A Update About Regathering in Our Building

July 22, 2020

Beloved St. Luke’s Community,

You've heard me say it many times recently: this time of pandemic is a time of grief. According to Elisabeth Kubler Ross, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—and not necessarily in that order.

Last month, our Vestry voted to regather in our building when everyone in our community was able to worship together safely. At the time, cases of Covid-19 were only beginning to rise in our state. It was the beginning of summer, and the virus was supposed to subside in the heat and sun. Though that Vestry decision still holds true for our church family, I realize now that we as leaders were likely in the bargaining stage of our grief, keeping our decisions broad in hopes that things might turn around soon.

Last Sunday, though, there was a shift in our Vestry when we met. We decided it was time to face the reality of our situation, however hard it was. We decided that we would be guided by the facts of this virus in our city, our state, our country. We decided it was time to move into acceptance.

The fact is that cases are climbing higher and higher in Oregon and Multnomah County. The fact is that indoor gatherings, particularly at places of worship, have become hot spots for spreading the virus. The fact is that during our Community Prayers each week, we hear more and more of our church family tell us that they are being directly impacted by the virus. The fact is that the virus is expected to get even worse in the fall. The fact is that the majority of our St. Luke’s family falls into the population that is most vulnerable.

Facing those facts, our Vestry made the difficult decision to not regather in our building for this calendar year.

We thought it was important to make expectations clear to everyone so that we could move forward as a community intentionally and with renewed focus on those things that are so important to us: those things that keep us connected, that help us to know we are loved, that remind us that we are part of the Body of Christ. 

Outdoor Worship
If wasn’t all hard news on Sunday, though. We also voted to allow outdoor worship on our church grounds. While our primary worship service on Sunday will remain on Zoom, we will soon be offering different opportunities on weekdays to pray together outside—staying six feet apart and wearing masks, of course.

We will also continue to improve the depth and quality of our online worship services, including Community Taizé and Open Sanctuary. Stay tuned.

Reaching Out
In the coming days, a member of our Vestry will be giving those who are in our church directory a call to check in with you, answer any questions you might have, and see how you might need support in this time. If you’re not in the directory, please email me and I’ll be happy to connect you with a Vestry member.

I am, of course, also always available to answer any questions or just talk about what’s going on. My contact information can be found on the contact link at the top right of this page.

Hope is a wily thing, a shape-shifter keeping us on our feet. When we think she’s one thing, she changes, reminding us that God is in charge, not anything or anyone else. We are called to follow hope where she leads us. Right now, hope is looking like each and every one of us staying safe and healthy. Hope is looking like new and creative ways to be deeply connected community. 

We are a people called to practice God’s radical love and expansive grace. Let us take care of each other. Let us pray for one another. And let us all reach out to each other when we ourselves need support. 

With love and hope on behalf of the Vestry & Clergy,

The Rev. Sara Cosca-Warfield