UPDATE MARCH 12, 2020, 4:40 PM: All church events have been canceled for the next two weeks. Please read more here.
Read an important letter from Fr. Win Lewis below and be sure to check out the resources we’ve compiled for you here.
A Pastoral Letter to the Parish and Friends of Christ and St. Luke’s
Dear Parish Family:
I am writing you to discuss our response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and church:
As I mentioned Sunday, no matter what our age or condition, we are committed to maintaining a safe space for all–spiritually, emotionally and physically. As your Rector, my job is to ensure those most vulnerable in our midst are protected.
After reviewing all the recommendations from the Bishops, CDC, and local physicians, it seems prudent to take the following simple steps, ensuring all can continue to attend church with comfort and confidence.
We wish to move ahead with an abundance of caution to ensure there are no impediments to attending church. We all need to feel we have the opportunity to seek God’s grace and to encourage one another during these challenging times.
This is what to expect on Sundays during this epidemic:
- There will be no common cup. Only the consecrated bread will be given out. Theologically, the bread is full Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ.
- During the Peace and the Offertory, you might notice all who serve communion, lay and ordained, leave the Sanctuary to wash their hands with soap and water.
- During the administration of communion, there will be two ministers of the sacrament at each communion station. Each will administer only the consecrated bread. No wine will be offered either for drinking or intinction (dipping).
- There will continue to be a priest’s welcome and period of silence prior to the procession, but no formal greeting of one another. So if you see anyone around you whose name you don’t know, please do introduce yourselves.
- During the Peace and after the service, there will be “no touch” greetings. Elbow bumps, hands together in a “namaste” posture, a wave, peace sign, bow or just a smile, a nod and eye contact should suffice for now.
- Coffee, water and juice boxes will be offered in Lloyd Hall following the services. No pickup food will be served. Refreshments will not be served at the back of the church so there is no bunching of folks there. We clergy will be outside or in other parts of the church so there are no lines of greeting.
- Likewise, during the post worship social time, please be mindful of personal space and the age or condition of the person to whom you are speaking. It is important to stand enough apart to prevent the other from feeling your breath while you talk.
- If you have any sniffles, a cold, a tickle in your throat, a fever, cough, or regular sneezing, please avoid church. We are looking into live-streaming of church services to at least a podcast of the 10:15 Sunday Eucharist. If you are ill, please let the office know and we will make sure we are praying for you.
- If, God forbid, you get sick and live alone or everyone in your household is ill, we are putting together care teams to deliver urgent items such as prescriptions and other staples. We will not prepare food for delivery as that might be risky.
- Regarding the setup of communion by the altar teams, all will wash their hands and wear gloves when handling the bread and the vessels.
- In order to avoid touching items, the ushers will not pass the offering plates. Offering plate will be available for you to give your offering as you enter the church or come forward for communion. You can also always text to give. Text “GIVECSL” to 73256.
- The bulletins have been changed to include the entire service including hymns. You will not need to pick up a hymnal or prayer book.
- The tops of pews, arm rests, door handles and anything you might touch are regularly sanitized with antibacterial heavy-duty wipes.
- Use the hand sanitizers as you enter and prior to receiving communion.
- If you feel safer washing your hands with soap and water before communion, feel free to step out of worship to do so.
- If you do cough or sneeze in church, please be sure to cover your mouth and nose with your elbow and turn away from anyone nearby.
I can imagine that some of you may think this approach to be too much too soon. Goodness knows, I don’t want this to cause any of you alarm. These are being set in place in order to be proactive rather than reactive. We pray that Hampton Roads will not be heavily affected by this illness, but if we are, we want to be prepared.
Finally, you all are in my prayers and we; the vestry, staff, and clergy, are here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
The other morning I read these words from scripture, spoken during another challenging period: Hebrews 10, “But recall, after you had been enlightened you endured a hard struggle…Do not abandon that confidence of yours…for you need endurance…We are among those who have faith.”
Also, the words of Julian of Norwich during a time of pestilence: “All will be well.”
Whatever we face ahead, we will face together.