St. Peter's Episcopal Church
and Montessori School
The Church office is officially CLOSED during the Shelter in Place for Covid-19. Mail will still be processed each day.You may reach church staff by email or their mobile numbers! We will host a virtual Zoom meeting on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm. You can get the passcode from various people.
"That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord." --the Great Litany, BCP page 151.
A Message from the Bishop
Dear Friends in Christ,
I write to give instructions for congregations in the Diocese of Arizona in the coming weeks in light of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for gatherings of groups during this pandemic of COVID-19.
I am instructing all of our congregations to cancel all in-person, public worship through at least April 20, and I expect it will be likely to continue longer, as the CDC is recommending cancelling 8 weeks of public gatherings. I also instruct our congregations to cancel all public events involving more than 10 people during this time, including classes, rehearsals, and meetings. All in-person Diocesan events during this time are also cancelled or being moved to online platforms.
I do not take this decision lightly. But it is made out of love. In this particular season, loving our neighbors means being apart from them.
Guidance for several areas of our congregational life is contained below.
Several of our congregations in Arizona experimented with offering live-streamed worship yesterday. You are all permitted and encouraged to do so; the Diocese is going to attempt to feature one specific service each week to remind us that we are all in this together, and that we can gather collectively in prayer and praise.
I note that we are not cancelling prayer -- if anything we are called to pray more, not less, during this time of trial. We will be offering additional online prayer resources as the days proceed. But at home, use your Book of Common Prayer. If you do not have one, go to your local Episcopal Church and ask to borrow one. If you do not know how to use it for Morning Prayer or other services, we will teach you. I'm planning to do a YouTube tutorial tomorrow on how to pray Morning Prayer on your own. Nothing can separate us from the love of God-and nothing can force our prayers to cease.
PASTORAL CARE and FELLOWSHIP
We are called to love one another, and we are now called to do so in more creative ways. Work with your congregation to establish a phone tree, and reach out particularly to those who are elderly or isolated. Have children write letters and draw pictures for the homebound.
I know many in our congregations will be missing coffee hour as much as worship. Tiffany Cramer (), our Events Coordinator, has offered to be a liaison for helping teach you how to set up an online event for your congregation so that you can see each other's faces and talk to friends. Even when you are confined to your home, you are not alone. Christ binds us to one another in life and even in death.
If there is one area where we must continue to put ourselves at some risk, it is in caring for the most economically vulnerable in our communities. I encourage all congregations to see how they can maintain their food pantries, meal programs, small 12-step meetings, and other ministries that will be absolutely essential during the time when hourly employees are unable to work, and ever more people find themselves food insecure. Do so wisely: keep social distance, disinfect everything, and offer meals to go, or drive up food pantries rather than in your buildings. But do not cease serving the vulnerable. And I encourage those who are able to donate to their clergy's discretionary funds, so that our clergy have the capacity to help those who need help when they come to our doors.
At this time, I do not see a need to instruct congregations to close their offices entirely. Follow CDC guidelines about keeping yourselves safe, use good judgment about which staff and volunteers are at-risk and should stay home, and work remotely if you can. But phones need to be answered if possible, and instructions given for how to connect if you are in need. An essential function of church life right now is communications: keep talking to your people through phone trees, Zoom gatherings, your website, and good old-fashioned mail. Update your signage, so that people who come to your property know how to get in touch with a human being.
FOR THOSE WHO GET SICK
It appears to me, from what I have read, that even with all these precautions, it is likely that many of us will end up acquiring COVID-19. There is no shame in doing so. Seek help, according to the recommendations of the CDC and others, and let your clergy know so that they can be helpful in making sure you receive the care you need, and have access to the supplies you need.
Canon Nicole Krug, our Diocesan Disaster Coordinator, is developing a protocol for congregations who have members with COVID-19 and are concerned that the disease may have spread within the congregations.
Cancelling public worship is going to have economic effects for our congregations and our diocese. As the beginning of a plan, we have three guidelines:
I am asking all congregations to continue to pay all of their staff, even staff who may not be working because of the suspension of worship.
I am asking all church members to maintain their pledges, as they are able.
I am in the process of asking the Standing Committee to approve a Diocesan Relief Fund to assist congregations in maintaining their payroll, insurance payments, etc. if necessary.
WHAT WILL THE DIOCESE BE DOING?
Right now, I envision the Diocesan Office as a clearing house for questions, and a source of connection for congregations in need. Some staff members will work remotely; others will come in to the office.
We have set up a resource page on our website to include links for prayer, reliable information about COVID-19, and support for clergy and lay mental health.
BUT WHAT ABOUT EASTER?
The word "quarantine" comes from quaresima, the Italian word for Lent. Ships were "quarantined" for 40 days in port before they were able to dock and unload people and supplies. So of all seasons of the year to be experiencing quarantines, this is very appropriate. Just as Lent ends with Easter, so this season of quarantine will end with renewed faith in our Risen Lord-though it will likely not happen by April 12, 2020. Over the next few weeks, as the situation develops, we will discern what the right way to observe calendar Easter is; and what the right way to observe our eventual return to congregational life, proclaiming "Alleluia" with shouts of joy. That day will be an Easter Day indeed, celebrating the restoration of new life, having passed through the valley of the shadow of death.
I will be in contact with you as things change and develop; know that you are in my prayers: congregations, clergy, laypeople, and all those whom you serve.
May God's peace be with you in the coming days.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall
Sixth Bishop of Arizona
The Reverend James C Rhodenhiser
Rector, St. Peter's Church
400 S Old Litchfield Road
Litchfield Park AZ 85340
CONTACT INFO & OFFICE HOURS
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instructions from our bishop, all services and events are cancelled until further notice. Small groups may meet on a case by case basis. Update communications to the congregation will be through REALM and MailChimp email.