March 15, 2020 UPDATE:
As a precautionary measure we will be closing the church office as well as ALL church activities until April 5th. If you have any questions, concerns, or pastoral needs please feel free to email the church office, or call or text one of us at the following numbers:
We will be sending out periodic updates during this time. Please let us know if you have any questions.
March 14, 2020 UPDATE:
Following the directive of our Bishop and out of deep concern for our friends and neighbors, I along with your wardens and in consultation with members of the vestry have decided that the Sunday Morning and Wednesday Noon services will be canceled for the next three weeks. The Lenten Wednesday evening gathering will also be suspended. Family Promise will also be rescheduled. Hopefully, this health crisis will be under control by then and we can resume our normal schedule.
Normal office hours will be maintained and so will communication. Please know that if there are any pastoral concerns let the church office know and appropriate action will be taken.
Finally, let me encourage everyone to be even more vigilant in your prayers for each other and the world. These are unusual times and so we should be resolved in our trust in God and in our faith that all, in the end, will be well.
Yours In Christ,
Please read the following statement from Bishop Cole.
Dear East Tennessee Friends,
When St. Paul wrote to the Christian community in Philippi, he did so with thanks even as he was imprisoned. I write to you today with thanks even in the midst of the storm of the COVID-19 outbreak in our country and across the globe. As the facts on the ground have changed daily and hourly, I write to you now, hoping that this letter will remain helpful to you in uncertain days ahead.
As Christians, we are a body and we cannot say we have no need of each other. As the Body of Christ, we are called to care for the least of these, to help those who have no help, to look out for the most vulnerable, to bear each other’s burdens, to be for each other. It is not enough to know that I am currently healthy and whole. I also am touched by anyone in my community who is suffering and broken.
With the current facts on the ground as we know them from public health officials and medical experts working to combat the worst impacts from COVID-19, I humbly ask you to forego gathering for large public worship, meetings, and social events in our churches for the next two weeks as an act of keeping faith with those friends and neighbors in East Tennessee who are most vulnerable to this virus. I realize you may choose to gather this Sunday and then begin a two week suspension after the 15th. It would be my hope and prayer that large public worship would resume on Sunday, April 5th for Palm Sunday.
As Episcopalians, our common life together in prayer is vital to who we understand ourselves to be. The Diocesan website has a variety of ways for us to maintain connections of prayer. I would commend those resources to you, which are attached to this letter.
This also is a time to pray for a renewed sense of creativity and imagination. In the days ahead, how the Church offers pastoral care may change for some time in order to protect against the spread of the virus. So, we may bring back older ways of maintaining connection, such as phone trees and handwritten letters mailed to the most vulnerable and elderly. In maintaining social distance in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, we do not want to create gaps in care and concern for each other.
I understand that this potential outbreak will have impacts upon our parish communities in ways that we have not yet anticipated. Our Diocesan leadership is now making plans to stay connected to every parish and worshipping community to hear how our communities bear this and how we can best be present and for each other in this time. At the end of this outbreak, we will want to be able to say that during this Lent we did not give up on each other even as our common life required us to stretch together in new and potentially painful ways.
If you discern that it remains appropriate for to hold services in your particular parish setting, I urge you to follow the guidelines attached to this letter.
On Ash Wednesday, we were all invited to keep a season of a holy Lent, which included “prayer, fasting, and self-denial…” Today, what it means to pray and fast and practice self-denial has a new and more profound meaning for me.