A Community of Faith in the Jupiter, Tequesta and Hobe Sound Area
The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
"We Have A Place For You."
Fr. Doug's Message
March 13, 2020, 5:30 p.m.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In my earlier message, I stated that “in the event that Palm Beach County Schools close, Good Shepherd Church and School will close and suspend all activities, including worship services.” This afternoon, the decision was made by the Superintendent to close all Palm Beach Schools; therefore, we will pursue our planned course of action and effective immediately we are cancelling our worship services and programs through Friday, March 27.
This has been a difficult decision, but we feel it is important to follow the guidance of local health officials, government leaders, and the CDC regarding “social distancing,’ which includes placing limitations on large gatherings. Several other local congregations and dioceses throughout the country have taken similar action. In addition, as our Presiding Bishop has observed, these extensive measures are an act of “loving our neighbor” as we seek to reduce risk and protect the most vulnerable among us. It is imperative that we err on the side of safety and care in the midst of this time of uncertainty.
There will be NO public worship services held at Good Shepherd for at least the next two Sundays. We will stream a service of Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. This service will be available through our church website and Facebook. In addition, we are creating a “Virtual Worship” page on our website, where we will post weekly bulletins, links to recorded worship services, and other devotional resources. We will continue to be in communication through our church website, email, and phone calls.
Please take some time to pray for all those affected by this virus and those who are most at risk. Pray also for our health care professionals who are providing treatment and care for those who are sick. Above all, pray for God’s peace to guard our hearts and minds, that we might be vessels of God’s love in a hurting world. May God bless and protect you always.
Cancellations as of Friday, March 13, 2020:
All services and events have been cancelled at least until March 30, 2020.
Pennies For Heaven will be closed until March 30.
12-step groups will meet at the discretion of their ministry leaders.
Please visit our Virtual Church page for recorded services (beginning March 15, 2020), communication streams, and printable and digital resources for use in worship.
Fr. Doug's Message. OLDER MESSAGE
Friday, March 13, 2020, 5:00 a.m.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are closely monitoring the quickly evolving situation with regard to the spread of COVID-19. Although as I write this message there are still no confirmed cases of the virus in Palm Beach County, the number of infections continues to increase, and many believe it will only be a matter of time before we see additional impacts in our local community. In response to the available guidance from the CDC and in consultation with my clergy colleagues, I am implementing the following changes effective immediately. This is a fairly long message, but please take the time to read it completely and thoroughly.
The CDC and other health agencies have been urging “social distancing” as a means to contain and curtail the spread of this virus. In response to this recommendation, we are making the following changes to some important upcoming events.
Chez Youth Dinner – This event has been postponed until further date.
Lenten Soup Suppers – The remainder of the Lenten series has been cancelled.
Good Guys Breakfast – The Good Guys Friday morning breakfast gathering is
suspended until further notice.
Decisions regarding other events or meetings will be made on a case by case basis. Any additional cancellations or scheduling changes will be communicated as promptly as possible. Please contact the church office or the appropriate ministry leader regarding specific events or ministries.
Unless conditions changes, we will continue to gather for worship on Sunday morning at our regularly scheduled times of 8:00 and 10:00 AM. However, the following changes will commence this coming Sunday, March 15.
The Peace – It is imperative that we limit physical contact during the exchange of the Peace. Avoid shaking hands or hugging.
The Offertory – We will not be passing the offering plates. Instead, the Offering plates will be located in the front and middle of the church. Attendees are encouraged to walk to one of these locations to place their offering in the plate. If you are unable to attend church, please visit the “Giving” page on our website for options to give online.
Holy Communion – Beginning this Sunday, we will no longer administer the wine during communion. Only the wafer will be administered. A small amount of wine will be consecrated and consumed by the Celebrant on behalf of the congregation.
Coffee Hour – We will continue to serve coffee during our fellowship hour; however, our volunteers will be filling and serving the cups. There will be no cookies or other snacks. The Courtyard Connection (formerly known as Jittery Kids) will not be offered.
Online Service Options
We are working hard to create opportunities to view our worship services online. Beginning this Sunday, we will be testing two short-term options. First, we will be recording the 8:00 AM service, which will be posted on YouTube, Facebook, and our church website. Hopefully you will be able to access this video by mid-morning on Sunday, so you will be able to view our worship wherever you are. Also, during the 10:00 AM service, we will be streaming the service through Facebook Live. If you have a Facebook account, you can go to our page (GoodShepOnline) and view the live video beginning at 10:00 AM. This the first time that we will be attempting to implement these video options, so we appreciate your patience. Also, texts of sermons will continue to be posted on my blog (www.rectorscorner.com) and audio of weekly sermons is available through the church website under the Worship tab.
Most our local nursing homes and assisted living facilities have placed tight restrictions on visitors. In addition, we don’t want to risk spreading any infection to our homebound. Therefore, we will be suspending all Eucharistic Visitation and hospital visitation until further notice. Clergy visits will be made in emergencies if the facilities are receiving visitors.
Last month, four members of Good Shepherd (including myself) attended a national conference in Louisville. Since the conclusion of that conference, at least three priests have contracted COVID-19. The coordinators of the conference have been in close communication with the health department in Louisville as well as health officials in the cities where the affected priests reside. There is no evidence that the priests contracted the virus at the conference nor is there concern that the attendees were placed at an increased risk for infection. Of the four members of Good Shepherd, three of us have presented no symptoms of the virus since returning. One of our attendees has been ill, but has been under the constant care of her doctor and the diagnosis is not COVID-19. You may also recall that I was ill in January, which was prior to the CEEP conference and my diagnosis was in no way related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As we have stated before, this is very fluid situation and we are attempting to be responsive to the directives from our Bishop as well as public health officials. Please note, in the event that Palm Beach County Public Schools close, Good Shepherd Church and School will close and suspend all activities, including worship services. We will continue to post updates via email and on our website.
Please join me in praying for all who are affected by this virus.
God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to all who wait or work in uncertainty. Bring hope that you will make them the equal of whatever lies ahead. Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness; you are God, and we need you. This we pray in Christ our Lord. Amen.
We are the Body of Christ and we will walk through this together. I pray that each of us will know the peace of God’s presence and strength of God’s Spirit. May God bless and protect you, now and always.