Saturday, May 16, 2020

When Churches Reopen You May Have to Get a Ticket to Attend Services

From England-

In a bid to maintain social distancing measures and avoid contributing to the pandemic ravaging the entire world, Anglican churches are looking into options to keep their congregations safe, including the possibility of ticketed services.

At the moment, churches are looking at July at the earliest before they can reopen, as laid out in the Prime Minister's lockdown exit strategy earlier this week, which groups religious services in with the hospitality industry and other public places. That's step three of the exit plan, with step 2 in June seeing the phased reopening of shops. Apparently pushing churches into the step 3 category hasn't gone down too well with some religious leaders, with the Catholic Bishop having a moan about that, and demanding that churches be open for private prayer as soon as possible:

More here-

Austin priest runs marathons around his house to keep neighbors safe

From Texas-

When Austin's stay at home order first happened David Peters got restless. 

So the Episcopal priest did what he knows best: run. 

"I ran a marathon around my house 26.2 miles," said Peters.

"I just was feeling a lot of anxiety about running out in the streets with other people and being around. So I just said, I'm going to focus on what I can do." 

It took Peters over 5 hours and 600 laps around his house to finish. 

Since March he has ran two full marathons and other long runs. 

"It's like I kind of have the rhythm, of course my grass is about to not recover from this," said Peters. 

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Some Cobb churches resume in-person worship

From Georgia-

Amy Goetze, communications director at St. James Episcopal Church in Marietta, said the church is heeding its bishop’s directive, which is that all churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta must be exclusively online until further notice.
“I think that many of our parishioners are eager to return to church but understand the need to be cautious,” Goetze told the MDJ on Friday. “We have such an active parish, and many miss seeing their friends, and they miss serving and volunteering at St. James. While we have the tools to gather online, technology can never replace in-person worship. People long for physical interaction and connection.”
Goetze said the church is exploring creative ways to safely gather in person for worship when the time comes, such as drive-in services in the parking lot.

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Many churches will stay closed even as restrictions ease

From Virginia-

Even though Virginia will relax restrictions on gatherings at houses of worship, many pews will remain empty this weekend.
Several mainline denominations across the commonwealth are instructing members to hold off on in-person services for the time being, as Virginia begins allowing some business and civic activity to restart during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which posted a letter on its website Wednesday that acknowledged a “continued fast from in-person worship,” will allow live-streaming of services from inside churches beginning May 24.

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You Asked How Faith Communities Are Preparing To Reopen. We’ve Got Answers.

From Indianapolis-

Members of the Indiana 2020 Two-Way asked us how different places of worship and religious organizations are approaching reopening in-person services. To join, text “elections” to 73224.

So, Indiana Public Broadcasting and All IN went to work to answer some of those questions by gathering a panel of experts, including: Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis; Fatima Hussain, president of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana; Rabbi Mike Harvey, Temple Israel in West Lafayette; and Tim Shapiro, president of the Center for Congregations.
What are religious organizations telling faith leaders? 

The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis is allowing people to return to buildings to live stream services at the end of the month. But Bishop Baskerville-Burrows says she’s encouraging people to stay home and continue to live stream services from home, as they’ve done for the past two months.

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Diocese of Wyoming announces slate of nominees for 10th bishop

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming is pleased to announce the slate of two candidates who will be on the ballot for the election of the 10th bishop of the diocese.

The Rev. David L. Duprey returns to Wyoming as a candidate for bishop, having served as an active-duty U.S. military chaplain for the past 12 years. He graduated in 1988 with a master of divinity degree from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. David was ordained to the diaconate in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1988, then to the priesthood in 1989. Dave served as vicar of St. John the Baptist in Big Piney from 1988 until 1992 and as rector of St. Peter’s, Sheridan, until he answered the call to become a Navy chaplain in 2008.

As a chaplain, Lieutenant Commander Duprey has served the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy. When not deployed, David has enjoyed rich connections with local Episcopal churches; first with St. Anne’s, Jacksonville, North Carolina, then for the past eight years as adjunct clergy with Christ & St. Luke’s, Norfolk, Virginia.

The Rev. Canon Paul-Gordon Chandler is the rector of the Anglican Church in Qatar (the Church of the Epiphany & the Anglican Centre) in the Persian Gulf, a church that hosts over 20,000 people from 65 countries in its building every weekend. Serving as an appointed mission partner with The Episcopal Church, he is an Episcopal priest, author, peace builder and art curator.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Not all clergymen saying amen to new church protocols

From Jamaica-

Under the new protocol for churches — which were previously required to have a maximum of 10 people in attendance, maintain the required social distancing and required congregants to have hands sanitised before entry — churches must now do a temperature check on everyone entering the sanctuary, have a sanitisation station at the entrance, maintain social distancing of six feet, and have members of the congregation wearing masks. In addition, churches were asked not to assemble a choir.

Custos of Westmoreland Reverend Hartley Perrin, who pastors an Anglican church in the community of Petersfield in the parish, said that while his church is “feeling the pinch” as a result of limitations imposed since the COVID-19 pandemic, he is not in agreement with the reopening of churches at this time.

“My church is suffering as a result of the fact that we are not able to meet as we normally would. However, I am not so sure that the church [should] have got the priority in terms of reopening,” he argued.

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Governor green lights churches, but some say they’re sticking to virtual services for now

From Southwestern Virginia-

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said churches can re-open as part of phase one of his plan to bring the state back from the COVID-19 shutdown — but some churches in southwest Virginia are saying thanks, but no thanks.

After weeks of being locked out, the plan allows churches to re-open as early as this weekend. They’ll be required to follow the same guidelines for businesses, like half capacity and six-foot separation, but Bishop Mark Bourlakas of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia has concerns.

“We have parishes that could probably seat five or six hundred people, so if fifty percent of that or even a little less, is that a good number? Should we start up with several hundred people, I don’t think so," Bourlakas said.

His parishes have offered their services online only, opting against drive-in services. And despite the go-ahead, they’re not bringing people back into the building until at least June.

More here-

At least 39 dead, scores more infected as COVID-19 devastates Latino parishes in NY Lutheran Church

From New York-

Since late March, Pastor Fabián Árias​ of Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in Midtown Manhattan has been busy making announcements of the dead, the sick, and comforting the bereaved because of the new coronavirus.

At least 39 people connected to his diverse, predominantly Latino church community, including 5% of his 250-member congregation, have died in the last month. Another 74 members of the church are also currently battling or have battled coronavirus infections.

“In this moment it’s a very, very difficult situation because the family [member] is sick or the family [member] has died,” Árias told The Christian Post in an interview Wednesday.

More here-

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

After surviving wars, pestilence, religions use technology to beat pandemic

From Reuters-

Contrary to some polls showing declines in virtual religious attendance since the virus outbreak, the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan has seen an increase in online worshipers for its Episcopal services, said the Rev. Patrick Malloy.

"One of the great things that's happening on Sundays is we have people from all over the world, and thousands of them sharing of worship with us every Sunday," said Malloy.

“For the first time, I heard a confession by Skype," he added. "You know, you have to do what you have to do.”

Like other clerics, Malloy says he has seen more spirituality in the flock during the pandemic.
“When you're locked in your house, and especially when you're locked in a small New York apartment by yourself, day after day after day, you come to think about the bigger questions,” he said.
When the crisis ends, Malloy said he expects to see the church at least as full as it was before because "people really do miss one another.”

More here-

Small Churches Are in Particularly Big Trouble Right Now

From Slate-

Founded in the mid-19th century, New Hope United Methodist Church had been operating on a razor-thin budget for years. Even after renovating the sanctuary recently, Sunday attendance was low, with $300 in the collection plate on a good week. But the church’s small, bustling food bank served 50 people a week in the low-income Starlight neighborhood of Atlanta. Others came to the church for Bible study and a free meal on Thursday nights, where a volunteer made sure everyone went home with an extra plate. 

But the pandemic accelerated New Hope’s struggles. More than half its meager weekly donations came through cash in the Sunday offering basket, and the congregation has not met in person since mid-March. To raise extra money, pastor Abby Norman had recently started renting out the historic church building for documentaries and other film projects, including rap and country music video shoots. (Norman said she mostly stayed out of it but did ask the artists to email her the lyrics first.) The pandemic killed those gigs, too. Last week, Norman told her congregation that the church—and the food bank—would have to close. “We were so close,” Norman said. “It’s not just that we’re losing a church that worships Jesus on Sunday. It’s generations worth of knowledge about how to care for a community.” 

More here-

One small KY church has survived through pandemics, many crises and today

From Kentucky-

Because of COVID-19, schools and universities are empty. Businesses and restaurants are shuttered. Hospitals face shortages. Churches have closed.

When looking at our history, the story of one Kentucky church reveals that institutions can thrive after enduring tragedy and illnesses. It also reminds us that historic buildings can teach important lessons.

Built in 1830, Trinity Episcopal Church stands on Main Street in downtown Danville. Located across from the county courthouse, its sharp steeple and bright red door make it a visible community landmark.

Calamity soon struck the congregation. In 1833, cholera swept across the commonwealth, killing hundreds. Few communities were immune. Lexington, for example, lost more than 500 people. Smaller towns, including Maysville, Somerset, Paris and more, also suffered.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

The Allure and Danger of Anti-Modern Religion

From New York Magazine-

Similarly, Burton mentions the pleasures of the “liturgically elaborate” Episcopal Rite I Eucharist, which I loved in my days as an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian. Only gradually did I comprehend that for all its gorgeously archaic language, Rite I was less “Catholic” than the modern Rite II, and was loaded with signs of its principal author Thomas Cranmer’s desire to move the Church of England toward what his era considered “modern” and “individualistic” worship practices. “Traditional” or “old” doesn’t necessarily mean more faithful to the kind of rigorous or meaningful religion “Weird Christians” seek.

There is no question that for contemporary millennials, the usages of pre-modern Christianity can become a means of rebelling against liberal relativist culture and its distant cousin, capitalist economics. But if the revolt again modernity is undertaken seriously, you can’t pick and choose like those “Cafeteria Catholics” whom Tradpunks likely despise. For every Latin Mass fancier who looks to pre-capitalist Christianity as an inspiration for left-wing solidarity with workers and immigrants, there’s someone who just as authentically finds refuge in pre-Enlightenment attitudes toward women, homosexuality, class privilege, and the fate of lesser breeds. Some Weird Christians may be Christian Socialists, but others are undoubtedly proto-fascists — both viewing capitalism as the work of the devil.

More here-

St. Pete church hands out 'church-to-go' bags for members to hold church at home

From Florida-

We’ve seen the online and drive-in church services, but one local church wanted something a little more personable for each of its members.

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg has been putting bags together that include their weekly sermons, then handing them out to members so they can hold their own church services at home. They call it "church-to-go!"

“Just drive through, hold down the window side and hand them the bag, and the plus side of that is we have a nanosecond to say ‘hey, you’re still alive, it’s great to see ya,’” said Gigi Conner, priest in charge at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.

St. Alban’s is a church with a congregation of anywhere from 40 to 80 people.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Coronavirus: Churches may not be back to normal by end of year

From The BBC-

The Anglican Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, said churches might not return to normal services before the end of the year. 

Mosques, churches and temples in the UK have been closed for almost two months. 

The prime minister is due to make a statement about the lockdown restrictions later. 

It is not clear if the government will change its guidance for places of worship. 

But senior religious leaders have told the BBC that faith communities will have to endure long-term changes to their worship in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Ibrahim Mogra, a senior imam in Leicester, warned the prime minister not to ease restrictions on places of worship before the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. 

"I am not convinced that we can maintain social distance," he said.

More here-

Local W.Va. churches, funeral homes take pandemic precautions

From West Virginia-

Rev. Chad Slater, pastor of the Christ Episcopal Church in Bluefield, says their church will also not me opening its doors for services today.

“We are still not open for public worship and we probably won’t be for a few Sundays,” he said. “We want to make sure when we are able to come back that its a safe venue for those that feel that they can venture out.”

The 100-year-old church closed in March like other churches in response to the pandemic for the health and benefit of their members and the community.

On Easter Sunday, the church did hold a drive-in service for members.

“People could drive by and wave and receive a blessing at the church,” Slater said. “We just tried to make the best out of an unusual Easter.”

Along with the Easter drive-in service, the church has held worship services and Bible studies online.

More here-

First 5: You might have the right to gather, but you can choose otherwise

From Kansas-

The COVID-19 pandemic is not under control in the United States. The disease is still deadly, especially for those who are elderly or immunocompromised. The Trump administration projects deaths per day will nearly double in the United States between now and June 1. Yet some states are starting to lift restrictions on in-person gatherings for religious communities.

In Texas, for example, an order by Gov. Greg Abbott allows in-person religious services to resume at 25 percent capacity — though congregants have to wear masks and practice social distancing. About 250 congregants gathered on Sunday, May 3 at a church in Houston to celebrate communion. (That Sunday was the fourth straight day that Texas saw more than 1,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases).

In other parts of the country, members of religious communities are challenging state stay-at-home orders in court. Last week, for example, a New Jersey Catholic priest filed suit to challenge New Jersey’s stay-at-home order, which has prohibited in-person religious gatherings. (On Sunday, New Jersey had more than 3,000 new confirmed cases and 129 deaths).

More here-