Updates Regarding COVID-19 Precautions
Letter to St. Brendan's parishioners from Rev. Regis Smolko on Saturday, 3/14/2020
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
It’s with heavy yet confident hearts that we SUSPEND PUBLIC WORSHIP at St. Brendan’s Episcopal Church until this health crisis has abated. Every Friday at noon going forward, we will inform you all of the Worship status for the upcoming Sunday. We will be live streaming our liturgical worship weekly, and all will be able participate (even if you’re not on Facebook) in our weekly liturgy. It will feel like being at church while you are (in your PJs) at home. We will provide music and singing and spiritually nourishing sermons. We will follow the liturgical flow of the service with all the moving parts.
We will be in contact about a whole lot of other ways we wish to continue our connectedness as the Body of Christ. All the meetings I have scheduled for the next weeks will take place as scheduled, but either virtually or by conference call. (For marriage prep, please have a computer/device/printer nearby so you can receive forms, sign them and return them.)
There are two ministries currently forming that will need volunteers: one is a focused Ministry to Sick, Elderly and Shut-Ins during this challenging time; the other, a Ministry to our Healthcare Providers. (We have nearly 10 physicians and at least 12 nurses and other hospital workers who attend St. Brendan’s. They will be expected to work longer hours and will have needs that the Episcopal Church asks us to support in a special way.)
Some other cancellations that were not reported in our previous blast are the following: CRIES Meetings, Stitches & Strings, Brendan’s Boots and Highway Clean-up. (CRIES’ regulars will be notified by email soon.)
Since streaming communication will be available, let us know if you have creative, perhaps fun ways we can stay connected? How about an hour’s worth of real time life in our homes, like “The Jokes the Bertuccis Tell at Mealtime” or “How Regis and Ken Agree on What TV Programs to Watch,” perhaps, “How Judy Flick is Still Cleaning Up the Ashes She Received on Ash Wednesday” or “The Snyders', Their Courting Chairs:The Real Story.” Can you imagine what fun we can have?
So, dear Brendanites, we will make it through. We will learn a lot, develop all sorts of new ways of doing things, and learn to love and trust God more. We will get through this. We will come out of it better and bigger. We are St. Brendan’s!
All good to you,
Regis+ and Tim
Letter to St. Brendan's parishioners from Rev. Regis Smolko on Friday, 3/13/2020
In a letter that I received yesterday, the bishop has provided new guidance in a number of areas. [Click here to read the Bishop's letter.] Specifically, he has delegated decision-making regarding the Suspension of Worship to the parish priest in collaboration with the lay leadership of the parish.
Tim and I have been working closely for over a week on precautionary action steps as the situation has developed and changed rapidly. Here are our current action steps:
At noon on Saturday, March 14, you will receive an email blast regarding the availability of Sunday (March 15) Worship at St. Brendan’s (both 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. liturgies). Please make sure we have your most current contact information. (Revisions or additions should please be sent to Debra Hvisdak:
email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org)
If Worship is not suspended, ...
We will immediately begin exercising "social distancing" in church. Family groups can of course sit together, but there should be at least 2 empty chairs between individuals or family groups on both sides.
Because our chapel is small, such distancing would not be possible there. If Worship is not suspended, therefore, the 8:00 a.m. liturgy will instead be celebrated in the sanctuary.
The Peace will be celebrated without leaving our seats; bow, greet one another with smiles and appropriate verbiage, etc. but do not leave your seat.
We cannot permit intinction (dipping the host into the wine); this practice is too risky for you and for others. Sipping from the cup is still available, if you choose. The bishop has granted priests the discretion to discontinue this practice; I will not suspend drinking from the cup at this time, though my preference would be that we discontinue this practice.
If Worship in the church is suspended, we will be making arrangements to allow all to continue an active faith life. Technology offers a number of ways to do this, but we will also be developing some "low tech" and in some cases in-person means to assist all of our community.
We have thankfully expanded our technological capabilities for interaction within the parish for some time now; email sermon and sacred music blasts are rather common now for most of us. Our web site is user-friendly and up to date, full of great information. Our technical team is now working as fast as they can to allow us to stream worship and other activities and conversations to all friends and parishioners. We could have this operational by this Sunday, but next Sunday will be a surer bet. If we have to remain physically apart for an extended period of time, this will be one important way to remain together through this challenge.
All Coffee Hours are suspended until further notice, as too are all of the following:
adult formation experiences (Wednesday Meager Meals, Friday Sliding into Sabbath, Sunday Prayer Series, Bible study groups, the Modern Episcopalian Group, etc.);
activities such as Brothers’ Brother mail stuffing;
all ministries that use the building for meeting (12-Step programs, ESL Conversation Friends).
Meetings of the committees for St. Brendan’s (vestry, worship committee, etc.) will likely continue, but the respective chairs will determine whether they should occur virtually or face-to-face.
Katie will likely be spending more time working from home. Her revised schedule for hours at the church will be published for the parish and she will be checking the office voice mail frequently.
We will arrange for the church to be open at various times of the day and evening so that parishioners can have continued contact with their sacred place of prayer and spiritual uplift during this crisis. Please feel free to drop by once those opening times are announced.
God bless us and keep us positive—the church has been here before and none of this is new to God. God goes before us on this journey. We will come through this ... We are St. Brendan’s!
Here is a prayer written by the Bishop of Maryland that you may want to use throughout this crisis:
O God of compassion, giver of life and health, we pray your healing mercies upon all who are in any way affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Comfort and sustain those who have been stricken; relieve their pain, and restore to them your gifts of gladness and strength. Grant to all in authority the courage to make wise decisions that are essential for the common good, and strengthen them to lead institutions that care for those whom they serve. Watch over all first responders and those in the medical professions whose duty it is to care for the sick; guard them from all danger, and keep them safe in the knowledge that is through their sacrifice and service that the health of the whole community is promoted. Mercifully accept these our prayers, O God of all comfort, and our only help in time of need. Amen.