Tabletalk

Updated Response to COVID-19

By March 11, 2020 March 23rd, 2020 No Comments

18 March 2020

 

Beloved Friends,

It seems the Spirit is always chasing us down. After the crucifixion of Jesus, two disciples we fleeing the city in fear and distress.  Jesus appears to them on the road and strikes up a conversation, “’What are you discussing together as you’re walking along?’ They stood still their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened here these days?’” (Luke 24:17-18).

To you and I living these strange days in real time, the events of the last week dominate the heart-space and spin our worried minds to no end.  To God, they are but a moment in the unfolding of the history to which Christ stands as Beginning and End.  There is no place so isolated, so fearful that this same Christ will not chase us into to give us the full sense of God’s reframing of our deepest fears.

Today at 1:00 pm, our Mayor, Lyda Krewson’s Office sent out an updated set of social distancing measures in a communal attempt for us to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 outbreak in the St. Louis area.  The Center for Disease Control has recommended lowering the capacity of all public gatherings to no more than ten (10) people until further notice.  As citizens and leaders in the Saint Louis community, and as global citizens we will abide by this recommendation.

Your Church is still very much open.  We are setting in place a series of programs and home workshops, plans for small, socially-distanced workshops for meditative reading of Scripture, and a series of home-Sunday School programs for our kids that we hope will provide a sense of social cohesion and Christ-centered peace we all need during this season of solitude.

We anticipate these recommendations to change with some regularity as our community leaders continue to adapt, and we will adapt alongside them.  For now, we’re making the following adjustments to our worship and congregational life effective March 18.  Some of these will be repeats, and appear here again for consistency:

REGULAR WORSHIP WILL BE AVAILABLE BY VIDEO: We will be filming our regular worship services and making them available to you on our website and social media outlets. Please check your email regularly for updates on how to participate.  While we will not necessarily hear each other, we will be worshipping together as Church in the essential unity of Christ’s Body.

We will no longer be moving forward with our “reserved spots” for worship.

DAILY REFLECTIONS AVAILABLE ONLINE: We’ve sent out a few daily reflections already through social media, and will continue to do so throughout these coming months. An email digest will be sent out at the end of each week.  Please check our website for regular postings.

MEDITATIVE READING WORKSHOPS TO BEGIN MARCH 25: We will be offering a series of workshops leading our people in the meditative reading of Scripture (Lectio Divina) beginning Wednesday, March 25th. These gatherings will be limited to eight (8) participants each, and will offer a centering half-hour of calm reflection on the promises of God.  We’ll send out sign-up sheets by the end of this weekend.

PRAYER & CARING MINISTRY: We understand that this will be a time of heightened worry and fear for many of us. Please don’t hesitate to call, text, or reach out to us in any way for prayer and sacred listening.  Your church is still open during this anxious season.  We’re here to help.

ALL NON-ESSENTIAL GATHERINGS POSTPONED OR CANCELLED: For the next eight (8) weeks, all “non-essential” gatherings such as Fellowship Groups, Bible Studies, Organizational Meetings, Youth and Sunday School, Gatherings, Choir and Handbell rehearsals, etc. will be postponed or cancelled. Please monitor your email for detailed calendar updates as well at home family devotional materials.

COMMUNITY CARE MINISTRY: During this season of withdrawal, we are deeply committed to caring for the most vulnerable among us. Our Soup Window will remain open, allowing for necessary adjustments that need to be made to ensure the health and safety of our volunteers and our community.

AGAIN: PREVENTION, NOT PANIC: Above all, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must not live in fear. Our church community is taking every precaution to prevent the spread of disease and to keep you as safe and healthy as possible.  We continue to pray and to prepare, but we cannot and we must not give in to panic.  In these strange and bewildering times, let us not grow tired of doing good.

  

We remain convinced that during this strange season when the patterns and routines to which we’ve become accustomed; when our worship life and practice of Sabbath observance are long disrupted, that the Spirit of Peace finds her way into the self-imposed quarantine of a community under threat.

In the mist of overwhelming chaos, Christ comes to us with a word and with a presence of Peace.  We will continue to update you as we adapt to this ever-changing landscape.  Until then, all our love and prayers to each of you, and always –

Peace,

Josh Hatcher
Senior Pastor

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16 March 2020

Beloved Friends,

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you…’”  Jesus, the Prince of Peace finds his way into the self-imposed quarantine of a community under threat.  The patterns and routines to which they’d become accustomed, their worship life and practice of Sabbath observance were long disrupted.  Yet in the midst of that overwhelming chaos, Jesus comes to them with a word and with a presence of Peace.

Last night, the Center for Disease Control in Saint Louis recommended all public gatherings be limited to no more than fifty (50) people for the next eight (8) weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.  As a people of faith, we are of course ready to do our part as a part of our local and global community to flatten the curve.  We will follow the recommendations of the CDC and our local government officials.  While anticipating the likelihood that further changes will need to be made over the next few weeks, we’re making the following adjustments to our worship and congregational life effective March 16:

FIVE WEEKEND SERVICES LIMITED TO FIFTY (50) PEOPLE EACH: In order to accommodate a limited capacity, we will begin this weekend to offer “reservations” to be made online or over the telephone for fifty (50) worshippers to attend thirty (30) minute abbreviated services to be held Saturdays at 5:00 and Sundays at 8:15, 9:15, 10:15 & 11:15.  The size of our sanctuary will allow for more than the recommended six (6) feet of distance between individuals/families, and this schedule will allow for ample time to sanitize our space between worship services.

A link will be sent by email on Tuesday, March 17 to register for worship, or you may call the church office at 314-231-4092 to reserve your spot.

ADJUSTED HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE: We will follow this same pattern of “reserved seating” for Maundy Thursday (April 9) worship at 6:00 & 7:00, Good Friday (April 10) worship at 6:00 & 7:00, Easter Vigil (April 11) at 5:00, and Easter Sunday (April 12) at 7:15, 8:15, 9:15, 10:15, 11:15, and additional times as needed.

DAILY WORSHIP AVAILABLE ONLINE: During this season of social distancing and solitude, we will offer daily reflections on our various social media outlets.

PRAYER & CARING MINISTRY: We understand that this will be a time of heightened worry and fear for many of us.  Please don’t hesitate to call, text, or reach out to us in any way for prayer and sacred listening.  Your church is still open during this anxious season.  We’re here to help.

ALL NON-ESSENTIAL GATHERINGS POSTPONED OR CANCELLED: For the next eight (8) weeks, all “non-essential” gatherings such as Fellowship Groups, Bible Studies, Organizational Meetings, Youth and Sunday School, Gatherings, Choir and Handbell rehearsals, etc. will be postponed or cancelled.  Please monitor your email for detailed calendar updates as well at home family devotional materials.

COMMUNITY CARE MINSITRY: During this season of withdrawal, we are deeply committed to caring for the most vulnerable among us.  Our Soup Window will remain open, allowing for necessary adjustments that need to be made to ensure the health and safety of our volunteers and our community.

ONLINE GIVING AVAILABLE AT TRINITYSTLOUIS.COM/GIVE: As we continue to ensure the well-being and spiritual growth of God’s people during this strange season of ministry, we ask that you consider supporting the ministry of Trinity online at www.TrinityStLouis.com/Give.

AGAIN: PREVENTION, NOT PANIC: Above all, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must not live in fear.  Our church community is taking every precaution to prevent the spread of disease and to keep you as safe and healthy as possible.  We continue to pray and to prepare, but we cannot and we must not give in to panic.  In these strange and bewildering times, let us not grow tired of doing good.

We remain convinced that during this strange season when the patterns and routines to which we’ve become accustomed; when our worship life and practice of Sabbath observance are long disrupted, that the Spirit of Peace finds her way into the self-imposed quarantine of a community under threat.

In the mist of overwhelming chaos, Christ comes to us with a word and with a presence of Peace.  We will continue to update you as we adapt to this ever-changing landscape.  Until then, all our love and prayers to each of you, and always –

Peace,

Josh Hatcher
Senior Pastor

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10 March 2020

Beloved Friends,

“In these perilous times, let us not grow tired of doing good.”  This was the closing line of a congregational letter sent on October 31st of 1918 by the ninth pastor of Historic Trinity, Fritz Weidmann.  At the time of his writing, our parish had not gathered together for public worship for nearly four weeks; a response to the Spanish Flu pandemic

While we have no plans as of yet to cancel our worship services, we do certainly prioritize your health, well-being and peace of mind as a vital part of our ministry.  It’s with this in mind, and upon the wise counsel of medical professionals that we’ll be making the following adjustments to our worship and communal life over the next weeks and months as a precautionary measure to ensure your health and safety:

HIATUS FROM THE COMMON CUP: While our chalice is certainly a hallmark relic of both our history and life together, it is ultimately what’s in the cup that calls us to be the body of Christ in and for the world. During this season of prevention, we will take a hiatus from offering the Common Cup at Communion, replacing it with small, disposable individual cups for receiving the wine.  The Common Cup will of course return when it’s safe to do so.

TWO INTINCTION TABLES: During this season of prevention, we’re also doubling the availability of intinction cups with both wine and grape juice at our 10:15 service. As a reminder, this simply means taking your wafer and dipping it about half-way into the available wine or grape juice, receiving both bread and wine together. There will be a table stationed next to each worship assistant on either side of the altar as per usual.

ELBOW & FOOT-FIVE OF PEACE: The church has come a long way since sharing a holy “kiss of peace” as a feature of regular worship (2 Corinthians 13:12), and I for one thank God for advancement and progress. For the time being, we encourage each of us to honor a bit more personal space, offering one another the holy elbow of peace for a season.  Hugs and handshakes will – and should – undoubtedly make their triumphant return soon enough…

INDIVIDUAL COMMUNION: For those of you who are at greater risk, we will also offer a time of individual blessing and communion on Saturdays from 6:00 – 7:00 and on Sundays from 12:00 – 1:00. Our sanctuary will be open, and one of our clergy will be there to pray with you and offer you communion should you prefer to refrain from large public gatherings.

PREVENTION, NOT PANIC: Above all, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must not live in fear. Our church community is taking every precaution to prevent the spread of disease and to keep you as safe and healthy as possible.  We continue to pray and to prepare, but we cannot and we must not give in to panic.  In these strange and bewildering times, let us not grow tired of doing good.  All our love and prayers to each of you, and always –

Peace,

Josh Hatcher
Senior Pastor