It has been an unexpected grace in these difficult times to connect online as a church community. Lisha was observing earlier this week that we now have more opportunities than ever to worship, pray, support each other and invite others in who are struggling with fear, anxiety and uncertainty.
Of course we would never wish this crisis on anyone and are longing for the day when we can see each other in person and not just on a screen. Yet truly, even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we gain strength and courage to face our fears because the Lord is with us. These times together help remind us of that truth and reality.
(The Big Quiet this past Wed night. Practicing silence together online is pretty amazing and so needed in these anxious times.)
We've got a big announcement, drum roll please... we're moving our 10 AM Sunday service livestream to YouTube! Many of you have joined us on Facebook and Instagram Live and it has been great to see you there. Moving our service to YouTube will give us more flexibility and opportunity for others to participate in leading worship so it's not the Christine show all the time (I, for one, am tired of seeing my face).
Since we can't stream from our sanctuary, through the magic of technology we are going to bring Deacon Denise in via Zoom to help me lead service on YouTube from the socially-distanced/responsible radius of her living room. We are going ALL IN with "house church" as the early Christians did!
Special shoutout to Mitch Kramer for being our tech support who will be the man behind the curtain making it all happen. We could not do this without him!
You can subscribe to our channel at youtube.com/stpeterschelsea.com. We've uploaded our Facebook livestream services there and found some great old videos on there of former interim pastor Father Stephen Harding giving tours inside of the clock tower, the bell and the church roof. It's very cool. I have a feeling we'll be having fun with this channel in the weeks to come!
These are not easy days. Know that you are not alone and please reach out if you need practical help, support or prayer. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone from our pastoral team will get back to you.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday at 10 AM on YouTube. My love and prayers are with you and your loved ones.
Strength and courage,
March 20, 2020
Dear St. Peter's Family,
These are the three words that came to me this week as we were working out our new communal rhythms:
Prayerful. In every age, the Church has always turned to God in prayer, through pandemics, wars, persecution, natural disasters, political upheaval, and remember that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
Hopeful. We are people whose hope ultimately lies in the God we worship, who is still seated on the throne even when the world is falling apart around us. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (Psalm 46:2-3)
Connected. You are not alone. We are in this together and we will get through this. We will stay connected to God, to each other and to our world.
We've set up a new communal rhythm online to help facilitate this. We look forward to seeing you again this Sunday at 10 AM on Facebook Live and Instgram Live: facebook.com/StPetersChelsea and @stpeterschelsea. You can download the Morning Prayer service bulletin on the right side of our homepage here.
(The Big Quiet @ St. Peter's on Zoom practicing much needed silence and meditation together led by Lisha Epperson with wine glasses & candles in hand. So Episcopalian!)
We especially want to stay connected to our fellow New Yorkers who are the most vulnerable right now during this virus, who don't have the luxury of working remotely, still getting paid and staying indoors. This is a tough because we want to help but also need to be practicing social distancing.
And so I want to highlight a few ways you can practice social distancing and social responsibility at the same time: give to well-run organizations that are doing this front lines work.
There are so many good ones out there but if you need help, here are four worthy possibilities connected to members of the community:
1. New York City Relief. This is a wonderful organization that helps support and care for homeless New Yorkers, driving their "Relief Bus" to place all over the city (including Chelsea Park!) and provide a pop-up center of hospitality, providing food, clothing and connection to services.
(Josiah using a forehead thermometer which they use to make sure no staff or volunteer has a fever before they are allowed to engage with guests.)
Josiah Haken, their VP of Outreach Operations, wrote a great article about what COVID-19 means for those living on the streets. He texted me on Tuesday, saying that they went through 50 gallons of soup from their bus and are burning through supplies like crazy. They had to cancel their fundraising gala and are in desperate need of funds to continue.
2. Restore NYC.This is an amazing organization that serves foreign national survivors of sex trafficking. The women they serve are among those most affected right now, as their children’s schools close and businesses ramp down hours, leading to devastating financial impact. They are not eligible for other types of relief and as a result of this virus are put at high risk of trafficking again.
100% of the funds will be given in the form of cash assistance and you can donate to them here. Jenna Connaroe works for Restore and if you have further questions about their work, you can email her at email@example.com.
3. Emergency Support for City College students. Leslie Paik is a professor of sociology there and many of her students are low-income, working class folks who work in the service industry, paid hourly with no sick leave benefits. Not only do they pay for their tuition with these meager salaries, they also are often the sole or main source of financial support for their families. Her division, the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, has set up an emergency support fund for its students. Here is the link to contribute and make sure to select "Colin Powell School for Civic & Global Leadership" with “emergency support for students” in the comments.
4. Worthwild Restaurant. Right around the corner from church on Ninth Ave. I've eaten here for brunch a few times after service. Brisket & eggs, duck fat potatoes, really cool art on the walls, what's not to love?? They are running a GoFundMe campaign for their staff who they can no longer provide for. If you've ever eaten here and even if you haven't, think about donating the cost of eating out for brunch (or if you were also treating your friend, or family of 5, or group of 20...).