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A letter from Father John, 3.13.2020
First, I want to thank you for your prayers and concerns. Jennifer, Fr. Samuel Torvend and I made it home late Wednesday evening on the last Delta flight leaving Italy, and we are self-quarantining ourselves until we are certain that we are not carrying the virus. Other than some typical jet-lag, Jennifer and I are feeling just fine, but cautious. Fr. Samuel, our host on the pilgrimage, is doing the same at his home.
That said, I do have some important, if difficult, news to share. Because of the unpredictable nature of the on-going COVID-19 problem, just last night Bishop Rickel made the painful but prudent step of requiring all churches in the Diocese of Olympia to cancel all Sunday services and all physical congregational gatherings for a period of two weeks inclusive of, and running through, Sunday March 22nd. Together with diocesan clergy, the Bishop will make a decision on or before March 22nd as to what comes next. I support Bishop Rickel’s decision that I know came only after painstaking deliberation and contemplation. Let us remember to pray for him and for each other. We will get through this, but for now, this seems the best move, even as it pains me to say it.
Please do let me know if you have questions or concerns. I will be available by phone for pastoral counseling or other needs, but the church building will be closed to all gatherings and the public until further notice. Until we can safely gather together at St. Elizabeth, I would point you toward the on-line Mass being offered at https://saintmarks.org/worship/live-stream/ We will hold our vestry meeting next week by conference call. If you are not a vestry member but want to listen in on that meeting, please let me know.
Until then, be cautious, but do not fear! Always keep in mind that we confess a trust in a loving “Abba” who creates life and form from death and disorder. We trust in Christ Jesus, who, in the Gospel reading for Morning Prayer today, stills the beating waves and calms great windstorms. We trust the Holy Spirit who comes with God’s Holy Messengers who remind us never to fear because Immanuel is with us always. We will come through this difficult time together and the storms will pass.
Holy God of grace, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve all who suffer in anxiety or sickness. Guide and protect those who minister to their needs. Inspire those seeking cures and those in positions of leadership, that those who suffer may be strengthened in their weakness and we all may have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Forman +
Rector | St. Elizabeth Episcopal Church | Burien, WA