St. Stephen’s Weekly – September 21, 2020

May the peace and love of God be ever present in your life.
Jim+ — Jim Dalton

Prayer of the Week: For the Family

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your mercies
which are new every morning:
For health and strength,
for this day with its fresh opportunities for work and service.
Bless each one of us, and hold us together in your love and in love of you.
We pray for your help and guidance as we face the duties to be done,
the decisions to be made, the temptations that may beset us,
the disappointments that may beset us.
Guide us, strengthen us, keep us;
and grant that in all things we may act worthily of our Christian calling.

Altar Flowers from Sunday, September 20, 2020
The above pictured flowers were given by Richard Engel to the glory of God and in honor of the anniversary of Eric and Athena, the anniversary of Richard and Mary, and the birthday of Mary.

The flowers were arranged by Laura Phillips.

Most Recent Guidelines from the Diocese about Gathering for Worship

As we continue to live with the pandemic in our communities and learn more about the virus’s transmission, I am updating my recommendations for gathering in church. The meeting recommendations are based on the scientific data that indicate even more clearly that the spread of Covid-19 is primarily respiratory driven and seems to have a correlation with the size of the group, the length of time the group is gathered, the use of face coverings and social distancing of at least six feet, whether or not the group is indoors or outdoors, and the willingness of people with symptoms not to participate in person. Should you gather?

—-The decision to gather, either for worship or other purposes, should be made with an awareness of how prevalent the virus is in local towns and counties. To that end, the diocesan office each week will publish a seven-day rolling average of the number of current active Covid cases per 10,000 residents in each county, as reported by the state. Your county having more or less than fourteen active cases per 10,000 residents seems to be a reasonable guide to determine the acceptability of risk, but you and your congregation’s leadership need to decide if the risk is acceptable in your context.

—-Issues to consider in determining whether or not to meet in-person: – Outdoor gatherings are much safer than indoor gatherings. – Meeting in larger spaces is better than smaller spaces. – Well-ventilated spaces are better than spaces with less ventilation. – Shorter gatherings are safer than longer gatherings. – Smaller groups are safer than larger groups. – The names of attendees at any gathering are helpful if future contact tracing is needed.

Practices you are required to take to stop viral spread at any gathering:
Household groups are to stay at least six feet from other household groups.

All people have a face covering. The exception is that speakers might consider removing a face covering when speaking if they are at least twelve feet away from others.

Hand sanitizer and sanitizing spray are available in the church (or other gathering space) and bathrooms.

Potential attendees are reminded that no one with symptoms should attend an in-person gathering.

Objects such as offering plates and orders of service are not shared or passed among attendees.

Required liturgical actions:
Avoid congregational singing or a choir of more than four people.
Do not use commercial, individual bread and wine packets.
If the Holy Eucharist is celebrated, only the Celebrant consumes consecrated Wine.

Keep the bread to be distributed covered during the Eucharistic canon (perhaps by a purificator) so that the celebrant is not spreading aerosol droplets on the bread while speaking.

Consecrated Bread may be distributed to parishioners, provided both the Eucharistic Minister and the person receiving Communion are masked, and the people receiving Communion remain at a distance of at least six feet from one another.

Eucharistic ministers need to sanitize their hands immediately before distributing consecrated Bread.

Consecrated Bread that has been in a vessel used for distributing Communion will not be reserved for future use.

At baptisms, the officiating priest should not hold an infant in the priest’s arms.

Helpful liturgical actions:
Consider having an usher provide hand sanitizer to people as they enter the church and as each person prepares to receive Communion.


Left – Washington National Cathedral is the 6th largest cathedral in the world and the 2nd largest in the United States.

Center – The largest of the Cathedral’s 53 carillon bells weighs 24,000 pounds and measures 8 feet, 8 inches in diameter.

Right – A total of 112 gargoyles around the Cathedral funnel rainwater away from the building.

Image: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, AR

What’s Happening at St. Stephen’s?

Several of you have dropped off items in the fellowship hall. Thank-you! Several of you have brought items up and put them directly in to the Little Pantry. Thank-you! Several members of our church have mentioned seeing community members adding items to the Little Pantry which is absolutely wonderful! I hope you all feel good about this effort to feed those living near the church.

We are exploring ways that we can gather on some special occasions. We will continue to broadcasts our services until we can safety meet in the nave. But, we do want to explore parking lot services and outdoor services as the weather allows. We are looking as some possibilities for “Blessing of the Animals” on St. Francis feast day, Sunday, October 4th. We are also trying to find a way to meet in the parking lot or outside on All Saint’s Sunday, November 1st.

Remember, if anyone would like to attend the services on Sunday, you are welcome! As long as we have 10 or less we will space out and will not need to make special accommodations other than maintaining our distance and wearing masks. Having a few people in the nave would certainly help with the responsive reading part of the service. Just let Fr. Jim know that you want to attend and he will make sure that you know when to arrive and where to sit.

Hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray, and disposable face masks are available at the church.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 12:00 PM (Noon): Prayer’s with Pat
Tuesday and Thursday, Java with Jim: 8:00 AM; this week’s theme “God’s Love”

Tuesday and Thursday, Twilight with Toby: 7:00 PM; Compline (Jim will be covering for Toby on Thursday evening this week)

Saturday: Late-Night with Laura; 8:00 PM; Compline
Sunday: Worship; 10:30 AM

A Journey with John 50 Day Bible Challenge. We will be discussing the scripture reading for Day 44 or 50: John 19:16b-30. This passage is Jesus journey to the cross. This will be on Google Meet. If you would like to participate let Jim Dalton know and you will receive an email invitation to join the group. You simply need internet access via computer or smart phone or tablet. Read the passage of scripture prior to the bible study. Then listen or participate as you wish.