Saturday, April 18, 2020

‘Martyrs of Memphis’ have lessons to teach those battling COVID-19

From ENS-

The martyrdom of Constance and her five companions, who died within a month of each other while ministering to residents of Memphis, Tennessee, amid the 1878 yellow fever epidemic, has always inspired the ministry of St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral.

The Rev. Laura Gettys, the Memphis cathedral’s interim dean, told Episcopal News Service that the question is how to continue to live out the story and not leave it on the shelf as a legend from the past. She said that is especially true now as the COVID-19 pandemic inspires members of the cathedral but restrictions on movement challenge their ministries.

“On the days when I particularly feel overwhelmed, I’m mindful of what they did. They showed up and were faithful and were present to those who needed them the most. They were there for prayer, for love, for compassion, and many times for medical care,” Gettys said.

More here-

Families parade to show appreciation for Richmond teachers

From Virginia-

St. Michael’s Episcopal School families surprised teachers on Thursday with a caravan of well wishes to show their support and gratitude, as students continue remote learning.

Several cars paraded across metro Richmond to surprise teachers in their homes for Teacher Appreciation Day. The “Caring Caravans” were decorated with homemade signs and included families playing music and blasting their horns. The St. Michael’s Dragon mascot even made a surprise visit at some stops. Teachers were treated with box lunches from Sally Bell’s Kitchen.

St. Michael’s launched remote learning for students in grades kindergarten-eight grade on March 23rd. 

More here-

Remembering a beloved priest and a dear childhood friend who died from COVID-19

From Miami-

The coronavirus has taken away our loved ones and acquaintances.

It has also taken away a way of life from us. No longer can we stand around the bedside of a loved one who is about to make his or her transition from this earthly life to life eternal. And no longer can we celebrate their life in going-home ceremonies that help comfort us.

This became a reality a few weeks ago when one of my dear childhood friends, the Rev. Canon Richard Marquess-Barry, died. Until his retirement in 2012, he had served as the popular and civic-minded rector of the Historic Saint Agnes Episcopal Church in Overtown.

At another time, it would have been hard to find a house of God to accommodate all who would have attended his funeral. Yet we, his family and friends, still mourn him and celebrate his life, even though we do so from our homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

More here-

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Friday, April 17, 2020

In Good Faith column: The accidental televangelist

From Tim Schenck-

I never thought I’d say this but ... I’ve become a televangelist. On Sunday mornings I preach into the lens of a video camera, encouraging my online flock, coming to them live from a makeshift church studio. Virtually overnight, I had to reinvent myself as the Joel Osteen of Hingham, Massachusetts. Minus the private jet and the sickeningly sweet message that goes down like cotton candy but quickly dissolves into nothing.

None of this is by choice, of course. We’ve been streaming our church services on Facebook Live and through our website ever since we had to shut down in-person worship. On Easter, “Let us pray” was replaced with “Quiet on the set!” 

Although we are worshipping virtually right now, there is nothing “virtual” about our faith. This world needs God’s love more than ever right now. And it needs us all to share God’s love with others.
That whole “love your neighbor as yourself” thing? This moment in our common life cries out for the embodiment of this command. Not with hugs or hand holding, but by praying for one another, by sharing our resources with those in need, by reaching out to those who are isolated and alone, by supporting those who are on the front lines of this pandemic, by making masks, by staying home, and even by watching your pastor morph into a televangelist. 

More here-

Episcopal bishop extends suspension of in-person group worship through May 17

From Alabama-

The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama has extended its suspension of in-person group worship services through Sunday, May 17.

Bishop Kee Sloan made the announcement today in a letter to Episcopalians.

Sloan said that date may need to be extended again. “I also recognize that civil authorities may be setting an earlier date, and that other churches of other denominations may reopen sooner than we do,” Sloan said. “I would rather we be too cautious than not cautious enough.”

On Tuesday, Bishop Robert J. Baker, pastoral administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham, extended the ban on public gatherings for Mass at least through Thursday, April 30. Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of the Archdiocese of Mobile said on Tuesday that although his current suspension of group worship extends through April 18, that’s now viewed as indefinite. He did not give a possible date for return. “Although the suspension of public Masses had been extended through this week, it must again be extended indefinitely," Rodi said. "Let us pray that public Masses will resume soon. This will depend upon medical advice and civil authorities.”

More here-

Episcopal Bishop McConnell postpones retirement

From Pittsburgh-

Bishop Dorsey McConnell of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has postponed his retirement from April to September 2021 to provide a continuity of leadership as the church copes with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and to allow more time for the diocese to find a successor.

Bishop McConnell announced the postponement in a statement Thursday “due to the extraordinary circumstances brought on by pandemic.”

The typical search process for a successor involves meetings within the diocese and travel by candidates for the position.

“We don’t know how long we will be unable to meet together due to the pandemic, nor can we foresee the full impact on our parishes of the economic and personal stresses we will likely be experiencing for some time to come,” Bishop McConnell wrote. “Extending my tenure by a few months will allow some continuity of pastoral care as we all try to get back on our feet once the worst has past.”

More here-

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Washington National Cathedral Will Light up in Blue All Week to Thank Health Care Workers Amid Pandemic

From Popculture-

It has been announced that the Washington National Cathedral will light up in blue all week. This is being done as a way to thank health care workers for all their hard work amid the coronavirus pandemic. The church announced the plan on Tuesday, taking to Twitter to share the news.

"[Washington National Cathedral] will be lit blue each night thru (sic) Saturday to honor the doctors, nurses and medical heroes on the front lines of the #coronavirus fight," read the tweet. "Special thanks to our partners at Atmosphere Lighting! The church then added a hashtag for #bluecathedral. Additionally, CBS Sunday Morning news also reported on the kind gesture. The move comes after the church issued a prayer of support for healthcare workers on March 30. "Hear our prayers for those in emergency medicine. By your healing power, grant them quick minds and skillful hands. 

Strengthen them in times of trauma. In quiet times, give them rest and assurance of the value of their work," the WNC said.

More here-

Chaplains and Parish Clergy: Covid-19 has Just Declared Your Ministry Non-Essential

On Patheos-

Well, strictly speaking, Covid-19 was the presenting issue.  Your role was changed by something called “Hospital Incident Command.”

Hospital Incident Command

HIC is a “standardized approach to managing complex incidents” that was developed in the 1970s in California to give hospitals “a framework on which to build a response quickly and scale it” to fit the demands made on hospitals by large scale emergencies, including the wildland fires in California that originally prompted its development.  After the 9/11, those protocols were folded into the federal government National Incident Management System (NIMS) and became standardized across the country.

HIC consists of five elements designed to help hospitals respond effectively in emergencies:

More here-

Half of All Churches Are Instantly Growing. Here’s Why And Here’s What To Do.

From Carey Nieuwhof-

Maybe losing access to our buildings as church leaders wasn’t as disastrous as we thought. Church growth just spiked by 300% in the last month.

Sure…so much as happened. And as frazzled and exhausted as you might feel in the midst of the current global crisis, a fascinating statistic emerged last week that you don’t want to miss.
49% of all churches are growing right now.

A month earlier, before the pandemic hit the West, the statistic would have been that between 8-15% of all churches were growing.

So literally in 30 days, we’ve moved from a tiny percentage of churches growing to virtually half of all churches growing.

What’s even more surprising is that the growth trend holds up in every church size category.

According to the weekly polling we’re doing through Church Pulse Weekly (my new podcast/project with Barna and Gloo you can participate in), half of all churches,  regardless of church size—from very small churches (under 100) to megachurches—are experiencing growth.  It’s remarkable that this is true if you have 75 people attending, 750 or 7500.

More here-

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Anglican Bishop: Church coped well over Easter

From Trinidad-

Anglican Bishop the Rt Rev Claude Berkley said the church coped "relatively well" in ministering to its flock amid covid19 restrictions over the Easter weekend."Usually, at Easter, attendance is higher than usual. But I would say we coped relatively well. Services and prayer meetings were offered by different parishes, mostly on social media," he told Tobago Newsday ."The response was gratifying, judging from the social media measurement and direct feedback."The Tobago-born Berkley said parishioners used technology to access the services.

"Another factor of encouragement was the moment of technological advance by persons who hitherto, resisted Many more mature persons would have migrated to social media."Berkley said although covid19 has changed the way people operate, they have been coping reasonably well so far."We have been comforting and consoling members and others by telephone and social media. And that expands to e-mail, WhatsApp, Messenger, to actual social distance conversations where possible "to encourage one another to pass the message along."

More here-

Acknowledge our grief during time of coronavirus

From Austin-

Recently, I found myself doing something unfamiliar, and unexpected: pressing “publish” on a Facebook post that felt a bit too keenly like a sermon.

Yet, as new prescriptions and restrictions keep getting broadcast by our public health officials, with regard to how we move through this new world with COVID-19 most prudently, I have been feeling more and more aware of a crucial fact about the moment we are navigating culturally.

All of us, to some degree, are in grief (and will be).

In her influential study, “Death and Dying” (1969), psychiatrist Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross identified five stages of grief: Denial (avoidance, confusion, elation, shock, fear), Anger (frustration, irritation, anxiety), Depression (overwhelm, helplessness, hostility, flight), Bargaining (struggling to find meaning, reaching out to others, telling one’s story), Acceptance (exploring options, new plan in place, moving on).

We experience grief not just when we lose someone (or some thing, job, place, or community) we love, but also when we experience the loss of what we considered (and valued as) “normal.” We are experiencing such loss now — individually, in differing intensities; and collectively, culturally, even globally.

More here-

Monday, April 13, 2020

There’s no church, but it’s still Easter and Christians are celebrating

From Channel 3000-

Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal Church, will be in two places at once this Sunday.

Thousands of Episcopalians and other Christians will see him deliver his Easter sermon from the pulpit of Washington National Cathedral at 11 a.m. He pretaped the sermon on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Curry himself will be sitting in his living room in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The effervescent preacher, who stole the ceremony at Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding two years ago, may not even watch his own Easter sermon.

“I have never watched myself preach,” Curry said light-heartedly. “Maybe it’s humility, but I avoid that.”

Instead, the presiding bishop will pull out his iPad and watch another church’s service this Sunday.
It will be the first time in living memory he won’t be in church on Easter Sunday, Curry said. He’ll miss it, but said he sees a larger purpose at work.

“To love your neighbor is to love God. And one of the most loving things we can do this Sunday is not gather in a public assembly so that nobody else gets sick. It is an act of worship.”

More here-

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Winner: We're losing Easter services. But we aren't losing Easter.

From Texas-

In its 1898 annual report to the diocese, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, — an African-American church founded about a decade earlier — explained the parish’s relatively modest number of baptisms and confirmations that year: Just one each, because the “usual day for such services” was Easter and the church had no service that Easter Sunday, “on account of smallpox anticipation.”
Over the past few weeks, Christians have adapted to the Sunday shutterings of churches — this time on account of coronavirus anticipation. But being barred from church on Easter feels like another matter altogether. As an Episcopal priest who’s also an American historian, I take some comfort in precedent. This will not be the first Easter churches have closed because of epidemics. Smallpox, diphtheria, scarlet fever: They’ve all closed churches on Easter Sundays past.

More here-