From the Rector

May 21, 2020

Dear friends,

Last night your vestry met and our main agenda item was “Pandemic Situation: What Next?”. As you can imagine, that conversation kept us occupied for some time. We now have both Governor Baker’s re-opening plan and Bishop Gate’s re-opening document, “A Journey by Stages”. It’s clear we’re at a new stage in our community life under pandemic conditions. Instead of just reacting or figuring out short term solutions, we are moving to figuring out how our community can flourish and continue in this new environment, and getting ready for a “new normal” that is safe and incorporates all that we have learned.   

To help us do that, last night your vestry decided to form a Recovery Team. This team will work on implementing the Bishop’s 4-phase guidelines to decide which Redeemer activities will resume at which phase, and how we’ll do those activities to make sure we’re following state, local, and diocesan guidelines. The Bishop’s guidelines are 15 pages (!) so this will take some work and hard thinking. The Recovery Team will include parish members from representative groups and committees so we have everyone’s input. I’m very please to let you know that Paula Antonevich has agreed to chair this committee. Thank you Paula!

In addition, the vestry talked about how we can keep our parish life flourishing, now that we’re past the first phase of the crisis. We can up with a number of ideas that you’ll be hearing about in coming weeks.

  • Making Virtual Coffee Hour more engaging: Although we all love that weekly check-in, we don’t want it to get stale. The Vestry Person of the Day will now be hosting Virtual Coffee Hour and they may throw in some different ideas to keep us connected in Coffee Hour.
  • Spring Virtual Social Event: I’m also happy to announce that Jeanne Jacoby and Cathy Burns have volunteered to coordinate an online Redeemer social event for the spring. The ideas of a virtual talent show or game night have been floated. Whatever Jeanne and Cathy plan, it is sure to be a ton of fun! If you’d like to help, please reach out to them.
  • Reaching out the old fashioned way: Not everyone likes being on Zoom or even talking on the phone. The Pastoral Care Team will coordinate a snail mail letter writing and card-sending effort to help us stay connected, especially with our elders.  If you’d like to be part of this, please let Cassie Bowlby know.
  • Dinner for 8: We encourage Dinner for 8 groups to keep meeting, perhaps on a monthly basis, via Zoom, phone conference call, or whatever works best for your group. Maybe a trivia night, Zoom coffee date, or virtual happy hour?

Lastly, just to re-iterate what I shared earlier this week, although Governor Baker has said churches can re-open, our Bishop has said we are mandated to stay closed, until July 1 at the earliest. This means our building is still closed and church activities should not be taking place there. It’s particularly important that we all abide by this, as we are working hard to keep our administrative staff and Food Pantry volunteers (who are doing crucial work feeding those in need) safe. That means we really do need to know when each and every person is in the building, so we can be sanitizing and cleaning appropriately. Someone asked me yesterday, “Is it Ok to pop into the church to use the bathroom if I’m on the bike path?” In normal conditions, the answer would be “Of course, and say hi while you’re there!” But these are not normal conditions and sadly now is not the time to pop in to use the bathroom or grab something from the office without calling ahead. We can definitely accommodate any need you have to do something at church, but we need to coordinate it so we can assure our administrative staff who work in the building that we are living up to what we promised them in having a safe workplace. Likewise,  groups and committees should not be holding any kind of in-person activity at this time without checking with the wardens or clergy. Please give our Recovery Team a chance to do their work before planning any resumption of your committee’s activities. Thank you for understanding!

A huge thank you to all of you for your patience, good humor, and support in this time. The Redeemer community is truly special. We continue to pray for healing for all, for our health care workers as they battle this disease, for scientists working for a vaccine, and especially for the hundred thousand families who have lost a loved one. Our hearts and prayers are with all who mourn, that they may know God’s comfort and healing love.