An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 6/27/2020

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Dear Members and Friends of St. James,

I begin my weekly report with a quote from the letter of Paul to the Church at Corinth: “All things are lawful … but not all things are helpful.” (I Cor. 6:12) And so it is that I ask: Is there a dichotomy between transparency and truth-telling? My maxim is: Strive always for truthful transparency.

Although still obeying the mandates of our governor and our bishop, i.e. sheltering in place and wearing a face-cover on the rare occasion that I venture forth, I remain active in the name of the parish in addition to all the other activities that occupy my waking hours, such as responding to questions via telephone inquiries regarding our country’s political and social dilemma and unrest. And so, on to truthful transparency.

  • Reopening of our buildings and in-person worship: I joined this week in two important Zoom meetings, both with diocesan representatives and representatives from Church Insurance Corp., the insurers of our property, etc. These were meetings open to all clergy but attended primarily by those who have parish leadership roles and by wardens of parishes. In brief, our bishops have always understood the desire of clergy to reestablish in-person relationships with parishioner. Clergy want to be with and among “their flock.” That is certainly true in my case! Not surprisingly, the representatives from Church Insurance were equally empathetic. They are both business persons and devote Christians who work, in their own way, to ensure and insure the well being and continuance of our parochial outreach.
  • Both the Church Insurance representative and our bishops will work with those parishes that believe that they are capable of moving to Stage Two of “Journeys in Faith,” the document in which our bishops have outlined the procedure for reopening. However, during our meetings, both diocesan and Church Insurance representatives issued words emphasizing extreme caution in reopening prematurely as such a move could, as now seen in those states that have reopened, decimate many parishes, perhaps leading to closing of smaller parishes such as our own.
  • Working with our wardens and vestry, I will continue to monitor requirements for re-opening as announced by our bishops and the City of Somerville, in which St. James is situated. Truth in transparency: Do not expect that our parish will open its doors on Sunday, 5 July 2020. A prudent exercise of my priestly calling guides my thinking. I shall continue to make my weekly telephone rounds and to send out an occasional handwritten note. I remain available for on-line pastoral calls. I shall continue to make weekly visitations to buildings empty of people, but remain reinforced by my belief that the Church of Christ, in its essence, is not a building, but rather the people, individually and collectively, who gather—when possible—to share with each other and those beyond our four walls the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.
  • Beyond St. James, I continue to stand weekly, silently and with face-covering in Watertown Square, in solidarity with others residing in Watertown who work, publicly and privately, to eradicate social injustice wherever that societal illness seeks to destroy our common humanity.

A Prayer for the Human Family:
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his 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 ever. Amen

Your humble servant in The Way,
CEB+