A Message from our Deacon

April 2, 2020

Practicing the Way of Love:
Outreach During Coronavirus
 
The Rev. Dcn. Gary Givler

St Paul

Many of you must be feeling like you’ve received a prison sentence given the current restrictions on your life and activities. Thinking about that I recalled that the Book of Acts closes with Paul imprisoned for the last two years of his life in the City of Rome. Despite his incarceration Paul remained a productive, world-changing minister during his jail time. He accomplished this by staying in contact with the faithful and continuing to welcome the unchurched and their questions. He wrote many pastoral letters including Ephesians and Philippians during this time and asked for the believers to pray that he would have the courage needed to continue his ministry. He remained flexible and responded to his circumstances as they were presented to him. Paul never became despondent and spent a lot of his time attending to the churches he had founded.

Outreach During Coronavirus

So how do we as a church in this time of restricted activities remain productive? I know that many of you are already active with Meals-On-Wheels and other community outreach programs. But I would ask you to also consider the following list: Donations, Faces, Feedback, Funding and Wellness.

DONATIONS – Inter Parish Ministry is reporting an increase in its client base consistent with layoffs in the community. Please consider increasing your donations and specifically, contributing antibacterial soaps, cleaning products, hand sanitizers, tissues and wipes. Anti-Bacterial cleansing wipes can be incredibly helpful to people who have no running water with which to wash their hands. While IPM is no longer accepting clothing this is an ideal time to clean to your closets and bag up clothing donations for distribution at a later date.

FACES – While words convey immense amounts of information, human beings are suffering from the inability to see the faces and bodies of their friends and family on a day basis. This is because a great proportion of what people communicate to each other is delivered through body language and facial expressions. So, if you can add video to your communications with Stephen Ministry clients, family, friends or parish members you will be providing a much needed service. I know that for many of you this will entail a steep technological learning curve but the acquisition of these new skills is well worth the effort. There are many ways that this can accomplished including computer applications like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo, Imo, What’s App, Line and Tango. Of course, this may not be possible with people who are without suitable devices to take advantage of them.

You might also consider sending a picture of yourself in a greeting card or Email to seniors and shut-ins so your image comes to mind while the recipients are reading your words.

If you are making a pastoral phone call to a friend, a seeker or a fellow parishioner consider the following conversation format:

1. Ask about their health and that of their families.

2. Ask about their feelings about their circumstances and their current concerns and needs.

3. Ask if they have any news for the parish.

4. Ask them if they have any prayer requests and if they’d be willing to pray for you, Covid-19 suffers and for the 1st responders whose lives are on the line,

5. Ask if it would be all right if you called them back at some future time. This is especially important for those who live alone.

6. Be prepared to deal with anxiety, grief, loss and sadness and assure them that their feelings are valid and understandable even though they will very likely fade over time. If you believe that their situation is beyond your ability to manage it, make a referral to one of the parish clergy.

7. Above all listen without interruption and judgement and avoid the temptation to try to “fix” them.

FEEDBACK – This is a time when many are criticizing their employers, communities, and governmental leaders and have forgotten the words of John F Kennedy who once cautioned Americans with these words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Our elected leaders are scrambling to deal with contemporaneous medical and economic crises.

It is unreasonable to think that they can answer specific questions about Novel Coronavirus as the event unfolds. The idea that human beings can control everything that can happen fails us at times like these. Also deserving of your attention are the leaders of your church. Your prayers, and support are essential to their successful ministries now and always. Likewise, your helpful feedback to them can make them much more effective.

FUNDING (Monetary Donations) – Please remember the significant amount of outreach that St Thomas Church enables as a part of its regular ministries comes from pledge donations that aren’t now being gathered during church services right now. Mailing your pledges in will assure that these ministries are maintained. We have not seen destabilization of the economy on this scale since the Great Depression. Food Pantries, and other social service organizations will be overextended as far as their budgets and shelves are concerned in a short period of time. It is an ideal time for all of us to once again “remember the poor.”

WELLNESS – Realize that social distancing puts extra stress on families who are not used to spending every day/all day in close proximity. Faced with too much togetherness, spending some time doing separate projects each day can be very helpful. Practicing a daily routine which includes productivity, exercise and leisure elements is also recommended. Talking  openly with children, spouses, significant others about feelings, stresses and worries acts as a relief valve in relationships. Encourage these strategies with others during your communications with them.

Encourage communications with faith leaders and try to contribute something on your own to the fight against the virus. At the end of the Coronavirus threat we will all want to say that St Thomas Church made a difference to our congregation and others.

Thank you for all that you are doing and for following in the steps of our Lord.

Gary /

Senior Warden’s Message

April 2, 2020


A Word from our Senior Warden, Jim Davis
 
It is an odd and frustrating feeling as a member of a faith community to be separated from one another.  I could have never imagined such a situation as what we’re facing with COVID-19, but here we are. 
 
I’ve been reflecting on how in the middle of all of this, we actually are getting new feedback (albeit it difficult) about how strong and vibrant we are as St. Thomas, because this forced separation creates a reminder of how important we are to each other. Hopefully you have felt connected by one of our videos like this, taken part in one of our small groups online and been connected to each other through prayer and any number of touch points along the way.
 
While in the midst of these unprecedented and unpredictable times, I know there are many difficulties impacting everyone with our current situation.  This is not lost on me or the Vestry.  The primary focus and concern of the leadership team and the clergy is your wellbeing.  Even though we are not physically together, never forget that we are always together, not just as the St. Thomas spiritual community, but as a community within the Body of Christ.  Please do not hesitate to contact me, one of our clergy or the parish office if there is anything you need.
 
I do have a message to speak on as to how we are doing as a church.  The paradox is that there is nothing more I would love to do than to be standing before you in the parish hall giving one of my talks and answering all of your questions.  But it is because we can’t be together in the parish hall, that we are all facing the issues and difficulties at hand.
 
The Vestry and the finance team have made a conservative cash position to cover our expenses for two months.  Beyond this, we have specific contingency plans that we can act-on.
 
I acknowledged earlier that all of us are facing difficulties in this situation.  Even though our liturgy has been suspended and our building is all but closed to essential ministry and individual prayer, our monthly expenses have not been suspended.  Payroll and building expenses continue.  I ask, that if possible with the current situation within your family finances, please mail in the pledge amounts you would normally be submitting.  Any pledge money you can submit will help ensure that we have a buffer, in case contingencies are needed, or our separation period lengthens. 
 
If you have not yet pledged, but give regularly in worship, you can still do so…even as we worship online.
 
In addition to mailing a pledge payment, a regular offering contribution or even a one-time gift, such as an Easter gift, you can also make the contribution/gift online through our website.  If you’d like to take advantage of a donor-advised gift or some form of appreciated stock gift, you can reach out to us by email, or call the church office, or again, use the website under “contact us.”  Most of all, thank you!  It’s because of you that we can continue sharing our work as being the community of St. Thomas.
 
I wish all of you good health and a continued blessed Holy Week and I look forward to having us resume our normal parish life as soon as possible.
 
I will see you soon.  God bless!
 
Jim

Health Notice Update – Closure

Information Regarding St. Thomas and the COVID-19 Health Crisis

The situation with the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) remains ever-evolving.
In order to conform to the most recent health directive by Ohio Governor Michael DeWine,
all normal onsite operations of the parish and preschool are suspended until at least May 1, 2020.

We regret that all upcoming events at St. Thomas, including public worship services,
our music series and special events are cancelled or postponed, including Holy Week services.

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.

As we are able, the Church will remain open for individual prayer (9am-1pm Monday – Friday); and our parish office has limited staff on-hand to coordinate essential ministry services.

We apologize for the inevitable disruption and inconvenience that these measures cause, and we anxiously await being able to have you join us in-person and resume our regular parish schedule just as soon as possible.

PRINTABLE VERSION

For up-to-date information

CDC – Coronavirus

State of Ohio Department of Health

Cards for Seniors Campaign

At-home ministry opportunity – calling card-writers of all ages!  

All the seniors and residents of assisted living and supported communities are presently unable to receive visitors, have no personal contact with their family and friends and have reduced group activities. They are feeling quite isolated. If you would like to write a short note of greeting and encouragement to them, this is your chance.

Oasis Senior Advisors Cincinnati are initiating a card campaign for the seniors who are presently sequestered in their Assisted Living situations. We will drop off blank note cards to you, along with instructions, and then pick them up again, “contact free”. We will then deliver the cards to an assisted living community in the area. The personnel of the community will distribute them to the residents.

If you would like your cards to go to specifically residents of Thomaston Woods, let us know and we will make sure that happens.

Please email us at: KRobinson@youroasisadvisor.com  or call us at (513) 302-6957 with any questions or to get started. Thank you for your willingness to help our vulnerable seniors.

Oasis Senior Advisors Cards for Seniors Campaign

Habits of Grace

As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry invites you to join him each week to take a moment to cultivate a ‘habit of grace.’ A new meditation will be posted on Mondays through May.

WATCH HERE

St. Thomas M.A.D. Camp ~ July 13-17

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Music. Art. Drama. And a ton of fun! The St. Thomas M.A.D. Camp invites children in grades K-8 (grade as of Fall 2020) to dive into the arts. Each day campers will explore music with Dr. Carlton Monroe, Director of Music at St. Thomas; the Young Rembrandts art organization, and Friends of the Groom Christian Theater Company. At the end of the week we will have a special celebration to showcase all that we’ve achieved including an art show, and special musical and dramatic performances.fog logo transparent

For Information and Registration is $50 per camper. You can register and pay online by following the link below:

MAD Camp Registration

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CCM Camp Bravo at St. Thomas  ~ Aug. 3-7

August 3-7, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. | Performance on August 7 at 3 p.m.
Karie-Lee Sutherland, Director

For ages 9-14
Tuition: $330

Love to sing, dance or act? Or all three? Get a taste of Broadway with CCM Prep’s Camp Bravo at St. Thomas! Through exercises, classes and games, aspiring performers will learn the ropes and discover their hidden talents in a fun, supportive atmosphere. Theatre is a great way to channel creativity and build self-esteem! Prepare yourself for applause, cheers and rave reviews with an end of the week showcase for families and friends. No audition necessary.

Please note: this camp is designed for beginners or those with little experience, but lots of enthusiasm!

Registration