Saturday, April 25, 2020

SNHD teams up with local church to help communities of color combat COVID-19

From Las Vegas-

The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting minority communities particularly hard, but the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) is working to fight against the disparity.

The health district plans to do this by setting up community outreach centers. 8 News Now got an exclusive look inside the Health District’s very first center, located at All Saints Episcopal Church near Washington and Decatur in Las Vegas. 

One of its main goals is to help communities of color combat COVID-19.

The quiet courtyard at All Saints Episcopal Church is transforming into a healthcare haven. SNHD’s Southern Nevada Community Health Center will offer COVID-19 testing and telehealth services at the church, which is meant to serve the surrounding area’s diverse population. 

This is the first time the Health District’s Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) is doing outreach like this.

More here-

Embracing her call to lead: Homewood rector to become 1st female bishop in Episcopal Diocese of Alabama

From Alabama-

The Rev. Glenda Curry didn’t set out to pursue becoming the first female bishop-elect for the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama — but through the years, people persistently told her to think about it.
At first she dismissed these comments, she said. Then, out of the blue, she decided to pursue it.

She had already hit a “first female” mile-stone earlier in her life when she became the first female in Alabama history to lead a four-year university. She was president of Troy University in Montgomery for more than eight years. She then became a rector leading one of the larger parishes in the diocese — there are about 1,800 people at All Saints Episcopal Church in Homewood, she said.

“I had a lot of administrative experience and had led a big parish,” she said. “I think that’s what motivated a lot of people to say, ‘Hey, you’d be a natural at this.’”

She prayed about it, she said, and decided to let the church nominate her. She would just see how it goes, she said — she would need a majority vote from both the clergy and lay delegates to be elected.

More here-

Friday, April 24, 2020

Denominations representing Augusta churches opt to keep doors closed

From Georgia-

In response to Gov. Brian Kemp’s order Monday that would permit churches to meet in-person beginning Sunday, several denominations representing some churches in the Augusta area have issued statements stating they would not hold services in their buildings.

The Rev. Scott Benhase, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, announced today the 70 parishes that comprise the diocese in southern Georgia would not meet “for the foreseeable future.”

“Infectious disease experts agree that before we can resume in-person worship responsibly, the number of new COVID-19 cases must be in decline and rapid diagnostic testing must be readily available in a particular area,” he said. “We have not yet seen that decline and Georgia ranks in the bottom fifth of all states in readily available diagnostic testing. It would be irresponsible of me to allow for the reopening of our churches for in-person worship given that reality.”

More here-

'Put people ahead of money': Christian groups ask Ducey to extend stay-at-home order

From Arizona-

Christian leaders around the Valley sent a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey urging him to extend the stay at home orders that were put in place through April 30 to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The letter was written by the Right Rev. Jennifer Reddall, the sixth Episcopal bishop of Arizona, on behalf of Arizona's congregations of the Episcopal Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.
It was hand-delivered to the governor's office on Tuesday, Reddall told The Arizona Republic.

Reddall began the letter by thanking Ducey for his leadership and "Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected" policy which she said has "helped flatten the curve and keep the epidemic somewhat under control in our state."

More here-

Many churches to continue virtual worship after stay-at-home order lifted

From Montana-

Bishop Martha Stebbins of the Episcopal Diocese of Montana told MTN they will hold virtual service until at least May, and are actively working on a plan for each location.

“The virtual worship will allow us time to make sure to comply with safety protocols,” explained Bishop Stebbins. “Things like marking out pews, making sure there’s enough masks and hand sanitizer, talking with our at risk parishioners and our at risk clergy who will still be in shelter in place.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena will continue to stream mass, and are allowing parishes to submit a plan for reopening following guidelines set by the Governor. 

More here-

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Local churches staying virtual even with relaxed restrictions

From Texas-

While Governor Abbott has declared churches to be an essential service, many are opting to continue holding virtual services. 

Angela Cortinas, the priest at St. Thomas' Episcopal, said that she anticipates her church meeting online through May 10th. This decision comes as a result of the guidelines sent out by the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, Rt. Rev. Andrew Doyle.

"We're working with other faith leaders in our cities trying to figure out how we can best allow people to get back to worship together, " said Doyle.

In regards to future guidelines, Doyle made it clear that his churches are preparing to ease back into meeting together whenever health experts deem it most appropriate.

"I think what's really clear is that the best health a phase back in approach so we want to be ready for that," says Doyle.

More here-

Albany bishop’s Title IV hearing in same-sex marriage case postponed

From ENS-

The Title IV hearing panel dealing with Albany Bishop William Love’s refusal to allow same-sex marriages in his diocese has been rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally set to take place on April 21 in Colonie, New York.

In 2018, after the passage of General Convention Resolution B012 — which allows same-sex marriages to be performed across the church, wherever it is legal to do so — Love issued a letter stating he would not abide by the resolution and would continue to block same-sex marriages in his diocese. During a House of Bishops meeting in September 2019, it was announced that Love would face a hearing under the church’s Title IV disciplinary process.

More here-

Episcopal Bishop Wright: Worship remains online until health experts ok gatherings

From Atlanta-

Gatherings at all 117 worshiping locations of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta will remain online until health experts advise that in person worship services and meetings are “reasonably safe,” Bishop Robert C. Wright announced on Wednesday.

In response to an announcement on Monday by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp that worship services could resume April 27, Bishop Wright communicated his decision Wednesday during an online meeting with Diocesan clergy.

Wright stated rather than reopening worship spaces, services will remain online and asked that clergy “bring imagination to how we care for one another, new power to our proclamation of God’s good news and new effectiveness to how to support those who are oppressed by fear and lack.” All Diocesan meetings and worship have been online since March.

More here-

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Kalamazoo church handing out thousands of diapers weekly

From Michigan-

Saint Luke's Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo has held diaper distributions from 9:30 a.m. to noon every Tuesday.

Every week the church switches the location of the distribution between the church and Douglas Community Association. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the church held a distribution in their parking lot. 

Saint Luke's Diaper Bank Logistics Coordinator Evan Asher and another worker waited until cars pulled into the parking lot to delivered the diapers families needed for the week. Asher said they were distributing diapers before the COVID-19 pandemic, but recently increased their distributions.
"Now there's a lot that folks can't get right now, but we're carving out a niche and thankfully people have been very thankful and receptive of that," he said.

Asher estimated the church could hand out somewhere between 3,000 to 4,000 diapers on a weekly basis.

More here-

Religious groups in Arizona ask Ducey to extend order into May

From Arizona-

The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona comprises 64 worshipping communities and over 21,000 residents of Arizona.  We have cancelled all in-person public worship from March 16, continuing at this time tentatively through May 25.

The Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA compromises 90 worshipping communities and over 33,000 members in Arizona and Southern Nevada. The GCS encouraged suspension of in person worship beginning March 15 and continuing through April. With your support the GCS will extend the recommendation into May. We have also canceled out National Rostered Minister Gathering that was going to be held in Phoenix this summer.

The Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ includes 46 congregations and 2 faith communities in Arizona, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas representing 6,000 members. These people of faith have suspended in-person gatherings through at least May 16. We have also cancelled our church camp this summer.

More here-,154356


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Closed houses of worship served during 1918 flu pandemic

From Pittsburgh-

The faded, single-spaced letter from the fall of 1918 has a jolting immediacy to readers today.

“A very unusual opportunity has come to Calvary Church,” the clergy of the Episcopal congregation in Shadyside wrote to its members. “To meet the present emergency of our pandemic-stricken community, the Vestry (governing board) has tendered the use of the Parish House to the United States Military authorities. The rooms will be used as a convalescent hospital” for military trainees recovering from influenza.

The global influenza pandemic of 1918 known as the Spanish flu peaked in Pittsburgh in October and November, ultimately killing more than 4,500 people and infecting more than 60,000 throughout Allegheny County, according to historical accounts. Worldwide, it claimed at least 50 million lives, according to estimates cited by the Centers for Disease Control.

Though far deadlier than the current pandemic, the influenza competed on newspapers’ front pages with the American military’s grinding progress in World War I and a relentless campaign to buy war bonds. Yet the headlines have a familiar feel. Houses of worship were shuttered as pastors urged people to worship in their homes, and faith-based groups rallied to help those affected by the illness.

More here-

Metro Detroit Episcopal churches create $100K matching fund for food banks

From Michigan-

Three Episcopal churches in Metro Detroit have come together to create a $100,000 matching fund with proceeds going to food bank distributors throughout the region.

The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan in Detroit, All Saints' Episcopal Church in Pontiac and Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills have partnered to create the dollar-for-dollar matching fund to support local food banks "experiencing unprecedented demands that are rapidly outstripping their supplies," the diocese said in a release.

“This is a time when we, people of faith, are called to embody our beliefs by giving away a portion of what we have, we are called to love one another as God has loved us,” said Bonnie Perry, the newly consecrated 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.

More here-

Monday, April 20, 2020

Local churches adjust tithing processes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

From Florida-

At St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Panama City, they’ve moved to a more modern process..

“We implemented an app called Tithely, and it's working very well... We are making our needs known. We are mentioning it on livestream. We are letting people know when our newsletters go out what we need, and so far people have been very generous and went out of their way to meet those needs,” said Father Rian Adams of St. Andrews Episcopal.

Father Adams’ wife also started making cloth face masks for anyone who wants them. All they ask is, if you order one, you make a donation to the church. In the first week of orders, the mask fundraiser brought in more than $1000 to St. Andrews.

“We don't ask them to do anything more than what they're able to at that point. We welcome whatever they're able to give, and we trust God for the rest of it,” said Father Adams.

Reverend Woodrow says another place churches are looking for money is the government.
“Fortunately, the government, if the government comes through with loans, they've been extended to churches, so churches can make their payroll. That'll help out a lot,” said Reverend Woodrow. 

More here-

Menlo Park rector on leave as Episcopal leaders investigate funds misuse

From Califonia-

The rector of Trinity Episcopal Church has been placed on leave for using at least $125,000 in church funds for personal spending, parish leaders announced Sunday.

A financial review by church leaders determined the Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett, who had led Trinity for a decade, misused funds for at least the last five years, according to a news release attributed to the Rev. Canon Abbott Bailey. The release said Dutton-Gillett admitted misusing the unreimbursed funds when asked.

A spokeswoman said Sunday that church leaders intend to file a police report. Church leaders told parishioners about the situation in a Zoom conference meeting Sunday before the scheduled 10 a.m. online service, the spokeswoman said.

“This is a very painful time for me, and particularly for my family,” Dutton-Gillett said in a statement to this news organization. “I have a deep love for the Trinity community, and they for me, and I know that this is painful for them, as well. I regret that deeply.”

More here-

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Churches feel the financial effects of COVID-19

From Ohio/New York-

WITH PARISHIONERS no longer gathering at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown, N.Y., during the COVID-19 pandemic and some dealing with lost jobs or reduced work hours, the Rev. Luke Fodor knows his parish will feel the financial effects of the crisis as much as anything else.

“There are a number of folks who are impacted and aren’t able to give what they expected to give,” he said.

But it’s also a chance, Fodor said, for the church to recognize the scriptural concept from 1st Corinthians 12, that if one part of the body suffers, every part feels it.

“It’s a moment where, sure, we’re hurt as a church and our funding’s cut, but it’s not about us, it’s about helping” those in need, he said.

Many churches have had to forgo in-person services to follow government orders not to gather in large groups and maintain social distance of at least 6 feet between individuals in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Even so, they continue to offer services through various online platforms and other methods while they also try to meet the needs of people in the community.

More here-

History repeated?: One church’s tale of two pandemics, 100 years apart

From Sight-

At the height of the influenza pandemic in 1918, Rev John Misao Yamazaki stopped holding services at St Mary’s Japanese Mission, the Episcopal church in Los Angeles he helped found more than a decade prior. Before mandatory quarantines were enacted, Yamazaki began visiting homes to pray for sick children and families.

More than a century later, in the midst of another global pandemic, Rev Laurel Coote, Yamazaki’s successor at what is now St Mary’s Episcopal Church, stands in the quiet sanctuary livestreaming images of its empty pews and stained glass windows to her congregation via Facebook.

“I felt compelled to come into the sanctuary so that I could sit in its beauty and its silence and stillness. And I know that you’re missing it too, and so I thought, let me share it with you today,” Coote says in the video. “Christ is alive in this holy place.”

More here-