March 13, 2020
Dear St James friends,
So, this Lent is truly a wilderness time.
I write to you to let you know that, in consultation with our wardens, local clergy (Episcopal and otherwise) and our collaborative, we have decided to close St James for the next two weeks, inclusive of the next two Sundays, March 15th and March 22nd, to prevent exposure or spreading of the COVID19 Virus. We will reopen upon consultation with diocesan staff, neighboring congregations in Groveland, and the Pentucket School System.
We will not hold meetings, formation, or worship on site or in groups. We do host a number of recovery programs at St James in our Parish Hall, and I feel very strongly that they continue—to provide a source of comfort and connection in a time of stress. However, I will be working closely with their leaders to institute guidelines for everyone’s health and safety.
In the coming days, I will have more information regarding alternative methods of community—largely through phone calls, cards, and online gatherings. We *will* worship together online on Sunday—we are working out how to do this effectively and easily, especially for folks for whom online gatherings are new. I will also provide a template for a family home worship, or ensure that there are family online worship times as we go forward.
This is new to us all. And yet, this is what we do to take part in our baptismal covenant: to love and serve one another, as Christ has served us. To seek and serve and honor the dignity of every human being, and to proclaim that Gospel in word and action.
St James has long felt strongly that we should almost never close Sunday worship, regardless of the elements or challenges. However, we don’t need to stop worship. We don’t need to ‘close’. The way we act in this time will proclaim the very foundation of what we believe and assurance of whose we are—we are of God, follower of Jesus, and endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit. We are a hopeful people, who care for the Body of Christ among us—here, now, even in the wilderness.
A few reminders: even though we are not together, we are still ‘working’ and ministering. Your gifts and pledges enable the church to continue unabated in outreach, mission and prayer. Please, please consider mailing in a check, arranging an online payment, or touching base with Milt Boyd (email@example.com) if you need an alternate way to give in your pledge.
We are also in touch with some of our parish partners, and they still need assistance at this time.
* Community Giving Tree still needs donations of underwear and diapers and wipes. Please send your donations to Jayne Smallman directly (firstname.lastname@example.org to get her address) and she will ensure they get to CGT.
* Merrimack Valley Mission of Hope works with the unhoused population of Haverhill. They are asking for donations of travel-sized pumps of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to assist in their food programs (yes, this is the equivalent of Jesus producing the loaves and fishes, but we can do hard things!). Please send them to: Joe D’Amore, 9 Cherry Tree Lane. Groveland, MA, 01834, if you can find them online.
We will be in touch later this weekend with a plan for Sunday morning, and going forward.
Please be in touch and check in with one another! And, if you find that you are ill, please contact me on my cell: 617-320-9568.
Blessings, peace and God’s grace,