From our Rector, Rev. Patrick Sanders
I just wanted to reach out to you here at the end of our first real week of social distancing. I can only imagine that this will get weirder as we move deeper into the realities of battling the spread of the Coronavirus. How are y’all doing out there?
As you know, it is a challenge to discern what it looks like to be the church in the midst of this as it is unprecedented in my lifetime. Bishop Seage has suspended public, face-to-face worship and programming through and including Easter Sunday. Please know that Liz, Scott, JT, and myself are being creative and thinking through how to approach on-line worship in a way that is authentic and meaningful. JT Anglin, you are a treasure to your church and our Lord. Being in this with you is one of the blessings found in a weird wilderness. We are trying to stay connected through Facebook and other streaming formats. I have also collaborated with my clergy friends on the coast to offer formation and Christian Education in the form of panel bible studies as well as question and answer sessions. I will keep the good people of St. Peter’s By The Sea posted as those things go live. Please visit our website for updates! ( https://stpetersbytheseagulfport.com/
) I encourage you, if you are not already in the web world, to connect in some way. Some people I know who despise Facebook have logged in during this time as a way to avoid loneliness and isolation. I am grateful to be a priest in a time where we have this as an option. I will be working with Gail Hendrickson this morning (remotely of course!) on ways that we can “rise above the noise” and present on line connection moments that are unique to our community. Big love will be expressed and felt I hope!
I have asked Susan Prendergast to work from home as has her other boss. If you’re wondering, I am in fact her favorite boss. She will be coming in for a bit on Thursdays to do necessary bookkeeping and to let our 12-Step folks in the building. (I will say more about this in a minute.) We have turned off all AC units to conserve energy and save some money as the coming months will be tighter than usual without our regular offerings. I don’t expect a major dip as folks are already reaching out about giving on line and mailing their pledges. However, it would be naive of me to ignore the possible economic impact this will have on our community and our church. We are well prepared for this so I’m not anxious but we are being as cautious as possible during these strange days. Y’all, I can’t put into words how lucky we are to have Susan. She is our rock.
We have a healthy discretionary fund so people needing groceries and/or financial relief in the coming months will have a place to go for that help. Nearly all of the on line worship and study will have a “give” button so that folks can support the church as well as the discretionary fund and our ability to be the church will be sustained or more than likely strengthened. Jan Shook and our amazing Sr. Warden are keeping an eye on the needs of our community so that our church can respond to them in abundant and transformative ways. There is a note from Jan attached to this email so please keep reading! If you would like to contribute please do! Follow this link https://stpetersbytheseagulfport.com/services-2-2-2-2/#PLEDGE
Pastoral care was the very first conversation we had when this all began. I met with Liz and our pastoral care team about this last week and we began reaching out to folks immediately. We are calling folks when we think of them as well as using the church directory to make sure folks are not falling through the cracks. This is imperfect but working. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Liz or I if you discern a pastoral need or if you yourself need some care! I am asking for prayer requests and spend a good bit of time each day praying for our church family. I believe deeply in the power of prayer as it connects us in holy and miraculous ways.
I am allowing, with the bishop’s blessing, our 12-Step group (Step Sisters) to continue their meetings on Thursdays. I am especially concerned about those battling addiction of any kind during all of this. Regular life is hard enough.
Last but not least, I ask for your prayers for our priests and deacon. This is a new style of ministry that is taking some creativity and trial-and-error. There are also previously unseen pastoral situations as people are scared, confused, the strength of some marriages is being tested, addictions are being triggered, and folks who were already battling anxiety and/or depression prior to this are having a more difficult time coping with such heightened tension around them. I am trying to tend to them as best I can but your prayers are coveted. I am so so grateful for Liz Jones right now. She is a pastoral ninja and we are blessed to have her in our corner! Scott Williams’ return to our church could not have come at a better time. Scott, you are loved and appreciated more than you can know!
I will be in touch concerning a virtual vestry meeting soon.
Thank you for being in the kingdom with us and I love each you SO BIG!