Dear People of God,
I wanted to give you an update on how St. Luke's is responding to the unfolding Coronavirus situation.
Most of you are probably aware that last weekend I decided to suspend all church activities with the exception of the worship schedule. Since that time, Bishop Morris Thompson has issued a pastoral letter on March 16 in which he wrote:
“Beginning Sunday, March 22, 2020 all Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Louisiana will close their doors. While this is a painful decision, the need to slow the virus is of utmost importance. Toward the end of the month we will re-evaluate and communicate updated information.”
I appreciate our Bishop’s leadership during this difficult time. And I definitely agree with him that this is a painful decision. Because gathering together as a family of faith to hear God’s Word and to be fed at God’s Table, gathering for fellowship and formation, gathering for care and support - that’s all central to our identity.
But there is good news. For while we will not gather in person for a time, we are working on live-streaming or recording a service on Sundays. We will use social media and other technology to stay connected. And our pastoral care efforts to stay in touch with people who need a listening ear, comfort, and prayer will continue.
Yes, it’s going to be different. Perhaps at times a bit awkward. But your clergy and church staff are committed to ensuring we stay connected during this time when we cannot be physically present with each other.
I also want you to know that most of the church office staff will be working from home during this time. But please know that the staff is available to you by email and that we will regularly check voicemail messages. We will respond to you as soon as we can.
My friends, we’re living in anxious times. It’s easy to feel afraid. But we can take heart. For we belong to Jesus who said: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In closing, I want to share with you a prayer that paraphrases parts of Psalm 91. It strikes me as particularly appropriate for us today:
O Lord, you are the refuge of the poor and needy. We ask that you would save us from the pestilence that stalks in darkness and the plague that destroys at midday. Be our sun and shield. Be our fortress. Be our comfort this day. May we not fear any evil, but rather trust in your might to save and your wisdom to guide, so that we might rest always in the shadow of the Almighty. In the name of the One who heals and saves. Amen.
May God bless you and keep you. And may God give us the strength and courage to meet the challenges of our time with faith, hope, and love.
Fr. Bryan Owen
6th Rector of St. Luke’s