URGENT MESSAGE TO MESSIAH PARISHIONERS
Cancellations & Instructions Due to COVID-19
12 March 2020
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
After consulting with medical professionals, discussions with the diocesan office, and receiving a directive from the national church office, I have made the difficult decision to cancel services, parish meetings, classes and events here at the church for the remainder of the month. I assure you that this action was not arrived at easily or quickly, but after much thought and prayer - and more than one sleepless night. I ask for your understanding and support.
The size of the church will not allow for the 6-8 feet of advised social distancing and, even after deep cleaning the pews, furnishings and other surfaces in the narthex, sanctuary and Parish Hall spaces that has already been done, we cannot be assured that these will remain virus-free and not contribute to spreading the coronavirus COVID-19. This fact, combined with the high percentage of parishioners who are in the over-60 high-risk age range, and safety of all members of the parish, are key factors in my arrival at this tough and admittedly controversial determination.
In light of this decision, please note the following points:
On Sunday morning, I encourage you to gather the members of your household for a short reading of the Morning Prayer service. The full form of this liturgy may be found on page 75 of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). If you do not have a copy of the BCP, at the end of this letter is a shortened form of Morning Prayer that you may use for your in-home devotions.
I also invite you to read the scripture lessons assigned for each Sunday as part of your morning worship. These are:
March 15 - 3rd Sunday in Lent: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42
March 22 – 4th Sunday in Lent: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
March 29 – 5th Sunday in Lent: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45
I will still maintain the discipline of writing a sermon each week. This will be posted on the church website (messiahgwynedd.org) in time to be read as part of your Sunday worship or any time through the week.
For those who are participating in the Lenten book group, Tattoos on the Heart: Seeing that you all have emails, I will email you the discussion points and questions each Wednesday so you can continue to keep the discipline of reading and learning throughout the season.
The chili cook-off scheduled for this Sunday, March 15th, following the 9:30 service, has been cancelled.
Vestry: Our meeting scheduled for this coming Monday evening, March 16th, is cancelled. If you have information or a report that you need to put out to the group before next month’s April 20th meeting, please send it to the entire vestry. If you need a complete list of emails, please contact me and I will send them to you.
The Rise Against Hunger Pack-A-Thon, scheduled for Sunday, March 29th, is cancelled and will be rescheduled for another Sunday. Please stay tuned for announcement of that date.
Belfry Bargains will remain closed through the end of March; reopening on Wednesday, April 1st.
For the health of church staff members, I have instructed each of them to work from home as much as possible. It is my intention to be in the office from 9:00am-1:00pm, Monday through Thursday, during this period. During that time, phones will be answered, phone messages returned, and emails will be checked and answered. Depending on workload, I may sometimes be available at my church office after 1:00pm, but in case of an emergency outside these hours, feel free to contact me on my cell phone (215-692-2667) if you are unable to reach me through the church offices (215-699-9204; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please send your monthly pledge to the church office – 1001 Dekalb Pike, Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002-1941 – as utility bills and other accounts payable will continue to need to be paid.
Assuming we can safely resume church services and gatherings in April, our first Sunday gathering will be Palm Sunday, April 5th. You will receive notification of the resumption or continued cancellation of Sunday services prior to that date.
Over these coming weeks, may you all continue to stay healthy! Wash your hands and say your prayers, remembering especially those who are infected, or ill, or whose lives are adversely affected by this global pandemic. And may God’s protective hand and boundless grace accompany us and bring us all safely to the other side of these uncertain times.
Blessings, peace, grace and love to each of you!
THE INVITATORY AND PSALTER
Officiant Lord, open our lips.
People And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Officiant and People
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as
it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia.
VENITE: PSALM 95:1-7
Come, let us sing to the Lord; *
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God, *
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *
and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, *
and his hands have molded the dry land.
Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Officiant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Officiant Let us pray.
Officiant and People
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
Officiant Show us your mercy, O Lord;
People And grant us your salvation.
Officiant Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
People Let your people sing with joy.
Officiant Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
People For only in you can we live in safety.
Officiant Lord, keep this nation under your care;
People And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Officiant Let your way be known upon earth;
People Your saving health among all nations.
Officiant Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
People Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Officiant Create in us clean hearts, O God;
People And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.
THE COLLECT OF THE DAY: A Collect for Grace
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Officiant Let us bless the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen. 2 Cor 13:14