March 17, 2020
Late yesterday afternoon I received an email communication from our Bishop, Jim Hobby, that he is ordering the suspension of all worship services in the Diocese for at least the next two weeks. This announcement comes in tandem with the rash of suspensions of all kinds of activities in our state and nation over the past several days, and the accompanying decrease in the size of meetings that various government authorities recommend as safe (now down to ten people or fewer in the same place at the same time).
It seems evident that this outcome was going to come sooner or later, if not from our church authorities then from those on the civil side. At our meeting this week your Vestry and I were already planning to develop contingency plans to maintain COTS’ worship and life together should we be unable actually to meet Sunday mornings. As the Bishop’s announcement specifically permits congregations to live-stream their worship we will be making arrangements to do so this Sunday and as long as we are unable to be physically together.
This will be only our first, and least common denominator response. Recognizing that not all our members are endowed with computer or smartphone capacities, we will also be putting together plans to ensure ongoing contact and pastoral care for all members of COTS, starting with our existing small groups and others that may emerge as we move forward, and including especially our friends from the Maplewood Care Center and those who are confined in long-term care facilities and under quarantine, as well as our guests at the Kyrie Cafe lunch. We will be in further communication with you as details of what we will be able to offer each constituency become clearer. As a point of beginning, plan to join us online this Sunday as together we learn how to worship in the twenty-first century!
As a leadership team the Vestry and I are mindful of our calling to serve you. None of us is able either to foresee what may happen next, or immediately to discern a godly and helpful response. I am certain there will be questions and concerns as we move forward. Please let any of us know how we can help you. You may well bring to our awareness a circumstance we hadn’t considered, that we need to.
Please know that I am praying for all of you as we encounter this unprecedented crisis in the life of our nation. Please pray for me as well, and for all our leaders that we may clearly hear God’s instruction and promptly obey him. The Lord, who works together for good all things to those who love him, has not been unaware that we would face such a time as this. Together we will get through this season. Together we will even see him turn this great evil to good that will bear much fruit for God’s Kingdom.
in Christ alone,