Saint Anna’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans, LA.
Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
After prayerful consideration and in order to uphold the public good Saint Anna’s will be launching a virtual church and implementing several sources for mediation, staying connected, and providing for a prayerful response to our current call for physical distancing.
Effective immediately we will suspend public worship in favor of virtual worship. Our hope is to provide the Saint Anna’s and larger community a platform wherein we will engage in the Liturgy of the Mass via our media platforms. This is all quite experimental so we will be trying “Zoom” and/or “YouTube” to insure a rich sacred experience.
We plan to offer the Office of Compline Monday through Fridays. We are working with the logistics of offering a full Mass to be available on Sundays. In addition we will offer one on one Zoom conferences for pastoral care and prayer. All of this is in development. What we don’t want to do is offer you something that is less than appropriate or slip shod; you and our Lord deserve the best that we can offer.
But, you know that we define ourselves as a mission driven church. Our past experience in community disasters is to gather people in and then to offer hope, comfort, prayers and shared experience through the Christian lens. But this is a new place into which we are traveling one that puts people at risk if we gather and yet we need so much to remain a community. Here are some of the protocols that we are attempting to put in place:
- Weekly contact via email using Vertical Response with current news about each other and some reflections on the times that we are living in.
- Sunday Mass with full altar party and choir via Zoom and/or YouTube.
- Evening Reflections using Compline or other reflective options Monday through Friday.
- Telephone contact to our members just to touch base and check in.
Our community Missions are also adapting and changing. As you may have guessed our Anna’s Place Youth program has been suspended. We will reach out to our student families via texting just to stay in touch. We hope to attract some funding in order to offer a robust summer program (assuming schools do not go into a summer session) in order to help our children progressing toward educational attainment and a sense of community. Our dream is to be in a position to offer a six week program five days a week. But such is a hope more than a reality at the present time. Our central and immediate focus is our Food Pantry and Homeless Ministries.
Our central community focus will be the food pantry which we expect to broaden its current reach. The challenges will be in sourcing food products; restrictive volunteer bagging; distribution; and setting service thresholds within our capacity. But we have a great team of dedicated volunteers and we will be taking every health precaution that we can in order to fulfill this mission to the under-served. Stay tuned for this evolving mission opportunity.
Lord, as you raised Lazarus from the grave raise us to know that you are with us. Raise us to a state of communal compassion and care. Create in us clean hearts O Lord that we may know thy graces and in so knowing thy heavenly benediction you will afford us the will to be a people of compassion, mercy, patience, temperance, and love. All of this for your loves sake, AMEN.