My Friends –
I hope that you are all well.
You will have seen Governor Baker’s order that closes the schools until May 4th, and you may have seen our Bishops’ March 25 covid-19 update, in which we are advised that we now plan for no in-person public worship services until May 31. The Bishops also provide a number of liturgical resources for individuals at home.
Both the Governor and the Bishops’ extensions have the intent of reducing exposure to the virus, but the extension of school closings and delaying public worship until Pentecost is a shift in thinking of isolation and social distancing in terms of months, rather than weeks.
The prospect of continuing on as we are may be difficult, and the emotional impact of hearing this may give rise to anxiety and a certain sense of endlessness. All of this is a normal response to an abnormal situation, and I can tell you that, eventually, distancing and isolation will end. The precautions we are taking are our part to slow the spread of the virus, and ultimately to overcome it – we’ll get there.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if this is of interest to you and I will send you the syllabus. Day and time tba; the first assignment is to watch the movie “Bonhoeffer” (2003) on Amazon Prime.
As always, please call the Parish office at 508 693-0332, if you would like someone to run an errand for you or if that there is something that we can provide.
In the meantime, stay safe, and God bless you,
March 23, 2020
My Friends –
You will have seen Governor Baker’s emergency order declaring a stay at home advisory and directing all non-essential services to close as of noon tomorrow. For us on the Vineyard, this means what most of us have been doing already: social distancing, staying at home, making food and pharmacy runs, and going for walks when we can.
Workers at places of religious worship are deemed essential workers under this order. This means that Grace Church will continue to offer our online services, phone support, and carry on in general.
We continue to have a group of parishioners who are willing and ready to run errands for others, shop, and be available for phone calls as needed. Please call the parish office at 508 693-0332 if there is a way they can be helpful to you.
I am reminded of the words of St. John and St. Paul: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5) and “We do not lose heart.” (2 Cor 4:14).
We will get through this. And we will get through it together. As we continue to follow social distancing, wash our hands, and make sure that we and our neighbors have enough food and medication, we are doing our part to mitigate the virus’ effects.
Once we’ve done all we can do, then let’s get on with things and pay attention to those around us. The building is closed; we are open.
Please see the following items and updates below:
c/o Linda Besse
15908 East Cooper Road
Mead, WA. 99021
God bless you, faithful friend, and thank you for everything you have given us.
I know Firefighters and EMS personnel in NYC who are working in the midst of their difficult situation; and I know churches in NYC and in London who would love to hear from us. If you’d like to write a card to NYC First Responders, Church of the Ascension or St. Pancras, please let me know, and I will give you the contact information. Please make sure that you put your name, c/o Grace Church Vineyard Haven and the church’s address as the return address.
As always, this comes with my prayers for you. God bless you for your strength and for your goodness.
My Friends –
Congratulations to each of you for making it through the first week of closed schools and social distancing!
I write to remind you that our service tomorrow will be here on our website. Please join us here and not in church. Thank you to Wes Nagy, Jan Hyer, Annie Palches, Akia Sharp Barbosa, and John Hickey for being the Choir, and to Karen Huff for being videographer and editor for the service!
Bishop Gates has issued another update on the coronavirus, which can be found by clicking here. As you will read, all in-person public worship services for Holy Week and Easter Sunday will not be held this year because of the coronavirus situation. I know this is disappointing, but there are still things we can do to celebrate the Resurrection and new life. Plans are already underway for various online options for Holy Week and Easter Day.
Please note Bishop Gates’ advice that the situation is changing rapidly. This is normal for the situation that we’re in and we’ll adapt, as we have been doing, to any new situation as it arises.
Common sense would suggest that, without panic and without hoarding, now may be a good time to make sure that you have enough food, supplies, and medications for you, your family, and your pets.
Thanks to our band of intrepid volunteers, Grace Church provided fifteen takeout meals to members of our community last night. Our plan is to finish out our Community Supper season by offering the same drive-through takeout plan next Friday. Many thanks to Leslie, Bo, Jennifer, Lily, and Hannah for making this happen and for your help!
I would like to thank our Sexton, Chris Berry, for his outstanding job in keeping all our surfaces disinfected and clean – thank you Chris!
I will be thinking of all of you tomorrow, and God bless you.
Good morning from Grace Church on this rainy Thursday, March 19.
This morning I’ve been feeling a little bit like I do in winter – when my world can feel a little more limited and I have to stay inside.
As we enter the fourth day of social distancing and isolation, I’m reminded of something that Viktor Frankl wrote in his book, ‘Man’s search for meaning’, which is that we have the freedom to choose how to respond.
Social distancing and self-isolation are intended to reduce the transmission of the covid-19 virus, but it doesn’t mean that we’re helpless of powerless: there are things we can choose to do to help ourselves and others at this time.
Later today, Maureen will send out the weekly email with a copy of our Parish directory as an attachment. This has been in the works for a while, but has become more important because of the coronavirus.
I encourage you to use it, to have as a resource; to call someone to see how they’re doing. A reminder that the number and meeting code for our noon call is on our website in my March 17 email.
A card to the hospital staff, First Responders in your town, the teachers at your school or the high school, or the Board of Health in your town, to thank them for the work they’re doing, would be well received.
However you choose to respond, remember that you are not alone but are part of a wider community.
God bless you,
I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.
St. Patrick’s Breastplate – Hymnal 1982 #370
March 17, 2020
My Friends –
A Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!
I am impressed and proud of all our parishioners who called to say that they were not coming to Church in order to self-isolate. Thank you for your care for yourself and others.
Our list of Volunteers to run errands, shop, go to the post office, etc. is growing. Thank you for your willingness to serve others!
I remind all of us that this is a time to come together as the Parish of Grace Church.
Following the example of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), and paraphrasing them,
“[our current situation] may compel us to be dependent on the care of others. This may conflict with our pride and challenge our notion of self-sufficiency. We are called to let go and accept the service of others gracefully…Those who care for [others] should cherish this opportunity of service and realize that their caring may be the chief means by which [another] experiences the companionship and love of Christ.”
Adapted from the SSJE Rule of Life, Chapter 46
If you are self-isolating and there is something that you need, please call the Parish office at 508 693-0332 between 9am and 2pm to let us know. We will put you in touch with a parishioner who will help.
These are the current updates from our Bishops and from the Parish:
Public Worship Services: Effective immediately, all public worship services, Sunday School, and Coffee Hour are cancelled through April 5th, which is Palm Sunday. It is unknown at this point whether Holy Week and Easter services will be affected.
Sunday services at Grace Church: There will be a streamed service of Morning Prayer on Sunday on our website https://www.graceepiscopalmv.org. The intent is to offer a service in which everyone can participate at home. A bulletin for the service will be prepared and posted on the website in advance.
Parish Meetings: All in-person Parish meetings are cancelled effective immediately. Plans are being developed for on-line meetings where appropriate. The Men’s Group, Tea, Prayer, Healing, and Depression Groups are cancelled, as is the Burgess Book Group.
12 Step Groups: The Vestry voted last night to continue to offer meeting space to 12 Step groups, subject to their following Governor Baker’s limit on the number of people in one place.
Daily Phone Call at 12pm noon: In order to reduce isolation and loneliness, there will be a daily video teleconference phone call for parishioners at 12pm through Zoom. To join the call, simply click the hyperlink in the invitation below. To join by telephone, dial 1 929 205 6099 , and enter the meeting id, which is 925 898 479, and press the pound sign. If directed, press the # sign again, and you will be in the meeting!
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 925 898 479
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,925898479# US (New York)
+13126266799,,925898479# US (Chicago)
Dial by your location
+1 929 205 6099
Enter the Meeting ID: 925 898 479
Press the # sign and press it again if directed.
Telephone contact: In order to stay connected as a Parish, a phone tree is being created for the Vestry. We would also like to send you a copy of the Parish Directory so that we can stay in touch with each other.
I close with my prayers for you and your families, and with St. Patrick’s words:
I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken, to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.
God bless you all,
March 13, 2020
My Friends –
The coronavirus covid-19 virus situation continues to change rapidly and remain an extremely fluid situation. This is normal for any kind of unfolding major event, and our strategy at Grace is to plan for one or two steps beyond the present, be flexible, and incorporate and adapt to reliable information as it is known.
At this time we are continuing to hold services and our Friday Community suppers with appropriate precautions. (See below).
You will have seen the latest email from Bishop Gates (March 13), which follows on from the Bishops’ March 11 letter in response to the covid-19 virus.
At Grace Church, in order to continue our preparedness and to provide as many options to our congregation and our neighbors as possible, we have implemented the following initiatives:
To reduce the sense of isolation, a daily call-in telephone call will be held at noon, beginning tomorrow, Saturday March 14, for anyone who is self-isolating, feels isolated, or lonely.
The telephone number and dial-in information for tomorrow is as follows:
If you need someone to shop or run errands for you, please contact the Parish Office between 9am and 2pm Monday through Friday, and we will be glad to organize that for you.
If you are feeling sick and your symptoms are not severe, call your medical provider instead of going to the hospital.
If your symptoms are severe, call your medical provider and go to the Emergency Room.
If you are in the high risk category for covid-19 as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the strong advice is to stay home and avoid public gatherings. If you do, please call the Parish Office at 508 693-0332 to let us know and so that we can make arrangements for a pastoral visit.
Tonight’s Community supper will be held at the usual time with the following guidelines:
We will make a decision next week whether next Friday’s Community Supper (3/20/20) will be held.
We are attempting to video the 10am service, using Zoom and broadcast it on our website or some other media in order to make corporate worship available to as many people as possible during this time.
Check our website for updates - https://www.graceepiscopalmv.org/, and remember that our goal is to provide a safe space to be with God, maintain a sense of community in a time of isolation, and to serve one another.
These are troubling times but not insurmountable. Let us remember that we are stronger together and face the future with confidence of God’s love for us and for the world.
God bless you,
My Friends -
As the coronavirus Covid-19 situation continues to unfold, our goal as a Parish is to be prepared and not anxious.
This email outlines (broadly) who is likely to be at risk of getting sick because of the virus; medical care if quarantined or self-isolating; and resources (national, state, and local) to answer questions and provide suggestions of things to do to be prepared in advance.
If you are self-isolating or become quarantined, please call the Parish Office at 508 693-0332 and let us know this. If needed, we will put together a team to shop for you, run errands, and provide general support to you and your family during this time.
Please read the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) flyer on People at Risk of Serious Illness from Covid-19 (click here) or download it as an attachment to this post.
The CDC describes peopple who are at higher risk of getting very sick from Covid-19 as including:
If you fit one or more of these criteria, please follow the CDC's preparation guidance in the above-mentioned flyer (click here).
If you self-isolate or become quarantined, let your medical provider know immediately. Self-isolating and quarantine do not mean that medical treatment stops: call your medical provider, who is then responsible for your medical care. If symptoms of the virus develop, she or he will direct the course of your treatment, as they would with any other medical issue.
On the Island, our Town Health Officials, First Responders, and the Hospital have been working to develop a response plan to the Covid-19 virus; I have been in touch to make sure Grace Church's plan is in conformity with theirs. Please visit the Town of Tisbury's website (click here) and see the attached Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet prepared by the Martha's Vineyard Hospital for more information on our local response.
Going forward, reliable sources of information are the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; and the Town of Tisbury website.
Grace Church has already implemented a number of preparedness measures to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19. We have a plan of phased steps we will take if the risk of infection on the Vineyard increases.
These are challenging times. Our faith, and experience of coming through other adversities will help. Remember that this is a virus and that we can take measures together to mitigate its spread.
Let us take a deep breath, exhale, and carry on together.
God bless you,
March 6, 2020
My Friends –
I am writing in response to the coronavirus, to tell you what we’re doing at Grace Church, to remind you of basic health precautions, and share what is being done in the wider Martha’s Vineyard community to be ready if we have cases of the coronavirus here.
The virus is spread by respiratory droplets. Precautions therefore follow the same for any other respiratory droplet infection.
At Grace Church, following the guidance from the Diocese, Episcopal Relief & Development, and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, we have implemented the following precautions:
• We are wiping down the backs of the pews and surfaces in the parish hall and kitchen;
• Bathrooms are being cleaned and wiped down;
• In the church, we have placed hand sanitizer on the piano and at the back of the church for you to use;
• We ask that you refrain from hugging or kissing at the Peace;
• If you feel uncomfortable shaking hands at this time, put your right hand over your chest and exchange the Peace with a smile;
• All Eucharistic Ministers will clean their hands using hand sanitizer before the liturgy of the table;
• Receiving the Sacrament in one kind (the host) is perfectly acceptable and implies reception of the second.
• To reduce any potential transmission of respiratory droplets, we ask that if you intinct the Sacrament, you hand the Eucharistic Minister the wafer so that they can intinct it for you and place it in your hand.
• If you do not feel comfortable coming to church for services, please call the parish office to let us know – it will be our honor to bring you Communion and visit you in your home.
• If you do not feel well, stay home, go see your physician, Nurse Practitioner or the hospital’s Emergency Room as you would normally do.
• We are talking with the leaders of the groups that rent our space to coordinate common guidelines for cleanliness and use during this time.
Guidance from Episcopal Relief & Development (https://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-we-do/us-disaster-program/faith-based-response-to-epidemics/):
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and throw the tissue in a trash can.
• Wash your hands (20 seconds with soap and water) after coughing, sneezing, handling diapers, preparing food or using the bathroom.
• Stay home if you are feeling ill.
The Press Release regarding preparations and plans on the Vineyard is attached below as a separate document.
Individually and as Church, we have gotten through other events before. I am confident that we will get through this too. The big thing on the coronavirus is to take care of yourself and those around you. If you don’t feel well, stay home, seek medical care early, and call the Church office to let us know how we can help.
God bless you,