Caring for one another in a time of concern
AN UPDATED MESSAGE REGARDING CORONAVIRUS: CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER IN A TIME OF CONCERN
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” John 4:18
Beloved of Christ,
The increasing numbers of individuals in the Bay Area infected with the Novel Coronavirus and its resulting disease, COVID 19, has led to heightened health concerns in the Bay Area. As Christians, we live in community with one another and are directed by scripture to walk in love and without fear. From a practical standpoint, this means demonstrating appropriate cautions to protect the most vulnerable among us without causing undue anxiety. As your pastor, I am deeply concerned about the well-being of all of our parishioners and have sought to make decisions about the way in which we at Grace respond to the coronavirus situation based on both scientific and spiritual considerations. To that end, I have consulted information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The Episcopal Church, The Diocese of California, and the elected leaders of Grace Martinez.
On March 10 Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) issued new guidelines for organizations in our area. Among them are to “Cancel or postpone large gatherings such as concerts, sporting events, celebrations, conventions, religious services and community events where 50 or more people are within arm’s length of each other and to cancel or postpone events for or attended by older adults or others who are at higher risk for severe illness.” Unfortunately, both our planned Lenten Breakfasts and St. Patrick’s Day Dinner meet those requirements. For this reason, with regret but also with the full support of your Senior Warden Christina Reich, I have cancelled the Grace St. Patrick’s Day Dinner scheduled for this Saturday, March 14. In addition, we will not hold further Lenten Breakfasts unless or until the CCHS directive is lifted.
On March 11, I received the following directive from Bishop Marc Andrus, “I prayerfully ask all churches in the Diocese of California to cancel ALL public worship services for the month of March, with the possible exception of weddings and funerals. This decision will be revisited by March 31, at which time I will communicate our next steps.”
The bishop has given us permission to “livestream worship services with a small gathering of clergy, altar party, and possibly choir members, making sure none in the gathering is among those most vulnerable to coronavirus.” In response to the Bishop’s request, this coming Sunday, March 15, Grace will begin livestreaming a 9 a.m. service of Holy Eucharist. Please check back for details on how to access the broadcast.
I will continue to be in my office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and to make pastoral visits as needed. However, for their own safety I have determined that Eucharistic Visitors will no longer be making visits to those who are unable to attend worship. If you are ill or need pastoral care, please contact me directly.
Live without fear. Your creator loves you, made you holy and has always protected you.
In Christ’s love,