Please view the Diocesan Response to Coronavirus for information.
Lenten Greetings from Fr. Sam
Peace and wellness to you, my brothers and sisters in Christ,
I returned from visiting my family in Brazil this last Saturday and spent the past few days on video-conferences and phone calls with church leaders and friends in an attempt to find ways to better serve the church and those in need.
We have been in contact with our diocesan bishop and her staff, who are supporting and giving us guidance in this season of uncertainties.
All parish activities, meetings and gatherings in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington will be postponed until May 16, 2020, and right now we are working on creating ways to nurture our church community online. Although we are aware that not everyone has access to Internet, we are exploring other ways to stay in touch. Misa Alegria members, for example, are networking using their phones and the app called ‘WhatsApp’.
Prayers and Devotions:
Our church has deep roots in the monastic tradition of prayer and bible reading. Our Book of Common Prayer (BCP) has all the liturgies for daily devotions.
You are invited to entering in communal prayer, in your home, every evening, at 8pm saying the Compline on page 127 of the BCP.
Starting this Friday, March 20th, you will find the devotional: Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) as has been done annually in our parish. You can choose to pray in English with Mary Alcuin Kelly and Fern Hunt or in Spanish with members of Misa Alegria and diocesan staff.
Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer will be offered online starting this Sunday, March 22nd.
Washington National Cathedral is offering Sunday worship through their YouTube page.
We are still learning how to stay connected with one another, and more devotions will be uploaded to our website in this learning process.
Above all, we are still church even without a building to gather, or a place to say our public worship. You are the temple were God’s manifestation is revealed in this world. We will overcome this hard season caring for one another and living in the love that God has called us to abide in.
For any pastoral need, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Rev. Susan Walker. My email address is <email@example.com>.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Sam Dessórdi
A Prayer for People Facing Great Uncertainty
God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to all who wait or work in uncertainty. Bring hope that you will make them the equal of whatever lies ahead. Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness; you are God, and we need you.
Taken from A New Zealand Prayer Book—He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa’ (adapted)
We continue to invite parishioners to worship in the following ways:
Compline each night at 8:00pm, said in our own homes but at the same time.
Livestream of the diocese-wide service at 11:15 am at www.cathedral.org. If the page is slow to load, you may go straight to youtube and look for their channel to watch the service. Bishop Mariann is scheduled to preach this Sunday, 3/22.
Update on Church Closing
The diocese has extended church closings until May 16, in line with the CDC’s recent guidance to postpone all gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks. St. Stephen’s will remain closed during that time, and we will continue to cancel space reservations and ask our space users (tenants) to telework to the maximum extent possible and to cancel all gatherings other than those providing critical services to vulnerable communities.
Thrive DC, which operates out of our building and provides meals and other services, has informed us that they will temporarily close as a result of their food donation sources shutting down. We will keep you updated on their status (as well as if there are any ways for us to help) as we learn more.
The cancellation of space rentals has a huge financial impact on the church, since we rely heavily on space use for income. If you are able, please donate generously to help us make up for lost income. We will prioritize paying the hourly staff who keep our building safe and clean for lost hours so that they can stay safe at home rather than looking for other work. To donate please visit: https://onrealm.org/StStephenandInc/Give.
Thank you to all who have made offers to volunteer with pastoral care needs during this time. We continue to invite anyone who can run errands, make telephone calls to update members without emails, or to be a listener and companion to anyone. Please call or email Susan Walker at 202-210-5385 or <firstname.lastname@example.org> to be added to the list of helpers.
If you become sick, even if you have no immediate needs, please know we care about you and want to know your situation. Please give Susan a call, text message, or email so we can support and pray for you.
As we daily navigate the protocols and directives from medical experts, it is clear that this pandemic has required us to change behaviors: how we practice hygiene, how we work, how we socialize, and how we pray and act in response to those in need. This is also an opportunity to discover the importance of small gestures - a note or call, a wave “hello” to another person across the street, a package of needed items delivered to a door step. We can all demonstrate caring in little, tender ways.
Here is a reflection on how we are being called to respond in this unprecedented time of social distancing and isolation. It is from Kitty O’Meara, inspired by the Italian poet Irene Vella. Read and notice her vision of how our choices to act now will be the foundation for the healing that comes when the danger is passed.
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
~Kitty O'Meara, inspired by Italian poet Irene Vella
We pray for those who have been commended to our prayers at this time: Mona Argentini, Paul, Maggie and Lisa Buonarosa, Ridgely Bennett, Bill Briggs Jr, Tessie, Melissa Chavez, Larry Couthern, Brian Dawson, Stephenie DeKouadio, Brenda Evans, Gabriel Fabre, Renee Fairfax, Enedina Garza, Dolly Guertin, Betsy Hague, Murray Hankins, Santa Helena, Steve Hodges, Bertha Hunter, Bill MacKaye, Vittorina Muzzatti, Mary and John Milroy, Nancy Potter, Ester Saverson, Antonio Smith, Ianne Smith, Doris Jones, Lyndsay Jones, Trisha White, Darunee Wilson, María, Jo-Ann Ledford, Kim Klein, Joan Ritonia, Will Walkoe, John, Tommy, Keith, Kathy, Jesse, Nanci, Ernie Jackson, Kathy, Ron, Alex, Rosemary, Gloria, Beth, Catalina and her siblings.
We pray for the repose of the souls of The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris and Jean Langhorne.
We give thanks for the negative coronavirus test results for Bishop Mariann.
Update on the interment of Jean Langhorne's ashes
Interment of Jean Langhorne’s ashes will be this Friday in the churchyard here at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church. Later in the year there will be a memorial service for Jean when all those who know and loved Jean will be able to join us for the celebration of her life.
Because of the restrictions on groups gathering during this time of coronavirus, the interment will be limited to the family and those specifically invited by the family. I am asking that you join us in prayer on Friday morning at 11:00 but that you honor the restrictions we have put on the service in order to inter Jean’s ashes during this time.
Oh God, you only are immortal, the creator and maker of all humankind; and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return. For so did you ordain when you created us, saying, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Announcement of Postponed Wedding
We want to let you know that we’re indefinitely postponing the Berger-Thompson wedding scheduled for April 19 during the 10:30am service at St. Stephen and the Incarnation due to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19.
In conversation with Fr. Sam, it is clear this is the right next step. For now we do not have a new date in mind. It's just too hard to predict what's going to happen over the next few months. However, we are sure that we look forward to getting married at a future date and we do not want to risk the health of any of our family and friends.
-Heidi and Rose
Loaves and Fishes Needs Volunteers to Prepare and Serve Meals this Weekend
Dear fellow members of St. Stephen's,
Your Loaves and Fishes ministry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, but we are resilient and are responding to the bishop’s call to continue the social service that we are engaged in: feeding the hungry in our community. We will continue to provide meals-to-go lunch bags for our guests - on Saturdays and Sundays for the foreseeable future.
Our biggest challenge right now is in recruiting volunteers to prepare and serve the meals. Many members of our regular volunteer network are understandably reluctant to engage in the social interactions necessary to serve our guests. So this is a call for volunteers to step up in this time of need to help prepare the lunch bags and to serve the meals from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM this Saturday and Sunday.
If you are over 65 OR have an underlying chronic condition, please refrain from signing up to volunteer until further notice.
Also, rest assured that we will be stepping up our safe food handling and distribution procedures.
To volunteer, please contact Ed Grandi at <email@example.com>. If you cannot volunteer, we still need financial resources to continue our program. Please consider donating through our website or directly to St. Stephens, putting Loaves and Fishes on the memo line of your check.
A Little Something Extra for Lenten in addition to the regular financial support many of you provide to Loaves and Fishes, our weekend free-lunch program, we regularly ask for a little something extra during Lent. You’ll find special offering envelopes scattered across the seats in the church, or you can simply write L&F in the memo portion of your check or credit/debit card gift. Our goal this year is to raise $2,500 for the program during Lent. To donate please visit https://onrealm.org/StStephenandInc/Give and under the drop down fund select Loaves and Fishes.
Nominations Are Open to Serve on the Vestry
Might you be interested in playing a greater leadership role in the church? The nominating committee is actively soliciting names of church members interested in standing for election to the Vestry and other leadership positions at our annual meeting on May 3, 2020. Like most Episcopal parishes, St. Stephen's elected leadership includes a Senior Warden and Junior Warden, elected annually, and a group of vestry members elected to staggered multi-year terms. Our Vestry also includes an annually elected Clerk, responsible for minutes of each meeting.
The Wardens and Vestry have ultimate authority and responsibility for the governance of the church, including responsibility for parish property and financial affairs. In consultation with the Senior Priest, the Wardens and Vestry are responsible for developing and executing policies that promote the church’s mission through worship, education, social action, and service.
Vestry service includes attending its monthly meetings, held on the 4th Sunday of every month. To accommodate a variety of schedules the meeting times alternate between noon and 3:45. In addition, this year we will be electing a delegate and alternate delegate to represent St. Stephen's at the diocesan convention.
Our deadline to submit a list of candidates for open positions to the Vestry is March 22, 2020. Please contact a nominating committee member, or the entire committee, at your earliest convenience if you feel called to serve or would like to know more about the nomination process. We thank you for your prayerful consideration.
Nominating committee members:
Michele Lewis (chair) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Melanie Acuna <email@example.com>
Colette Chabbott <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Atiba Pertilla <email@example.com>
Mary Alcuin Kelly <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nuevo Amanecer scheduled for May 12-15 has been canceled.