News & Publications
From: Brooks Cato
Sent: Friday, March 13, 2020 11:35 AM
Dear People of St. Thomas',
It's not often that I write to you twice in one week, but as we learn more and consider how best to respond, such is the time.
After meeting with the House of Bishops, including conversations with an epidemiologist from the Public Health Subcommittee of the US Military's Defense Health Board, Bishop DeDe has issued a Pastoral Directive to the Diocese of Central New York outlining how we are to conduct our worship services. The following will be our practices until June 1, 2020, or until further changes are made.
The Passing of the Peace is to be done without physical contact. A reverent bow to a neighbor, a friendly wave, even the reliable Peace Sign will do. Greet your neighbor with the Peace of Christ, but for now, please do not shake hands.
The practice of Intinction (dipping the bread in the wine) increases the potential for viral transmission. If you would like to receive the wine, please drink from the chalice. Otherwise, simply cross your arms across your chest when the chalice comes to you.
As the tradition says, "receiving in one kind is totally efficacious." In other words, receiving only the bread still confers the same grace.
Lay Eucharistic Ministers will wipe the rim of the chalice inside and out, and will turn the chalice after each person receives.
We will continue to use only fortified port wine and silver chalices, both of which help to reduce the possible spread of disease. For more information on the Common Cup and communicable diseases, you may be interested in the following article. Though this article only makes reference to two studies, know that the American Medical Association has deemed the use of the shared cup in worship services a minimal risk. http://loosecanon.georgiaepiscopal.org/?p=2476
Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds prior to entering worship services.
If available, use hand sanitizer prior to receiving communion to protect yourself and those serving. At the moment, St. Thomas' has a limited supply, but we will make hand sanitizer available as we are able. Feel free to bring your own!
If you are sick, please stay home.
Finally, as you practice the necessary step of social distancing, keep in mind the detrimental effects of isolation. Call friends, write cards, wave to folks on the sidewalk. Remind the world that while precautions must be taken, we are still a people of love and hope.
We take these steps to ensure not only our own safety as a congregation, but also to ensure the safety of those who, through their courage in the face of frightening news, decide to join us.
I'm struck by the timing of this pandemic: right in the middle of Lent, we are confronted with great and real uncertainty. In Lent, we look at our humanity and our mortality with honesty, and at the end of this season, we walk with Christ all the way to the grave. But we trust that on the other side of that journey waits new life. Easter will come, and the darkness will not overcome it. We are a people of faith, a people of hope, and a people of reason. Hold all these things together, and for the love of Thomas, pay heed to the words of James 4:8: "Wash your hands, you sinners!"
With Christ's Love,
The Rev. Brooks Cato
St. Thomas' Episcopal Church
12 ½ Madison St.
Hamilton, NY 13346
"To the Glory of God" is a history of St. Thomas' Church written by parishioner Jim Ford. Copies are available at the church office.