Rector cancels public services, meetings

Christ Church has decided to cancel all public services, beginning Sunday, March 15. Rector Nick Morris-Kliment made this decision after consultation with clergy in the Diocese and in Needham and based on public health reporting. We will cease public worship and all in-person gatherings in the church for the next two weeks. The rector and Vestry will re-evaluate the situation in late March. In lieu of public services, we will livestream the 10 a.m. service. (Info on linking to livestream will follow).

Nick’s full message to the congregation follows:

CORONAVIRUS: AWARENESS AND RESPONSE

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 
2 Timothy 1:7

Grace to you, sisters and brothers, and peace from God our Creator and our Savior Jesus Christ:

I have some difficult news to share, though news that is not likely to be a surprise.

After consulting with clergy colleagues in the Diocese and in town, perusing the Bishops’ several pastoral directives, noting the importance of “social distancing” to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic, I have decided in consultation with our Wardens that we will cease public worship and all in-person gatherings in the Church for the next two weeks, after which we will reevaluate the situation. We will be in regular communication about what comes next as we discern it.

Necessary Church business will be conducted by phone, email, or virtual meeting platforms. We will try our hand at livestreaming a virtual Eucharist-more on that below. I will be in touch with our “anchor tenants”-Expressions After School, Total Eclipse Dance Studio, and First Bridge Preschool-to work out safe and appropriate usage of their spaces. I will also be in touch with the other outside groups who regularly use our spaces, as they will likely need to find alternative places to meet.

Today, the staff and I will meet to decide how to proceed with work in the office-what tasks need to be done at Church, and what can be done remotely.  Lay leadership and I will be planning to make sure that those who most benefit from in-person contact at the Parish remain connected and cared for. While I will still take the vacation that I have long planned for (though those plans have morphed considerably and rapidly) I will be checking in regularly. The Wardens will be the first point of contact in case of pastoral emergencies, you will find their contact information below.

As an experiment, we will offer “virtual worship” from the Chapel this Sunday at 10am. (No 8.15 or 5.30 services) With a few helpers, I will livestream a Eucharist from the Church on the Christ Church Facebook page. The bulletin for the service is here, and the hymns here. More details to come later.

This was a hard decision, and I resisted it. Ultimately, we chose this course of action not only out of an abundance of caution, but an abundance of love. We do this to protect the most vulnerable among us. As St. Paul writes to the Romans, it is out of love that we refrain from actions that may be safe some for but harmful to others. (Romans 14.13-23)

We will also find that the God who makes a way out of no way will gift us with the creativity to remain connected and reach out to others. I invite leadership and the congregation to join me in pondering how we might do that. In the meantime, pray for one another, write notes, call. Pray especially for those who will bear the burden of this time-those for whom social isolation will be devastating, low wage and service workers, families who can’t afford to not have breadwinners earning a paycheck, those in the health care professions. Reach out personally to those in these situations as may be appropriate. For example, you might write your primary care physician to letter her know that you are grateful for her care. Take food to the Community Council. You might thank the checkout clerk at the grocery store for the extra energy needed to face anxious shoppers.

Together, with the Spirit’s aid, we will reimagine what it means to be the Church-loving God and neighbor as Jesus teaches- in a time of fear and anxiety. Together as the Body of Christ, in the power of the Spirit, we will make our way through.

Faithfully yours,
Nick+