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Beloved Siblings in Christ,
As the Omicron variant sweeps across the country, we find ourselves in uncharted, yet familiar, territory. It’s time to make changes. There’s no use tip toeing around it so we’re just going to say it: this sucks! The clergy and staff, along with the wardens, have made the decision to take new virus mitigation actions. As of Sunday, January 9th, we will suspend the common cup and will no longer have hospitality in the building. This means we will not have coffee and doughnuts on Sundays, and, unfortunately it also means that the Chili cook-off and dinner after the Epiphany service have been cancelled.
We’re sad. Here we are, nearly two years after we first shut down, still living the realities of a pandemic. We are all suffering for it. We have missed important occasions, scaled down events, struggled through homeschooling and distance learning, delayed and cancelled travel plans, adapted new practices at home, at work, at school, and at play. It’s exhausting for everyone and we find ourselves in a seemingly endless cycle. We are broken, sad, and sometimes angry, but never deterred from what God is calling us to be: a community of faith.
In difficult times, people often turn to faith communities. But what happens when that whole faith community is experiencing difficult times? In a recent conversation with clergy across the country, it was noted that after a local or regional trauma – such as the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in OKC – exhausted clergy often seek new parishes. Once they have helped their congregations to heal, they move away from the trauma to heal themselves and start anew. But none of us can do that right now. Not clergy, not staff, and not lay people. We cannot escape the sadness; we are trapped in global trauma.
So, how do we do this? How do we hitch up our britches and get on with it? What do we, as your faith community, do to keep you nourished spiritually and emotionally? How do we reimagine ministry – once again – to allow for your exhaustion and sadness, and let’s face it, our exhaustion and sadness?
Once again we are asking for your help. Particularly for the help of parents. Christian formation for children and youth has suffered these last two years – perhaps more than any aspect of church life. We have tried Zoom Sunday school classes, Zoom children’s chapel, outdoor services, outdoor Sunday school, take home crafts, and craft deliveries. We previously suspended Christian formation for children, and have planned for combined age groups this spring. We created a soft space in the church to account for smaller groups of children, and still, we struggle to ensure our children and youth are getting the formation they deserve.
We need to hear from you. Not to account for lack of attendance or to create guilt, but to understand what you need (or don’t!). We want to meet you where you are, and if that means just understanding that life is hard right now, we want to know. If you have children (infant through 12th grade), please take a few minutes to answer this brief survey to help guide us in this next phase. If you do not have school age children, we still want your feedback. Share your creative ideas for ministry, fellowship, community-building and help us see where to put our energy.
We are so proud of this community and the way you have all come together, time and time again. You have shown up for each other in so many ways. Whether it’s wearing a mask to protect our vulnerable or sending a meal to someone who is struggling. We see God’s love made visible and we are reminded again that the church is not the building; the church is the people.
The staff and clergy of Trinity Episcopal Church +