An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 6/13/20

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Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. James,
I give you today a brief update as we come closer to the date which our bishop has tentatively set for re-opening our parishes.  That date remains 1 July 2020.  It is subject to revision, as he receives further information and recommendations from those who advise him.
  • Bishop Gates has formed a committee, with representatives from throughout our diocese, which is prepared to meet with individual parishes, as always via ZOOM or other electronic means to maintain physical distancing.  The function of that committee, as explained in a memo to clergy, wardens and treasurers, is to assist, not to deliver mandates to each parish, for he recognizes that there is no “one size fits all.”   Those guidelines are outlined in the diocesan document Journey by Stages.  Planning may begin even now.  Once reopening has been announced, each parish is to move at its own pace; that is to say, moving through the three phases as best and appropriate for its unique situation.
  • The Bishop reminds us that parishes are at all times to follow the guidance given by the governor, CDC, and his office.  I can assure you that the vestry and I will take most seriously established guidelines.
  • A pastoral concern of the Bishop, and one which I share without reservation, is that some among us may choose at this time to postpone returning to in-person worship.  That is your right.  No criticism shall be implied or pressure applied.  We are all our brother’s and sister’s keeper, to use the vernacular.  We have a duty, as people of faith, to respect the need to protect ourselves and others during this pandemic.
  • The diocese will continue to offer opportunity to worship via electronic means, which parishes that are not able to offer on their own.
My own week has been filled with conversations with fellow clergy and lay friends alike, in order to offer emotional and spiritual support, as well as to imagine the practical implications and execution of a restored, but altered in-person worship.  In addition, to support and show solidarity with my fellow citizens of Watertown, I walked again to Watertown Square, where with others I stood in silence, to contemplate how we move forward as a people to address the pandemic of ingrained systemic racism.  The story of Abraham and Sarah gives me further hope.
I bid you pray:

O God, you have bound us together in a common life.  Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the elderly and the sick, and all who have none to care for them.  Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy.  Grant this, O God, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

And may the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of God’s Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with you and those whom you love, this day and for evermore.  Amen.

 

Your fellow traveler-stranger in The Way,
CEB+