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When Mary Wynne was little, she had a head full of curls and a bunch of personality! Annette and I used to call her “happy heart” and marvel at her facility and fluidity with words. Like her dad, she was loquacious! Four-year-old Mary Wynne could talk the paint off the wall and everyone celebrated her enthusiasm and “preciousness.” Mary Wynne used to say, “I have TWO things to tell you daddy, I have TWO things.”

Her loquacious father has TWO things for you today.

What’s ahead in terms of corporate worship?

We are a bright, thoughtful, passionate and opinionated group and whatever our church decides to do regarding opening back up will please some and upset others. Bottom Line Up Front, my goal is to be prudent and to stay well within the law. Most importantly, we do not want to infect people with COVID-19. At the same time, it is unrealistic to cancel all worship and church functions for 12 months or more. I am thankful for clear guidance from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I am forming an advisory committee of physicians, nurses and health care administrators to give me thoughtful, medically sound advice, and of course I will have our vestry think through and pray over our plans.

We are all aware that this situation is a very fluid one, and there is no certainty what tomorrow may bring, much less what next month or Fall may bring.

Based on clear guidance and directives from the Governor, we may, and I do say MAY, begin to slowly and wisely open back up in June. If so, we would have multiple services, shorter services, no common cup and limits well under those the Governor has decreed. The good news is that we have a spacious sanctuary and fellowship hall. The sanctuary holds 980 people and we can easily fit 175 people per service and maintain at least 6’ distance between people except for immediate families. Deacon Barbara has measured our sanctuary to get these numbers. We are carefully listening to the governor and will stay well within and actually under the numbers he has asked.

The plan as of Thursday at 1 pm, is that we will continue to live-stream on Facebook Live as long as anyone cannot come to service due to COVID-19. I anticipate keeping the live-stream going even after COVID-19 and expanding it to YouTube Live which affords higher quality video.

I anticipate offering 4 shorter, fifty minute, in-person services a Sunday (8am, 9:30am, 11am and 8pm) and having an online sign-up sheet to insure we have no more than 175 people per service. Families may sit together but everyone else has to be 6’ or more apart. Following the Governor’s requirements, we will scan people’s foreheads at the door with a thermometer forehead scan to insure no one with a fever enters and infects others. We are strongly recommending masks. If you are sick or immune suppressed, please stay at home and watch online and we will happily drop off Holy Communion to you and pray with you on the phone. Communion will be in pre-packaged containers and we will receive them where we sit, not at the rail. We will use an electrostatic sprayer with non-toxic virus killing solution before each service. If you want to know more about the requirements and guidelines, click here and read pages 7-8.

Race Relations: We had a Fireside chat this week with Bishop J. L. Jackson and our own Rachel Thompson that has had 3400 views already! After a rocky and frustrating technological start with Facebook and our internet crashing multiple times, we finally were able to hear some powerful and challenging words about how we can combat any racism that may reside in our own hearts and how Caucasian Christians can love and speak on behalf of our brothers and sisters of color. Begin the talk at 1:57 and listen until the end!   

As Rachel said, as Christians we are called to love with the love of Christ and to talk about real issues. She expressed her own lack of comfort at discussing any matters that make her or others feel uncomfortable, but she is thankful that the Gospel frees us not to be silent and ignore the evil of prejudice and hate and speak up for our brothers and sisters of color. In the context of grace, we can talk about hard things. Rachel encouraged us to write down any ungodly thoughts and feelings we have, talk about them and take them captive, not suppress them.

In a nod to Mary Wynne, I have FOUR scriptures that are close to my heart these days: 

Acts 17:26, “God has made of one blood all the peoples of the earth.”

1 John 4:20, “If anyone says ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Rev. 7:9, “And after this I looked, and behold, a great number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages standing before the throne and before the Lamb…

1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Have a great week, and remember the Lord is with us! He casts out all fear and hatred and makes all things new.