News from Saint Thomas Church for the Week of March 22, 2020

In this week’s news…


This Week’s Services at Saint Thomas Church

Festal Eucharist for the Fourth Week in Lent

Sunday, March 22
11am, and then on demand.

Shrine Prayers (Intercessions) and Mass

Monday, March 23 to Saturday, March 28
12pm livecast, and then on-demand

Click Here for our Webcast Page


The Rector’s Message

Rector Turner
The Reverend Canon Carl Turner

Dear Friends,

It has been quite a week! My colleagues and I have been reaching out to you, beginning with our most vulnerable, our frail elderly, and our shut-ins. Many of you have been reaching out to us, and we have been so encouraged by the many emails and phone messages we have received. We will continue to reach out via phone, where possible, over the coming weeks. We have been allowed to visit the sick.

We have also been encouraged by the number of people who have been worshipping with us regularly. Last week, when we ceased public worship at very short notice, we were blessed by the presence of a camera crew (who currently have no work) who filmed our Sunday service. 500 of you worshipped with us via the live audio stream; an amazing 5200 people watched the video webcast. Each day we are webcasting Shrine Prayer (intercessions) and the Holy Eucharist. This week, an average of 30 of you have joined the clergy for prayer every day and 100 have listened in later. A circle of prayer is a wonderful gift that the Christian Community can offer. We are receiving more and more prayer requests – please keep them coming. You an use the ‘prayer request tab’ at the top of the web page or send an email to: prayer@SaintThomasChurch.org.

We have also received practical offers of help from parishioners to care for those who cannot shop or receive deliveries, or who are struggling in some other way. This is a sign of the vitality of our parish that people care for one another in times of adversity.

In the past week, two faithful parishioners have died; Jill Hunt and, early this morning, Betty Burr. Both had been receiving the sacraments in their homes regularly and both died surrounded by the love of their beloved church and their beloved friends. Sadly, we cannot arrange their funerals at the moment but we will give plenty of notice once restrictions are lifted and their respective families are allowed to travel.

May the choir of angels greet them; and where Lazarus is poor no longer, may they have eternal rest.

From the Rectory study, I am looking down at the empty streets; hardly any pedestrians and hardly any traffic. Manhattan seems like a ghost town. As we come to terms with the Governor’s PAUSE order, churches and other places of worship are coordinating our pastoral response not only to our congregations, but to the poor and the homeless. Yet, as Fr. Spencer will remind us on Sunday in his sermon, if you only look up, you will see in the street that the trees are in blossom and Spring has arrived.

The Governor has said this concerning essential services:

“Faith leaders can continue to record services and live stream using their equipment in their sanctuaries and are not required to do so from home.”

and

“Houses of worship are not ordered closed however it is strongly recommended no congregate services be held and social distance maintained.”

We continue to follow this advice and the advice of our Bishop. The Parish office is currently closed with staff working from home. We will continue our daily live-streaming of weekday services. Last Sunday, we were able to have a choir. This Sunday, you will see no choir at all but, instead, we are using the French tradition of using the organ to replace the choir. In anticipation of further restrictions, and out of concern for our staff, we decided to record the next two Sunday services in advance. These were not staged or interrupted for direction; they were acts of worship, albeit with a very few of us and keeping the appropriate social distance recommended, but recorded in their entirety. At this stage, we are trying to think how best we can celebrate Holy Week. It will not be what we are used to, but what matters is observing the week and continuing our circle of prayer.

This coming week we begin some creative ways of gathering the Church. Below, you will read about our ‘virtual coffee hour’ and Mo. Turner, the Sunday School leaders, and the children and families of our church have their first gathering via the Zoom platform; they have called it ‘Sunday Zoom!’

On Tuesday, the Pilgrims’ Class will meet via Zoom and Fr. Cheng is preparing some lectures and study groups on 1 Corinthians. Fr. Moretz and Fr. Bennett wish to resume some discussion and book groups, and Fr. Spencer is planning some prayer time via the internet.

As I have said, these are extraordinary times. This is not like the Wall Street Crash, and, indeed, the financial uncertainty and the economic impact globally is a result of a pandemic – we have all of this happening together. The Lord regularly encouraged his friends, his ‘little flock,’ and, in particular, told them not to worry. Worry is an exhausting thing and it is easy for me to say, “don’t worry” when your health, your livelihood, or your family is at risk. But when Jesus says not to worry – he simply wants us to put things in perspective. He knows that we will have trials and tribulations – he had them himself and that is why we can be encouraged. From John’s Gospel, ponder these words:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Let me share with you a beautiful poem that seems to have caused a stir, internationally. Written by an Irish Roman Catholic Franciscan Friar, Bro. Richard Hendrick OFM Cap. It relates very much, to me, with those words of Jesus.

My colleagues join me in sending you our fraternal love during this Lenten season,

Carl
your priest and pastor.

Lockdown

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

Back to top


Join the Virtual Coffee Hour at St. Thomas Church Zoom Meeting using the links and details below

Link to the Zoom Meeting:
https://zoom.us/j/685306126?pwd=b3N2ZzZDNkJXR1ZOS3RrdElYeWlCQT09

Meeting ID Number: 685 306 126
Password Number: 333333

Other ways to dial in using a phone:

One tap mobile
+16465588656,,685306126# US (New York)
+13126266799,,685306126# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US
+1 301 715 8592 US

Meeting ID: 685 306 126

Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/abjN51ZYLd

Back to top


A note from the Associate Priest for Pastoral Care

Dear friends,

Father Adam Spencer (Photo Credit: Sebastian Orr)

In these troubling, difficult and isolating times, please remember that your priests are here for you. You remain in our prayers and we are currently trying to reach out to as many of you as we can.

If you’d like to talk with one of us – our email addresses are available here. We are also currently in the process of setting up an “on-call pastoral care phone.” In the meantime, if you need a priest urgently, please call 646-569-6417 and leave a message including the best way to contact you.

Please call if you need to and do also reach out to your fellow Saint Thomas parishioners and share with us anyone who you feel could use some additional support.

To add names to the prayer list for regular Shrine Prayers, you may type them on the Prayer Requests page of our website.

We are here for you. You’re not alone.

Faithfully,
Father Spencer

Back to top


Children and Families’ Sunday Zoom Gathering

In place of our regular Nursery and Sunday School gathering, we are meeting via ZOOM this Sunday at 10:15am

If you know a child or family that would like to participate in this half hour gathering, before joining in the 11am Webcast of Mass and 12:30pm Virtual Coffee hour please contact Mother Turner on

Email Mother Turner for the required invitation codes.

As we discover new ways of being a church community during in this new chapter of our lives, we will be producing an additional weekly newsletter for families Be Faithful, Be Creative and Be Connected.

If you know a family who wishes to be added to the distribution list for children and families, please also contact Mother Turner.

Back to top