I write to you on a day and in a time of great uncertainty in so many respects. It remains unclear how the spread of the COVID-19 virus will move in the days to come, and with that uncertainty coupled with the recent closing of many schools and public events and gatherings, I believe it is time for us to make some faith-based decisions.
Here is what we do know:
- It is not if but when a member of our Trinity family tests positive.
- Now is the time to take action.
- We do not need to scramble – we have a plan as well as contingency plans.
- We will stay calm and put our energy towards making a difference in our current situation.
Our mission, our reason for being, our raison d’être, is simply and prophetically to ALWAYS be LOVE in the world. Today I am calling on all of us to adopt a new mantra:
Feed the people; starve the virus.
People of the Altar and the Exit:
Years ago, I offered a sermon in which I shared a dream that our faith community would become, more and more, “people of the altar and the exit.” What I was trying to underscore is the lesson we are learning this season through our community study of Sister Joan Chittister’s book, The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage. Her words, and our conversations are helping us remember there is both a pastoral and a prophetic aspect of our call to Christian discipleship.
Being people of the “altar” reminds us we are called to come together to worship, connect, pray and have our minds, hearts and souls fed through community. Being people of the “exit” (think neon signs above many doors), reminds us we are also called to go out into the world to serve others with courage, hope and love.
We are now, as a people of deep faith and courage, entering a time of great opportunity (amidst all the other uncertain realities). I am inviting us to embrace the prophetic courage this will take and suggest we move away from our otherwise linear week of Sunday gatherings for a season. I want us to redefine how we “are church” in the immediate days ahead. Rest assured we will gather again in our traditional fashion, but for now, during this time in between, we get to “be church” in a profound way. Below is a path forward that has been reviewed by our staff and wardens.
Our Current Path Forward:
Beginning Sunday, March 15th through April 26th our 9:00am Community Breakfast will be served outside of the church next to Homeless Jesus. Packaged provisions have been procured and bagged meals will be handed out from 9:00 to 9:40am. We will have music! Hot coffee will be poured into to-go cups with cream and sugar included in the prepackaged to-go containers.
We will not be congregating in large groups during this period of time – Breakfast guests are invited to get their meal and take it to a place of their choosing to enjoy. We will ask anyone who can and wants to come help host this time to be in touch with our office.
Sunday Mornings & Worship:
With input from your wardens, and a thoughtful review of the latest information regarding the imminent spread of the COVID-19 virus, we have made the decision to cancel our worship services at Trinity for this Sunday (March 15th).
Instead, I am including an outline for a Morning Devotion both as the last pages of this document and through this link on our website. Please consider joining me and others, wherever you are at 10:00am this Sunday. Find a comfortable place in or outside and know that we will be reading and praying together and with God in our “virtual midst.”
Beginning next week, Sunday March 22nd we will commit to two Sundays of live streamed worship at 10:00am. We need some time to figure out the structure, content and logistics to provide this way of gathering. Stay tuned for updates over the next few days.
Sunday, March 15- 9:00 Breakfast at Homeless Jesus (to go meals and coffee)
10:00 No Service at Trinity (Individual Morning Prayer at home)
Sundays, March 22 & 29-9:00 Breakfast at Homeless Jesus (to go meals and coffee)
10:00 On-line Live Service
Going forward: April 5-26: 9:00 Breakfast at Homeless Jesus (to go meals and coffee)
Additional ways of “being church”
Additionally, I believe the opportunity before us calls us all to find intentional ways of staying connected to each other and to those who will be without human contact in the days ahead. We have started working on putting some additional ways of connecting in place and will be in touch as each is ready to engage.
We are exploring the following:
- A page on our website to capture and share daily prayer requests.
- A regularly scheduled online prayer/devotion time possibly with music
- A new “Card Guild” charged with the opportunity to send cards weekly to our membership. We will ask anyone who can and wants to come help host this time to be in touch with our office.
- A short daily Trinity email update to ask if folks need: prayers, connection or assistance
Wednesday Lent Classes:
Starting next week, we will suspend gathering at 12:00 and 6:00 in person for our Lenten Book Study. Instead we will find a way to offer an online version and again, will share details as soon as possible. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to keep reading and reflecting on our book, The Time is Now.
Online sign-up drive:
Not everyone has a computer and e-mail but most do. For those that do, we want to make sure they are included in our sent communications. If you are receiving this message you are already signed up and will receive all community communication sent from Trinity. Please check with others in our community that may not be signed up. You can direct them to our website here, http://trinitytoledo.churchpost.com/f/1, and encourage them to fill out the form. If you know community members that do not have a computer or email, please ask them to call the office at 419-243-1231 and leave their postal mailing address. We will send them a copy of the emails.
Thank you, dear ones, for the faith and community we share this day. More information will come, and we will stay in touch day by day. Please do the same with those you know and love so that no one is alone.
May the rain fall off your shoulders when you’re caught in a storm
When the frost comes a’ callin’, may it find you safe and warm.
May your place be set and may your promises be kept
And may you never forget that you are loved.
With deep affection,
Sunday March 15 Morning Devotion