Dear Apostles Family,
I greet you all in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ on this Feast of St Patrick!
I’d like to share with you a few updates regarding Apostles services and ministries in light of the coronavirus.
This morning our Archbishop and Bishop, Foley Beach, met with all the clergy in our diocese via conference call. We will continue to gather for our regular Sunday, midweek, and Lenten services. In other words, we are not cancelling any scheduled services at Apostles. Our attendance last week at each service and gathering was less than 50, which is the recommendation (not the requirement) from the CDC.
With that said, Archbishop Foley reiterated the same instructions he shared last week:
- For members over age 60 or those with vulnerable immune systems, you are welcome to attend worship under a few conditions. The Archbishop asks you to consider (not a requirement!) staying home as a precaution given the vulnerabilities. If you feel healthy and it is wise to attend, please join us for worship.
- For anyone who is sick or has a family member who is sick, the Archbishop instructs you to worship at home.
- If you have returned from a coronavirus affected country outside the US, you are required to worship from home.
For those baptized believers who need to worship from home, it is important to know that we believe in the grace of spiritual communion in circumstances such as these. Spiritual communion teaches that we receive the grace of communion through faith, though the material elements of consecrated bread and wine are not digested.
Our Apostles staff has been planning for the days ahead as best we can in this rapidly changing situation. Fr Thomas has mobilized Table Groups to equip our leaders with practical tools to connect and care for one another. We have added new members to the Apostles Meal Team. If you are sick or suspect you have coronavirus, please contact the office for pastoral care and we will respond accordingly. I ask for your patience in all of these plans. We have a long road ahead of us and it’s important that our leaders have energy for the days ahead.
In that spirit, I believe it is very important that we exercise grace and patience in our relationships and conversations. I understand the various positions and debates about coronavirus and the changes to our daily life. We all have opinions on the matter. But do not let your opinion become a critical spirit or a source of dissension with your brother or sister in Christ. This is very important as many will communicate via social media in the coming days. The same Kingdom principles I shared regarding politics last month apply to these days as well. Please revisit those Kingdom principles here.
Last Sunday I announced that I would be taking a previously scheduled week away from Apostles. Archbishop Foley instructed me to still take this brief respite even with the recent changes due to coronavirus. I will be present this Sunday, March 22, to preach and celebrate Holy Communion at Apostles. Over the next five days I will not be checking messages, so please reach out to Apostles clergy for pastoral needs.
I have been reminded of words we have read from Proverbs in the Daily Office amidst these difficult times. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” Lent has always been a season to increase our trust in the Lord and never has there been a Lenten season in our lives where we have been stretched so much to trust in the Lord. We can trust him because Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, yet he is the Good Shepherd who is with us even when we walk through the valley (Psalm 23.4). Because the Lord Jesus is with us, we will not fear.