Coping with Coronavirus

Special Links during this time:

Yo-Yo Ma sharing his music.


Worship in the Wilderness: Coping with the Coronavirus

Updated March 23, 2020

As members and friends of St. Mark's are no doubt aware, these past weeks have seen a substantial increase in precautions related to restricting the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the United States. Bishop Michael Hanley has directed that all public worship getherings be suspended for until at least April 14. Additionally, the CDC has recommended that no gatherings of over 50 people take place for the next eight weeks, with a preference for no more than 10 person gatherings. This has resulted in the church building itself being closed through Easter and perhaps may last into mid-May.

Governor Kate Brown's Executive order, issued on Monday, March 23, effectively prohibits all non-essential activities and asks businesses to have their employees work from home if at all possible. For that reason, our Parish Office is CLOSED to the general public, though staff will be working there on occasion to accomplish tasks that cannot reasonably be done at home. We are continuing to evaluate things as they come and have not made any long-term plans for services. As an "essential activity," our Food Pantry remains open on Thursdays from Noon to 1:30 pm and will be distributing pre-assembled food boxes only, and doing so outside.

We have created this web page to serve as a hub for resources to deal with this health crisis, including resources for prayer, study, and general well being. Please continue to check this page for updates as things develop.

Like any small business, the church continues to incur expenses such as salaries and utility costs, even without people showing up to events and worship services. We encouage those who are financially able to support St. Mark's during this time to continue to do so by using our online donation portal here. Because many will be financially impacted by this situation, we encourage anyone who can do so to increase their financial support of St. Mark's for the next three months to offset that financial hit.

We began "going virtual" beginning March 22. It was initially via Facebook and we are evaluating moving to YouTube (or using both) under the following links:

YouTube (new channel!):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClTe7vXbFa0kujF2IDyhAyg
FaceBook (our usual page--like us and follow us!):
https://www.facebook.com/StMarksMedfordOR


Resources for Prayer and Worship

We also have some options available to us as Episcopalians that don't involve in-person worship gatherings. If you have a Book of Common Prayer (BCP), you are invited to pray Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and/or Compline. If you don't have a BCP handy, you can access an online one by clicking here. You can also download a PDF copy by clicking here.  You can "pray along" with Morning Prayer each day by listening to "A Morning at the Office" (from Forward Movement) by clicking here. An additional resource is the Daily Office from the Mission of St. Clare, which includes music. They also have an iPhone app and an Android app for daily use.

There are also a large number of resources offered to sustain us individually in worship, many of them by Forward Movement. Some that are available are:
Forward Day by Day Online:

https://prayer.forwardmovement.org/forward_day_by_day.php
This is an online version of the classic devotional book we have available in church.
Forward Day by Day Podcast:

https://www.forwardmovement.org/Pages/Item/12306/Podcast.aspx
If you're into podcasts (online audio broadcasts), you can access the Forward Day by Day Podcast and get a daily devotional reading.
Faith at Home eNewsletter:

https://www.dofaithathome.org/
A weekly newsletter with prayers, activities, etc... for home.


A(nother) Word from the Rector

An updated word from me about all of this: This is going to continue to feel strange and uncomfortable. It feels the same way for me trying to navigate our church through it as it likely feels to you. We are used to gathering together each week for worship, prayer, and conversation (and coffee!). I encourage you to think of this new way of doing church as a unique extended Lenten discipline and worship and pray, either with us or on your own, at a specific time on Sunday mornings, and hopefully throughout the week. As your "coffee hour" I encourage you to make and grab a cup of coffee or tea and a treat and sit down and pick up the telephone and call someone you normally see at coffee hour to check in. At this point, social isolation is a bigger threat then the virus itself and calling, even using Facetime or other video chat service, can help break that isolation.

Additionally, as I noted at the end of the service on Sunday, March 22, I am taking a self-iimposed fast from the Eucharist until such time as we can again gather together for it in person and invite you to do the same with intentionality. While I could certainly celebrate the Eucharist with my family and/or via camera with all of you, it seems like the least we can do while the rest of the world convulses around us is to abstain from the Eucharist. In the Orthodox traiditon, this used to be done all the time for Lent, so of necessity we are taking up this tradition now. If you still have consecrated wafers, you are invited to receive them while praying the Communion Under Special Circumstances service at an apporpriate time before embarking on this fast.

Finally, we are moving into using the Zoom Videoconferencing service for our Monday Morning Bible Study at 10 am on Mondys, our "Rector's Office Hour" at 11 am Monday through Thursday (click on the links to join) and other meetings. To use this service, you need only a computer, an Internet connection, and a microphone attached to your computer. A web camera is helpful so we can all see one another, but not essential. Most laptop computers and some desktop computers have both a microphone and a web camera. Also, when calling in, using earphones hooked up to your computer helps with hearing other people on the call. If you need help with this technology, click here for a brief tutorial, or I can help if you contact me. Above all, please feel more than free to pick up the phone and call me at (541) 414-4847 (corrected from last eNewsletter) or another member of the church if you feel at all disconnected from our life together. Not everyone has the technological resources or know-how to join our video chats or even to view our services.

Please continue to pray for one another, for St. Mark's, and for me as your priest. I continue to pray for you.

-- The Rev. Tom Sramek, Jr., Rector

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