March 25, 2020
Beloved of St. James,
So much has changed since my last letter (see below) on our response to the COVID–19 virus. We are currently under a stay–at–home Executive Order issued by the State of Oregon requiring that the vast majority of us stay in our homes except for reasons deemed “essential.” Those would be such activities as grocery shopping, pharmacy and medical visits, and a handful of other reasons. Here is a link to the actual Executive Order so that you can read it yourself.
St. James Church remains closed for all worship services and meetings. We will remain so until the threat has passed. I can categorically say that we will not be together for Easter this year. In addition, all outside groups that use our building have stopped meeting here. I am no longer going into the office nor is Cindy, our parish administrator. We will, from time to time, pick up the mail, process donations, and pay bills – these actions being essential for the continuation of the parish.
At this time, we do not know when the physical isolation will come to an end. The forecasts I am seeing are grim, particularly if we ignore or flout the isolation guidelines. Personally, I am taking this very seriously and will be working from home for the foreseeable future. I ask you to do the same and encourage all those you know and love to stay home!
I am available to you by email, phone, text, or face–to–face via Zoom. If you do not know how to “zoom,” I would be happy to help you get comfortable in this new environment. While it is a lot like Skype, which some of you already use to be in touch with family members, Zoom allows for lots of people to appear to each other on the same call. In fact, my tennis group, while no longer playing twice a week, has moved our after–tennis social time from the coffee shop to Zoom.
Please, please, please stay connected with me and with each other. Reach out every single day to at least one St. James member just to check in with them. Consider working your way through the directory so no one is left out. Now, more than ever, is our time to truly be Christ to each other and to our hurting world.
Take care of yourself. Take your vitamins, eat well, catch the sun on your face when it comes out, get good rest, read something that moves you, watch some funny movies, pray deeply. Use this time, as much as you are able, to refresh yourselves. May we come through this time having allowed it to deepen us.
You are loved!
March 12, 2020
Beloved of St. James,
Times are uncertain and the specter of illness now looms large. The COVID-19 virus has brought with it unprecedented uncertainty about how to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy. While the number of confirmed cases is still low, Oregon is under a state of emergency, school districts are closing, colleges are sending students home and arranging for online learning for next term, and travel is becoming more and more restricted. If ever there were a time to apply, “It is better to be safe than sorry,” this may be that time.
Out of an abundance of concern and love for our parishioners, the Vestry and I have met and come to the decision to cancel church services for the month of March. In addition the Vestry, and other groups of 10 or more, will not meet in person. This type of “temporary closure” is also being implemented by a number of congregations in the Diocese. We will assess this decision on a weekly basis and modify the closure as necessary to ensure we are doing all that we can to keep you safe.
We are working on a way to permit you to join in worship opportunities from the comfort of your own homes. We will send out another email within the next couple of days to update you. This remote plan will mean using a computer, tablet, or smartphone to access either live worship from our church, or to later view the recordings. This is not the ideal format for worship, given how deeply we Episcopalians believe that it involves our whole bodies and how dearly we hold the tenet of gathered, common worship. But it may help us to stay connected in the interim. I hope and pray this situation will be over shortly.
We also know that the threat of illness and measures taken to minimize risk and exposure can result in social isolation. Being alone when you would prefer not to be alone is a hard thing. I encourage each of you to reach out to those you know by telephone on a regular basis. Think about others as well. Who usually sits near you at church? Whom do you see at coffee hour? Think about those people, keep them in your prayers, and give them a call from time to time.
Please take care of yourselves. Wash your hands, get enough sleep, eat well, take some fresh air, wash your hands again, pray, stay at home if you feel ill, and be kind to everyone you meet (while staying at least 6 feet away from them).
With great affection and in the hope that we will be back together again soon,