Newsletter March 12, 2020: Interfaith tour cancelled, COVID-19 update, more

Sunday, March 15 – The Third Sunday in Lent
Our schedule is subject to change depending on decisions reached by our clergy, vestry and/or bishops in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check your e-mail and our Facebook page for updated information.
8 a.m. – Spoken Holy Eucharist
9:30 a.m. – Adult Forum: Faith@Work with Lynn Brooks
10:30 a.m. – Choral Holy Eucharist sung by the Adult Choir, sermon by the Rev. Margie Baker
5 p.m. – Youth Group
5:30 p.m. – Youth-led Worship – All are welcome!
There will be no Children’s Chapel during the 10:30 service on Sunday, and the sermon will be appropriate for all ages.
The interfaith tour of St. John’s, Congregation Beth Israel and the Berlin Mosque has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We will reschedule for a later date.
A letter from the rector on the COVID-19 pandemic
Dear friends,
I am reaching out to assure you that the leadership and staff at St. John’s are working diligently to keep abreast of the rapidly changing events regarding the coronavirus pandemic. The clergy, wardens and vestry will meet this evening via telephone conference to discuss our next steps for how best to handle this health crisis, so that we can protect the health and well-being our of parish family, especially those who are most vulnerable to the virus, and our neighbors in the greater Hartford community.
Tonight, we will be establishing a telephone tree, and our clergy and vestry members will begin calling every member of our faith community to keep in touch and to answer any questions or concerns. Margie and I will continue to address all pastoral concerns during this most challenging time of uncertainty. We will send out another email blast tomorrow to inform you of any new decisions and information that impacts our life at St. John’s.
As people of God, it is in times like these, when we are easily overwhelmed with fear and anxiety, that we take a break from all the news reports and remember that we are a faith community. Because we are grounded in the saving grace of Christ Jesus, we will weather this storm together. Be confident that we will meet whatever challenges come our way with love, grace, courage and compassion. Now is the perfect time to remember that we are also a people of prayer. It is in prayer that we find peace and reassurance that God is with us and will remain with us always.
In faith,
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
Adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 747
Our response to COVID-19 as of March 12
Caring for each other and for all the people of God means being careful in the midst of this outbreak. As the coronavirus continues to spread, we’re working to minimize risk for our folks at St. John’s and the people we serve in our many ministries.
As we make changes to our plans due to COVID-19, we will send out notices by e-mail and on Facebook. In the meantime, the following guidelines for worship services and events will help protect ourselves and others from illness:
  • Coffee will be served during the education hour (9:30 to 10:30 a.m.), but we will not serve bagels. There will be no coffee hour after the 10:30 service.
  • At communion, we will distribute bread only. Be assured that this constitutes full and sufficient participation in the Eucharist. You may also cross your arms over your chest if you only wish to receive a blessing.
  • When greeting one another during the Peace or at other times, please avoid shaking hands or hugging.
  • We have hand sanitizer available at all three main entrances and scattered throughout the building. All clergy will use hand sanitizer before and after distribution of the sacrament.
  • Please continue to follow good hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing, and stay home if you or a member of your family is not feeling well.
  • Our 10:30 service is broadcast via livestream video, so you may watch from home. To watch the service live, go to our March 15 service page on our web site at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday and click on the video. You may also watch the service at your convenience any time afterward.
  • Please make an effort to spread out in the pews, leaving some distance between you and your neighbors. And remember that you’re always welcome at our 8:00 service, which has a smaller attendance!
Please be assured that the leadership at St. John’s is staying informed and prepared so we can keep our community safe and healthy, as well as maintain our worship life and parish events in the midst of this rapidly changing situation. And of course, please keep all those affected by this disease in your prayers.
We will keep you updated on any new developments or changes to these guidelines.
The presiding bishop, Michael Curry, has issued a statement and video about the outbreak, in which he reminds us that “we’re in this together…so look out for your neighbors, look out for each other. Look out for yourselves. Listen to those who have knowledge that can help to guide us medically and help to guide us socially. Do everything that we can to do this together, to respond to each other’s needs and to respond to our own needs.”
Christian Education for all ages, Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
Through March 29, our Sunday Faith Forums will feature our popular annual series Faith@Work, at which guest speakers will discuss the intersection between their faith and the work they do.
This week’s guest is St. John’s parishioner Lynn Brooks. Lynn is a management consultant with expertise in education, finance, strategic planning, information services, systems analysis, and more. He is retired from a career in higher education, during which he held senior finance positions at Connecticut College and served as president of Briarwood College (now Lincoln College of New England).
Help with Sunday evening youth group dinner and activities.
St. John’s EYC (Episcopal Youth Community) needs your help, parents and friends. Most Sunday nights we need an extra adult to be present, and some nights we also need a dinner angel. This is a fun and relatively easy way to support the teenagers of St. John’s. Please go to our online sign-up to choose a Sunday evening or two when you can help:
Help fill more Blessing Bags! Thank you to all who generously donated single-serve snacks for our Blessing Bags. We’ve updated our Amazon wish list with some additional items, such as socks, small bottles of water, and toiletries. Please visit our wish list at and choose something to purchase, which will automatically be shipped to the parish office.
Provide snacks for students. Our friends at Trinity Academy — a school for low-income children located at Trinity Episcopal Church — are always in need of healthy snacks to serve during the school day. They also have an Amazon wish list, which you can access at
All are invited to contribute to new vestments for St. John’s
It has been more than 25 years since we last purchased new vestments and altar hangings, so it is very exciting to anticipate these new additions to our worship life at St. John’s. The vestments and altar hangings are hand-tailored at Holy Rood Monastery, Spenser, MA. We will purchase one new set, in a particular liturgical color, for each of the next three years, starting this year. Green vestments and hangings will be purchased this year, followed by white and then purple in 2021 and 2022.
You are invited to contribute toward the cost of the new vestments and altar hangings, which are not covered in our annual operating budget. There are two ways you can contribute:
  1. Contribute any amount you like toward the aggregate cost of all new items. To do so, please write a check to St. John’s for any amount, and put “New Vestments” in the memo line, OR
  2. Contribute the entire cost of a particular item. For some items, you may also pay for a memorial inscription to go on that item. The cost of items ranges from $145 for a pulpit hanging to more than $1,400 for a chasuble. The cost of adding a memorial inscription is around $100 or less, depending on the length of the inscription. If you wish to contribute the entire cost of an item, with or without a memorial inscription, please contact the parish office so we can let you know what items you may choose from.
This will be a wonderful and unique opportunity to contribute to high-quality vestments that will add to the beauty of our worship services at St. John’s for years to come. We are planning a formal dedication and blessing of the first set of new vestments on September 20, 2020.
Contributions must be received by May 15.
All donors will be recognized in the bulletin at the September 20, 2020 blessing of the first new set of vestments and altar hangings.
Thank you for your support!
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