Thursday, March 12, 2020

A Letter to our St. Mary's Parishioners

Dear Beloved Parishioners,

I wanted to reach out to all of you to say that I am praying for you each daily, and am hoping that you are well.  We are, of course, in a time of some uncertainty with the pandemic of COVID-19, and I wanted to share a few items with you in terms of steps we are taking at St. Mary's to help us all stay healthy and safe.

Below are letters from both our Bishop, Daniel Gutierrez, and our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, which are extremely helpful and give us some general guidelines and helpful information in this uncertain time. Rather than repeat the good advice that is below, I encourage you to read and mind the good advice that is recommended by the CDC below.

In terms of St. Mary's - Cathedral Road, we are taking the following steps:

1) We are currently still offering the Eucharist at 10am on Sunday, and we will share the Eucharist in the form of wafers only, for the time being.

2) We will share the Peace by greeting, but not with physical touching.

3) I have communicated with our Sexton to be extra vigilant in his cleaning of surfaces at St. Mary's, and I, myself am also taking time to wipe down doorhandles, faucets, and other areas.

4) I have contracted with a cleaning company to do a deep cleaning on Monday and Tuesday next week.  They will also be doing cleaning twice a month, at least to augment the other cleaning that happens.

5) I encourage us to be mindful of the food that we offer at Coffee Hour.  Best would be to have food that is individually packaged.  

6) We are planning to Live Stream the Sunday Eucharist on Sunday through our Church's Facebook Page.  You do not need to be a subscriber of Facebook to see and hear our service.  The link to our Facebook Page is:

Please stay healthy.  Please practice "social distancing" if you are able to in your daily movements.  Know that you are in my prayers.


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

I greet you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am thankful to be your Bishop and to shepherd this flock. Daily, I pray for you. Always, I am concerned for your well-being; spiritual, emotional, and physical.

Some of you may have seen our posts on social media regarding the coronavirus. In an effort to reach a larger audience, I wanted to share this communication via email.

This week, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) issued some guidelines and templated bulletins and leaflets for churches to use on the issue of the coronavirus. The full list is here. Individuals need to decide for themselves - at all times - with what they are comfortable. I trust the Priests and Sunday Missioners of the diocese to determine the appropriate changes in worship to lessen contact during this time.  This has been true for every season of flu we have had and true now.

According to the CDC, the best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including COVID -19 are the following1:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Please note, these recommendations may change depending on the severity of the virus. These suggestions are offered along with my constant prayer for each of you.
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
1.       CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published February 11, 2020. Accessed February 29, 2020.
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A message from The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry regarding worship in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
[March 12, 2020] On the evening of March 11, 2020 Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church Michael Curry shared the following message with bishops of The Episcopal Church:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We are facing an unprecedented challenge with the COVID-19 outbreak, which the World Health Organization has just deemed a pandemic (see link). In this context, bishops having charge of a diocese have my support as Presiding Bishop if, in light of the public health situation in their diocese, they decide - for a designated period of time - to suspend the administration of the common cup to the congregation in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and/or to cancel in-person gatherings for public worship.

I encourage you, in the event of cancellation of these public gatherings, to use technology to offer worship.

God bless you and keep the faith.


The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Visit the Episcopal Church’s webpage Concerning COVID-19 for information and resources related to the coronavirus outbreak including: Faith-based responses to epidemics from Episcopal Relief and Development, general guidelines and safety measures, links to government and public health information, resources for using technology to gather, as well as worship and formation resources to use at home or in virtual settings. Resources are updated regularly.
On the web:
A message from The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry regarding worship in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

A message from Presiding Bishop Curry related to worship changes during a public health emergency
 [March 12, 2020]

Statement of the Presiding Bishop to the House of Bishops

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Day #3

Opportunity is always to be given to every communicant to receive the consecrated Bread and Wine separately.”  (BCP p. 407)

The Rector or Priest-in-Charge shall have full authority and responsibility for the conduct of the worship and spiritual jurisdiction of the Parish, subject to the Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, the Constitution and Canons of this Church, and the pastoral direction of the Bishop.”  Canon III.9.6(a)(1)

Neither the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer nor the Canons of the Episcopal Church address a public health emergency such as the one we are facing. My message to you sent last evening, which is being made public today, is designed to send a signal to the Church that the Presiding Bishop is supporting bishops who make decisions to suspend the common cup because of this public health emergency. My hope is that this will obviate or mitigate any effort to take canonical action directed at any bishop for these actions in these circumstances. This is to help uphold the good order of the Church in this context in which the moral primacy of Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor must guide us.

The next 30-60 days at the least are simply going to be unlike anything we have experienced in recent history, even including 9/11. The dilemma of what we know and what we dont know will continue to complicate our decision making and our lives.

In an email to me last night our brother Mark Van Koevering of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington spoke of the decision to honor the Kentucky Governors request of religious leaders to suspend public worship with these words.

I am loathe to cancel services, but I do support the Governors recommendation and think that I must humbly ask our faith communities to practice a Lenten fast of public worship this week as a sign of love for ones neighbor especially the most vulnerable.”

Obedience to the moral primacy of love for the neighbor must direct us. My hope is that this will enable us to do that while maintaining the good order of the Church for the sake of following Jesus in Gods mission for Gods world.

God bless you and keep the faith.

On the web:
A message from Presiding Bishop Curry related to worship changes during a public health emergency

Nancy Davidge
Public Affairs Officer, The Episcopal Church
Tel.: 646-908-0643
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