Weekly News and Notes ~ May 27 – June 2, 2020

May 27 – June 2, 2020

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Congratulations & Godspeed to the Class of 2020!

This year, St. Thomas celebrates three of our own young adults graduating:  Charlotte Coates, John Gislason and Dane Prather. Charlotte is a graduate of Mariemont High School and will be attending Elon University.  Dane is a graduate of Milford High School and he will be attending the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati to study Finance.  John is a graduate of Anderson High School and he will also be attending the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati pursuing a Finance degree. His ultimate dream is to own his own real estate business.  Inasmuch as we join with their family and friends in celebrating their many accomplishments now, we also are excited and look forward to what they discover and contribute in the years ahead.  Well done and Godspeed! 

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

Prayers and Reading for the Day of Pentecost

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:1-21 (NRSV)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

John 20:19-23 (NRSV)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Parish Prayer List

Betsy & Bill, Bob, Brian, Brigita, Carol, Constance, Dianne, Doris,  Jayne, Jim, Joseph, Pamela, the Lytle family, the Pfeiffer family, 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.

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 /