Greetings to the good people of St. John’s,
As you all know, we are living in a period of time right now that is a source of anxiety, concern, and lack of knowledge; not to mention, fear. We are walking through a Lenten season that is new territory, a wilderness in many ways, with the worldwide issue of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Bishop Andy Doyle sent out a letter around noon on Friday to the diocesan clergy and Standing Committee with his thoughts, prayers and recommendations for how we are to continue to pray, worship and be God’s servants in the midst of this virus. The Bishop so succinctly stated, “We are not attempting to stop the spread of the virus. We are attempting to slow the spread down to a low multiple so our health systems may be at their best and provide rooms and ventilators for those that need it.” We learned these lessons in both China and Italy.
So, I am asking you, the vestry is asking you, and our Bishop is asking us to take the necessary precautions. What will that look like at St. John’s?
Sunday, March 15, we will have services at the regular times with the following modifications: no chalice, no wine, no music, no coffee hours, no adult education, no lunch, and no gathering of the youth in the afternoon. All services will be live streamed on Facebook, and will be available for replay after services. Information about connecting to these videos will be sent out later today.
Sunday, March 22, there will be one service at 10 a.m. in English via live streaming on Facebook; and a Spanish service at noon also via live streaming on Facebook.
The Bishop is not asking the clergy not to lead worship; the Bishop is asking all of you to stay home.
Bishop Doyle states in his letter, "It is my Godly counsel that we refrain from gathering for worship and in large groups at our churches during this time of Covid-19 outbreak - enabling us to slow the spread. I am asking all parishioners to worship with us from home for the next two weeks."
Staying home provides the opportunity to worship in different ways. Again from Bishop Doyle's letter: "Is it uncomfortable? Yes. Is it irregular? Yes. Is it new? Yes. But is it Christian? Yes. Is it missionary? Yes. Will it require our best efforts? Yes. Will we have to figure out new ways to worship, spread the Good News, and serve our neighbors? Yes.
How timely that our Lenten meditation booklet, “Living Well Through Lent 2020”, is based around the theme, Practicing Courage with All Your Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind. How appropriate, today’s reading is “When God Calls Us to Move out of our Comfort Zones”. The Bible verses with today’s meditation is, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”
In response to the Bishop's call for us to "stay home", the church office will be closed beginning on Monday, March 16 until further notice. We will be working virtually from home. If you need to reach me, my cell number is 769-257-2377. We will finish our Wednesday Lenten series at another time. All outside groups that hold meetings are being contacted that they will not be able to meet until further notice. Vestry meeting, March 16, will take place via Zoom from the church. Other meetings are being postponed or taking place via Zoom. The work and worship of the Church continues, it will just look different for a while.
May we hold in prayer all those around the world battling this virus, medical workers and each one of us—God’s beloved children. Your support and understanding are gratefully appreciated.
The Rev. Ann McLemore
St. John's Episcopal Church
11201 Parkfield Drive, Austin, TX 78758 (the corner of Parkfield Drive and Braker Lane)
P. O. Box 81493, Austin, TX 78708-1493
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