Services at St. David’s, and at all Episcopal churches throughout western Washington, have been cancelled through March 22.
This follows the earlier cancellation of all large gatherings in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties at the direction of Governor Inslee. Bishop Greg Rickel has now extended the cancellation, for a time, to all Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Olympia.
As much as we regret the need to cancel Sunday services, we are also very aware of the need to do what we can to help protect the health of our members and our whole community during this state of emergency declared by the governor. One of the best ways we can do that is by staying away from gatherings of people as much as possible. “Social Distance” is simply one of the best tools we have to prevent the spread of the sometimes-deadly virus that is in our midst.
This is a big change for us. Gathering on “The Lord’s Day” to hear God’s word together, pray together, and break bread together, has been the core ritual of our faith for two millennia. Our Baptismal Covenant asks us to affirm that we intend to “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.” To give up this central practice of our faith is disconcerting.
It is important to recall, however, that the core value of our faith is love of one’s neighbor. We are followers of Jesus, who, like the Prophets who preceeded him, taught that acting out of love, compassion, mercy and justice for our neighbor is a value higher than the keeping of any rituals. Acting in love and compassion, in these days, means doing what we can to help those who need help, while also doing our best to avoid sharing contagion. So check on friends who may need assistance, maintain 6 feet of distance, and wash those hands!
This is also a good time to remind ourselves that the church building is not the Church. When we cannot meet together in person, we remain a community of faith, members of the Body of Christ, in communion with one other on this island, throughout our diocese, and around the world.
During this unsettling time, please hold this parish and its members in your prayers, and all your friends, neighbors and loved ones, too. Maintain community by staying in touch via telephone and internet. And when we cannot be together in the flesh, remember that we remain united in the Spirit, a sacred presence to one one another that, like the Peace of Christ, is beyond all human understanding.
You may want to take advantage of Episcopal services available via internet. St. Mark’s Cathedral will live-stream an 11:00 AM Sunday service. That service is also available as a video recording throughout the week. For a more small-church ambience, try St. Matthew’s Browns Point, which will live-stream a service at 8 AM Sunday on their Facebook page.
Also, a special event at Washington National Cathedral, which will present an online celebration of the Holy Eucharist this Sunday, March 15, Third Sunday in Lent. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be the preacher.
Please click the link to see Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s video statement on coronavirus.