|Posted by communications on June 24, 2020 at 1:55 PM|
With all the turmoil swirling around us these days, seeing so many of you come out on Monday night for our St. Alban’s Day Car Parade was such a balm. Each time a new car rolled up, it was a joy-filled surprise to discover who was inside, and to get to chat for a moment or two. And together, you brought 104 pounds of food and toiletry items for the Red Wagon which were delivered to FeedNC--wow! As I told the group who helped plan the parade, the clergy may have been giving out blessings, but you all were the ones who blessed me. I didn’t realize just how much my weary soul needed to see you and celebrate something with you.
Now we ponder: what’s next for us, St. Alban’s? There’s not much we can say with certainty at this point, but we do know that we will not be re-gathering in our nave for in-person worship on July 1 or anytime soon. The virus statistics in our area are not improving enough and there are too many heartbreaking stories of outbreaks occurring in churches. However, our Bishops have recently indicated that gathering for outdoor worship in small numbers will soon be allowed, since being outside drastically reduces the likelihood of virus spread. We are currently waiting for further guidelines from the Diocese about this, but we are already imagining what that might look like for us for the remainder of the summer. While there’s a lot to still figure out, there are a few things I can go ahead and share with you about our plans:
Our 10:30 a.m. Sunday service will continue to be a pre-recorded online Morning Prayer service with a sermon and music. This service will be the most accessible to everyone, so it makes sense to have this be our principal worship service for the foreseeable future. This service will be where we continue put the majority of our time and energy, since it will have the broadest reach.
We are exploring adding 2 to 3 additional weekly services which would be held outside, weather permitting. We hope these will be services of Holy Eucharist, but we are waiting for the Bishops’ approval on that. Any in-person outdoor gatherings we offer will have to abide by very strict Diocesan safety protocols, including but not limited to: pre-screening oneself for possible COVID-19 symptoms, wearing masks, social distancing, restricting physical contact, refraining from singing, and requiring attendees to RSVP in advance to limit the size and allow for contact tracing if necessary. In order to safely offer these services, everyone must understand that abiding by the guidelines is a Covenant we all willingly enter, to protect the most vulnerable in our midst.
Of course, any plans we make for in-person gatherings are subject to change based on the current situation. If we’ve learned anything from the past three months, it is that we need to stay flexible and do our best to adapt with grace when needed. I am proud of the way our congregation has nimbly navigated all the challenges we’ve faces thus far, and I trust that God will continue to guide us.
To close, I’ll offer the scripture verse that has been running through my brain this week, from Deuteronomy, when Moses prepares to say farewell to his people, who are about to encounter new challenges as they enter the Promised Land without him:
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” -Deuteronomy 31:6, KJV
Fortunately, I’m not saying any goodbyes! But in this long season of physical distance and virtual community, I will take every chance I get to remind you (and myself) that God remains present with us and we need not give in to fear. God is faithful, and therefore, we can be too.
Yours in Christ,