Pastoral Update ~ July 6, 2020

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Dear Friends:                                                                                                         Monday, July 6, 2020

I recently shared with you our anticipation to move into the next part of our own recovery beginning July 6.  As you may recall, I also shared that it is safe to say that all of our planning and preparation is based on the presumption that we continue to make progress in the overall health and recovery of our greater community.  If we experience a setback, we will need to respond appropriately and return to greater precautions and protective measures.

Unfortunately, we are experiencing a setback with regard to the spread of Coronavirus in our area with confirmed cases affecting every community we serve.  The State of Ohio now has implemented a 4-Level COVID Public Emergency system.  Currently, Hamilton county is at a level 3 alert with 5 key indicators being reported including the number of new cases.  Hamilton County has seen a high percentage of its cases outside of congregate settings – ranging from 89%-97% over the past three weeks.  Recent non-congregate outbreaks have included workplace, faith-based, restaurant, and retail settings.  A level 3 alert calls for the community to limit activities as much as possible, as well as to follow all current health orders.  The directive from our Bishop is that congregations within a county with a level 3 or 4 indicator need to remain or return to a suspension of in-person worship and high degree of protective measures and precautionary limits.

Following the directive from our Bishop with this increase in health concern, we will maintain our current level of safeguards and delay our return to in-person worship at this timeWorship for Sundays and Tuesdays will remain online.  While we are following the latest information from the Ohio Department of Health, we are also in conversation with the Diocese for our next steps toward reopening. 

At this time, our community continues to connect online through our website and our dedicated YouTube Channel where you can find our services presented for you to pray and worship in your homes.  We also have a dedicated page within our website where you can find the latest updates and resources regarding St. Thomas and our response to COVID-19.  The Church remains open for individual prayer (9am-1pm Mon. – Fri.); and our parish office continues to have limited staff on-hand to coordinate essential ministry services only.

We continue to be hard at work in a time of preparing for the next phase of our re-opening and recovery, focusing on our community, our volunteers and even our guests with what they can expect as we return to a more public life.  When we re-open, it is not a return to the way things have always been.  At the same time, it also not “the new normal,” but simply what is asked of us to respect and live into at this particular time.   We all hope this particular season of COVID could end, but the truth of scientific data tells us to be prepared for this part of our journey to be a little longer than any of us would hope for.  In the meantime, we are getting prepared with new practices, supplies, protocols, even programs as they roll-out in the months ahead. 

While the primary work in these past months of the health crisis has fallen to our staff and leaders, there is great work ahead still to be shared, both collectively and individually as volunteers. Some of this work will be familiar, but a lot still has changed.  We start with how we welcome people safely – we are looking for more volunteers to be greeters & ushers.  Would you be willing to be trained to help us with this essential ministry?

Until then, remember there are things we can all do to help, starting with our own health and safety – it’s not just good manners to keep washing our hands, it’s now our practice, so too are wearing face masks and continuing to physical distance.  Please stay well, stay connected, and may God’s PEACE and blessings be with you and your whole family!