Friday, March 13, 2020

Further Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, and Pastoral Directives

Dear Parish Faithful,

3/14/2020, 4:00pm - UPDATE - SEE THIS NEW POST FOR INFO ON HOW WE ARE CONDUCTING THE SUNDAY DIVINE LITURGY. Additional info, updates and links are also provided.

We are awaiting a pastoral letter from the Holy Synod of Bishops concerning the presence and spread of the coronavirus with practical measures to guide our parish communities in these "time of troubles."
In the interval, I would like to set forth some practical approaches that demonstrate that we are taking this very seriously, and that with prudence and care, we can make "adjustments" that reflect that care with everyone's well-being in mind. If there are specific instructions from the Holy Synod not reflected below, then I will make those further adjustments as I receive them.

As of today, we will serve the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. And that means that we will have Great Vespers on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m.  (Note: Fr Steven later decided to cancel Great Vespers this Saturday, March 14.)
We are canceling the Memorial Liturgy that was scheduled for Saturday morning. We may try and work that Liturgy in at a later date, and I will keep everyone informed. If you would like to send me a list of names of your loved ones to pray for, I will do that in the church tomorrow morning.

This evening at 7:00 p.m. we will chant the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos, seeking her intercessions.

Pastoral Suggestions for Consideration:

  • Those who are over 60 years old are most at risk as we have learned. If one also has a heart condition or respiratory condition/asthma; diabetes; or really any other condition that compromises one's health, than you have to seriously take that into consideration when decided about being in church with a larger group of people. 
  • For that matter, if you choose not to come to the Liturgy, I would also say that that is fully understandable. Again, if you make that decision, do so without any "pangs of conscience." The Lord understands our fears.

Directives to be Followed:

  • There will be no bowl with blessed bread for after receiving the Eucharist. 
  • Do not kiss the icons when offering your veneration. Simply cross yourself as usual and make a reverent bow before each of the holy icons.
  • Do not kiss the Cross at the end of the Liturgy. I will bless you as you approach.
  • Do not kiss my hand.
  • Church School classes are cancelled until further notice.
  • Fellowship Hour is cancelled until further notice. Coffee will be available if you would like to stay back for a cup before "departing in peace."

This is a time of great anxiety, for the simple fact that this is a very serious health threat to the whole nation and our community. We always pray that God will be merciful in our repeated petition of "Lord, have mercy!" That prayer now takes on an added urgency.

In Christ,
Fr. Steven