March 13, 2020
"At the end of this outbreak, we will want to be able to say that during this Lent we did not give up on each other even as our common life required us to stretch together in new and potentially painful ways."
From A Statement by The Reverend Brian L. Cole,"
a pastoral letter to the people of the Diocese of East Tennessee,
March 2, 2020 dioET.org
Dear Parish Community of St. Thomas, Elizabethton,
With thanks to Bishop Brian Cole, Diocesan leadership, and to you here at St. Thomas, we begin to enter these days of COVID-19 or "Coronavirus" in a unified, effective, prayerful, and faithful way. Thanks be to God! Gracias a Dios! This has been a week we will not forget, just as we face what promises to be challenging days ahead. We come together and walk forward as community and beloved.
After writing and hearing from our Wardens, Vestry and leadership at St. Thomas and talking with the Bishop yesterday morning, we have decided to do all we can to support our and the larger community by taking the following steps to confront COVID-19:
SERVICES, MEETINGS, AND FACILITIES
As of midnight tonight, Friday, March 13, we will suspend services and all meetings at St. Thomas for two weeks, through Saturday, March 28. We will confer at that time regarding future suspension and closure.
We have decided to re-schedule the Bishop's visit from Palm Sunday, April 5 to a later date to be determined.
The Wardens; Carol Brodeur, Sr. Warden and Jon Cookson, Jr. Warden and I, as priest and pastor, will regularly check buildings and property and conduct basic, priority work along with the Treasurer, Kathy Smith. Please take the time to send your weekly and monthly gifts of Stewardship along with special gifts as possible for "COVID-19 Relief" (note on your check): St. Thomas Episcopal Church 815 East 2nd Street Elizabethton, TN 36743 (423) 707-0042
My sincere hope is that we can offer Morning Prayer II (page 75, The Book of Common Prayer) on perhaps ZOOM, Facebook Live or other media. I will lead but critically need a person or persons to take the responsibility to schedule: 11:00 a.m. Morning Prayer for Sundays, March 15 and 22 Noonday Prayer for Wednesdays, March 18 and 25; 9:00 p.m. Compline, Fridays, March 20 and 27 You may find Sunday Gospel and Readings at The Lectionary Page on the web.
Please direct Pastoral Care needs, paying special attention to the needy, sick and homebound, to Jim Butler and the Pastoral Care Team at (423) 512-9124 or (423) 297-2533 or myself (423) 707-0042.
Food and basic needs are available as needed. Don't forget our animal family - we have foods and care items for our animal friends
I will visit our three trailer parks where St. Thomas families reside, two with high Latinx populations. We will 'check-in,' pray and share peace with one another.
INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
We will share information and news events on this blog, on Facebook at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Elizabethton, Tennessee, and check-in at St. Thomas Elizabethton on the web.
DioET.org is an excellent resource for CDC (Center for Disease Control), WHO (World Health Organization) information, Tennessee Department of Heath, and Bishop Cole's and the Presiding Bishop's pastoral and informational letters.
We are a beautiful family here at St. Thomas. Let the care and love we share with one another now look both inward and outward to a lot of folk who need us and who we need. And I hope that you will read Bishop Brian's pastoral letter about where we are confronting COVID-19 at DioET.org. I find and wisdom and comfort in these words from Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky as each new day dawns (from a morning newsletter, Morning Brew with Revtown:
Every hand that we don't shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.
As I opened, let me close: Let us thank God for one another, stranger and friend, our wonderful home of St. Thomas, Elizabethton, and Southern Appalachia, a tradition, Bishop, and diocese of many for whom we can be proud and give heartfelt thanks each day. And be assured, from the Wardens and me, "We'll keep the lights on!"