Important notice: Cancelled worship services (and other activities) through April 1, 2020
March 12, 2020
Dear People of All Saints,
Like many of you, we at All Saints are closely following the coronavirus spread across the United States and the world. We are trying to understand and navigate information put out by the CDC, the New Mexico Department of Public Health, and church colleagues. We want to be safe while resisting the anxious impulse to overreact.
Our primary concern is for the well-being – in all aspects – of the members of our congregation and the wider community with whom we interact. We are considering our next steps to respond faithfully and proactively to this evolving situation. My good friend, Father JP Arossa, framed the question this way: “What does love bid us?”
First, we want to ensure members of our faith community feel safe. One way we can do this is to limit physical contact. So, for now, we will share the peace during services without touching one another. We can bow to one another, or give the sign of peace, looking at each other in the eye, and greeting one another with a verbal “Peace be with you” to convey the message that we see and care for one another. Before and after services, as you greet friends and visitors, take care to check with one another before reaching out to hug or shake hands.
Secondly, we will use individual cups for communion. Please be careful as you pick up a cup to take the next one in the row, with an empty space next to it, to avoid touching any other cups. Anyone serving communion will wash hands and use hand sanitizer before serving communion. If you are concerned, our theology is clear that receiving only the bread is fully receiving communion. You may also come forward and receive a blessing instead of bread or wine.
Third, we will not pass the offering plate from person to person. We will place plates in one or more aisles of the church, and ask each person to place their offering in the plate when they get up to receive communion or light candles. Finally, if you are sick, please stay home. If you are scheduled to assist or serve in some way, call the church or send me an email, but don’t come in. The staff will follow the same guideline, monitoring our own health and working from home if we have symptoms.
In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to explore ways of being in community with one another when all of us are not physically present. I do not anticipate cancelling worship, but we will look at ways to reach out to those who choose to stay home due to health concerns or vulnerability.
Love bids us to be cautious, caring for one another the best way we can – which means being safe, but also continuing to provide spiritual care and services for our community. Love also bids us to refrain from placing blame or getting into “us vs. them” thinking in our response. This is a pandemic. Truly, all of us around the world are in this together. As we consider taking action for our own safety and the safety of our community, let us also remember those who are truly vulnerable and helpless – people in nursing homes and other care facilities, people who are incarcerated, people in refugee camps or homeless shelters. As we look at ways to be safe, may we also look at ways to serve vulnerable populations here in Albuquerque and around the world.
In the love of Christ,
Pastor Kristin Schultz