All church group gatherings, meetings, and liturgies have been cancelled until at least Sunday, April 5 due to Coronavirus / COVID-19.
Here is a message with more details from Father Jon Spinillo:
Beloved of St. Paul’s,
Peace to you! Thank you all for your patience and prayers during this time. I know many of you have been waiting for an update regarding church. There have been questions from parishioners (and clergy!) nationwide about how to deal with what has now been officially been classified by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic, a National State of Emergency on the US federal level, and a Peacetime State of Emergency on the MN state level.
Earlier today, the Bishop held a special diocese-wide meeting for clergy and faith community leaders concerning our church’s responses to the virus. In attendance was the Bishop, the diocesan missioners, an epidemiologist, and MN clergy from across the state, including myself. After the Bishop’s forum, I attended a meeting with Rochester clergy and have also met with several Mayo physicians regarding appropriate institutional response. It has been quite the day.
The rapid spread of coronavirus COVID-19 is a public health crisis that has the potential to overwhelm our healthcare system, community resources, and will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our communities. We know that the best way to combat the spread of the virus is to engage in social distancing, particularly for those over the age of 60. The expert on today’s panel explained that early and widespread vigilance is key because COVID-19 can be carried and spread by people who are asymptomatic. Our church is especially concerned about the medically vulnerable and our elders.
The consensus of this morning’s meeting with our Bishop, the diocesan missioners, epidemiologist, and clergy is that social distancing should begin immediately. Our Bishop recommended this as the “wise and pastoral thing to do.” Therefore, effective immediately, all group gatherings at St. Paul’s will be cancelled until Sunday, April 5th. This includes all liturgies and meetings. It is very possible the suspension will need to last longer than that but we will cross that bridge when we get to it, together. Regular office hours and pastoral care will continue throughout this time. Please do not hesitate to reach out.
If you are curious about the Church’s response throughout the nation and in our own backyard, at this time the National Offices of the Episcopal Church are planning to be closed for the next 80 days or until notice, with all employees working from home. The National Cathedral in Washington DC has cancelled all public services and meetings. St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis will be cancelling all meetings and liturgies until early April. St. Paul’s Duluth has cancelled all meetings and services until further notice. St. Clement’s and St. Mary’s in St. Paul will also be closing for the next month. Lastly, Calvary and St. Luke’s of Rochester will also be closed until early April.
For those who have internet access, the National Cathedral will be simulcasting Holy Eucharist this Sunday, with the Presiding Bishop delivering the homily. St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis will also be simulcasting their services online every Sunday as well. Please stay tuned for an email tomorrow that will include resources for worship, prayer, and study during this time apart from one another. I will also be including the Prayer for Spiritual Communion, which is used whenever circumstances prevent us from being physically present with our Lord in his Blessed Sacrament.
Thank you for reading and thank you for looking out for one another, particularly our most vulnerable. I am grieved that this is affecting our common life together but am relieved that, hopefully, such proactive measures will keep the least among us safe as possible.
I continue to hold you all in my prayers. Please keep me and my family in yours and remember that whatever may happen, neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Heavenly Father, giver of life and health:
Comfort and relieve those who have fallen ill
and give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs,
that they may be strengthened in their weakness
and have confidence in your loving care.
Sanctify, O Lord, those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing, and to the prevention of disease and pain. Strengthen them by your life-giving Spirit, that by their ministries the health of the community may be promoted and your creation glorified.
+++May God the Father bless us, God the Son heal us, and God the Holy Spirit give us strength. May God the holy and undivided Trinity guard our bodies, save our souls, and bring us safely to his heavenly country; where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.+++