To all God’s beloved of Church of the Epiphany, who are called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am writing to you today to inform you of new developments for our parish as it relates to the current public health emergency surrounding COVID-19.
After prayer and discernment with the clergy leadership and wardens of our parish, we believe that it is prudent for our parish to take some additional steps to help prevent the spread of disease in our community. Below, you will find information on how we are shifting our worship practices for communion, what we are doing about mid-week worship services and classes, and information about pastoral care during this time.
Holy Eucharist at Church of the Epiphany
Beginning on Sunday, March 15, 2020, we will continue to have Holy Eucharist at 8:00am and 10:30am; however, we are shifting how Eucharist will be distributed for the remainder of the Lenten season and into the Easter season and how we share The Peace.
During the passing of the peace, we are asking everyone to abstain from shaking hands, hugging, or kissing. Instead, please consider using an elbow bump, a bow, a wave, or showing the peace sign to each other.
During this public health emergency, we will be removing the communion rails and offering Holy Eucharist at standing stations. We will have two patens with two chalices on either side of the patens. Effective this Sunday, we will no longer offer reception of the Blood of Christ by means of intinction. You may receive the blood of Christ by taking from the common cup, or you may choose to receive communion in a single kind (bread alone).
In an effort to further reduce our risk, we will not be passing offering plates during the offertory. Instead, we will have offering plates available at the back of the church before and during worship.
We will continue to offer Sunday worship services for as long as we are able to do so. If you are sick or not feeling well, please stay home, seek appropriate medical attention, and contact the church to let us know of your needs.
Mid-Week Worship Services
As of March 13, 2020, we are opting to cancel all of our mid-week worship services. This includes both services offered on Wednesday. In place of these worship services, members are invited to join us online for Morning Prayer at 10:30am and Evening Prayer at 6:00pm. We will re-evaluate the continuation of these services on the week of March 27, 2020 and communicate to the parish if and when these worship services will be reinstated.
Starting the week of March 15, 2020, Church of the Epiphany-Tempe is going to move all of our mid-week formation classes to an online format.We will publish the instructions for joining a class on our website, https://www.epiphanytempe.org. You will be able to find the most updated class information on our events calendar.
Beginning on March 15, 2020, all Sunday formation classes will be suspended until at least March 29, 2020. It also means that we will not be providing nursery care during worship. All children are welcomed to join us in worship at either of the services.
For the next two week period, we are cancelling all church-based meetings that cannot be hosted in an online format. This includes Stations of the Cross on Fridays, Rite of Reconciliation on Friday mornings, group spiritual direction, and all external group events that were planned at the parish. We will re-evaluate our position on the week of March 27, 2020.
The parish is making exceptions to this for weddings, funerals, and for the AA groups that currently meet on our campus. We are asking all groups to help with cleaning surfaces upon the conclusion of an event.
During this time, it is important for us to stay in touch with one another. We are requesting that everyone take a moment to provide us with the most up-to-date contact information via an online form that is behind SSL encryption. By updating your records in our parish database, we are better able to serve you should you have needs that arise.
Our Community of Hope ministers are already on standby to assist with the pastoral needs of the parish. Please do not hesitate to contact the parish with your needs so we can help you get the necessities you need if you become ill.
We are also in need of folks to serve as telecare ministers during this period.If you are able and willing to serve as a telecare minister, to make deliveries to those in need, please let us know of your interest by completing our online form for pastoral care ministers.
In my weekly column yesterday, I intimated the importance of the church continuing to be the church. While we can certainly limit the number of times that we gather in public, it is important that we continue to stay in touch with one another and continue to be the church in a time that is filled with anxiety. We are a people of love that are called to care for each other and for those around us.
The ways that we embody our faith right now are important. We can support each other and serve as a beacon of hope in a time of fear and anxiety, and we can do all of that in ways that protect ourselves and our neighbors.
As things change in our local area, I will communicate those changes to you as soon as possible. For the time being, let us commit ourselves to being people of prayer who are holding the whole of the cosmos in our prayers. Remember, you are God’s beloved, and God will be present with you through the whole of this moment.
The Rev. Hunter Ruffin
Rector, Church of the Epiphany-Tempe