Dear members and friends of St James Episcopal Church, Manitowoc:
We are finding ourselves and the rest of the world in a time of great uncertainty. A lot has happened since we last gathered for Worship on March 15. As we expected might happen, we have now been directed to suspend all in-person worship, meetings, and group activities at St James Episcopal Church until further notice.
The Vestry and I, along with others in the congregation and beyond, are working on ways that we can stay connected as a community and continue to serve in various ministries as shown to us through Jesus's example. We will keep you informed as things change or progress.
While we will not have our own Sunday service on March 22, there are places listed below that you may be able to connect to. We are looking at our options for resuming Worship within our St James community. We are also working on setting up a way to hold necessary meetings remotely. We are putting a calling group together that will keep in touch with members of the congregation for support in these anxious times and to help meet physical needs.
I will make home or hospital visits on an as-needed basis and as I am allowed. Some of these guidelines are changing rapidly, but I will find a way to connect with anyone who is in need of pastoral care or any other kind of need. You can contact me by email or phone (firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-860-5151) and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Let us continue to pray for one another and for the world. Here is the prayer I read on Sunday. "A Prayer for Facing Uncertainty" from the New Zealand Prayer Book:
"God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to us as we await in uncertainty. Bring hope that you will make us the equal of whatever lies ahead. Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness; you are God, and we need you. Amen."
Below is the most recent statement for Bishop Matt.
May God's blessing be upon you.
The Rev Diane M Murray, Rector
St James Episcopal Church, Manitowoc
STATEMENT FROM BISHOP MATT
To the Diocese of Fond du Lac
In response to the latest directives from the CDC (no gatherings larger than 50) and the White House (no gatherings larger than 10) we will be suspending in person public worship in the Diocese of Fund du Lac until further notice. I also urge you not to meet in person unless absolutely necessary.
This is not a decision I take lightly. As I wrote in my statement last Friday, in an outbreak of serious infectious disease as we are experiencing, loving our neighbor means keeping our distance. In that way we hope to "flatten the curve". It is about balancing our need to gather for worship over against our need to love our neighbor and not spread the disease.
I know this will make many aspects of worship and ministry difficult. Along with the Task Force of healthcare experts I announced on Friday, I am also forming sub-groups to help gather ideas and resources for doing worship, pastoral care, and faith formation during this time while it is inadvisable to meet together.
For those congregations not equipped to live stream or otherwise post their own worship at this time, I will be live streaming worship for Grace, Sheboygan this Sunday at 10:15. You can access that by going to www.gracesheboygan.com/index.php/grace-abounds
St. Thomas, Menasha live streams their worship www.facebook.com/stthomaswi
Intercession-Beloved Community, Stevens Point also live streams their worship by way of Facebook www.facebook.com/Intercession-Episcopal-Church-209002342447102
It may well be that your church will be doing so as well
I will also be posting, this Saturday, a video Lenten Retreat on Julian of Norwich who lived in a time of pandemic, political unrest, and other uncertainty yet found peace and hope in spite of that. More details on how to access the video will be posted on the diocesan website soon.
I will also be mailing a letter to each member of the diocese this week. It will contain information about Covid-19 and where things stand in our diocese.
In the meantime, here is a quote that I find reassuring:
"He who is anxious and knows Christ may be assured that he is not alone in his anxiety, but that Christ, too, has gone through it. And this means a completely new attitude toward the future; no longer is the future a befogged landscape into which I peer anxiously because all kinds of obscure perils are brewing there for me. No, everything is changed: we do not know what is coming, but we know *who* is coming. And he who possesses the last hour no longer needs to fear the next minute."
- Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986), 'On Being Afraid of Life' in 'Christ and the Meaning of Life'
And here is a prayer:
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
- Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)
Under the mercy,
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter, VIII Bishop of Fond du Lac