Yesterday was a busy day, starting with a meeting in the morning with fellow clergy of the Deanery. In the evening, I met with the Corporation of the parish. The Corporation includes myself, the wardens, and the parish treasurer. I can assure you that we followed all the medical guidelines with regard to social distancing and physical contact and we will not meet again in person until this crisis is passed.
In the deanery meeting we reviewed the diocesan pandemic plan. I am happy to report that our parish is in full compliance. I will act as the Pandemic Coordinator in this parish and my backup will be Colin Puchala, the clergy warden assisted by Cathy Yocom, our Parish Administrator. The congregational wardens and steward will be the other key players.
There were a few questions that arose and I would like to address those with you.
Is the Church closed?
The church is the people of God. We are never closed. In fact when much of the news is about the worst of human behaviour exemplified by hoarding, our response must be kindness and compassion. I encourage you to find ways to be a follower of Jesus in these troubling times. It can be so simple as phoning somebody who you know is alone and having a conversation. if you are younger, maybe you can grocery shop for someone older or pick up their medication.
Many of the activities that normally happen in our buildings, including liturgy and worship have been suspended but the work of Jesus continues. Cathy and I will alternate in the office for the time being. There have been a few people who have asked for access to the church and we can accommodate that if you phone ahead to the parish office. However, we ask that you be respectful of all the medical advice we are receiving with regard to social distancing. The AA groups that use our buildings will continue to have access to them.
What about funerals?
In his most reason pastoral letter Bishop John has said, “For those who have died, it seems appropriate, at least for the time being, for clergy to gather with immediate family only, to share in the prayers of the dead which point to the resurrection. More public gatherings of remembrance and celebrations of life could be held at a later date.”
This is sage advice and we will be following it. It is intended to protect everybody by limiting large crowds. What can be delayed will be delayed. What cannot be delayed, will have to be done with the smallest number of people possible.
How can I feed my spiritual soul?
Help is coming. I will be sending the Sunday readings and prayers each week. I will also do a reflection, which I hope will be done by video. Carol Bruce will be sending children’s resources as well for our children. We will also be putting together a package for our Seniors who are not connected through technology.
I have had the privilege of speaking to many of you over the past few days. I have been heartened by your sensible approach and by your concern expressed for others and for Nancy and I. We are blessed to be among you and we look forward to the time when we can all gather again as a family and celebrate our common heritage as followers of Jesus. In the meantime, I believe it is no accident that one of our readings for this week is Psalm 23.
We are reminded in this Psalm that God does not abandon or forsake us in difficult times. In fact, God the Good Shepherd walks alongside of us through the darkest valley and brings us to the other side where there is a banquet, rejoicing and eternal life.
I remain accessible to all of you. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by telephone: 343 540-6001. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Called to Serve,
Rev Canon Baxter Park