Weekly News and Notes ~ June 3 – 9, 2020

June 3 – 9, 2020

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St. Thomas and the First Steps of Re-Opening

While we are all anxious to return to our regular parish life, we recognize that we must do so carefully and in coordination with local authorities and our diocese.  As part of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, St. Thomas is already in the midst of a phased-in plan to re-open.  Moving into the next phase requires planning coordination with our Vestry, as well as the Diocese, state and federal guidelines.  Phase One of the Re-Opening Plan for Southern Ohio directs that all normal onsite operations of the parish remain suspended until further notice. How and when we can resume more aspects of public and parish life will be communicated soon.  As we continue the process, please keep in mind that the “new normal” continues to be different than what we experienced up until March.  We will be living with precautions and protective actions designed to serve all of us, especially our most vulnerable.

Now and even as we re-open more, our community will continue to be able to connect online through our website, YouTube Channel and small groups via Zoom; these will be a matter of “both/and” not “either/or.”  Now, more than ever, we need to stay connected.  If you haven’t been receiving regular emails from the parish and would like to, you can contact us through the website or call the parish office and leave a message so we can get back to you as quickly as possible. The Church remains open for individual prayer (9am-1pm Monday – Friday); and our parish office continues to have limited staff on-hand to coordinate essential ministry services.

Women on the Journey in Summer Group begins in June – plan to join-in

Women on the Journey will continue meeting Monday mornings from 9:30-11a this summer. We will be reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Learning to Walk in the Dark. Taylor explores what can we learn about the ways of God when we cannot see the way ahead, are lost, alone, frightened, not in control or when the world around us seems to have descended into darkness. Taylor is our guide through a spirituality of the nighttime, teaching us how to find God even in darkness, and giving us a way to let darkness teach us what we need to know. Books are available through your favorite bookseller and as an e-book. Meetings will be conducted on Zoom.us until such time as we can meet in-person at St. Thomas.  For more information and to register for Women on the Journey in Summer please contact Heather Wiseman at hwiseman@stthomasepiscopal.org

A Financial Update

Your own commitment to support our outreach and ministry with your pledges continue to make a real difference!  Whether through your continued help with food or personal items, to the new toilet paper challenge for our affordable living communities and of course our ongoing ministry, you continue to make this all possible. Thank you!  In addition to the statement of giving (year to date through April 30th) sent recently by mail, we sent out another copy of this statement through the email address we have on file.  In an effort to be better stewards, we are planning to move to electronic statements within the next several months.  This first email was intended to have you help us by letting us know what is helpful and what can be improved along the way.  Part of the email statement features a link to make a pledge contribution or other contribution online – as one more convenient way to help support St. Thomas.  This also available, anytime on our website at http://www.stthomasepiscopal.org/  As always, thank you for what you do to help keep us connected and supporting the ministry we share! 

Parish Prayer List

Alisha, Betsy & Bill, Bob, Brigita, Carol, Constance, Doris, Gary, the Koehler family, the Gizara family, Shelley and our shut-in parishioners and their care-givers; those serving our community and nation, including Will, Steven, Harrison, Matt, Becky, Jeff, Jennifer, Steve, Phillip and Perrin, as well as all those affected by natural disasters and human tragedies, everyone affected by the Coronavirus, the first responders and the aid and relief efforts that continue around the world.

Prayers and Reading for Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us as your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us a last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit lives and reign, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Genesis 1:1—2:4a (NRSV)

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

Matthew 28:16-20 (NRSV)

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Click here for this week’s lessons

Seeking to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from St. Thomas.

Need to contact us? Email or call (513) 831-2052, and we will get in touch!

Outreach ~ Faith into Action

The Toilet Paper Challenge for Thomaston Woods, Meadows and Affordable Living Communities

Living into Jesus’ new commandment to love that we read in John 14 is embracing opportunities to not only walk with, but at time step-up or step into action.  One such opportunity is with us now:  The Toilet Paper Challenge for Thomaston Woods, Thomaston Meadows and the other Affordable Living Communities of ERS.

No doubt you have read or heard about the fact that during the unprecedented times of COVID-19 quarantine, low-income individuals are suffering greatly.  Many lack support systems to help them access critically needed supplies and necessities.  Others, particularly older adults, fear the risks associated with going into public places. Even when they do venture out, they often find certain staples to be sold-out.  For the low-income seniors and families residing in Affordable Living by ERS, including the communities of Thomaston Woods and Thomaston Meadows – both communities were founded by Terrace Park parishioners of St. Thomas Episcopal Church and is still a proud outreach ministry partner – the services accessed and provided by ERS, parish and community partnerships are a true lifeline.  Toilet paper continues to be an item that is difficult for our residents to purchase and low-income individuals are not allowed to spend food stamp dollars to purchase this necessity.

An anonymous donor has committed $5,200 to fully fund 2 months of TP needs of the residents in our Affordable Living Communities served by ERS.  The donor has asked other friends of ERS to come forward and collectively match this gift to provide for the months of July and August.  St. Thomas Episcopal Church has committed an additional challenge to church members and the community of Terrace Park: St. Thomas will match additional gifts, up to $2,600, to fulfill this challenge. You can you help us reach this important goal and help some of our most vulnerable neighbors by donating online directly by visiting: https://www.episcopalretirement.com/corporate/donate/online and designate  your gift to “Emergency Response Fund” and enter “St. Thomas TP Challenge” in the comment section.  Or simply mail a check to: ERS Foundation, 3870 Virginia Avenue, Cincinnati, OH  45227 (memo: “St. Thomas TP Challenge”).  If you’d like more information, please contact Susan Cleverly, Manager of Foundation Relations and the Annual Fund, scleverly@erslife.org or call her directly at (513) 979-2309.

Card Ministry remains something your whole family can participate in. 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 continue to coordinate a card campaign for the seniors who are presently sequestered in their Assisted Living situations. Oasis can drop off blank note cards to you, along with instructions, and then pick them up again, “contact free.” Oasis can then 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. You can find more information on our website or either email Oasis at: KRobinson@youroasisadvisor.com  or call them at (513) 302-6957 with any questions or to get started.  Thank you for your willingness to help our vulnerable seniors!

An Update from the Rector

An Update Regarding St. Thomas and the COVID-19 Health Crisis

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Community is more than a place, it is who we are and how we support and care for each other. 
In these weeks of the health crisis with regard to COVID-19 (coronavirus), we have all learned and practiced what it means to care support one another and how we can stay connected,
even when apart.  We are all part of an incredible community of faith,
both here at St. Thomas and our greater community of Cincinnati, Ohio and beyond. We are all doing what we can to keep each other safe and healthy.

In order to conform to the most recent health directive by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine,
all normal onsite operations of the parish and preschool remain suspended until further notice

We regret that all upcoming events at St. Thomas, including public worship services, our music series and special events are cancelled, postponed or moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we are all anxious to return to our regular parish life, we recognize that we must do so carefully and in coordination with local authorities and our diocese. 

This is part of what it means to care and support one another, especially our most vulnerable individuals. 

For up-to-date information

CDC – Coronavirus

State of Ohio Department of Health

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

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