We know that challenges in our lives can be turning points that help us to learn and grow. Even in the most difficult times, we may be led to a greater degree of understanding. These past two years have provided boundless opportunities for growth. It’s not always easy to sense the presence of the Lord in hardship. But when we remember, not just who we are, but more importantly whose we are, we can learn to “let go and let God.” We are God’s beloved children, unlimited, able to accomplish wonderful things, and withstand great hardship in community.
So, here we are, with the continued hardships of Covid - watching the latest surge spread across the country – and we are faced with difficult decisions. Finding the balance in physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being for everyone is, quite simply, impossible, yet our hope is always in something, someone, greater than us. Nonetheless, decisions must be made.
We talk a lot about our Baptismal Covenant and the command to “respect the dignity of every human being.” But we don’t often talk about the commitments clergy make during ordination. In the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordination of a Priest (p. 531) states “You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor.” In the Ordination of a Deacon (p. 543), it states “You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world.” In other words, our clergy are committed to each and every one of us.
As the Omicron variant surges, we recognize that some believe closing the building seems
the prudent thing to do. However, in consultation with the Tulsa Health Department, along with guidelines from the CDC, we have determined that the church will remain open, and services will continue to be held in-person. The consistency of a life of faith is one thing holding some together in this time of protracted hardship, and we want to honor that need. With vaccines and boosters now readily available to most, we are not in the same position we were in when the pandemic began. We also know that depression, anxiety, and suicidality are extremely high right now and it is our ministry is to provide support to those seeking solace in a community of faith gathered.
We are aware that many do not feel safe with in-person services, and we fully support your decision to stay home. While a number of parishioners have commented to clergy that they are experiencing guilt over not being present on Sundays, we cannot state clearly enough that your spiritual life should not be governed by guilt. Stay home if that is the right decision for you. We will continue to offer virtual services on Facebook with virtual Eucharist at 11:00am on Sundays, TrinityConnect daily mediation at 11:00am Monday through Thursday, and Compline at 9:00pm Monday through Thursday for those who wish to take part.
While the building will remain open for services, groups, and meetings, we have determined some events will be cancelled or rescheduled, and some activities will be suspended temporarily. We ask for your patience and understanding in this time of flux. You may keep up with changes and announcements on our website at www.TrinityTulsa.org/covid19, and on social media.
At times of strife, we often turn to prayer. We read this prayer together in our staff meeting to serve as a lodestar during our discussion of “next steps”. May you also find comfort in these words as we walk through this renewed uncertainty together:
Prayer for Serenity
By Rheinhold Niebur
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting the hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
The staff and clergy of Trinity Episcopal Church +
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.” (Matthew 6:25)
TL;DR: We will remain open through the Omicron surge. Please stay home if you feel safer doing so. Virtual options are available. Some events, activities and services have been cancelled, suspended, or rescheduled.
In the nave, every other pew will be cordoned off to assist with social distancing.
As already announced, the common cup will not be offered during communion.
Clergy will cover the eucharistic elements with the burse and purificator to ensure the wafers are not contaminated as they are prepared.
Clergy and lectors are encouraged to wear their masks, when possible, which may result in some muffling.
The choir will be limited to no more than 10 masked and distanced singers per service on Sunday mornings and for choral evensong.
The Annual Parish Meeting, previously scheduled for January 30 has been moved to February 13 at 10:00am, pending Vestry approval.
To be rescheduled
Domestic Violence forum (Previously scheduled for January 16)
Tech Team Open House (Previously scheduled for January 16)
Sexuality and Culture Workshop for youth (Previously scheduled for January 21)
Afghan Refugee Cultural Training (Previously scheduled for January 30)
Children & Youth, and Adult Choir rehearsals (Typically on Wednesday evenings)
Handbell Choir rehearsals (Typically on Wednesday evenings)
Congregational Evensong (Previously scheduled for January 30 and February 6)
Tech Retreat (Previously scheduled for February 20)