March 21, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
I bring to you two pieces of terrible news. The first is that due to Covid-19, all face-to-face worship and programming are cancelled until May 17, 2020. The second is that the pilgrimage to Oberammergau in July is cancelled, too. Regarding the latter, refunds will be made in the future as the tour company Journeys Unlimited is trying to figure out how to make refunds happen.
Now, regarding the former. I have heard from many of you about the isolation and solitary feelings you are experiencing due to the now culture of staying at home. This of course is also affecting your spirituality. Firstly, I strongly encourage you to continue to stay away from all people beyond your self-defined families. Trips to the grocery, drug store, gas station, and take-out restaurants are the exception. This will slow the infection rates and ease an already over stretched hospital system. Secondly, I would like to share with you coming plans that will help connect us all in the best ways we have available to us.
Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 the Vestry will be meeting via video conferencing. This is our dry run for using the app/program Zoom (www.Zoom.us <http://www.Zoom.us>). Because we will be using Zoom extensively for the next few months and possibly beyond, I encourage you all to go to the website and explore how it can be used. The next day, Thursday, March 26, 2020, Bible study will continue using Zoom and so will Stations of the Cross on Friday, March 27. The season of Lent has not stopped. Resumption of book club will happen via Zoom on Wednesday, April 1. Prior to each Zoom gathering, a link will be sent via the email address on file at the church. Once you install the software, a simple click on the link and you're in! Because this is technology, there will be glitches. I ask for your patience.
By now, you have deduced that Sunday worship, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday are affected by this decision to close the churches until May 17th. Beginning Sunday, March 29th a recording of Sunday's worship will be available on YouTube (www.YouTube.com <http://www.YouTube.com>) - again, a link will be emailed to you prior to the video being available. This will include services for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday on their respective days. Because there is no WiFi in the church proper, I cannot live stream which was my hope. Worship will include of course prayers, the Propers (readings) for the day, some music (recorded), and a sermon. Sometimes the Eucharist will be celebrated. A hard copy worship booklet will be 'snail' mailed to you in the coming week or after. It will also be emailed to you in a .pdf format. Again, I ask that you have patience through all of this. Although the church has been in this position before, I have not.
Trying to create new ways of communicating and for gathering the faithful virtually is a challenge, but it's also exciting in its creative pathways. I think we should take this time away from each other to find new ways to shorten the distance. The Body of Christ cannot be undone. We were created to be its members and to be connected to each other.
I look forward to seeing you even if not being able to hold you.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Christopher Ballard
Hewlett, NY 11557