Saturday, April 11, 2020

Presiding Bishop who preached at Royal Wedding offers hope for churchgoers during COVID-19 pandemic

From North Carolina-

The bishop gave his perspective on processing an Easter with no family gatherings and no going to church. Curry likened the feeling to the first Easter: Jesus executed; his followers uncertain where God was; then the miracle of resurrection.

"Easter was about a tragedy that was turned into a triumph; about God working behind the scenes, invisibly, in ways that people didn't know," Curry said. "And if we work together with our God and together with each other we will find our way forward."

Curry gained global fame two years ago for his passion-filled sermon at Prince Harry and Megan's wedding. On Easter Sunday he is set to deliver the sermon at Washington's National Cathedral. But, because of COVID-19, Curry has already recorded it -- on his iPhone to be streamed live Sunday morning.

"So I'll be home, sitting in front of a computer screen, watching the service like everybody else by livestream," Curry said.

More here-

Idaho Episcopal Bishop On Keeping The Faith During Pandemic: 'We've Never Been Alone'

From Idaho-

As Christians around the world prepare to mark the holiest day on the Christian calendar, many will be worshiping under a shelter-in-place edict. As a result, faith leaders are planning to share an Easter message unlike any other, in the shadow of COVID-19.

"I'm hesitant to say that it's all going to be okay because it might not be for some people; but it can be holy," said Rev. Brian Thom, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Idaho. "It's a time when God may not be more accessible, but we can more aware."

Thom visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to share stories of sorrow, sacrifice and hope.

More here-

The Easter of Empty Churches

From Atlantic-

In April of 2019—exactly a year ago next week—flames shot through the roof of Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral. Before long, the dread became the reality—there would be no Easter at Notre-Dame.
We could hardly have imagined there would be no Easter anywhere in Europe a year later.

The cathedral I serve, the American Cathedral in Paris, has been closed for three weeks now. It will likely be closed until the end of the month. But when we were forced to shut the gates by order of the government, we were hardly alone. This is the Easter of empty churches.

All churches, not just our churches, have been closed throughout Western Europe—the place where Christianity made its Faustian bargain, evolving from a small gathering of socially marginal believers to a dominant civilizational force.

The late Yale historian Jaroslav Pelikan wrote that, during the past 2,000 years, nothing had more forcefully brought forward the fundamental assumptions of each epoch in Western history than “the attempt to come to terms with the meaning of the figure of Jesus of Nazareth.” This, in a simple phrase, is the essence of Easter; on it hangs not hollow claims of privilege or longing for past grandeur, but the central idea of Christianity. But when the doors of the churches are barred, does any compulsion to make sense of Jesus’s story remain?

More here-

Friday, April 10, 2020

Seminaries launch ‘Dial-a-Priest’ to give prayers, last rites to patients so they don't feel alone

From Christian Post-

A pair of Episcopal Church seminaries have launched a hotline in which clergy can give prayers and last rites to people in the hospital over the phone, namely for coronavirus patients for whom access might be limited because of social distancing. 

Virginia Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary launched “Dial-A-Priest” on Tuesday through their joint project, the TryTank Experimental Lab.

The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, director of TryTank, told The Christian Post that he believed the coronavirus pandemic “has brought out in many of us the deep desire to want to help.”

“When a call comes in, it rings at the same time to all of the volunteers currently logged into the system,” explained Lebrija, who noted that at present “Dial-A-Priest” had around 100 volunteers “on the system,” plus 70 who were on a wait list.

More here-

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

I Dare Police To Stop Me – Anglican Archbishop Says As He Holds Church Service Amid Lockdown

From Nigeria-

Archbishop of the Enugu Province and Bishop of Enugu Anglican Diocese, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, yesterday, said the Province will not shut any of its branches over the Coronavirus pandemic.

He said shutting the church at a time like this would mean giving the devil an opportunity to ravage the people and the country, Sun News reports.

Chukwuma faulted the order of government to close and places of worship. He said it is unfortunate and wrong to categorise church and worship centres with drinking parlours, night clubs, markets and companies.

The cleric said he would not shut the because he is not the owner, as the church belongs to Jesus Christ, adding that if people were stopped from “running to their God in worship in a time like now the whole world is in confusion, where would they run to for safety, help and deliverance?”

More here-

Members desert Anglican, Catholic churches ahead of Easter

From Nigeria-

Members of Anglican and Catholic and Anglican churches in Anambra State are deserting their worship places ahead of the Easter period due to the ravaging threat of Coronavirus otherwise called COVID-19.

The churches shut their doors to their members last Sunday and resorted to Facebook and Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) radio broadcast to preach their sermons and directed their adherents to hook on to social media networks and on-air platforms.

At Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Awka, where Palm Sunday Service was held to mark the final week of Lent and herald Easter Sunday, Archbishop of the Province on the Niger, Alexandar Ibezim defended the worshipers’ action, saying the Church asked them to stay away from service in line with government’s directives.

More here-

COVID-19 takes its toll on pastoral care

From Connecticut-

For many, the practice of religion is centered around a sense of community. COVID-19 has ripped that away from mosques on Fridays, temples on Saturdays and Christian churches on Sundays, with services going online in some form for the time being.

But there’s another aspect to the practice of religion that has taken on a different form lately: pastoral care. These days, clergy either aren’t visiting their parishioners in their homes or at hospitals or are doing it on only an emergency basis.

“Part of why so many of us wanted to be ordained clergy is because we love the personal connections,” said the Rev. Tuesday Rupp, pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Woodbury. “For me, I experience my faith and relationship to God largely in my relationships with other people. It is really, really difficult right now in a lot of ways.”

More here-

Monday, April 6, 2020

Montana church leaders adjusting to COVID-19 impacts

From Montana-

The pews at Montana churches are usually filled with faithful during Holy Week, but COVID-19 concerns have made religious leaders rethink the way they deliver messages.

"We’ve been using every technological means possible," said Bishop Laurie Jungling of the Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

From live-streaming services to meeting with other churches over the Internet, Covid -19 is not slowing religious leaders down.

"Strangely it may be the busiest I’ve ever been," said Bishop Michael Warfel of the Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings.

Episcopal Bishop Marty Stebbins was ordained in December 2019. Previously she worked as a veterinarian with a specialty in epidemiology and infectious disease. She was preparing for high tech worship before Coronavirus came to Big Sky Country.

"When we started having cases near Montana I had a discussion with the clergy about starting to practice virtual services," said Bishop Stebbins.

More here-

Thank you, drive through, amen; Lebanon church offers unusual Palm Sunday service due to coronavirus

From Oregon-

Florence Christ drove into the parking lot at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Lebanon and rolled down her car window. “Are we your first customers?” she asked.

Her husband Kenneth Christ, in the passenger seat, leaned forward to peek around her and get a better look at the makeshift altar on the sidewalk by the house of worship.

Priests and church leaders were gathered outside. The church organist Ray Hendricks also was there, playing hymns on an electronic keyboard, safe from clouds under a sky blue pop-up canopy.

After exchanging pleasantries, Rev. A.J. Buckley, clad in a surgical-style mask and gloves, used a grabber tool to pick up a plastic bag that included a palm frond folded in the shape of a cross, as well as the church bulletin and Bible readings for the day. Mindful of keeping six feet away, Buckley used the grabber to transfer the items into the car.

More here-

Churches connect for Holy Week during time of pandemic

From New Hampshire-

Heading into Holy Week churches are deploying various means to keep their congregations connected to each other, and God.

“Even though we are really isolated we are being really intentional about being connected,” said Rev. Elsa Worth pastor of St. James Episcopal Church in Keene.

People are in need and really looking for some sort of spiritual connection, Worth said. Her church’s approach has not been on worship services so much as on shepherding the flock, she said.

“A little bit more pastoral and addressing people’s anxiety,” she said. “It’s a terrible time and people are having a terrible time emotionally. … It’s a time of lament and we’re not used to lament. … This is hard, people are dying all over the world and we have systems that are not addressing this that well.”

More here-

Sunday, April 5, 2020

NYC church has a unique way of lifting the city’s spirits

From New York (with video)-

It’s music to anxious New Yorkers’ ears.

Although St. George’s Episcopal in Gramercy Park closed its doors three weeks ago in the wake of the coronavirus, the church is still lifting the spirits of the neighborhood with pealing chimes.

“Church bells are historically rung to call people to prayer, in times of celebration, and in times of sadness,” Reverend Jacob Andrew Smith told The Post. “We wanted to specifically play some comforting songs that reminded us [of hope] during sadness. We’re tapping into the tradition to ring the bells during a tragedy — I would say we’re in a time of tragedy.”

So every day — at 9am, 10am, 3pm and 6pm — electronic bells ring out songs of comfort, including traditional hymns.

More here-

Wyoming churches begin receiving Episcopal foundation donations for COVID-19 relief

From Wyoming-

Two weeks after pledging $1 million to the state’s Episcopal churches in support of relief for those negatively impacted by COVID-19, The Foundation for the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming has mailed $460,000 of that grant to the 46 Episcopal churches in Wyoming. As needs evolve in the coming weeks and months, the remaining $540,000 of the initial grant, as well as any additional contributions to the fund will be allocated.

In Glenrock, The Rev. Leigh Earle of Christ Episcopal Church said many will have input into how its $10,000 is used in the community.

“We have asked our elected vestry and our outreach committee to vote on it, but we want the whole congregation to pray during Holy Week about what they think we ought to do,” Earle said Friday. “Right now, we hope to set up a Zoom meeting with the vestry and the outreach committee on Monday, April 13, to discuss it and vote, so that everybody in our congregation has the opportunity to tell us what they want to do.”

More here-