Second Pastoral Letter to Holy Trinity concerning Coronavirus/Covid-19
Dear Holy Trinity family,
On Monday night, the leadership team of the church met at my home to discuss our ministries going forward in the midst of this health crisis. Paramount in our thinking were a few key things:
The transcendence and eternal sovereignty of God: the ministry of the church is not just for the benefit of its members, but also and more importantly to bear witness to the timeless truth of God and the good news of his Son Jesus Christ in all times and in every circumstance no matter how severe. Whatever we do cannot give short change to this.
The church must serve her most vulnerable members: Christ became nothing in order to liberate us, and he taught us thereby that no one’s circumstance is too small to secure his notice. We need to be especially willing to sacrifice in love for our weakest members, as he sacrificed his own glory to die on the cross for us.
Governing authorities have in the past 72 hours significantly enhanced their urging for communities not to gather in groups larger than 10. They have especially warned of the effect the young and asymptomatic are having spreading the virus; because the incubation period can be up to two weeks, people who go about their day because they “feel” healthy may in fact be infecting others without realizing.
It’s important to stress here that we live in a country where we are blessed to be free of government interference on our religious life, and no one has yet mandated that we not meet, but one wonders how we can do our part for the larger community of our own free accord. They will know us by our love, our Lord says.
For these reasons, our leadership team has decided in consultation with our bishop, with great reluctance but with a solemn sense of duty, TO MOVE OUR SUNDAY SERVICES TO AN EXCLUSIVELY ONLINE FORMAT the next two Sundays. We will revisit this as we approach Palm Sunday, and we pray earnestly that we can gather together for the observances of Holy Week, by far the most important part of the church year.
UPDATE: as of this afternoon (Wednesday, March 18), our bishop has formally removed this choice from us: he has now asked all his churches to go exclusively online.
Let me stress: Holy Trinity Parish is still open for business even if we are not gathering together physically. The church is NOT shutting down, it’s just shifting how it does business temporarily. Especially with the tools of modern technology, we felt we could make this sacrifice without violating our duty to God or to one another.
So to sum up, here is how our ministries while adjust over the next two weeks:
Sunday mornings: we will gather ONLINE for one service at 10:30 on Sunday morning for the next two Sundays (Lent 4 and Lent 5). We will use a free internet conferencing tool called Zoom to do this, which you will need to download onto your computer, tablet, or smart phone the first time you click a meeting link (see below). This tool has the benefit of allowing you all to see one another (if you use a device with a camera) and that will enhance our sense of togetherness even while physically parted.
THIS JUST IN: Bishop Julian will join our service on March 29 via Zoom.
Choir and other Sunday volunteers: these will be off for the time being. Members of the choir should expect to hear from your leadership soon about plans for Holy Week.
Sunday fellowship hour: obviously without a physical service, there will be no gathering for food after. This will continue for a time even after we resume our physical services (with the possible exception of the Easter Vigil Break-Fast).
Wednesday night formation: Awana will be cancelled for the time being. Adult formation will continue to meet ONLINE via Zoom.
THIS WEEK you are all highly encouraged to try and Zoom into this as a perfect opportunity to test the system in advance of Sunday morning. We will meet at 6:30 as we always have, and I will be discussing the Psalms of Lament, an appropriate subject for times like this.
Friday Mom’s Group: these will be conducted via Zoom for the time being.
Friday Stations of the Cross: we will conduct this service also ONLINE via Zoom.
A few extra things we are doing:
Daily Prayer: We will be offering Morning and Evening Prayer via Zoom throughout the week, Morning Prayer on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8:00 am, and Evening Prayer on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 pm. These will last about 30 minutes.
Email contact: the church is rolling out a new email client using the Mail Chimp platform. After this email, expect most communication to come that way. You shouldn’t have to change anything on your end, but know that sometimes when Mail Chimp accounts roll out, it can land in folks’ spam folders, so keep on eye on those, and designate our mail as a “safe sender” in whatever email program you use.
Printed directories: if you have an entry in the parish directory and you did NOT pick one up last Sunday, they are being mailed to you.
For all online gatherings, the church has set up a webpage with direct links to help you get where you need to go. At any scheduled time, simply go to this webpage to find the relevant links: http://www.trinityhillsdale.org/covid-19.html
Let me conclude by offering a few exhortations:
In this time of crisis, do not forget to love one another. Send each other cards. Call each other. Be mindful especially of our shut-ins and older folks; they will feel especially hard the pain of their isolation right now.
DO NOT FORGET TO TITHE: the church is still open for business, as I said, and we continue to be thankful for your generous support. You can give online, or you can mail cash or checks to the church’s mail box (P.O. Box 845, Hillsdale, MI 49242); DO NOT send money to our physical address, as the Post Office will not deliver mail there.
Please monitor your emails for further updates from the church as they come.
May God bless you and keep you this peculiar Lenten season.
In his service, Adam+ The Rev. Adam D. Rick, Th.M. Rector, Holy Trinity Parish