Grace Episcopal Church

Reaching the world for Jesus Christ beginning in Casanova

Episcopal Diocese of Virginia-COVID-19

The Diocese of Virginia has set up a page on their website (COVID info) detailing plans for re-gathering and other resources. Check this site for updates. 


Here is a summary of the Diocese's plans for re-gathering (6/8/2020):

As you are well aware, we have been unable to worship face-to-face since mid-March. With the announcement of the Governor of Virginia to begin re-opening the Commonwealth, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has been developing plans for the Episcopal churches to re-gather for worship. The Diocese web site has a lot of information about this process on their website (https://www.thediocese.net/news-and-events/covid-19-resources/), but I will attempt to summarize the process below.

There are 4 phases of opening as defined by the Diocese, which correspond to Public Health Indicators of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are currently in Phase 1, where no in-person worship is conducted. Phase 2 will allow in-person worship with significant restrictions. Phases III and IV, will begin to progressively ease these restrictions. See this link (https://www.thediocese.net/Customer-Content/www/CMS/files/MWVA_Statement_6_0.pdf) for the full text of these phases.

So, how do we get to Phase 2?

The Diocese has recently (June 5th) developed Guidance documents and a Checklist for each congregation to use to develop a regathering plan.  Once the Vestry has had a chance to formulate a plan for Grace, it will be submitted for approval by the Diocese. Once approved, we can begin to meet once again face-to-face!

Vestry, Grace Church

A third letter from the Rector 3.27.2020


May the God of all hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing

through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13


Dear Ones,

We are coming up on week 3 of “fasting” from face to face worship. This is such a strange time in all of our lives but we shall all get through this and have a much deeper appreciation of receiving Holy Communion on a weekly basis. I gave receiving Communion up for Lent 1 year, a long time ago, and said never again! The Protestant folks don’t know what they’re missing by only doing it quarterly, if even that often. My hope is that we can return to our usual worship before I actually retire and move but that may or may not happen. ☹


Bishop Susan shared a prayer with the clergy on our Zoom call this week that is very appropriate to our uncharted, up in the air time in which we find ourselves. I offer it to you to use in your personal prayers. It was written by Thomas Merton.


A Prayer in a Time of Uncertainty

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust you always though

I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


That sums up what many folks are feeling as we journey through Lent together though not face to face. May God be present to each of you in this time apart.


As if having to wait until after Easter to be together again wasn’t bad enough, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has extended our time of uncertainty until May 8, 2020. It is a Friday, just before Mother’s Day, and my hope is that we may celebrate together on that Sunday, May 10th. Cross your fingers and say a prayer or just say a prayer (or two). I know that this is disappointing for all of us but it is a wise, cautious and caring decision on his part. I also believe that the level of social distancing that Americans are observing is making a significant difference in containing the spread of the C-virus.


So, what are we to do this week regarding worship? There are many options, none of which is perfect but so be it.

One option is simply to go through the Morning Prayer service in the Book of Common Prayer on Sunday morning. I would suggest doing it at 9:00 am, our regular worship time, thus saying it together, though at a distance. This is what I am planning to do this Sunday 3.29.2020. If you have a BCP at home, then use it. If you do not, the search online and you can find one to use there. Kevin has posted my Sunday sermon on our webpage if you want to go there and read it as a part of your MP worship or at another time. Pat Williams had a great idea. She is making up a regular bulletin and scanning it so Kevin can put it on the website for those who wish to have a touch of the usual this Sunday. The lessons for this Sunday can be found on the Grace Church website in the bulletin. The address is: www.gracechurchcasanova.org


Another possibility is through the network we call a diocese. The Diocese of Virginia has asked which churches stream an online service and there is a list of some on the Covid 19 Resource page on the Diocesan website. Below, you will find a sentence taken from one of Bishop Susan’s communication to clergy. In it is a live link you can use to go to the Covid 19 Resource page. Simply use the mouse to put the cursor over the link (in purple or blue for the GCC website) then press the control button (Ctrl is on lower left of your keyboard) and you will be connected to that page of the website. There are many resources there, beyond just worship, that you may find helpful.


We (Diocese) are gathering resources to support you in your holy walk in this particular season. They are posted on the COVID-19 Resource page on the diocesan website.


We are facing an unparalleled time in our lives, and as the body of Christ we will come through this time together. We are living in extraordinary times with the COVID 19 virus but at least we are not also dealing with the swarms of locust wreaking havoc in East Africa as well. Let us pray for the people of East Africa as we pray for those around the world.

May the God of all hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen (BCP p. 102 – Morning Prayer service)


Your sheepdog,

Jim+

A second letter from the Rector 3.21.2020

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7

Dear Ones,

Nearly everything we read or watch right now can provoke anxiety and fear. That’s why I want to remind you that “God has not given us a spirit of fear. Our God has given us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

When our trust is in Jesus, we have nothing to fear no matter what is going on in our world. What a great encouragement! And what a great witness we can be to our families, friends and community when many are living in fear. Stand strong in your faith, love your neighbor and be in prayer. At the same time be cautious and careful to follow best practices for your health.

The practice of social distancing is, I believe, a hardship on all at this time. We are so used to seeing each other face to face and being able to worship and have fellowship together. As a sermon I heard many years ago said, “And it came to pass…” The preacher pointed out, “It came to pass. It didn’t come to stay. It came to pass.” This too shall pass but in the meantime we all must deal with new ways of doing much of what we are used to doing.

One of those new ways has to do with worship. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has announced that the Episcopal Church will not be worshiping face to face until after Easter Sunday. I know that this is disappointing for all of us but it is a wise, cautious and caring decision on his part. So what are we to do? There are many options, none of which is perfect but so be it.

One option is simply to go through the Morning Prayer service in the Book of Common Prayer on Sunday morning. I would suggest doing it at 9:00 am, our regular worship time, thus saying it together, though at a distance. This is what I am planning to do this Sunday 3.22.2020. If you have a BCP at home, then use it. If you do not, the search online and you can find one to use there. Kevin has posted my Sunday sermon on our webpage if you want to go there and read it as a part of your MP worship or at another time.


The lessons for this Sunday are:

1 Samuel 16-1-13

Psalm 23 (how fitting)

Ephesians 5:8-14

John 9:1-41

The next paragraph was sent out by St. Stephen’s, Catlett to their members by their rector. You may wish to tap into this as a worship resource for Sunday or some other time if it is not available then.


Dear St. Stephen's Parishioners:

We have determined that a video of our Sunday liturgy will be higher quality, more seamless, and more suited to our current technical capabilities than our original plan of streaming a live service. We will therefore NOT be offering a service on Facebook on Sunday. Instead, Mark Lindsey will videotape a service Pete will offer every Sunday at 10:30 until we're allowed to reopen. No one will attend, so that no one will feel left out. Pete will consecrate the Eucharist but will not receive it for the same reason; until all can receive, no one will receive. It will be reverently returned to the earth in the Memorial Garden after the service. Once the videotape is posted for all to see, Mark or Karen or Pete will send word to the parish that it is available, along with the specifics or link for viewing. I deeply regret this turn of events and ask God's blessing on all of us as we struggle to maintain community as best we can. On the positive side … now you will at least be able to watch and participate in a Communion service every week. (You will be able to follow along in your Prayer Book; if you have one at home.)

--pete+


Next resource: The Diocese of Virginia has asked which churches stream an online service and there is a list of some on the Covid 19 Resource page on the Diocesan website. Below, you will find a sentance taken from one of Bishop Susan’s communication to clergy. In it is a live link you can use to go to the Covid 19 Resource page. Simply use the mouse to put the cursor over the link (in purple) then press the control button (Ctrl is on lower left of your keyboard) and you will be connected to that page of the website. There are many resources there, beyond just worship, that you may find helpful.

We (Diocese) are gathering resources to support you in your holy walk in this particular season. They are posted on the COVID-19 Resource page on the diocesan website.


We are facing an unprecedented time in our lives and as the body of Christ, we will seek to come through this time together. While there have been other epidemics in our lifetime, none of them have paralleled this magnitude as with the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.


Please pray:

Pray for all world leaders to be wise for the sake of all people under their leadership.

Pray for the doctors and nurses and all who work in hospitals and medical care to be protected and have the resources they need to carry on their healing practice.

Pray for public health experts, for scientists and bioengineers working to understand the virus and to swiftly find treatment and prevention that they might have insight and success.

Pray for all First Responders that they may be safe as they are under great risk in doing their jobs.

Pray for those in quarantine, that their spirits might be sustained, and for those separated from people they love by the circumstances of this illness.

Pray for those who are sick, that they may recover and for those who mourn the loss of those who did not recover, that all may be touched with the grace, mercy and peace of God.

Thank you.


The last item for this missive has to do with giving. The church is not closed! Though we are not able to worship or have fellowship face to face, there is still much going on, at least from the clergy perspective. I am working at being in touch with everyone by phone, text and email as well as preparing a sermon for you for Sunday and visiting when and where permissible. There are of course, bills that need to be paid on a regular basis as well, so please continue to pay your pledge or give in your usual way. Many, hopefully, will not have their income affected in their retirement nor will those who are still able to work, so please continue to support the church financially. To those who may be out of work because of our societal shift as we distance ourselves physically, do what you can in giving. AND if you can give nothing at this time, then give nothing with a clear conscience and begin giving again when things improve and you are able.

Please send your check to:

Grace Church PO Box 18 Casanova, VA 20139

May God’s grace, mercy, peace and love cradle you in these difficult days.

Your sheepdog,

Jim+

Letter from Bishop Goff (with Intro from Jim) regarding COVID-19

In the body of the email, and as an attachment, you will find a letter from Bishop Susan which she sent out late yesterday (well after office hours) regarding Holy Week and Easter. I will not otherwise preface it except to say, feel free to call me if you wish to discuss it, or anything else for that matter.

Blessings, peace and health to you all in Christ,

Your sheepdog,

ℐim+



A Letter from Bishop Susan Goff

Note: A text of the opening comments that Bishop Goff offered on webinars with the clergy this week and a transcript of questions and answers are posted here.

Dear Friends in Christ,

During Holy Week and Easter, it is our Christian responsibility and honor to walk with Jesus along the way of the cross. We follow his path from suffering, through death and right through to life on the other side. This year we in the Diocese of Virginia will join with people of faith around the world on a different kind of Holy Week and Easter journey.

As the world community works together to slow the spread of COVID-19, we will not gather publicly for worship or other activities during the most holy time of the year. Let there be no doubt that this will stretch us, and let there be no doubt that we will worship God, we will commemorate the last week of our Lord's earthly life, we will celebrate the wonder and glory of the resurrection. We will do it all in ways that will honor God, that will honor the health of the most vulnerable among us, and that will honor the restrictions placed upon us by our civic leaders. We are the Church, and we will be the Church during Holy Week, on Easter Day, and for as long as God calls us.

We are gathering resources to support you in your holy walk in this particular season. They are posted on the COVID-19 Resource page on the diocesan website.

Together, (*not face to face though*) we will worship and do the work of evangelism that is so much a part of our Holy Week and Easter journey. Together*, we will tell the story of our faith in compelling ways. Together*, we will address financial issues in a season when congregations depend on offerings to support God's mission. (*italics mine JHC+)

As we move toward a new kind of Holy Week and Easter, do not be afraid. God is bigger than our fears, bigger than our sense of loss. God is present and at work in this pandemic, showing us renewed ways to be community. The truth of this time remains eternal:

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again.

God bless you. God bless us all as we walk this road in hope, in truth and in growing faith - together.

Faithfully yours,

The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Brooke-Davidson

Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority Assistant Bishop

Let us pray.

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.