Wednesday, April 1, 2020

APRIL 1 CONGREGATIONAL UPDATE

The congregation of St. Thomas' is not meeting at the church, but we continue to be the Body of Christ in our world and in our small RI community.   The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, reaches out to the flock on a regular basis and shares his thoughts and prayers.  This week,  he wrote an epistle to the Church made to comfort us as we mourn the loss of our Holy Week and Easter services.  That letter can be found here.
We continue to worship together from our home three times a week- see the column on the right for all the details.  Starting today, there will be a Zoom meeting at 6pm for the  Wednesday Evening Prayer service. Contact the priest if you want the link for that meeting. 
For Holy Week, we are asking parishioners, and others, to prepare a short video of  a prayer or Scripture reading that we can share with our congregation. Again- contact the priest if you want to take part. 
There are  many online resources for worshiping at this time.  Many local churches are streaming Sunday and mid-day services. The Episcopal Church has is providing access to daily morning prayer services here and a Sunday service at the National Cathedral here.  
At this time, many of us are feeling isolated, anxious and depressed.  Try to make a phone call and/or write a note a week to someone who needs some cheering up.If anyone is in need, the priest can be reached by going to the Contact tab at the top of this page.  Remember to have faith in God and love your neighbor!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

MARCH 25 CONGREGATIONAL UPDATE

Our Presiding Bishop has said that churches should be closed until after Easter.  That is a shock to all of us, but it is what we have to do.  They have asked us to be creative in finding ways that we can still be a worshiping community during that most holy time of year.  If you have ideas, send them to the priest, or message the Facebook page here.
It is Lent and we continue to be mindful of the season.  Some parishioners are reading A Resurrection Shaped Life by the Rt. Rev. Jake Owensby.  Others are praying with their prayer pals.  If you want a prayer pal- contact the priest.
As a congregation, we are pausing at homes 3 times a week and praying from the Book of Common Prayer (see times in right column and the link to access an online book),
There are so many online resources for worshiping at this time.  Many local churches are streaming Sunday and mid-day services. The Episcopal Church has is providing access to daily morning prayer services here and a Sunday service at the National Cathedral here.  
At this time, many of us are feeling isolated, anxious and depressed.  Try to make a phone call and/or write a note a week to someone who needs some cheering up.
If anyone is in need, the priest can be reached by going to the Contact tab at the top of this page.  Remember to have faith in God  and love your neighbor


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

CONGREGATIONAL UPDATE

Our worship service is cancelled for March 22 and probably will not resume for several weeks.  But we continue to be a church- a worshiping community- that shares love and praises God. To that end, St. Thomas is going old school. We are going to have three opportunities for worship from home using the Book of Common PrayerSee the post on the right for the times and pages.
At the top of this page, under Links of Interest, you can find ways to access a Book of Common Prayer and a Bible (and other things!).
Our diocese has  many opportunities for online worship.  And the Episcopal Church has dedicated a page to resources and prayers for this time in our lives.  It also includes regular updates from our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry.  You can view that page here.
What can you do during this stressful time?  Pray and love your neighbor.  We all have to do both of these things in new, creative ways.  Make a phone call everyday to someone.  Write an email or a real letter to a person who might be feeling alone or anxious.
The priest can be contacted by email or phone at any time.  Go to the Contact Information tab on this page for details.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

NO WORSHIP SERVICE ON MARCH 15

As you know, the Coronavirus news has developed over the last 24 hours. The Governor announced state-wide school closings for a week and encouraged people to stay away from gatherings.  Many Episcopal churches (and other churches) have decided to cancel services tomorrow.  After talking with our senior warden,  it seems that we should do likewise.  Bishop Knisely told the clergy that each church could make its own decision about canceling and that he is supportive of whatever we decide.  As for now, we are just cancelling tomorrow- we will decide later about next week.
A few housekeeping notes-
  • If you know of people who need food, or other essentials,contact the priest.  
  • Please call, email or write one another.  This will be a lonely and isolating time for some people.
  • Pray!
  • Tomorrow, at 11 am, Presiding Bishop Curry will preach at a  worship service at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.  It will be live-streamed and you can watch it here   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUGZLwnLhUU    
  • Alternatively, tomorrow at 10 am, Christ Church, Westerly will live-stream a morning prayer service  The link for that is here
Take care of yourself and love your neighbor!

Friday, March 13, 2020

CORONA VIRUS UPDATE- MARCH 13

As we strive to focus on our walk with Jesus during this season, the reality is that the Coronavirus has taken over the news and now impacts our lives in many complex ways- including our church and worship life.

Our Bishop has written a pastoral letter recommending some modifications  to our worship services.  We will have a service at St. Thomas' this Sunday, but if you are hesitant to come, or you are sick, or you are in a high risk category, please stay home.  You can read the Scripture lessons appointed for Sunday here and you can read the morning prayer service at home by yourself or with your family.  You can find it in the Book of Common Prayer starting on page 75, or follow it on line at this link. And you can sing a hymn together!  Here are some Episcopal hymns on YouTube. If you want a copy of my sermon, let me know.  I have outlined a few things below that are from the Bishop's letter and also specific to our church.  These precautions will be in place until Easter, and then will be re-evaluated.
  • We will practice social distancing with each other- keep at least 3 feet apart if possible and no touching or hugging.  We will wave during the Peace.
  • During communion, consecrated wafers will be distributed.  I will consecrate a small amount of wine in the chalice, but we will not touch it.  The full benefit of communion is received in the bread as the  Body of Christ.  The chalice will remain on the altar as a reminder of Christ's sacrificial blood. 
  • The offering plate will not be passed during the service- it will be at the front of the church for your offering.
  • There is hand sanitizer in every pew, and at several other places in the church.
  • There will be no coffee hour for the next two weeks.
  • There will be no church school for the next two weeks.
  • Our fellowship  dinner for March 27 has been cancelled.  Another dinner will be planned afterr Easter.
  • The WARM meal will not be prepared on Sunday or served on Monday.   The WARM Center will be distributing sandwiches and "to go" meal bags.  You can learn more about that here.
  • If you have a Lenten Prayer Pal- this is a perfect time to pray for that person and be in touch.  We need to encourage one another and keep communications open.  If you don't have a Prayer Pal, send the priest a message and you can be connected with one.
  • For those of you are not in a high risk category for the virus, maybe you can be of help.  Some others in our church family may need help with shopping, or other jobs and may not be able to go out.  Perhaps you could volunteer to do some of those things.
  • Please call and check on each other - this is a time to love one another and realize that we are all in this together.
  • For more information, contact the Rhode Island Dept. Of Health at 401-444-5960 visit their website at here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

COMING UP SUNDAY- MARCH 15

This is the 3rd Sunday in Lent. Church school will meet and the meal for the WARM Center  will be prepared.
In response to the new coronavirus, the churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island will make changes to the worship services to protect parishioners from the possibility of infection.  These precautions have been established in connection with the RI Department of Health and will be in effect until Easter.  Contact the priest for more information. 
Parishioners at St. Thomas' are observing Lent by following the Way of Love and finding ways to share love in their communities. Some members are reading the book, A Resurrection Shaped Life by the Rt. Rev. Jake Owensby.  On Sunday, March 29, we will gather after worship to talk about it. 
On Saturday, March 14, there will be a community hike  at the Browning Mill Pond Trail beginning at 10 am.  This is sponsored by the Chariho Youth Task Force .  Visit their website for all of the details.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

COMING UP SUNDAY- MAR. 8

This is the 2nd Sunday in Lent.  Church school will meet and there will be a vestry meeting after the worship service.
Lent has begun and at St. Thomas, everyone is encouraged to follow the Way of Love during this season.  Get a Lenten calendar here.  Some members of the congregation are reading a book during Lent titled,  A Resurrection Shaped Life by the Rt. Rev. Jake Owensby.  On Sunday, March 29, we will gather after worship to talk about it.