Weekly News and Notes ~ January 15 – 22, 2020

January 15 –22, 2021

Weekly COVID Updates & Operational Status:

Hamilton County has transitioned to Alert Level 4 (purple) on the Ohio Public Health Alert System, this indicates severe exposure and spread of COVID-19 in the community. Please reference the chart or click here to see how this change impacts St. Thomas Episcopal Church and Nursery School.

In-person worship remains suspended;
Online Worship continues
.

As conditions change, we will provide updates when services will resume.

Individual Prayer Update

In light of Hamilton County’s recent upgrade to Alert Level 4 (purple) on the Ohio Public Health Alert System,  Individual prayer is suspended.

As conditions change, we will provide updates when Individual Prayer Hours will resume.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Southern Ohio wants to hear from you!

The Standing Committee invites participation in a diocesan wide survey to help understand the health of our diocese and assess our immediate and long-term needs.  By participating in this survey it will help in the Bishop transition process.

Save the Date

Sunday, February 7, 2021

We were so overwhelmed with the wonderful response to the IPM Epiphany Boxes, we can’t wait to see how the food pantry shelves will be filled with soup/canned ready-to-eat meals with this annual event.

2021 Annual Giving Update

NOW IS THE TIME TO PLEDGE!
We have a very generous pledge-match challenge:
All new/increased gifts will be matched up to $15,000!

As a reminder, annual pledges allow us to accurately budget our operations, plan ministry priorities and resources gracefully. 

  • We are 88% to our 2021 Goal.
  • To date, just under 3/4 of those who pledged in 2020 have pledged in 2021.
  • Currently, we are $85,000 short of our 2021 Annual Giving Goal.

For those for who have already sent in your 2021 pledge, thank you. If you have any questions about the pledging process or how our funds are allocated, please contact Becky Fugate, Staff Accountant
 BFugate@stthomasepiscopal.org

Prayers, Readings & Prayer List
for Upcoming Online Services


Prayers, Readings and Prayer List for the Second Sunday After Epiphany

All services will be premiered on our YouTube channel

Need to contact us? Email at office@stthomasepiscopal.org or call (513) 831-2052, and we’ll get in touch!

Health Update from Rev. Darren Elin

Dear Friends,

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

“Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself…and respect the dignity of every human being?” Episcopalians can almost respond instinctively, boldly exclaiming, “I will with God’s help.” Whenever we celebrate and reaffirm the promise and gifts of Baptism, we all reaffirm our Baptismal Covenant, which serves as the very foundation of all that we do together as well as individuals within the Body of Christ.

I cannot think of a single person who has not been affected by Coronavirus – the pandemic continues to be a challenge to the Body in every sense of the word – individually and collectively. None of us could have ever imagined a year like 2020 has been, and not just in terms of the impact to our ministry, but the impact on just about every aspect of life. One of the greatest challenges of the pandemic is that despite our best efforts, our preparation, precautions and protocols, the situation at-hand calls for even more – even more actions, more cautions, more listening, more consideration, and yes, more patience. Today, we are once again at a moment in the pandemic that is calling for more.

Our Diocese joins with the Diocese of Ohio in directing all congregations to do something more, especially as we anticipate Christmas than any of our single set of plans, policies and procedures. We are directed to exercise even more care for one another and assume the highest level of caution and protocols in the weeks ahead. For us, that means that we need to assume the protocols associated with our highest degree of health & safety protocols and act within provisions for Level 4 (Purple).

Starting Sunday, December 13, all worship will remain available online, but all in-person worship will be suspended and we will assume all protocols associated with Level 4, with all normal programming and school operations suspended and only essential workers onsite. This directive will takes us into January, through at least January 10.

This matches the extra precautions and protocols for our day school, and we are adjusting the start of the spring term back one week to now January 11th. We all certainly hope that as we reevaluate the situation in January we can resume our reopening process, but for now it is clear we have to roll-back that process and do more for the health & safety of all.

We remain a worshipping community, just adapting to the context, as we have throughout this health crisis. We still are anticipating Christmas with worship, devotionals and opportunities to share our faith in service with our wider community. Special services, including Christmas, remain available online for you to enjoy and worship as a family devotional practice through our YouTube Channel and website. This includes Lessons & Carols premiering this Sunday at 5pm on YouTube; later on a family Christmas service & virtual Christmas Pageant, as well as services for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day – Rite I.

As we have already made activity kits for our children & families, we would now like to do something similar for your household for our Christmas services. This Sunday, December 13 from 9am to noon as people drop off the outreach items for the Stocking & Bells and Operation HOPE, you can pick-up a home devotional kit which will include candles and blessed wafers so that we can still all share in Christmas Communion. Just drive-up to the church this Sunday from 9am to noon and pick-up a kit for your household.

Beyond Christmas, we continue to provide worship online via our YouTube channel for both for Sundays and our Midweek Evening Prayer Services. The church will also remain open for individual prayer: Mondays and Wednesdays from 10am to noon; as well as Tuesdays & Thursday afternoons 3-5pm. Our parish office continues to have limited staff on-hand to coordinate essential ministry services, including pastoral care on call and by appointment. For more information, please reach out to us by email office@stthomasepiscopal.org or calling the office at (513) 831-2052. Remember we 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, as well as information on how you can support us, especially at this time. You can pledge and donate even directly online.

Please be well, stay connected and may God’s PEACE and blessings be with you and your family this Christmas and beyond!

I’ll see you online and back in-person soon.

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Stewardship Message from the Senior Warden

Dear Friends,

I hope all is well and healthy with you and your extended families. Here we are, coming back together after having been apart since March.

First and foremost, on behalf of the Vestry, Thank you! There is so much that each of you have done to help us remain strong even with the difficulties of the pandemic. Amid a time when St. Thomas’ doors have been closed and our church lives completely disrupted, your commitment and support has been extraordinary to meet the challenges and even fulfil our 2020 pledges. Your stewardship has made all the difference! I believe that what we as a congregation have done, with regards to 2020 pledges, shows the extent of the graciousness, generosity, and love that we hold towards our spiritual community of St. Thomas, each other and the outreach mission we continue to support together.

With all the disruption we have experienced in our church lives, and with not everything back to how it used to be, the operation of the church continues. Especially now, our mission is critical: to make God’s love known by who we are, what we practice and how we serve others in Christ’s Name. Our ability to realize our mission has meant adapting, learning, and changing more…and repeating this every week it seems. On top of that, we are not coming back in the usual start of a program year or our own liturgical life that we love so dearly. Still, our mission and the importance of

St. Thomas as a touchstone remains front and center.

The Vestry and Finance Committee continues to work hard to manage expenses in light of all of the work that had to be undertaken to ensure we would be in position to re-open as soon as we were allowed. The extent of deep- cleaning and disinfecting that continues to be undertaken represents a significant increase in staff labor costs. Following the guidelines to resume operations, the church has had to invest in various air purifier systems and ventilation maintenance, as well as additional disinfecting equipment, such as electrostatic sprayers. These are one- time purchases that have been able to be absorbed into the 2020 budget. Labor, however, remains a challenge.

The extent of the incremental labor hours required to allow us to hold our proposed service schedule for this program year is large. The additional hours needed to perform the deep cleaning and disinfecting throughout the church (even aside from St. Thomas Nursery School), between services and during the week has meant an increase the number of hours required for the entire facilities staff and moving one of our staff members to full-time status.

As we now embark upon the 2020-2021 program year, it is time to consider what these extra provisions mean for the 2021 Operating Budget and our Annual Giving Pledge Appeal. The Vestry is asking for your prayerful consideration to increase your family’s pledge by 8%, to help cover these increased expenses. Such an increase, along with the continued efforts to control expenses will help ensure that we can continue to maintain a balanced budget, considering our increased staffing costs.

The importance of Annual Giving Pledges and online giving has been seen even more acutely this year. If you currently do not pledge, we ask you to consider doing so. Having everyone participate by making a pledge means we can more accurately budget our resources and share the work of ministry that much more gracefully. Every dollar is honored, valued, and is carefully spent. St. Thomas continues to grow in numbers and vibrancy because of the generosity and commitment of our congregation with our time, talent as well as treasure shared.

As you know, my past custom has always been to talk about our stewardship during a Parish Breakfast and to respond to all questions and comments. We are not able to come together in that manner this year. We are looking at the feasibility of having an abbreviated session in the Sanctuary after services. Regardless, I am always available to answer any questions you may have regarding the budget or financial status of St. Thomas.

I encourage you to contact me directly at (513) 484-5600 or by email: jjdavis@cinci.rr.com

With a grateful heart. God Bless!

Jim Davis, Sr. Warden

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