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  • July 15, 2020

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Rector's Update: Continuing to Be the Church

To the Beloved of St. James’,

I saw someone wearing a t-shirt the other day that caught my attention. It read, “The CHURCH has LEFT the BUILDING.”

The person wearing it was grocery shopping for an elderly person. This reminds me of the sign we posted in our parking lot a few years ago that reads: “What happens in Church does not stay in Church.” We've never lived through a time of trial quite like this as the coronavirus continues to spread. Church is WHO we are…

Amid this pandemic, we continue to BE CHURCH in numerous ways beginning with our online Sunday services. Prayer lies at the foundation of all of our ministries. Our Food Locker volunteers continue a ministry of collecting food and distributing it weekly to those in need. The Food Locker received $1,000 gift of food this past week from DUDES (Dads Uniting Dads in Education and Service).

Our pastoral telephone callers continue to check in with others. Parishioners continue to pray for those serving on the front lines of the pandemic at our nightly Compline service. Notes and cards of encouragement continue to be exchanged. Virtual classes continue to be offered ranging from Reflectionary and EfM to the Youth Center offering cooking and drama classes!

For many “Zoom” has entered more than our vocabulary. Musicians record from afar, singers continue to sing Gods praises and CHURCH continues.

In a recent sermon, Bishop Taylor mentioned that these days of COVID remind him of the exilic experience of ancient Israel. While the fall of Jerusalem and people being forced from home to live in Babylon is somewhat different than our experience of this pandemic, we understand. We mourn the significant loss of community, we miss gathering at the Lord’s Table, we wonder if our lives will ever be as they once were.

As a church, we are doing our best to wrap our minds around what this “new normal” looks like as it continues to evolve. We are aware that the spread of the Coronavirus is getting worse and worse and is expected to continue on this trajectory. This is most clearly evidenced by statistics and the Governor's recent rollback of re-opening. We are considering what this might mean for our church, school and youth center.

The Vestry is meeting frequently, the Finance Committee is closely monitoring our fiscal situation, and we continue to be people of prayer. At a recent Compline service, we discussed a passage from Ephesians and grasped hold of Paul’s prayer when he prayed “that you might know the HOPE to which you are called.” (Ephesians 1:15-23)

This past Sunday we attempted to begin a socially distant, health screened and masked small group Eucharist on the patio. We hope to return to this in the near future. We are also considering offering more frequent Sunday Zoom Services to allow us to gather together for worship. Coffee hour at 11:30 still occurs each Sunday morning. Please continue to check our website for updates and details of services.

Opportunities and Offerings

We will celebrate the Feast of St. James on Sunday, July 26th. A special service has been planned to celebrate our patronal feast day. We hope to live stream an 8:00 am service from our patio. More details will follow…

Growing Love in Times of Division: a new four week class will begin on Thursday, July 23rd. Join us to explore growing in our capacity for love in times of division. If you are interested in being part of this weekly discussion group sign up here. Each week for 4 weeks we will read articles and/or watch short videos on racial divisions in our country on our own and then gather to pray and discuss. This class is a place to learn, ask questions and seek the heart of God as we learn to love one another and our neighbor.

As this pandemic continues, many are feeling a little isolated from friends and loved ones. It's so easy to rely on email and text message. However, some like to receive a good old fashioned letter every once in a while. If you, or a loved one, would like to participate in the St. James' Parishioner Pen Pal Program we'll partner you with another parishioner who also enjoys writing and receiving letters in the mail. Young and old are welcome to participate. All you need is some paper, a pen, stamps and a desire to connect with people through the mail. If you, or a loved one are interested please send a note to Allison Rector at allison3@pacbell.net and we will pair you with your new St. James' Parishioner Pen Pal. Once your paired up, write away!

Education for Ministry is an important ministry in our parish. EfM mentor, Greg Richardson will be offering EfM classes online. A new class will begin on September 8th. More information will soon be posted here. Questions? Ask Greg at strategicmonk@gmail.com.

Blessings as you continue your week!

The Rev. Canon Anne Tumilty