Dear St. John’s Family:
In these uncertain times, it is the challenge of the Church to be the messengers of God’s grace, mercy and love in a world that is fraught with anxiety and fear. I am thankful for this community of faith and for the love that we share with each other. I am also aware that there are many among us who are most vulnerable to the health risks associated with the spread of COVID-19, and that we have a Christian obligation to care especially for their needs.
It is therefore with regret that I inform you that Bishop Lee has made the difficult decision to close all Episcopal Churches in the Diocese of Chicago until further notice. This means that effective immediately, ALL worship services are suspended at St. John the Evangelist. Additionally, the Church office will be closed, and all meetings and other group activities at the Church are cancelled until further notice.
I, along with Bishop Lee and other Diocesan leaders, understand the angst that this decision causes many of us. As people of faith our initial reaction is to gather in community during times of crisis. However, the health and wellbeing of our community is our highest priority.
Please reach out to each other by telephone, and check on those who may feel especially isolated and alone during this crisis. I know that to some this may seem like an over-reaction, but please keep in mind that we are still learning more about this disease each day and if current predictions prove true, this pandemic could be up to 10 times worse than the typical influenza that kills many thousands each year.
We are still processing the affect this will have on our community, so please pay attention to your email as we share more information over the coming days and weeks, particularly with regard to alternative ways that we may worship together.
Please pray for all those who have already been infected, and for the repose of the souls of those who have died from this disease. From the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer, we pray:
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to us
as we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make us the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure
what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.