August Regathering Update from Fr. Daniel

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We begin the dog days of summer crossing the 20th week of our coronavirus distancing measures that began back in March. We can give grateful thanks that after that first initial and tragic wave of sickness, including four covid-related deaths in the parish, no one has become gravely ill. As we look ahead to the coming months, here is an update on our current activities and our regathering plans.

Some parts of the church spaces are already open and active: the church grounds, including the labyrinth, memorial garden, churchyard, and lawns, have been open and well-used throughout the pandemic. We reopened the church building itself in early June, and many of us have been able to pray in the space again, though with the poignant sense of loss at our inability to fully regather for regular worship.

We are gathering live outdoors for several small-scale worship events: Sunday Compline now gathers on the labyrinth at 9pm each week (and is also available on Facebook livestream). In addition, a Thursday 7pm meditation/contemplative prayer group has formed on the labyrinth and will continue weekly into August. (Check the Wednesday weekly email for details).

On August 16 at 5pm we will hold a safely-distanced social/musical event on the lawn and parking lot of the Chittim-Howell parish house. This will be a an ideal time to take advantage of safer summer gathering outdoors, as we come together onsite and online to share love, care, and conviviality with one another. Watch the Wednesday weekly email for more details on this event.

And now looking ahead to the fall:
Due to the current spiking of infections across the country, our bishops continue to follow the recommendations of the governor and strongly urge that we NOT regather until we progress into later phases of reopening. St. Paul’s will continue to offer Sunday worship online throughout the fall or until we move into Phase 4 and beyond. We will continue to invite readers and intercessors to join in person, and we will look for other ways to make worship as dynamic as possible. The vestry will continue to discern other formational, missional, and social ways beyond worship that we may continue to engage with one another as individuals and as church, and to engage with the world’s needs in this time.

I want to thank you all for such fortitude and resilience during these past months. I have seen over and over again how so many of us carrying our own burdens of loss and hardship have nevertheless reached out to carry the burdens of others both inside and outside the parish. These acts of kindness, bravery, and generosity are the glue of relationship that continues to bind us together in love. I offer my grateful thanks to the vestry for their steady oversight in this season, and to the staff for their adaptability in taking on new roles to support the parish in new ways.

And finally a grateful shout-out to the many volunteers who are mowing, weeding, gardening, collecting and distributing food, making masks, and offering hospitality to visitors in the church. It’s been a hive of generosity on campus this summer!

As we continue through this month of nature’s abundance, pause for a few moments of gratitude whenever this community of St. Paul’s crosses your mind or heart or screen or path in some way. Take a moment to give thanks for the ways in which St. Paul’s has blessed you, and the ways in which it has invited you to bless others. Church is a state of heart and mind that moves beyond all walls, and we are learning new ways to be church and to be Love to one another each and every day.

Blessings on this continuing pilgrimage of learning, love, and growth!

Daniel +

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