All posts by Keith Earle
Holy Week and Easter at St. George
Monday – Wednesday, April 6-8 at 9:30 AM
Morning Prayer with Reflections
Maundy Thursday, April 9 at 6 PM
An Order for Evening Worship with a reflection on Maundy Thursday and music.
Good Friday, April 10 at 12:00 PM
Good Friday Liturgy
Easter Sunday, April 12 at 10:00 AM
Easter Sunday Morning Prayer
Although we can’t come together to walk the Stations of the Cross during this special time of Holy Week, we have created an Interactive Stations of the Cross that you can do with your kids at home! It will be a wonderful and spiritual experience that you can do with your children to help prepare their hearts, and yours, for Easter morning! Click Here for the Interactive Stations of the Cross.
Dear Friends in Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have received word from Bishop David Reed that he is “calling on all clergy and congregations of West Texas to cease gathering in person for worship and meetings until April 1.” He added that “we should be prepared to see it extended for significantly longer, depending on the continued spread of the virus.”
Therefore, beginning this Sunday, March 22, St. George will suspend our in-person public Sunday morning worship until such time as our ecclesiatical and local and national health and governmental authorities deem it safe to resume in-person public worship.
We will stream our worship at 10 am on both YouTube and Facebook Live as we did this past Sunday. Those on the Worship Ministry Schedule are free from obligations for Sunday worship until we resume in- person public worship, All Sunday morning and afternoon activities until we can return to in-person public worship.
In a previous letter to clergy and churches, last Friday Bishop Reed said, “we seek to act in love and not from fear. Not gathering physically for worship becomes, by grace, a gift of sacrificial love to our larger communities and to the most vulnerable in them, as we actively seek to be instruments of Christ’s healing and peace, rather than unwitting conduits of coronavirus.” (emphasis mine)
We are all continuing to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. And no one knows how and when things will resume in a more familiar way. We are not alone in this seismic shift in moving to online worship and suspending activities. Episcopal Churches across the country are taking similar steps to help stem the tide of COVID-19.
In a letter to The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said, “It is reasonable to assume that some form of recommendations restricting public gatherings will continue for some time,” He continued, “Considering this changing landscape, I believe that suspension of in-person public worship is generally the most prudent course of action at this time, even during Holy Week and on Easter Day.”
You will receive the eSpear on Friday and in it you will find links that will take you to YouTube or Facebook Live. Facebook users will be able to interact with us during the service. And you will be able to share our feed with your Facebook friends. Inviting your friends to church with you in this way is a simple yet very loving, pastoral thing to do in times like these.
We will also include a downloadable PDF bulletin with the full service including lyrics to our worship music. I encourage you to print it out for you and your household and participate just as you would if we were gathered in sanctuary.
We have decided on a way to deliver Christian Formation lessons to you in short videos. The staff members are putting those together even now. Adult Confirmation curriculum is in process of being created and distributed. Youth Confirmation curriculum will be next. There is still time to prepare for Adults and Youth to participate in Confirmation instruction – all the lessons will be on demand. If you would like to receive these lessons for you or your teen, please click here to fill out our Request for Confirmation form.
We are also working diligently to provide resources for spiritual nourishment and formation for your use as we move through this time. Information will be sent as that becomes available.
The bonds of affection that hold us together in Christ Jesus transcend physical space and distance. The Holy Spirit is holding us and holding us together during this time. The technology available to us, which oftentimes can feel intrusive, will be a wonderful tool for us to stay connected with each other until these troubled times pass and we can once again gather together in joyous celebration.
Please know that I am holding you all in my prayers regularly.
Stay well and God bless you.
Facebook Livestream: @saintgeorgechurch
Youtube Stream: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOAqu-IOWyPDG7RF1TfYPyg
Prayer from Bishop Reed’s Letter
Lord God, Father Almighty: We easily take so much for granted until it is threatened. In this time of pandemic, make us deeply mindful of our need for you. Help us to cherish anew all that we have received from you—the gifts of life, health, families and friends, the Church. Rekindle in us the desire to strengthen these precious gifts and to be knit together in you. While our worries and fears are real, give us grace to not give in to them. While our inconveniences and hardships are real, give us eyes to see those who truly suffer and to find ways to serve them. Remind us daily that those who abide in Christ are never truly separated, and even as we are physically distanced may we find deeper and closer community. Send your Holy Spirit to bring healing and peace to us, and to our communities. And may we find wisdom and power in you to disrupt the disruptions. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, Healer of our souls, Savior of the world. Amen.
Dear Friends in Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Even as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and heed the advisories from the CDC and other national and local agencies and officials, the Church staff and I are working diligently to see to it that the essential parts of our mission and ministry continue through the duration of the situation.
In times like these, there is a great temptation to simply hunker down and hide until the storm passes and life returns to normal. Life will return to normal but it will be a new normal. Even as long-held ideas and assumptions in a number of areas of our lives have begun to crumble, God is at work in new ways. God’s Mission will not be stopped. Ever.
Indeed, God’s Mission has a Church, the Body of Christ, which has to come to constant terms with its reality, its limitations, its humanity. In times such as these, the Church; the People of God, redeemed and renewed in Christ; will continue to be equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit to continue to do the work the Church has been called to do.
Therefore, mindful of our calling, we will continue on, admittedly in a new way, with the “work we have been given to do.” (BCP, pg. 366)
You will be receiving a series of emails over the next few days detailing information on a number of topics. This email deals with Pastoral Care, Outreach Opportunities and Financial Giving.
One of my primary concerns is providing pastoral care to the St. George Community.
The Book of Common Prayer reminds us that in “case of illness, the Minister of the Congregation is to be notified“ (pg. 453). Please do communicate your need for pastoral care for you or a loved one. St. George is blessed by an abundance of caring hearts. Community of Hope Lay Chaplains and an active number of prayer ministers partner with your clergy to tend to the spiritual needs of the Community. We are pleased to be useful in assisting you in a time of need.
You may arrange an in-person, phone or Facetime visit by emailing Marilynne Herbster, Director of Pastoral Care, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact Rev. Susan Burnham, our Curate, via email: email@example.com. I have charged them with organizing our pastoral care efforts within the congregation. We have also added a new email address. For any and all prayer requests, confidential or otherwise, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that we will assess, per best practice, the potential for exposure to COVID-19. It is critical that pastoral caregivers stay healthy so as not to inadvertently and unknowingly expose others.
COVID-19 has caused many disruptions to the daily lives of many. Those who struggle with basic necessities will find themselves struggling even more due to loss of work hours and income. Those who are food insecure, especially children who have access to food only at school, will find themselves with less food. Proper nutrition is critical to our ability to think, perform and learn. It is a basic need.
I invite you to consider supporting one of the following agencies who are already at work helping those who struggle daily with meeting their basic needs. We cannot control the circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and that can leave us fearful and anxious, but we can replace fear by faithfully sharing, freely and generously, what God has given to us by giving to help others.
Rector’s Discretionary Fund: Funds used to help those in need. Gifts received into the RDF will be allocated first to members of the SG Community in need then to those outside the SG Community. https://tithe.ly/give_new/www/#/tithely/give-one-time/360119
SA Food Bank: While dropping off food is always a good thing; monetary donations can go much further! 1.00 = 10 pounds of food, 10.00 = 100 pounds of food. 100.00 = 1000 pounds of food! They will accept monetary donations online (see link below), but if you are not able to go online, their address is: SA Food Bank, 5200 Enrique M. Barrera Pkwy. San Antonio, TX 78227. They will also need volunteers to help during this time of increased activity. Their hours of operation are: Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. Please be aware that you will be asked a few questions when you first go to volunteer. Please see the link below to donate or volunteer. https://safoodbank.org/
Larkspur Elementary School: At this time they are not in need of supplies while the school is closed, but when they return, the Family Specialist has requested soaps and hygiene items for the families.
West Avenue Compassion: WAC is aware of the hard times people are going through during this time of stress. They will continue to be open for their “Choice Pantry” on Mondays and “Open Pantry” on Tuesdays with extended hours to maintain a safe environment. They are asking for donations of canned food and cereal, as well as volunteers (young and able) on Mondays and Tuesdays to help assist those who come in for food. https://westavenuecompassion.org/
Lunches for Kids: Below is a link to information on where meals can be picked up for children while the schools are closed. Please share with those who may need it. https://therivardreport.com/students-can-pick-up-meals-during-coronavirus-school-closures/
Meals on Wheels: During this uncertain time, Meals on Wheels wants to make sure our senior neighbors have enough food in their pantries. They have expanded their delivery time to the weekend. If you would like to help, please contact Sadie at 210-735-5115.
Prayer: Prayer is the most powerful tool we have in our toolkit. So this is a call to pray. You may not have money or the ability to get around but we can all pray. Below is a link to the Daily Lectionary. Praying the Daily Office gives us all an opportunity to help. http://www.satucket.com/lectionary/
Please be diligent about making and keeping up with your financial offering to God through St. George. Continuing to give during this time allows us to respond to the ministry needs before us and continue to plan for the time when this pandemic has passed. To give online, please use our Tithe.ly website or you can give through your bank.
Should you have questions about how to give online, please contact Jennifer Kirkland, Bookkeeper, via email: email@example.com or Keith Earle, Senior Director, firstname.lastname@example.org and they can assist you.
In closing, I would share the words of St. Paul to the Philippians, “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (4.8-9)
May God’s peace be with you and your loved ones.
Stay well and God bless you!
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As you are by now aware, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is having a significant impact on many aspects of our lives. Some of us and our family members may experience, or already are experiencing, the fall out of potential exposure through self-quarantine. I, along with you, have been keeping a close watch on developments across the nation and locally. The long-term effects of the pandemic are yet to be even fully comprehended but will be significant for some time.
I am writing to let you know how we will move through the coming days mindful of your wellbeing. We will be working diligently to minimize the risk of possible exposure. We will work vigorously to keep our focus on worshipping. And we will remember that even in the midst of things we cannot understand we will do our best to serve our Lord Jesus Christ locally and beyond.
And we ask that each one of you be very aware of your own risk factors and if you are in a high-risk category or feel ill, that you exercise an abundance of caution in choosing self-quarantine for the sake of the health of others.
These decisions have not been made lightly – nor without significant prayer to God. The Vestry and I believe these decisions are both faithful and prudent. They reflect our deep love and concern for each one of you and your loved ones. It is our hope that you will prudently choose to do what seems right for your, and your loved ones, well being.
- Sunday morning and evening worship will continue as scheduled. In addition, we will live stream the services for those who are infirm or who wish to be cautious of being in a crowd.
-Watch our streaming services on our Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOAqu-IOWyPDG7RF1TfYPyg
-Watch us on Facebook:
- We will suspend, as a precaution, our practice of receiving the communion wine. It is liturgically and spiritually acceptable to receive communion in one kind – the bread.
- We will also receive from a standing position so as to minimize the number of hands on the altar rail.
- We will suspend our Children’s formation for a few Sundays. However, the nursery will be available. Only children 5 years of age or younger will be allowed in the nursery. Please know that our caregivers will ask you questions about fevers within the last 24 hours. The caregivers will also check temperatures at check-in. The nursery has been and will continue to be carefully cleansed. Children are invited to remain and participate in worship. In truth, your clergy relish the presence and sound of children in the service. And we will work to engage them during worship in ways that will be meaningful for them and will help shape their understanding of our worship practices. We will trust the instincts of our parents in choosing what is best for their child(ren) in terms of interaction and participation.
- In passing The Peace, please be conscious of the desires of those around you relative to handshakes or hugs. A wave and verbal greeting will suffice for many.
- Rather than passing the offertory plates, they will be situated in a location where you can make your offering as normal. Please consider giving electronically through Tithely (https://tithe.ly/give_new/www/#/tithely/give-one-time/360119).
- We will be canceling the remainder of our Lenten Soup Lunches. And we ask that open food containers (donuts and other goodies in the Gathering Area) for sharing not be brought until further notice to minimize potential for passing infection.
Another adjustment to our life together will be a temporary stoppage of all weekday meetings, classes, ministry meetings, community and community support groups in our facility through the end of March. We will be evaluating the situation regularly and will announce updates to this temporary policy. This policy is in alignment with what our Day School has determined as their course of action. I want to assure that all essential staff members of both the Church and School are kept safe from exposure as they perform their daily activities and prepare for an eventual resumption of our everyday St. George Community Life.
The Church Staff and I will be responsive to your phone calls and emails. Meetings may still be arranged by appointment with the individual staff member.
Pastoral care will be provided as needed. The Book of Common Prayer reminds us that in “case of illness, the Minister of the Congregation is to be notified“ (pg. 453). Please do communicate your need for pastoral care for you or a loved one. Please do not take offense at our asking about the potential for exposure to COVID-19. It is critical that pastoral caregivers stay healthy and not inadvertently and unknowingly expose others.
I will also be sending a separate email in the coming days which will detail ways to help others during this time. As events continue to unfold, many will find themselves in need. We, The Church, are called to continue to serve, especially in times of uncertainty and crisis.
In the next few days, I will also announce ways in which we will provide spiritual and inspirational content via the internet. Stay tuned for that.
Below are links to information and resources to learn more about COVID-19 and how to minimize your risk of exposure.
Please know that you and your loved ones are in my prayers. Be assured of those constant prayers. Be assured of my ongoing love and affection for you, my sisters and brothers. Be assured that I, as well as the Staff and Vestry, will be diligent in seeking the Lord’s will and safeguarding the wellbeing of all who are part of this amazing St. George Family.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15.13)