Friends in Christ,
Upon the recommendation of several trusted health care professionals, and in consultation with the bishops of Milwaukee, Virginia, and San Diego, we have decided on the following adjustments to our shared life:
- Effective immediately, our Wednesday night and Sunday morning worship will move from Eucharist to Morning and Evening Prayer. This is a form of worship used all across the Anglican Communion and found in our Prayer Book. In Morning Prayer, there is no exchanging of peace and no Communion. We appreciate that you may miss the Body of Christ, but please remember that we together ARE the Body of Christ. If you feel a need to receive the Eucharist, email Fr. Burch, and he will bring it to your home.
- Groups larger than 15, outside of worship services, will be canceled through Easter Sunday, April 12. Stay tuned for updates on this; it may be that all church gatherings will be postponed as COVID-19 blooms in Milwaukee.
- We will have no Sunday Coffee Hour until Easter.
- We will not use the Chapel of the Bread of Life for the foreseeable future, due to ventilation concerns.
- Staff will be working from home as much as possible for the next two weeks, at which time we will re-evaluate.
We are monitoring advice from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and various Episcopal bodies. In addition, we have been in contact with several physicians in the parish to get wise medical counsel.
If you have a fever, cough, or shortness-of-breath, please stay home. If you are in a high-risk group (as defined by the CDC: older adults 60+; people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease), please consider staying home. If you are at church, please practice thorough hand washing, spread out in the pews, and avoid touching your face.
As the Body of Christ, we need to remember to watch out for one another–who might be isolated and needing a phone call? Who might be new to the parish and thrown off by this breakdown in routine? Who may be lonesome and could use a FaceTime chat?
Stay tuned for streamed services online and for the business of the church to be handled via Zoom meeting.
These are the steps we are taking as of today. The situation is changing rapidly, and we will be constantly evaluating our response to better slow the spread of the virus. The decisions we make today may very well lessen the burdens on the healthcare system as well as help protect the most vulnerable among us.
We are as sad as you are to be losing some of the wonderful services and activities that bring us to St. Mark’s. These changes are temporary. Our parish is 127 years old, and this is not the first global pandemic that has approached our walls. We are called to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. Care for one another’s spirits, and think of creative ways we might tend to each other in the days and weeks to come.
The Rev. Ian Burch, Rector
Ms. Kathy Katter, Sr. Warden