An Open Letter from Rev. Clarence, 9/19/20

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Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. James,
While spending some time this past week, alone, in the resplendent and spacious sanctuary which defines St. James and listening to the muffled sound of traffic on Broadway and after returning home to read an email from a friend-musician in a not too distant parish who inquired about our status—it would appear that her parish, too, has not leapt to reopen—I reviewed for the nth time the guidelines set by our bishop for regathering. I read, as well, the updated guidelines from the City of Somerville which continue to limit both indoor and outdoor gatherings to 10 persons. Somerville’s guidelines make no distinction between related and non-related persons and nor did I discover an exemption for religious communities. I quote that particular guideline here:

Phase 3 reopening in Somerville remains on hold, outdoor fitness alternatives allowed. 10-person indoor or outdoor gatherings limit remains in effect.

Somerville, the Commonwealth’s second densest municipality, together with neighboring Medford, has set guideline with Tufts University, in order to contain further explosions of cases in the city, as other college campuses and towns have reported.

I have reported all this to our wardens and vestry. With no vaccine in sight, our diocesan officials continue to emphasize observing regulations set by each municipality, and in our case the City of Somerville. Our diocese begs for patience and caution. With these restrictions in place and an actual reopening perhaps still months away, there are, nevertheless, still things which we can: Together with our wardens. I hope that we may establish a “reopening committee” which can address concretely the items presented in guidelines distributed by our bishops. They are not onerous, but they do require deliberate effort.

In the meantime, acknowledging that we all long for community. Circumstance dictates, though, that we rethink and revision “what it means to be in community.” I remain at your disposal, not only through this weekly update, but via emails or telephone conversations. I beg that you will all continue to reach out to each other, as well. A brief telephone call, so I discover, removes the feeling of isolation and keeps us connected. What continues to amaze and infuse me with hope is your devotion to our parish which is measured most concretely by your continued financial support, even absent our typical Annual Appeal. Your faithfulness verifies to me what I have felt each day that I am among you: We are custodians of a mission passed down to us, to be open to all on the corner of Broadway and Clarendon and we are intent on passing that same devotion and commitment to those who come after. Thanks shall you have for reminding me daily of our calling.

I bid you pray:

O merciful God, who has taught us in your holy word that you do not willingly afflict or grieve the children of your Creation, look with compassion upon us and all humankind, that we may come to know your will for us in the building of your kingdom on earth as in heaven, through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen

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 God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representative; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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 Chris our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with and remain with you and those whom you love this day and for ever. Amen

Your humble fellow in The Way