As one of your wardens and a physician, I am writing this letter to you to aid Reverend Marjorie who is fielding other calls and concerns currently. As all of you are aware we are in the midst of a Public Health Crisis with COVID-19.  Due to the rate that the virus is transmitted to others we must act quickly but are not making the decision lightly.

Reverend Marjorie, Christopher Messier and I met earlier this week and all received an email from Bishop Curry earlier this week. Planning and Finance Team met yesterday, We then had a Zoom meeting last night with Bishop Rob. Things are very fluid around this – changing frequently, sometimes several times in a day. I am aware this can be confusing and frightening. We are not making the decisions out of fear but out of civic duty to help others.

You may have now seen the letter from Bishop Rob about canceling church services. I know this has probably never occurred in the history of our church as you know it – nor as I know it. As a physician, I am aware of the epidemiology of this virus and what we are trying to accomplish with all these cancellations (flatten the curve, the more things are closed – the flatter the curve and longer to peak). (schools, churches, sports, Broadway, etc.). I also know that by canceling sooner, we can slow the rate of infection – and hopefully not overwhelm our medical system as Italy is (calling doctors out of retirement, rationing care), or China – (who built 2 hospitals in 1-2 weeks to help with this).

Our goal is to protect the most vulnerable with in the parish and visitors. I am sure some of you will become infected. The Human Resources team met this morning and tried to apply the epidemiology of this situation to our church specifically. We do not have the ability to set up a hand-washing station, there is not hand sanitizer to be found at this point. We do ask people to stay home if they are ill. No physical touch with other parishioners – handshaking/hugs/etc – as that is how this is spread.  and we must maintain a 4.5-6 foot space between people.

For now we are canceling worship services effective immediately. We don’t know how long this will be in effect – may be 2-3 weeks, may be longer, as above -it is a fluid situation that changes frequently. The President is speaking at 3 today. That may make this change yet again.

We understand many people are being effected not only from a health standpoint with this, but also economically and the church will feel a financial effect of this as well. We resolve to take care of our staff if they need to stay home due to illness or take care of family due to illness. We are also looking at the effect if the schools close – on the Grace House tenants.

Other groups that utilize our space – AA, NA, etc – will need to be made aware of changes to the process, no food / drinks can be served open style.

We will communicate more with you on other ways we can interact – be it Facebook, phone calls, Texting, letters… but that will probably be next week.

For now – please follow the other notes in Bishop Rob’s email – and pray without ceasing and in this time of Lenten fasting.  Remember what you can do:

1) stay home if you are sick
2) hand washing for 20 seconds or more
3) cough or sneeze into your elbow
4) maintain 4.5-6 feet from other people

Amy Brumfield MD and Warden

If you want more information on COVID-19