Update from the Rector

Dear Servants of Christ,
August! It’s been a while since I wrote to update you on the parish and our emergency plan.  First, let me commend you on the way this congregation has loved and supported one another throughout the pandemic. As I spend a good deal of time these days checking on parishioners by phone or email, I’m often told stories of who has been by with groceries or a call to check up. What a blessing to see the church caring for the church. Keep it up!
I also want to update on some ministries we as a parish have participated in part. First, the Community Relief food distributions on Fridays was sponsored by the Alachua County Pastors Association and many Servants members found time and energy to participate in one or more weeks. I’m told the effort over sixteen weeks gave food to 100,000 people! Praise God for all His provision and special thanks to Farm Share who provided the food for distribution. Even though that effort stopped for August, we are partnering with Upper Room Ministries to distribute food on Mondays. Servants has also been financially contributing to these food efforts throughout.
A second ministry to share about was the 14th session of Camp Araminta. Due to Covid concerns, we agreed in May to go ‘virtual’ with Camp. This was not a very popular decision but the right one. I’m pleased to report that 84 campers signed up for Camp Araminta Nights, which went on from 6:30 – 8:30 pm Monday through Friday (July 20-24). God used our young adults powerfully to lead a virtual camp that blessed and disciples our campers. As usual, Servants adults provided key leadership for the week including some of our youth and college students. It went better than any of us expected and provided opportunities for some students who would not otherwise have joined us to be there. One family in particular was blessed even though they live in Durham, North Carolina. Some of our long term members will recall Sean Jecko, one of the late Right Reverend Steve Jecko’s sons. Sean wrote to tell me how blessed his two children were from Camp. I can tell you there were many of these types of feedback. Go God!
Third, despite the pandemic, a group of pastors from Alachua County arranged with President Fuchs of UF to hold a pastors-only service of unity, repentance, and reconciliation at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. At last look, the video from this event had received over 20,000 views. I was privileged to be a part of the planning team and participate in the program alongside Pastor Karl Smith from Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church. This was an effort of our local pastors association to show unity in the face of acts of racism and divisions in our country. Fifteen local pastors also united on Father’s Day weekend to preach from the same passage in Amos. Pray that the work of unity and bridges of understanding and trust will continue to grow between the pastors and congregations all over Alachua County.
I trust that all these updates will encourage you that despite the pandemic, the Lord is at work and is using this parish to build His Kingdom in the world. As you pray for our church, ask the Lord to reveal to us ways we can minister not only to one another but to the world around us in the face of a global crisis.
Now, before I end, I want to give a short update on Phase 1 of reopening. We are averaging about thirty at our service. I am pleased to share that we have excellent adherence to the mask policy and some who travel from outside our city note that they feel very safe attending Servants services during this time. For those who have attended in person, please know you have been a blessing to your rector and the team who puts on the service weekly. Please join me in expressing our love and appreciation for those who labor week after week.
The Emergency Team continues to meet and has agreed to introduce Communion (bread only) after the service starting last week. I want to assure you that this is being done with very great care. What to expect if you attend: following the procession outside and final dismissal, those who wish to receive Communion simply stay in the large circle outside and I will come around offering Communion. Obviously, those who do not wish to partake are free to leave at the dismissal. I can tell you that it was a powerful time for me as I once again communed members of the Body. If you are not coming on Sunday and would like to receive Communion, I can provide that safely outside your home by appointment. Please call the church office to arrange a time.
The Emergency Team has tentatively planned to move to Phase 2 of reopening in a few weeks but we are carefully monitoring infection rates in the county as students of all ages restart school. For now, we are confident our precautions are sufficient. As always, the team is willing to discuss our plan with any member with concerns. I would encourage all of us to be in prayer for families with school-age children as they prepare for a new school year, whether online or in person. This will be a significant challenge for all of us but especially for our families with school-aged children.
God bless all of you as you continue to trust the Lord’s faithfulness in difficult times,

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