Hybrid Church-A Way Forward for Church Leaders, by The Rev. Tim Schenck, is an excellent resource for parishes to consider when discerning how we go forward from the pandemic.
The Tennessee Medical Reserve Corps takes both medical and non-medical volunteers to assist state-led efforts. You can go to that website to sign-up to volunteer.
– Hi, I’m Bishop Brian. And I’m back today with my board and my blue Sharpie with a few things that I want to share with you. March 12th, 2020 a year ago was when we decided to shut down in-person worship, in-person gathering in the Diocese of East Tennessee. Because we’d heard about this new thing called COVID and its impact in our communities and around the world. We’re now about to celebrate, celebrate maybe is the wrong word to mark, to acknowledge one year of living in this way.
A few things I want you to know as we continue to move forward as the people of God and the Diocese of East Tennessee. We’d encourage you in the parishes where you are and the counties where you are to begin to as much as you can to let your folks know about access to vaccine in your particular county. Access to vaccine in many ways, varies greatly from county to county. So as a parish, if you can find out with your folk, if they’ve been vaccinated. If they’ve had access to vaccine, if they need access to vaccine to find out what’s going on in the ground. Check in with your health department around access, around sites, let your folks know how to get vaccinated.
Second, please continue best practices. Even if you’re vaccinated, maybe many folks in your parishes are vaccinated, continue to wear your mask. Continue to be careful about washing of hands and how you gather. Numbers are going down. But we want to continue to do everything we can to crush this virus and to keep others safe as well as for us to be safe. Also shield the joyous. Many folks now have been vaccinated in parishes. But yet know that many of us still have not, in particular in the State of Tennessee clergy have not been prioritized in a vaccine rollout as they have in other states. So it might be in your particular parish, that some of the last people vaccinated might be your priest, might be your deacon. So just know that as we think about opening up and in gathering, just be protective and understanding of each other. So those who’ve been vaccinated. I’m excited about that for you, knowing many folks still wait. So shield the joyous, be aware of that reality for each other.
Also two things we want you to know about and we’re going to share links at the end of this video. It’s possible for you to volunteer with the Tennessee Medical Reserve Corps. If you want to help at a clinic, either if you have some medical training or if you’re just someone who could be helpful as a volunteer with nonmedical training. They need help with volunteers. So we’re going to share a link with how you can register to make yourself available to volunteer. Knowing that they might not be able to call on you but at least you will make yourself known that you’re willing to help and could help. This is a way for us as a diocese to bear burdens with each other, to help with community as we are trying to respond to COVID at this time.
And then finally, the Reverend Tim Schenck in Massachusetts has written a great paper on hybrid church. It’s a 17 page document that we’re going to share the link to. It’s on the Episcopal Church Foundation website. Tim is a good friend and has done a great job just with some good questions for parishes to consider as we go forward. Many of us have talked about, even as we go forward we will continue to need to Zoom and to live stream and to share worship online as well as in-person. So to talk about a hybrid church and how do we do that and how do we do that well? Tim has written again, a really good fine paper with some good questions. I would encourage you, both clergy and vestry and parish leadership to gather around and look at this paper. How might it inform your decisions as you go forward. Again, we have been a part of this now for a year there is much reason to be hopeful.
Also want you to know that with Grace Point and summer camp plans, we are making plans with the hope that we would be able to gather in some way for summer camp this summer. Along with our board, George Baddour from UT Medical Center is giving us some medical advice about how we go forward. So we’re going to be careful. We’re going to be thoughtful, but we hope that it would be feasible and responsible to have some sort of summer camp this summer. We know our kids are hungry to return to Grace Point and so many of us are. So please keep those plans and that work in your prayers. Thank you, thank you, thank you for who you all are as the people of God in East Tennessee. I can’t imagine doing this year without you. Without your support of your parish of your leadership of you leading and serving. It’s an honor to work and serve with you and to lead with you in this time. Thank you.