Rector’s Note 20 August 2020
Finally for some good news about the quarantine, though perhaps not all that you wanted.
Maricopa County numbers are finally headed in the right direction, and the Bishop, COVID Task Force, and the State Attorney General’s offices are all in agreement that we are getting close to being ready to open up to Phase II, having limited size services indoors with masks and social distancing. Close.
But we are close enough that Bishop Reddall has given parishes permission to hold Phase II services out of doors, while acknowledging how unkind that can be in August in Phoenix.
So Sunday morning we are having our first Eucharist since before Easter, and we are having it at seven a.m. And there are a number of conditions spelled out below and in a letter sent out to the parish by Dr. Stephanie Conrad, our senior warden, and on the website. So, it is essentially a late Easter sunrise service!
Hopefully, if everyone continues to exercise caution and the situation continues on its current trajectory, we should be able to meet indoors in a couple of weeks. We are still following the criteria from the Arizona Department of Health.
But I wanted to tell you what we have been up to while we were not in the building. The parish has a threefold mission statement: to Know, Love, and Serve Christ. We have kept up with those three areas by
-increasing our Bible studies and classes, offering online VBS, take home materials, and daily offices through a variety of online platforms
-continuing our summer schedule of worship unchanged and without missing a week, plus daily offices and focusing many of our class options on deepening our personal and communal relationship with Christ
-serving our members through Community of Hope calls to senior members, clergy, staff, and vestry calls to parishioners, COVID outreach group organized through the office, and direct support of members, guests, and partner ministries through your giving and the Rector’s discretionary fund
Personally, this is the busiest summer of ministry I have had in my twenty-five years of working for churches. I have been learning to offer online services, meetings, and classes while still visiting the sick and walking with people through birth, life, tragedy, marriage preparation, and deaths at times on the phone, at times in hospital rooms, in trauma centers and homes.
I have managed to lead services from the church and for one week from the road with family (literally at a roadside park for one) and daily offices from my backyard, fire car, and an airport or two. I have studied, prayed, and prepared from both home and the office, worried with parishioners and staff members through possible exposures, life changes, and more difficult decisions than I care to revisit. I have continued to study, pray, and love people in these strange and difficult days.
But we have been really blessed. We have not lost a member to COVID, though we have mourned the loss of some of our senior members to other causes. We have a few people who have survived the illness, and many who have quarantined and waited to get cleared from possible exposures. But we have been able to be in our sanctuary to broadcast services (due to some generous special gifts) and in the office pretty much the whole time. Our sanctuary and grounds have been open throughout the quarantine and lovingly cared for and improved. People have been helped, served, and met with the love of our Savior.
Ministry has not stopped. This is Christ’s Church, and we are his people.
I hope that you have been working to Know, Love, and Serve Christ more deeply during this time. It is not over yet, even with the tiny openings for services to begin again. Now is the time to hold the line.
Many people will not be ready yet to return: others should not be for good reasons. Some people cannot for reasons of their own.
But even as this season begins to shift again, your ministry should not stop. Study with us or with others. Worship at home and with us. Pray for and Serve the world. We are a royal priesthood, God’s own children, and we have a purpose that has not wavered or changed. We are to love in his name until we are all his again.
People need the good news we have more now that ever. They need to experience God’s love. They need us to be the church, to hold the light of Christ high, and proclaim that he is the Lord of love.
Be a part of what we are doing, what we have always done, and what we will do in Christ’s name.