 8:30am (Prayers for our parishioners)
  • Monday at 4:30pm (Prayers for the nations of the world and their leaders)
  • Tuesday at 4:30pm (Prayers for the bishops and diocese of the Episcopal Church)
  • Wednesday at 4:30pm (Prayers for the congregations and clergy of our diocese and the diocese of Western New York)
  • Thursday at 4:30pm (Prayers for our local officials and churches)
  • Stations of the Cross will be read Friday at Noon from the St. John’s Facebook account.

    The Food Pantry: At the request of the Community Food Warehouse, we are moving to a once a month distribution. This week's distribution is canceled. We will distribute next on April 16, and plan to distribute on May 21 after that. There will be no April 2 distribution.

    The Saturday Lunch continues to serve as a take-out meal.

    On-line giving: This week, the diocese has set up a system of on-line giving. Some of you have asked about the best way to send in pledges. At this time, you can either make an on-line gift via the link below (and choose "Sharon, St. John's" as the congregation), send in your check as usual, or hold on to your check and put it in the collection plate when we are finally able to regather. I am grateful for the generosity of all of you, and if you can continue to contribute at this time, we very much appreciate it. I also know that, given the current state of the economy, not all of you are able to do so. Please know that is OK, and you are in our prayers.

    This is the link for on-line giving.

    We will check messages at the church and can be reached by email or cell phone (814-688-7709).

    You remain in my daily prayers. May God watch over all of us during this time.

    Peace,

    Adam

    March 21, 2020

    Worship and Other Updates

    Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    The psalms say “Be still and know that I am God.” In this time when gatherings are largely prohibited, I hope you are finding times of quiet and stillness.

    Someone told me this week that more good has accomplished from the prayers of those in hospital rooms and prison cells than any other initiatives of the church. We can be in isolation or we can be in solitude, spending time with God. My wife has asked every day on Facebook, “Where did you see God today?” Some of the answers have been amazing. God is still at work, and we can see the divine presence surrounding us. This time is an opportunity for us to take a breath and pay attention to the important spiritual work that can slip away in the business of daily life.

    This week, in addition to the on-line streaming of the National Cathedral and other places, we are beginning a number of virtual worship services.

    On Sunday at 10:00am, Bishop Sean and our diocese will offer an on-line worship via Zoom. You can log in via computer or dial in via phone.

  • https://zoom.us/j/857403996
  • Telephone dial in number is 646-876-9923 and use code 857 403 996.
  • On Monday at 5:30pm and on Wednesday at 5:30pm, St. John’s will be offering a on-line worship via Zoom. You can log in via computer or dial in via phone. This log-in and phone number code will be the code for all of St. John’s on-line worship services going forward.

  • https://zoom.us/j/2607141332
  • Telephone dial in number is: 646-558-8656 and use code 260 714 1332
  • I will also be offering prayers on Facebook live from my account on the following days:

  • Sunday at 8:30am (Prayers for our parishioners)
  • Monday at 4:30pm (Prayers for the nations of the world and their leaders)
  • Tuesday at 4:30pm (Prayers for the bishops and diocese of the Episcopal Church)
  • Wednesday at 4:30pm (Prayers for the congregations and clergy of our diocese and the diocese of Western New York)
  • Thursday at 4:30pm (Prayers for our local officials and churches)
  • Fridays at noon Erin or I will pray Stations of the Cross on Facebook live from the St. John’s Facebook account.

    In addition, Bishop Sean has ordered the closing of all churches in the diocese for all purposes except feeding programs. This closing complies with current requests by our governor and public health officials. This means that neither Tina nor I will be in the office, and there will be no need for counters or other volunteers at this time. Only those working with the food pantry and Saturday lunches are permitted to be at the church, and only for the necessary operations of those programs. Those volunteers are required to practice social distancing while they are here, as well.

    We will check messages at the church and can be reached by email or cell phone.

    You remain in my daily prayers. May God watch over all of us during this time.

    Peace,

    Adam

    March 19, 2020

    Updates from St. John's

    Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    As we continue living in this uncertain territory of the COVID pandemic, we know that God is always present with us. In the midst of things that change, God is unchanging, and his love for us is steadfast and endures forever.

    I want to update you on information we recently received from Bishop Rowe, as well as let you know what we are planning as a congregation at this time.

    Yesterday, Bishop Rowe held a conference call with clergy and then sent out a notice to the diocese. He suspended all public worship in the Diocese past Holy Week and Easter. He also noted the the Diocese will be putting together an on-line worship service for our Diocese and the Diocese of Western New York beginning next Sunday, March 29. We have also been requested to postpone public weddings, funerals, and baptisms. We can do graveside services, emergency baptisms, and private weddings if necessary, but public services and parties will need to held after the current threat has passed. Bishop Rowe's announcement can be found here. All of these instructions are in keeping with the best current public health recommendations.

    Here at St. John's, we have been trying to find the best ways that we can stay connected and offer prayer experiences that are helpful to this parish. The vestry met by Zoom conference call this evening, and our plans at this point are as follows:

    For this Sunday, we invite people to turn the National Cathedral at 11:00am here. For future Sundays, the National Cathedral service will be streamed as well as a service for our Diocese.

    We will be putting together two on-line worship services each week that people can log into via phone or Zoom conference, and which will then be put onto Facebook. These will include scripture, music, reflections, and prayers. Right now those are scheduled for Monday and Wednesday at 5:30pm. Our goal is to enable our church to come together as a community for prayer at these times.

    I will be praying for various intercessions on Facebook live. I will pray through a different set of intentions from Monday-Thursday at 4:30pm. These will include world leaders, the Episcopal Church's dioceses and bishops, our diocesan partnership congregations, and local leaders. On Sunday morning at 8:00am I will pray for everyone in our parish. I will also pray for intentions that are given to me.

    On Fridays at 12:00 noon, Deacon Erin or I will pray the Stations of the Cross on Facebook live.

    We are putting together a phone tree and hope to have someone contact every family in our parish by phone on a weekly basis.

    We will try to get out regular mailings to the parish to reach those who use on-line communication less frequently.

    We hope to have on-line giving set up on our website sometime next week.

    If you have other ideas, please let me know. If you know of any pastoral or other needs in the parish, call the office or my cell phone. You all remain in my prayers, especially at this time.

    Peace,

    Adam

    March 13, 2020

    O God, come to our assistance.

    O Lord, make haste to help us.

    Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    This morning, Bishop Sean Rowe sent a letter to the diocese asking that public worship services be suspended effective this Sunday, March 15, for at least the next three weeks in response to the C.O.V.I.D. epidemic. Therefore, in addition to the cancelations and postponements announced yesterday, we will also be suspending all public worship services at this time. An updated list of programming changes is below. All worship will be suspended until at least Palm Sunday, April 5. All other programming except for feeding programs will be suspended until after Easter.

    Bishop Sean's letter may be found here.

    On-line worship this Sunday morning at 11:00am from the National Cathedral with Bishop Michael Curry can be viewed here.

    As we move forward as a parish during this time, I would encourage you to continue praying for all those affected by this crisis. We will not be offering on-line worship Sunday morning since the National Cathedral and others can do a better job. However, we plan to send out prayer and other inspirational material for home use, and are exploring some on-line prayer or study options. One of the best resources for praying the daily office or other daily prayer is found at Forward Movement. If you are interested in helping put together prayers or other resources that can be shared via social media or email, please let me know.

    As of today, March 13, 2020, we are making the following changes to our programming:

    Sunday Morning

    •8:00am and 10:00am worship is suspended until at least April 5.

    •Coffee hour is canceled until after Easter.

    •Sunday school is canceled until after Easter.

    •Other Sunday morning activities are canceled until after Easter.

    •Baptisms and First Communions scheduled for March 22 are postponed.

    Food Programs

    •St. John’s Family Kitchen Saturday lunches will be take-out only beginning this Saturday, March 14.

    •Episcopal Community Services Food Pantry volunteers will be meeting over the weekend to determine the most appropriate way to provide food bags without clients congregating in the hallway.

    Wednesday Programs

    •5:30pm Eucharist is suspended until at least April 5.

    •Dinner will be canceled until after Easter.

    •Musical Scholars class will be canceled until after Easter.

    •Choir rehearsal will be canceled until after Easter.

    Friday Stations

    •Noon Stations of the Cross Eucharist is suspended until at least April 5

    Other Church Programming

    •All other programming and meetings will be canceled until after Easter. However, arrangements can be made through the church for video conferencing or arrangements, as needed.

    Outside Groups Using the Church

    •Non-church groups using our facilities will be encouraged to cancel or reschedule their gatherings. In some cases, the meetings are essential. To the degree possible, all outside group functions will take place in Allen Hall. Allen Hall’s tables, chairs and other surfaces will continue to be regularly sanitized. Outside groups will be required to follow any recommendations issued from appropriate authorities regarding public gatherings.

    The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following measures to reduce the spread of infection:

    •Wash your hands often for 20 seconds using soap and water. When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    •If you are sick or have had a recent known exposure to the flu stay home. Avoid public places and contact with others.

    •Seek medical attention as necessary and appropriate.

    •Maintain up-to-date vaccinations.

    •Limit handshakes and hugs

    •Use disinfectant wipes on tabletops, countertops, doorknobs, handrails, and frequently used items.

    •Cough and sneeze into the bend of your elbow, rather than your hand. Alternatively, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.

    •Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

    •Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

    •If you have flu symptoms, wear a mask to help prevent the spread of infection to others.

    If you have other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. Making these decisions is heartbreaking for me, but I firmly believe that doing so will likely save lives. As Christians, we know that Jesus is the great physician. In some cases his healing is miraculous. In other cases, he gives us the tools to prevent illness and death if we are faithful enough to use them. The discernment of our church is that we are obligated to make use of solid science, research, and public health best practices in this crisis. Our prayers and these difficult choices are some of the best ways we can love and protect our neighbors at this time.

    Peace,

    Adam

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