Church in the time of Corona Virus: Worship and Community continue online

“Live without fear. Your creator loves you, made you holy, and has always protected you. Follow the good road in peace and may God’s blessing remain with you always.” Attributed to St. Clare
Dear Children of God,
On Wednesday, March 18, we received the following updated instructions from Bishop Marc about worshipping during this time of concern:
“As shelter-in-place orders take effect throughout the Bay Area, and with deep love for and faith in the resilience of our Beloved Community, I share the following new guidelines for our congregations in response to COVID-19…
In addition to the suspension of all public, in-person worship services, we ask that all other in-person gatherings, including funerals, memorial services, weddings and non-emergency baptisms, be cancelled and that all of the groups that gather at your congregation suspend their in-person activities for the CDC’s recommended eight weeks, or until May 10th. I am aware this time period includes both Holy Week and Easter, and I want to assure you that Easter will happen, and, once these orders are lifted, we WILL celebrate the resurrection with joy and great fanfare in our respective congregations and as a diocese…
[You may continue to offer] virtual worship services to your congregations using video streaming and teleconference… I am providing you with the following guidelines and pastoral direction pursuant to Canon III.9.6(a)(1): You may have the minimum number of people present who can make the worship service functional, and in any case no more than 10 total, ensuring that none are over the age of 65 or in a vulnerable category. All people involved should maintain social distance as required, and you should make sure it is the same group of people for every service to minimize the number of people who are in contact with each other.”
Based on Bishop Marc’s guidance, here at Grace we will continue to livestream a 9 a.m. Sunday morning service of Holy Eucharist. Because of the Bishop’s increased restrictions, we will no longer be including choral music in the service. You can access this service through The Grace Episcopal Church Facebook page. Last Sunday’s service, which was posted on Facebook, has been accessed over 500 times. This demonstrates that we are a large and resilient community of Christ.
In addition to the livestreamed Sunday Eucharist, Grace will also be providing a Wednesday 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist and Bible Study by Zoom Conference. You can participate by clicking on this link at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays.
We have posted an audio file of our most recent Evensong Service, along with the program for it, on both our website here and our Facebook page. Evensong is a calming and comforting service. We encourage you to access it as often as you like.
We have begun developing specific content for our families and children so that they can stay connected to our church during this difficult time. This includes a message from me, this Sunday’s Godly Play lesson on Parables and an art project that goes with it. You can find it under “posts.”
Holy Week and Easter WILL happen. The Worship and Liturgy Committee has determined that the planned Tenebrae liturgy and Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Even services will be available in some form online. We are committed to finding a way to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in a potentially new but still grateful and joyful way.
We believe that it is crucially important that we stay in touch with one another while we are geographically separated. Social distancing should not mean social isolation. To that end, Jennifer, Sarah, and I have created the connected congregation check-in system. This is an organized way of making sure all of our parishioners have a regular contact with other members of the congregation during the time we are unable to meet in person. Details can be found in Grace Notes.
As directed by the Bishop, we will be holding all of our regular meetings by Zoom Conference. I will be providing links to each group as needed.
I will be at the church on Wednesdays in order to conduct our Holy Eucharist service. Otherwise, I will be available by phone and email. If you are ill, need pastoral care, or any kind of practical help such as food or rides, please contact me directly. If you call the church number (925-228-6574) and press the button for the Rector, there is an option to mark your message urgent. Please do so if you need to. 
Your community of Christ and I will be there for you.
With faith in the mercy of God, salvation through Jesus Christ, and the continual presence of the Holy Spirit,
Rev. Deb

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