Dear Christ Church,
Along with many of you, I have been attentively following the news regarding the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. After listening to our Bishop, other priests, health professionals, and our staff I want to update you on some changes in our schedule for the next few days, and offer some suggestions.
- Worship this Sunday. As of today [March 12], we plan on holding our regular Sunday worship services at 9am and 11am. However, there will be no Communion. This Sunday, please avoid handshakes and hugs during the passing of the peace. Instead, do fist bumps, toe taps, or elbow taps. Have fun and get creative! We recommend that people over the age of sixty consider staying home. Those who are immunocompromised, and anyone with a cough, fever, or other virus symptoms please also stay home.
- Our SXSW event UNnatural Selection, Monday March 16th, is canceled. We have decided to cancel non-essential large gatherings (100+) for the time being. It is possible that this will include cancellation of Sunday worship in the weeks to come, if merited.
- As of today [March 12], Austin has had no person-to-person spread of Covid-19, nor any confirmed cases. You can track the City of Austin’s updates here.
- Please keep an eye on your inbox and our homepage, as this is a very fluid situation. Christ Church is making decisions one step at a time, will pay daily attention to what authorities are recommending, and we will keep you informed of adjustments as we make them.
- Our approach to the Coronavirus is an opportunity to love our neighbor in the way we respond. Our goal as a parish community is not only that we avoid getting sick for our own sake (symptoms for most could be no worse than for a cold/flu), but also that we don’t become carriers who unwittingly transmit to the most vulnerable, for whom it can be fatal. We want to love our neighbor, and serve the common good of our city.
Here’s what I would like to ask of you, the parishioners of Christ Church:
- If you (or your children) are sick with a fever, cough or other virus symptoms, please do not come to a Christ Church gathering until you have been fever-free without medication for 48 hours.
- Please wash your hands often and thoroughly.
- Don’t Panic. We want to be wise and prudent in all things, anxious for nothing. Let’s engage our city as a non-anxious presence, love courageously in the midst of fear, pray for our city, the nation, and the world, and practice radical servanthood and generosity in the midst of uncertainty. In his provincial letter about the Coronavirus, Archbishop Foley Beach says, “We witness to our Christian faith when we resist panic, knowing that our times are in the Lord’s hand (Psalm 31:15). No one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29).” We are always safe in the kingdom of God.
- Pray. Our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Todd Hunter, says, “Churches for the Sake of Others stands in empathy with those affected by the Coronavirus and their families. We offer our prayers for their healing, and we pray for the doctors and organizations working to provide medical supplies and assistance to address this serious risk to public health.”
A collect prayer for a time of pestilence:
“Oh Lord, you who are the refuge of the poor and needy, we ask that you would save us from the pestilence that stalks in the darkness and the plague that destroys at midday. Be our sun and shield. Be our fortress. Be our comfort this day. May we not fear any evil but rather trust in your might to save and your wisdom to guide, so that we might rest always in the shadow of the Almighty. In the name of the One who heals our diseases. Amen.”
Finally, please let the church office know if you are aware of any parishioner, or non-parishioners without a support network, who is homebound or in need due to the Coronavirus: email@example.com.
Grace and peace,