Weekly News and Notes ~ November 27 – December 5, 2020

November 27 – December 5 , 2020

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Weekly COVID Updates & Operational Status: In-Person Services Resume this Week!

While we continue to provide worship online via our YouTube channel for Sundays, Midweek Evening Prayer as well as special services, the Diocese has issued new guidelines that will enable us to resume more of our ministry up to and within the Level 3 (Red) designation of the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS).  In-Person Services Resume this Sunday, November 29, 2020. We are looking forward to worshiping together again.  To do so we will continue to implement the following required health & safety protocols:

Reserve Your Seat – Call the parish office at (513) 831-2052 or register online available through our website.

Wear your mask – Please practice good hygiene at home and wear a mask to church.

Enter through the correct door – When you arrive for church this Sunday, please use the archway entrance on Miami Avenue near the parish hall. This will be our main entrance for the building this year while there are COVID restrictions. Entering through these doors provides an easier entrance for those with physical challenges, as well as allows a clearer access to hand sanitizers, the self-health check station and easier access to both restrooms as well as worship itself.

Self-Health Check – A health assessment with a temperature check will be required as well as the use of a face mask and maintaining physical distancing of 6′ apart (we have mandated capacity control and we can reserve seats for up to 50 people for each service).

Find your seat – Seating will be marked to ensure physical distancing. At the end of the service, we will dismiss people from the back of the nave to the front, exiting via the narthex and the red door

For more information regarding this health update including a special video message from Fr. Darren on YouTube, please see our dedicated webpage https://stthomasepiscopal.org Please feel free to reach out by email office@stthomasepiscopal.org or calling the office at (513) 831-2052.

Weekly Update for Christmas Caper 2020 – Have Fun and Bring Christmas Cheer Out to Families this Year! 

Have Fun and Bring Christmas Cheer to Families this Year! You are ALL invited to help share the joy of Christmas by making a few dozen of your favorite cookies and/or candies to be donated to Thomaston Woods and Thomaston Meadows as a direct outreach project.

If you haven’t already done so, please consider baking your favorite holiday cookies or candies to share with these families.  We have added a few simple cookie recipes on the Signup Genius in case you are looking for ideas of what to bake! To date 100 dozen cookies pledged and need about 30 more dozen in order to have enough for the families at Thomaston Woods and Thomaston Meadows.

Drive by cookie drop off at church is on Saturday, December 12 from 9am -12pm. Mark your calendar and make baking plans with your family! More specific information, recipes and the opportunity to let us know you can help are on the church website.  Be sure to sign up via our Signup Genius.  You can reach-out to Terri Moorhead for more information at (513) 884-1339 or email tc.moorhead@gmail.com

Stockings & Bells for Thomaston Woods & Thomaston Meadows

Each year, the St. Thomas parish family “adopts” the children, youth and seniors of housing communities to help with the spirit of Christmas in our Stockings & Bells Gift Program. This is an opportunity to help make Christmas special by providing a gift. Typically, there is a “Giving Tree” at the top of the stairs by the Parish hall decorated with paper stockings and bells.
This year we will have a table with the gift requests displayed in labeled red envelopes, as well as on our website. Each gift is a maximum of $25. This is a great way for your family to practice outreach and share in the spirit of giving and caring. You can register online or in-person at church by simply selecting an envelope, then write your name and contact info in the Gift Log next to the corresponding recipient’s name (essential!), then have fun shopping and finally return the gift (already wrapped) with the envelope attached to the church by December 13th.

Family Spiritual Formation online and Invitation to All Children for our “Virtual Christmas Pageant”

New videos and resources are available for families on our YouTube channel and website.  These include recent Children’s Chapel services as well as our recent video and activity for Thanksgiving.  For more information and/or submissions for our “virtual gallery” from recent activities, please contact Shannon Treier by email STreier@stthomasepiscopal.org

Christmas Pageant – This year’s Christmas Pageant, an annual tradition at St. Thomas, will be a virtual event! Children from the parish are invited to participate by making simple recordings at home. Tom Long of Friends of the Groom will then edit them together to make a wonderful holiday event. The finished video will be a part of our Family Video Service for Christmas Eve. We hope that all St. Thomas children can participate in this year’s Virtual Christmas Pageant!  For more information, please contact Carlton Monroe cmonroe@stthomasepiscopal.org

Financial Dollars & Sense:  Are you the ONE?

You continue to make all the difference in what we continue to offer in ministry and at this point in our Annual Appeal, we need to ask you, “Are you the ONE we’re waiting to hear from?”  This is the time we ask one another to prayerfully consider how best to answer the call to support the ministry we share with time, talent and treasure as we consider the year ahead.  Information regarding our Annual Giving Pledge Appeal for 2021 was recently mailed and we continue to receive pledges – Thank You!  An Annual Pledge is what allows our parish to best plan the ministry priorities and resources for the work we have – everyone’s contribution is great blessing and matters greatly.  If we all participate, our ministry can not only be sustained, it can continue to flourish!  We’d love to hear how YOU can help us make it happen!  For more information, please follow this link to the recent video by our Senior Warden, Jim Davis on our YouTube channel. Remember, one convenient way to help support St. Thomas is with pledge contributions made directly online.  This feature is always available on our website at http://www.stthomasepiscopal.org/  As always, thank you for supporting the ministry we share!  

Prayers and Readings for The First Sunday in Advent          November 29, 2020

The Collect of the Day

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

 Amen.

Isaiah 64:1-9  (NRSV)

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.

Mark 13:24-37 (NRSV)

Jesus said, “In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Readings taken from The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible © 1989 by The Division of Christian Education of The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., used by permission.

Parish Prayer List Allison, Anne, Barbara, Bob, Carol, Darlyce, Dave, El, Faye, Gary, Gerry, Jayne, Jason, Jerry, Jim, Joanne, Joe, Julia, Kay, Kim, Laura, Lauren, Marilyn, Mark, Pax, Penny, Phil, Steve, Sandy, Terry, Todd, Verneida, and our shut-in parishioners and their caregivers; 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, the first responders and the aid and relief efforts that continue around the world; everyone affected by the Coronavirus and recent storms.

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

Stockings & Bells for Thomaston Woods & Thomaston Meadows

Sign Up!

Each year, the St. Thomas parish family “adopts” the children, youth and seniors of housing communities to help with the spirit of Christmas in our Stockings & Bells Gift Program. This is an opportunity to help make Christmas special for our residents at Thomaston Woods and Thomaston Meadows by providing a gift.

Typically, there is a “Giving Tree” at the top of the stairs by the Parish hall decorated with paper stockings and bells. This year we will have a table with the gift requests displayed in labeled red envelopes beginning November 29. You also have the option to sign up online for a gift request beginning today with our Signup Genius.

Each gift is a maximum of $25. This is a great way for your family to practice outreach and share in the spirit of giving and caring. You can register online or in-person at church by simply selecting an envelope, then write your name and contact info in the Gift Log next to the corresponding recipient’s name (essential!), then have fun shopping and finally return the gift (already wrapped) with the envelope attached to the church by December 13th.

Health Update from Rev. Darren Elin

Dear Friends,

It’s been a while since we have been able to share with you any update as to where we stand with our own operations in the midst of the pandemic. 

With this in mind, the Diocese has issued new guidelines that will enable us to resume our ministry.  Please take time to watch the Health Update video and carefully read the updates below.

  • The Diocese has issued new guidelines that will enable us to resume our ministry within the Level 3 (Red) designation.
  • If Hamilton County remains at a Level 3 (Red), we will be able to resume in-person worship, with Holy Communion, for the First Sunday in Advent, November 29, 2020.  We will continue to implement our required preventative, health & safety protocols i.e. wearing masks, health checks, reserving your seats, etc.
  • The Ohio Public Health Advisory System will remain as our operational criteria (or gating criteria). If Hamilton County is ever designated Level 4 (Purple), we will need to return to the highest degree of protocols, which means a suspension of services for both the parish and school. 
  • These provisions will be in addition to weekly and special services offered online via our YouTube Channel.  
  • Home Communion visits will also resume beginning in Advent with special health & safety measures offered.  
  • Please call the parish office for more information at (513) 831-2052 or email darren@stthomasepiscopal.org
     Thank you and God bless you!

Christmas Caper 2020

Christmas Caper 2020 – Have Fun and Bring Christmas Cheer Out to Families this Year!

As the pandemic has caused so many things to be different, we have a fun way to put a beloved event to direct use for the community.  We realize that this will NOT be our typical Christmas Caper, but YES, there is a safe and healthy way that we can again make and donate our favorite holiday cookies and candies.  We are inviting you to help share the joy of Christmas by making one or two dozen of your favorite cookies and / or candies to be donated to Thomaston Woods and Thomaston Meadows as a direct outreach project.  Your holiday treats will be delivered on December 13.  Sign up today! Mark your calendar and make baking plans with your family! For more information now, please contact Terri Moorhead by calling (513) 884-1339 or email tc.moorhead@gmail.com

Sign Up!

The 2020 Virtual Christmas Pageant

To all St. Thomas children: 

This year’s Christmas Pageant, an annual tradition at St. Thomas, will be a virtual event! Children from the parish are invited to participate by making simple recordings at home. The recordings can be submitted, and Tom Long of Friends of the Groom will edit them together to make a wonderful holiday event. The finished video will be a part of our Family Video Service for Christmas Eve.

To participate as an angel or a shepherd, please check out this shared Dropbox folder. It has a script with instructions, plus music files for recording. Depending on your role, you will have different things to record. Please label the files clearly, and then you can upload them to the following folder:

UPLOAD FILES HERE:

https://www.dropbox.com/request/3ARcDBC8zFwS5bjChQxM

For more information, please contact Carlton Monroe (cmonroe@stthomasepiscopal.org). 

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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