FATHER DAVID’S BLOG OF 4/3/2020 — We are still here! I don’t know about you but the first few days of being “sheltered in place” were not only difficult but disorientating as well. I was talking to a friend via Zoom.com yesterday and he compared it with school being cancelled because of snow. You remember that feeling? Listening for the radio to announce the closing of school because of the snow and that feeling or relief and excitement that we could go out and play in the snow with our friends? Well we have now had almost two weeks of snow days and it is getting weary and we have another month and a half of staying home. I am not minimizing the importance of this at all but for me it has challenged me to figure out what it means to work from the safe confines of my home, the church rectory. During the first couple of days, I would go to the church to check mail and meet with staff but since last Thursday I have limited my travel. I have not even been to the store as Emily is taking care of that part of our lives at the moment.
A week ago I woke up feeling an overwhelming sense of dread and sadness which I believe I mentioned in last week’s post. My heart was heavy with despair. Despair for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and those who have died. Despair that we have a long way to go before we see the end of this. There is enough heartache in the world today for all of us. In our own parish this heartache was felt this week when a son of a parishioner, living in California, collapsed and died while on a run. There is no chance to say goodbye, no way to grieve with his other children who all live in California. Sadly these stories will only increase for a time. And yet we are still here, experimenting with new ways to connect with one another while we are apart. [In the photo above, we see “Palms To Go’ — people drove up to the church on Palm Sunday to receive their palms and to receive a blessing.]
Palms To Go on Video
Click here to see video of Fr. David and D-L Casson handing out palms to members as they drove up. The camera operator, John J. Jankowski, Jr., took a palm for himself and several more to hand out later in the day.
Holy Week and Easter: Tune In!
Holy Week this year will be celebrated virtually. I invite you to tune into Facebook to pray and listen to the scriptures and the psalms. Click here to learn more! I apologize for any confusion as to the times of certain worship opportunities.
Update from Bishop Brown: Support and Guidance for Parishes
Bishop Brown wrote:
I strongly urge parishes to not make any immediate decisions around payroll, especially layoffs, at this moment. There is help on the way. The Episcopal Church in Delaware is committed to helping sustain the people doing faithful work for our parishes – the very folks who help keep our parishes strong and active throughout this crisis.
To this end, diocesan leaders and I have been working extensively to help parishes navigate the choppy financial waters caused by COVID-19.
First, recognizing that cash flow is becoming a serious immediate concern, Diocesan Council has authorized the immediate deferral, up to three months, of monthly acceptance payments until anytime before the end of 2020. No application is required; a parish’s rector, warden, or treasurer need only to inform Judith Gregory in the Mission Support Office that the parish wishes to defer payments.
Second, recognizing that longer-term financial needs and assistance will vary by parish, Diocesan Council also formed a Joint Team for Parish Financial Support to construct, as quickly as possible, a “trusting and graceful” process for how parishes can apply for and receive the long-term help they will need. The goal is to have the process crafted, approved by council and trustees, and made available to parishes the week after Easter – that is, only two weeks from now. Members of this fearless joint team are Arnold Morris, Advance & Development Fund; Roby Roberson, council treasurer; Kathy Van Devender, finance committee; Michael Wood, council member; the Rev. Marianne Ell, council member; Rick Harra, trustee; and Jim Bray, trustee emeritus. The group is led by Judith Gregory, Canon for Finance and Administration.
Third, the United States Congress passed the massive CARES Act late last week, and on Monday the Mission Support Office provided resources and direction to clergy and treasurers on how parishes can take advantage of this law. The CARES Act includes provisions to help churches and many other businesses and organizations to keep employees on the payroll, including:
- paycheck protection through a government-backed loan you apply for from your (qualifying!) bank
- payroll tax deferral (for parishes and clergy)
- expansion of unemployment benefits, even to churches (which normally cannot participate).
Fourth, the Church Pension Fund has offered relief to parishes in multiple forms, including waivers of clergy pension assessments (with no harm to a cleric’s eventual pension) and extensions up to 90 days for benefits and insurance payments.
These four points are significant, and point to real measures available to parishes to help sustain staff and operations in this pandemic. Again, I strongly urge parishes to not make any immediate decisions around payroll, especially layoffs, at this moment.
Prayer for People Critically Ill or Facing Great Uncertainty
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
-Adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 765