Dear Good Shepherd Church,
This is third pastoral letter I have written to you in the past week. As COVID-19 continues to be a threat to the health of our nation, the approach our national, state, local, and ecclesiastical leaders are taking to combat its spread is changing at a rapid pace. Please read this entire message to be updated on Good Shepherd Church.
What About Worship?
Given that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended public gatherings not exceed ten persons, traditional in-person worship services are impractical at this time. As such, Bishop Clark Lowenfeild of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast is directing all congregations to refrain from gathering “in person for worship or other activities of more than 10 people until further notice.” I would encourage you to read the Bishop’s full statement here.
The Current Sunday Solution
At this time, I am working to do all in my power to begin providing for “live streaming services” on Sunday mornings until such time as we are able to meet again as an entire church family. I will keep you posted on this progress and hope to have a notice sent out to you within the next 48 hours about how you will be able to tune in online for our Sunday morning worship service.
Weekday Silent Prayer at GSC
While we are unable to gather for worship, it is my desire that the church doors remain open, in some form or fashion, to our parishioners. I know you feel as I do, that sometimes what we really need is the comfort of our home church as a place to offer our prayers. As such, beginning on Friday, March 20, 2020, Good Shepherd Church will be open for drop-in silent prayer each day of the week, Monday through Friday, during select hours. The days and hours are as follows:
Please understand that formal worship services will not be held during those times, but rather, you may enter the sanctuary for a time of silent prayer. During those hours, a member of our church council will be present to assure that no more than 10 persons are gathered at any given time. I ask that you please remain mindful of this limitation on the number of persons present and that you refrain from the temptation of using this time as a social visit with other parishioners. Because of the ten person limit, the assigned church council member may have to ask those who have been present longest to kindly vacate the church property in order to allow others into the sanctuary for a time of prayer.
A log-in book will be located in the narthex and we are asking that each person who visits for prayer sign themselves in and out at every visit. This will allow us to track use of this offering in order to modify it, as necessary, going forward in time.
Keeping In Contact
I want to encourage our church family to maintain contact with each other. The use of social media, texting, emails, and phone calls all represent wonderful means by which to keep in touch. Please do so! Pick up the phone and call a fellow parishioner just to say “hi”, to check on them, or to pray with and for them. If you need a church directory, please let me know. In addition to myself, our Council President will also be making some phone calls to members for good, old fashioned check-ins. And if you feel like would like to be a part of the phone ministry that calls to touch base and check in with folks, please let President Margaret or me know.
Finally, because being in personal communion, one with another, is severely limited at this time, I would like to offer you a resource called “Spiritual Communion”. This brief prayer liturgy comes from the Armed Services Book of Common Prayer (1951) and was originally intended for use by military personnel who were deployed in conditions where access to a church or chaplain was severely limited. It is a prayer liturgy that you can pray alone or with your household, and while it does not afford the elements of Holy Communion, it does afford the worshiper the chance to prayerfully remain connected and in communion with the Body of Christ throughout the world. Please use this link to view Bishop Clark Lowenfield’s brief video about making an act of Spiritual Communion and download your own copy of the liturgy here.
In service to our Lord and His Church, I remain your humble servant,
The Rev'd Randall M. Graf