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August 28, 2020

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, who is good acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

Dear Parish Family,

There is little doubt that since the end of March, many of us have had to do a lot of reluctant conforming to the restrictions and guidelines that the COVID pandemic has brought into our daily lives. 

At the same time, as I reflect upon this strange season we have spent together in the wilderness, I see around me the transformation and renewals this time has brought to our life and ministry as a church community. 

Nancy and her volunteers in partnership with Beth Ahabah, have provided over 1400 masks to residents of the North Church Hill, Creighton Court, and surrounding neighborhoods. This and other outreach to those in need of rent, food, and utility payments has helped ensure that we do not lose our outward focus as a church of true Doers even in this time of isolation. 

Mark, Virginia, and various singers and musicians have contributed wonderful music to our weekly streamed services and are still planning for our fine music program to flourish in the coming months. 

Hilary, Mary Beth, and Becky have been working to develop a Christian Formation program for the fall that will embrace and renew the spiritual lives of our children, youth, and adults. 

Your generous financial gifts to support our ministry have kept Poconna busy this summer as she has kept our churches finances in order. 

Gene and our sextons, Raymond and Sunil, ensure daily that our buildings are kept clean and well maintained for everyone’s return. 

In addition to managing church operations and conducting several job searches, Michael has coordinated with Diahann and our diocese to get our Children Center reopened and to care for those families in need of childcare, as well as managing plans for our regathering for worship. 

Suzanne and Lois along with our Annual Giving chairs, Ann Rawls, Scott Ukrop, and Cheryl Guedri are preparing to launch our most challenging campaign since the fire twenty-five years ago. Weezie and Donna have been producing weekly bulletins, keeping prayer lists up to date all summer while also keeping our parish informed about ways we can all keep being Doers. 

Despite our office being closed, Gina has helped with our mailings and administrative tasks that are critical to the life of a large church community. And we are blessed that Laura has continued to coordinate our Food Force teams and has been preparing to help us reopen Michaux House for gatherings under the COVID guidelines. 

And we are truly blessed with the pastoral gifts of Mark, Bob, and Laura who have been taking care of the needs of our church members even as we have all been challenged to stay close to one another. 

From other communications you have all realized that when we do return to worship in our buildings and grounds, there will be many changes. It is important to recognize that this is a loss to all of us that enjoy greeting each other with handshakes or passing the peace prior to Holy Eucharist. 

Our wonderful music program too, will look different in the coming months since congregational singing will not be allowed as part of public worship and there is currently no time frame for when we might resume celebrating Holy Communion together. Masks, distancing, and sanitizing will be part of the “new normal” when it comes to our experience of worship together. 

Truth be told we will have to do some of that conforming that I mentioned earlier in order to protect the health and well-being of all our church members. But I also, firmly believe that God will still be able to renew our minds and spirits for ministry to one another and the community outside our virtual church walls. 

A few weeks ago, I preached about Jacob and his wrestling match by the river. 

I said, “And we should all remember despite the uncertainty of these times, that our God is a God of infinite compassion, forgiveness, and love. Our God knows our struggles and will not let go of us, as long we continue, like Jacob, to hold on to him”. 

I remain confident that all of us will make it through this long night, we will see the dawn, and we will all cross that river together to a new and better tomorrow.

With every good blessing, I am

Yours in Christ,

The Reverend Dr. John F. McCard, Rector

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