We are living through an extraordinary moment. We are all feeling the shock, the uncertainty and the anxiety of it. The good news is that we will get through it, together.
Here at St. Andrew’s we are implementing the recommendations of Primate Linda Nicholls, supplemented by the advice of our own Linda Kamhuka, who works in infection control by education and profession. Linda’s full recommendations are below and I encourage you to… read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them! Feel free to contact Linda directly with any questions or concerns about the virus personally, and we will continue to work together as it relates to the parish. As always, I welcome your feedback and questions.
In a nutshell, we will continue to have Sunday worship for the time being, but we are suspending coffee time and Lenten lunches, the common cup, physical contact, and we will physically distance from one another. And we will make liberal use of hand sanitizer! We will make any further adjustments along the way, as needed. These are changing times.
I am also working on how we might live-stream our service, so that you may participate from a distance. I hope to send a note about how this could work by Sunday morning. This is new territory for me, and for us, so it may take more than this Sunday to get it working well.
I know there are a number of folks out of the country who will need to self-isolate upon return. Please be vigilant and make the best decisions for yourself and your family, wherever you are.
I look forward to the day when we once again gather together as a full community. In the meantime, along with hand washing, we can make liberal use of the phone, email, social media and other forms of technology. I’m confident that the sacred cords of love that connect us always will remain strong.
Finally, I offer a poem (and a prayer) titled “Pandemic” by Lynn Ungar that has been making the rounds.
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
May God’s love surround you. May God’s peace be with you.
Linda’s full recommendation:
1. The recommendation from the World Health Organization is for aggressive preventative precautions.
2. Our congregation fits the demographic of those individuals at highest risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
COVID-19 Recommended Precautions for Church
- DO NOT COME TO CHURCH IF FEELING UNWELL with fever, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, or new onset of cough. Please do not come to church, even if the symptoms are mild.
- Social distancing during the service of at least one meter, if possible. This includes the choir not sitting together in the choir pews.
- Suspend the Lenten Lunches and coffee time.
- Suspend any physical contact between parishioners, including during the Peace.
- Suspend the common Communion cup at Communion.
- Encourage parishioners to use hand sanitizer prior to Communion.
- Reduced or no passing of the collection plates (having only one person handle each plate).
General recommendations in the community are as follows:
- Wash your hands often and well
- Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick with potentially infectious symptoms
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched
- Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill
- When sick, cover your cough and sneezes and then wash your hands