November 19, 2020
Dear Christ Church family and friends,
I am so proud of our parish! Throughout a long, drawn out period of instability and apprehension for our nation, you, our church family, have consistently modeled patience, prudence, conscientiousness, flexibility, and grace. While the Corona virus has raged about us, you have been sober and mindful of our duty to love our neighbor, in this case by putting everyone’s health and safety - yours and your neighbor’s – first. This has required that our church activities, particularly worship services, be reformatted to follow the safety guidelines in this time of pandemic as issued by the CDC and the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. Your willingness to adapt to these temporary new realities and restrictions has been remarkable and shown admirable grit and restraint. This is not surprising. In my time here, I have been consistently impressed by our parish’s “can do” spirit.
The Vestry, Wardens and I must ask that you summon that resolve once more as we head into a new phase of this ongoing saga. For everyone’s safety, we need to suspend the option of in-person worship for a minimum of two weeks following the Thanksgiving holiday. Based on the Middletown Public Schools’ growing COVID-19 case load and their decision to place both high schools on a temporary virtual-only footing, and with the Bishop’s concurrence, we are going to offer our services exclusively on a livestreamed basis. Hopefully, this will only apply to Advent I and II (Nov. 28/29 and Dec. 5/6). This measure will essentially cover an incubation period following Thanksgiving should holiday gatherings result in a spike of infections. The office will also be closed during this time. If we do not see an upsurge of cases by the second Sunday of Advent, we hope to be able to resume in-person worship shortly thereafter. Our goal, of course, is to be able to offer in-person worship by Christmas Eve, if not earlier.
Beloved, over the past eight months, you have taken a “glass-is-half-full” attitude relative to virtual worship, acknowledging that the live-streamed services met your basic spiritual needs and expressing gratitude that this option was available. As we move into the season of Advent and await the light that is coming into the world, it is time for us to prepare ourselves spiritually by whatever means are available to us. For the time being this will include services that are offered in a virtual-only format. Rest assured that, no matter what, the light of the coming Messiah will grow as the darkness begins to fade. Jesus will come and we will be there as a community to greet him with full and open hearts when he appears among us as a newborn babe. You are children of light and this experience of the Divine Incarnation will be joyous no matter how dark the times may seem!