March 7, 2020
You have no doubt seen news about the spread of the COVID-19 virus (also called the Coronavirus) around the world. As I said last Sunday, this has been something we have been aware of at Epiphany and considering how we ought to respond as a church.
First and foremost, we will continue to do the work we have been called to. That means worship and ministry at Epiphany will continue in every way possible during this season. Secondly, we will pay attention to what the CDC and other government authorities recommend. And most importantly we will pray, and ask for God’s help and presence, particularly with those who are sick, those who are providing care, and for those who are at increased risk.
Out of an abundance of caution, and particularly out of a desire to do what we are able to protect our own members and guests who may face increased risk of complications from COVID-19, we are also going to temporarily modify some of our Sunday practices at Epiphany starting tomorrow, March 8.
Some of what we are emphasizing is simply common sense, and good advice for any time. For instance, if you are involved in any way in Epiphany’s worship or children’s ministry, please wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water both before and after the service. This includes altar guild, greeters, ushers, lay eucharistic ministers, musicians, prayer ministers, clergy, audio visual, security ministry members, coffee hour volunteers, Sunday school teachers, and nursery workers.
We will also be introducing some changes to limit person to person contact during worship.
Greeting: Please greet each other at church without shaking hands, hugging, or touching wherever possible. I recognize this will be difficult for Epiphany (it is going to be difficult for me). But it is a simple and effective step we can take until this passes.
Peace: Please smile and wave, but do not touch at the Passing of the Peace during our worship.
Communion: At this time, we are not changing our communion practice. That said, it is always appropriate to “commune in one kind” and simply receive the bread and consume it, stop in front of the chalice for a short moment of reverence, and then return to your seat.
Anointing: Clergy will of course continue to pray for healing “in body, mind, and spirit” but will not anoint with oil on the head.
Prayer ministers: Prayer ministers will continue to be available to pray with you during communion, but will not hold hands with you and each other.
Finally, if you are not feeling well, or understand yourself to be in one of the “at risk” groups for whom COVID-19 may be particularly dangerous, this is a good time for you to stay home and take advantage of our church’s livestream ministry. Simply go to our webpage (www.epiphanyanglican.net) at 10:15am on Sunday and click on the livestream button in the center of the page to worship as part of your church family wherever you are.
Friends, this is a time of uncertainty. All of us have questions about what to expect and how to reasonably respond. At the same time, this is not a time for fear. We have a great God who loves us, and as mutual members of the body of Christ we will continue to look out for each other and trust our Lord.
The Rev. Peter Frank, Rector
Church of the Epiphany Anglican