An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 4/17/21

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Dear Members and Friends of St. James,

Sighs of joy and relief probably escaped your lips, as you awakened to discover that the snow which had fallen has melted and the temperature is again upward bound. I share other news which, so hope I, will bring positive thoughts for your consideration.

Your senior warden and I remain committed to serving you and to bringing us to a positive outcome as we begin to emerge, with great caution, from the Covid-19 pandemic. After much discussion with fellow priests in our deanery during Clericus and individually, and following several recent Zoom meetings with diocesan officials, on behalf of our congregation, I have petitioned our Bishop for and have received a “regathering shepherd,” as required by the diocese, in order to explore the means of reopening for in-person liturgies. “Our shepherd,” or liaison, is a parishioner of St. John’s Church – Charlestown and is knowledgeable in his field.

In our initial conversation, several ideas became the basis for further discussion:

• Health and safety are paramount. Nothing shall be done in haste. No date has been set for an initial regathering. All guidelines of the Diocese and regulations of the City of Somerville must and shall be observed. No one shall be made to feel compelled to participate nor be made to feel “less than,” should he/she refrain from in-person worship. Proof of vaccination, or exclusion from liturgy due to absence of vaccination shall not govern a decision to reopen.
• Technology, if available and desirable, will be explored as a means of offering liturgy beyond the premises for those who wish to continue to observe distancing, and to others who might wish to learn more about us. FYI: Already, I know of several people, not in our immediate vicinity, who have visited our FaceBook page and the St. James website, as well as several who have asked to be informed, when once we return to in-person worship. Live-streaming has entered into our lives, but not yet at St. James. There is no mandate to undertake this step.
• Messaging, i.e. keeping everyone informed, is essential. That is to say, not only shall a reopening, whenever it occurs, be announced via appropriate means, but your wardens and vestry shall be involved in the process, because along with me, your cleric, they shall have to sign the final petition to the Bishop. And because we are a small parish and because I, since my arrival, have insisted on transparency, everyone will be involved in this process.

As your priest, I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is to me, professionally and personally, that the lines of communication remain open, clear, free of rancor, fear, and anxiety. This pandemic has exerted a control over our thoughts and beliefs and actions in ways still unfelt or expressed by many of us. I, myself, have not been exempt, although spared, so far, direct effects of the virus, as non-immediate family relatives have been and have recovered. It is paramount that you know, I am available for conversation.

I bid you pray.

Collect for the Third Sunday in Easter:

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to this disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever. Amen.

Collect for our parish St. James:

Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Collect for all care givers:

O merciful God, giver of life and health, send your blessing, we pray, upon all who are engaged in the ministry of healing. Grant that they be compassionate in their care for the sick and afflicted, fearless in their efforts to promote the health and well-being of the people in this and other lands, and be strengthened by your grace, for the sake of Him whose Cross is the pledge of victory over all powers of evil, even your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

The God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, and may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be with you and those whom you love this day and for evermore. Amen

Priest-in-charge and your fellow sojourner in The Way,