Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sister in Christ,
For your edification and comfort, I am sending you a beautiful passage from St. Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Please read this passage two or three times, and think prayerfully about its universal and timely message.
Following St. Paul's message, you will find an update regarding church services and a summary of recommended practices for limiting and containing the effects of Corona Virus.
With love and blessings in Christ,
2 Corinthians 4:5–15: In his second Epistle to the Corinthians, the God appointed Apostle Paul, speaks to the matter of human weakness, adversity and the glorious victory of Jesus Christ over weakness, sin and death.
5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.
13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
When I was a child living in rural NH, there were a multitude of sicknesses that afflicted our communities and towns. I remember having Whooping Cough, Mumps, Measles, Viral Pneumonia, Chicken Pox, Flu, Scarlet Fever, serious ear infections and any number of childhood diseases. (Please don't feel sorry for me, it all turned out well.) Remarkably, during most of these illnesses, the standard rule was to stay at home so that others would not be infected. When our friends were "sick" we were expected to limit contact and curtail play dates and visiting. In other words, without knowing the term, we practiced "Social Distancing". This was pure "common sense" practice.
I am certain that all of you have heard that gatherings of more than 10 people have been prohibited by state mandate. In order to honor this request and to work towards limiting the spread of the Corona Virus, Fr. Deacon Matthew, Fr. Herman, residents in and around the facility and I, in consultation with a few choir members and the staff necessary to continue the cycle of Divine services are asking all other members of the parish to stay at home. Continuing the Divine Services will bring the Grace of God down upon all of you, wherever you are. I hope that you will offer fervent prayers at home during the times when services are offered in the church.
Below please find a review of good practices for limiting the spread of the Corona Virus that was prepared by Peter Lamb.
With love in Christ,
1) Individuals who may be infected, but not showing symptoms and are still able to spread the disease to others. Since tests are not widely available, we have absolutely no way of knowing how widespread COVID-19 is, and who is or isn't infected. Therefore, we really all should operate under the assumption that both ourselves and all of those around us could be carrying the disease and are able to infect others. For example, a coworker of mine had coughing, congestion, etc. last week. He was feeling better yesterday, but there is no way of knowing whether that was COVID-19 or something else. I have had a slight cough the last few days which, ordinarily, I would not at all think twice about but now is concerning.
2) COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air (droplets from a cough/sneeze, that can linger in the air for a while) and/or surfaces. We should keep our distance from others (6 ft. minimum), avoid extended time in the same spaces, be very careful about cleaning/sanitizing shared surfaces, and clean our hands frequently with washing and/or sanitizer.
3) Even though it appears that most people who become infected don't have very serious symptoms, even if we have a low percentage of hospitalizations /deaths (as is being seen in other countries), we are likely to see hospitals overwhelmed and potentially thousands of deaths. We must be very serious about this--these are the best estimates by the best epidemiologists in the world. If we are not concerned about our own health, then we certainly should be concerned about our family members, friends and neighbors who are more susceptible to the disease.
Based on all of that, here are generally accepted recommendations of how we should proceed from here on forward:
1) Church services should proceed with a skeleton crew--maximum 10 (per the federal government recommendations), but probably fewer.
2) Those of us who are entering/exiting the same doors and sharing the kitchen, bathroom and other common spaces in the church should do the following:
- Avoid interacting with each other as much as possible, especially being in close proximity.
- Frequently wash our hands and use hand sanitizer (plenty in the kitchen).
- Clean shared surfaces frequently, and use the spray sanitizer (in the red spray bottles) to frequently spray down things that are commonly touched by us: door knobs, light switches, fridge doors, faucets, toilet handles, etc. Simply spray and leave the sanitizer on the surface--no wiping needed. It is safe for food and skin (we use it at the brewery). Please generously spray things before and after touching. In lieu of frequent hand sanitizer, you can also wear gloves and simply spray your gloved hands.
- Consider wearing a mask, especially if you are coughing/sneezing. There is a paper bag with extras for everyone to use in the church kitchen.
- Practice Social Distancing and Self-quarantine in a very serious way. Consider that if you go to the store, work, or anywhere else, that you might become infected and bring it back here to the church (and vice-versa). These aren't just my own opinions--these are the recommendations based on what the top scientists/experts (and most Orthodox bishops, for that matter) are all saying with a united voice.
With much love and care for all of you,