In my Easter sermon I talked about the strange experience of celebrating the resurrection in the middle of a pandemic. The pandemic, with its stay-at-home orders and the economic shutdown, will all have a lasting effect on our congregation. Some of the changes are hard but some may turn out to be blessings. God has graced us with many gifts and with resilience. We are learning new ways to connect, worship, and serve, and these lessons will allow us to grow spiritually and as a community.
The pandemic will likely be with us for a long time, even after the stay-at-home orders are lifted. As we enter the season of Easter, our focus is shifting from reacting to the pandemic to planning for life in the new, post-pandemic world.
Today, I would like to review all that we have done as a congregation since the start of this pandemic.
- Stay Connected, Stay Church, and Take Care of Each Other. We started with the intention to learn new ways of connecting, worshipping and caring for one another.
- Call Everyone: In the first week of social distancing, our Care Teams called everyone in our parish directory to check on them. These calls were gratefully received.
- Care Groups: The following week we began organizing our new Care Groups, assigning each family or person in our parish directory into a group with four other people/families. Care Groups purpose is to assure that everyone in the congregation gets a contact, at least weekly, to make sure that they are well both physically and spiritually, and to see if they need anything or have anything to offer.
- Live-Streaming Worship Services: Starting on March 14th, with the order to suspend worship, we began using Facebook to live-stream our worship services.
- Closed Church Building. We closed the church building when the stay-at-home order was issued. All of our 12 step groups and other users of our building are now locked out. Our staff and clergy are working from home.
- Feeding Program Continues with to-go meals distributed at the door. We are committed to continuing to feed people in a safe way. We have stringent procedures in place to protect both our volunteers and the guests who come to the door to receive meals. We continue to deliver meals to 3 homeless camps each week as well.
- Holy Week at Home. We created and mailed to everyone on our mailing list a booklet containing worship services designed for home use for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. We also live-streamed these services.
- Easter Day Worship online. The Easter Day service was beautiful, and we were (finally) very successful with the live-streaming. All Holy Week services and their sermons are available as video recordings online.
- Easter Day Coffee Hour online: We gathered in a zoom meeting after Easter Worship and had a wonderful time of fellowship.
- Vestry and Staff Meetings online using Zoom.
- Paycheck Protection Program Application: The Vestry voted to authorize application for a PPP loan/grant from the SBA designed to keep people employed. This application was submitted, and we await notice.
- Charitable Grant Application: We were invited to apply for a grant to a private charitable foundation to support our feeding program. This application was submitted Monday in Easter Week.
- Continuing Employment for grounds keeper and janitorial staff. We are committed to continue to employ, as long as possible, the people who maintain and clean our building and grounds.
St. Dunstan’s Sunday Coffee Hour
We will continue to offer coffee hour online after Sunday worship.
Here is the link to coffee hour.
Morning Prayer and Compline offered online daily.
These services are ongoing, and you are welcome to join us at 8:00 AM for Morning Prayer and 8:00 PM for Compline, Monday through Saturday. It is helpful to have a Book of Common Prayer available, but not required.
Here is the link to our Daily Office gatherings.
Freedom in Christ: Forgiveness Online Classes resume
We will do a review session on Monday, April 27th to catch ourselves up with what we learned before the shutdown interrupted our classes. All are welcome to join us for this renewed class, even if you missed the first sessions.
Here is the link to classes.
Congratulations and thank you if you got this far and are still reading. We have had to re-imagine what it means to be church. What is a “congregation” when we are not allowed to congregate? God is blessing us, even now, and we are learning new ways of being church that will enrich us for generations.
You are all in my prayers. Stay connected, stay church, and take good care of yourselves and one another.