Dear friends in Christ,

The apostle Paul wrote this to the Romans: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Nothing can separate us from God and we are held, together, in God’s love at all times. This is particularly comforting now, as your Vestry and I have decided to suspend all worship and related activities at St. Mary’s through April 1. We believe it is of utmost importance to slow the spread of this virus and that, although we will miss being together in person, this is the best way we can love each other and the wider community at this time. 

So there will be no Sunday worship or education programs, no Wednesday supper meetings, no choir rehearsal, no Friday evening Taize services (the Christian Church also has cancelled all services). 

CSC is continuing operations for now, with revised procedures to keep both volunteers and clients healthy. I will be checking in with other groups who use our facilities to ensure they are following best practices as well. 

We will keep monitoring the situation and keep you updated. I will continue to be available to you by phone, email, and, when necessary, visiting. I encourage you to send me any prayer requests, as I continue to hold all of you in prayer. 

We invite you to consider this an opportunity for growth and transformation in this unexpected Lenten wilderness. Consider how the Holy Spirit is working in the midst of this tumultuous time and how we can live more fully into our identities as God’s beloved children, loving God and each other. How might we use the technology available to us to continue to grow in our own faith and deepen our relationships with God and one another? What new opportunities might we discover that will bear fruit into the future?  

Next week I will be working to make more resources available to you online for education and prayer. Our weekly email updates will continue as well (how wonderful is it that this began not long ago?) In the meantime, you don’t have to miss worship! Many churches live stream their services, so be a virtual visitor at another church! This Sunday, March 15 at 11:00 Eastern, so perfect for you 8:00 crowd, tune into the Washington National Cathedral to hear Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

In our own Diocese, you can check out the following:

St. Andrew’s, Saratoga:  St Andrew’s Live Stream available 9:45 am every Sunday

St. Barnabas, Arroyo Grande:  Sunday 10:00 am worship services on St. Barnabas’ Facebook page. A recording of the live-stream will be posted on the St. Barnabas website following the service. If you would like to participate more fully in the service, the service leaflet is available for download on the St. Barnabas website .

I encourage you to check in with each other, and to be gentle with yourselves and others. It is an anxious time, and we all are navigating uncertain waters. But God is with us, today as always. Breathe in the peace of the Holy Spirit.