Pastoral Update Message

Pastoral Update

While it feels like not much has changed, there continues to be a lot of change all around us.  Let me share with you where I see we are now as a parish community and where we’re headed shortly.

In regards to the obvious with the pandemic, we, have learned and now have a greater awareness as well as experience in which to draw from with how we remain responsive to challenges, including:

  • Health & safety Precautions
  • Protocols that work
  • Ways to support each other
  • And our Community – there have been great advances and access to both testing and vaccines which have allowed us to make tremendous progress; so too what we continue to do to ensure we remain safe and healthy…even in the midst of our current or any subsequent surge.
  • We continue to enhance our own Health & Safety Plan related to Coronavirus, which has allowed and empower us to offer key ministries, not just with Sunday in-person worship, but of course our day school and essential ministry and outreach – all done safely and now without interruption.

COVID fatigue is real, but so too is the grace and generosity and love that makes St. Thomas what we are.  I too share the view that we have round a major corner, thinking the worst has passed and we can anticipate brighter days and more of a return to the life, ministry and fellowship we know.  As we continue to move through the Pandemic, we will continue to be able to live into and respond to whatever challenges we are facing – thanks to our faith and commitment to each other – our community makes all the difference.

To be clear, none of us know the timing of things as we move ahead, but we are prepared with our Health & Safety Plan and what we have been able to learn and continue receiving guidance.  This summer and while we remain in a Public Health Emergency Declaration with related to Coronavirus, certain protocols and precautions must continue to be in place.  What this means for parish as well as the nursery school specifically remains to be clarified throughout the summer, but we are prepared with a Plan A and Plan B.  We have learned in ever new ways what it means to be flexible as well as responsive to this ever-challenging situation.

Preserving the health & safety bubble, if you will is key to our continued safe operation, so just as a reminder, we continue to employ our cleaning and disinfecting protocols, temperature & health checks, registration and record of attendance for contact tracing and of course face masks.

While the vaccine mitigates our risk, it does not eliminate it and these measures are part of how we live into our Baptismal Covenant – loving and serving Christ in others.

Throughout this summer, we will still be thinking in terms of the color-coded levels the state established for COVID.  This means that while we remain in Level 3 (RED), we have a 30% capacity; Level 2 (ORANGE) moves us to 50%; and Level 1 (YELLOW) would bring us to 75%.

We also continue to plan and organize our ministries, being mindful of capacity of people in our spaces as well as the duration of time for services or meetings.  Unfortunately, we still cannot do what is a main part of our community with hospitality and sharing our space.  We all await a time to share a meal or even a cup of coffee once again, fellowship continues to happen person to person with connections outside the building.  But we are looking ahead!

As we gradually return to aspects of programming, we will do so in a similar graduated way

On a personal note, as you may recall from our last formal Annual Meeting, that is in 2020, I was preparing to take my sabbatical leave.  This is something that is normal and expected of priests every 6-7 years or so.  Due to circumstances in each of my previous calls, that was not realistic and so this is actually my first sabbatical in over 21 years of parish ministry.  The Vestry has worked with me, our leaders and staff to prepare for this leave (for almost four years now).  Despite the challenges of this year, the Vestry has continued this work with me to reform the plans to go this year.  For this and everyone’s prayers and support – thank you!  I am grateful beyond words.

Wit all our collective work, there is clearly some variables at play that are beyond my or anyone else’s control.  With this in mind, while I/we have a plan, we also have several alternatives.  No matter what, I will be taking some intentional time away and our ministry continues to happen and even grow!  Throughout these next months, we will continue to serve you and greater community with:

pastoral care, weekly worship (both in-person and online through our YouTube Channel), key outreach ministry, continued connections for formation online (and moving toward in-person gatherings).  Our staff and leadership are also preparing to resume with a full complement of program and ministry after Labor Day – that’s Plan A (rest assured we have alternatives if needed).

Most of all please stay well, stay connected and support one another as you have with prayer, calls, visits and look for ever more ways to be the Body of Christ in this place and beyond.

We will see you in Church – in-person, online and look forward to the months ahead.