On Sunday, March 15th, the CDC recommended the suspension of public gatherings of more than 50 people for the next 8 weeks. On Monday, March 16th, President Trump recommended that people avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for the next 15 days. One of the best things that we can do in times like these is to listen to those in authority over us because we know that all earthly authority ultimately comes from God (Rom 13:1-2). So, what do these recommendations by the President and the CDC mean for our Life Together at St. Dunstan’s?
First, because all of our services regularly have over 10 people in them, I cannot in good conscience recommend that you continue coming physically to church for the next two weeks and possibly for even longer. I wish I knew when the curve on this pandemic will decline enough for me to safely invite you back to Sunday Mass, but I don’t. For now, all in-person gatherings except Eucharistic services are indefinitely suspended regardless of the size of the group. We will keep you informed as things change.
Second, because of my theological convictions, I am not canceling our Sunday services. For this week, all three services will continue as normal. That may change in weeks to come if only a few people decide to attend because it would be simpler to do only one service. While my recommendation right now is for you to stay home, I will not lock the doors or ban anyone from entering the building to worship Jesus Christ. However, if you decide to come, you do so against my recommendation because I cannot guarantee a crowd of fewer than 10 people nor the health of those who might also attend.
Third, for those who choose to stay home, we will be live streaming the 9:00a and 11:00a service. I have been working hard over the past few days to get this functioning, and I think we have a workable solution for this Sunday. I’m praying and hoping that it will go well. The live stream will likely be broadcast on YouTube and Facebook. To follow us on YouTube, go to our YouTube page, click on the subscribe button, and then click the bell and select “all.” To find us on Facebook, go to our Facebook page and make sure that you both like and follow the page. Doing this on both sites should notify you of any new posts and when we go live. (While you’re at it, head on over to our Instagram page and our Twitter page and give us a follow there as well.) Even when the pandemic is over, I expect live streaming to be a continuing part of our Life Together so that we can reach even more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Fourth, it is imperative both that we stay connected during this time of social distancing and that we remain in constant prayer. Thankfully, we live in an age in which staying connected is easier than it’s ever been. (Of course, online or phone communication is no substitute for in-person fellowship, but we must make do with what we can for the moment.) We should be calling, texting, and emailing each other in our downtime, and we should spend time praying together on the phone when we can. To that end, I will continue the practice of offering Morning Prayer to the church on Tuesdays and Thursdays as we have done in the past, but I will stream it live either from the church or my home. Look for the first stream tomorrow at 9:30a. If you want to join me but don’t have a prayer book, you can use www.dailyoffice2019.com to follow along. This website is a great resource for those who want to pray daily.
Lastly, while our Life Together must be physically apart for a time, I would ask that you would continue to hold St. Dunstan’s, its clergy, and its members in your prayers. We still need your spiritual and financial support, and while you hold us up in prayer, if you’d like to continue giving, you may do so online through our website on our Online Giving page. Pledges and gifts can also be mailed to the church office, and those who would like to set up recurring online giving but aren’t sure how should see Pat Moore.
As always, if you have any concerns, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I’m happy to listen and discuss why these decisions are being made. More importantly, if you or someone you know needs help, please know that we are here. We want to pray for you. We want to meet your needs as best as we are able. We want to be your family. We want to help see you through this difficult time. We have volunteers who have offered to do grocery shopping for those who should not or cannot leave their homes. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for any needs.
May God bless everyone at St. Dunstan’s, our family, our friends, and our neighbors.