12 May update from our bishops.
Dear People of the Diocese of Massachusetts,
As the Commonwealth continues to face high numbers of COVID-19 fatalities and of new cases reported, it remains vitally important for us to care for our neighbors and ourselves by maintaining strict levels of physical distancing. While we regret this ongoing necessity, we know it is the safe and loving course of action.
Current restrictions on in-person public worship and gatherings in our churches are now extended until July 1, 2020.
Those preparing recorded or online worship services should continue to follow previously issued guidelines. Essential office and maintenance functions and life-sustaining neighborhood ministries may continue, provided these are carried out while maintaining recommended physical distancing and cleaning and hygiene protocols, and respecting the maximum number of people allowable under the orders of Governor Baker.
This extension of the timeframe for virtual worship is coordinated with that of Bishop Douglas Fisher of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, with whom we are preparing guidelines for the resumption of church activities in stages that will be determined by public health indicators. We anticipate that these joint guidelines will be available next week. Please be mindful that preparations for phased resumption of services and activities will take careful preparation and planning at every level of leadership in our dioceses and congregations.
We are profoundly grateful for the dedication and creativity with which congregations are responding to provide alternative, virtual opportunities for worship and fellowship, as well as continued ministry to the most vulnerable in our communities.
Last Friday the church calendar commemorated Julian of Norwich, who is perhaps most widely remembered for the assurance given the mystic by Jesus: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” May we, too, know the assurance of Christ’s nurturing and sustaining love, spoken to us in our troubled time.
Faithfully, in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris
13 March Covid-19 Closure Announcement
I pray that you are all well, and that you are finding strength in God, and are being gentle with yourselves and those near to you as we wander further into the Lenten desert of very uncharted territory. The last few days have been exhausting for all of us as we desperately try to process all the rapidly changing information that comes at us and scramble to adapt to new situations.
The wardens, the staff, and I have continued to prayerfully discuss, and faithfully seek understanding of the reality surrounding us. Together we have weighed the import of official recommendations and risk assessments, and struggled to balance those with compassion for all in our community including and especially those most at risk. This has been and will continue to be a painful process. This is not the last difficult decision we will need to make and we must continually rely on our faith in Christ, and the resilience of one another to labor on.
With that said, the wardens and I have come to the heartbreaking decision that as of 10 pm tonight 13 March, All Saints Parish will be closed to all groups until 27 March. There will be no in-person meetings, or gatherings of any kind. I deeply regret the disruption this will cause our community, not only the parish community but all of the other worship, music, art and recovery groups that also meet here. Our Senior Warden put it well when he said, “As much as it may seem to be surrendering to a dark force, we cannot ignore our God-given wisdom, as best we humans have been able to discern, informing us that even gathering while attempting to maintain distances is simply impractical in the setting of worship in the church structure. We will worship together, but not physically.”
Other ways to connect
Morning Prayer. Starting Monday 16 March, I will lead online Morning Prayer at 7:00 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays via zoom.
Compline. Starting Tuesday 17 March, I will lead online spoken Compline at 8:00 pm via zoom Monday-Friday. If anyone would like to join me in leading these offices, please let me know. Office can be led by lay people.
If you’ve never had experience with zoom, this might be an easy way to try it, and it will be a way for us to check-in with each other and pray together.
Other meetings. The vestry meeting on 18 March will be via zoom. All Adult Education meetings (men’s book group, brown-bag bible study, etc.) are cancelled, unless the leaders would like to organize them via zoom—if so let me know. All other events and activities at All Saints are cancelled until 27 March. We will continue to monitor and assess the situation and make other decisions as needed.
I am so grateful for all of your support and kindness during this. I am especially grateful for the wise and faithful leadership we have. This is a beloved community and I know you will continue to hold one another in prayer, reach out to one another via phone, text, and social media. We will keep you informed of any and all updates as we continue to move together in the future that God continues to hold out to us.
O God, the source of all health: So fill our hearts with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy we may make room for your power to possess us, and gracefully accept your healing, your guidance, and your strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In grief and gratitude,