If we are to be the bearers of the light of the Gospel, says Mother Debra in today’s sermon, we must be willing to do the work. “We are between two diseases—COVID-19 and systemic racism—and each can lead to death if the proper steps are not taken. But God’s dream does not end in death, but in loving, liberating life.”
During the month of June, Just Mercy, a 2019 film about civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, is available to stream for free on many online platforms through the end of June. Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a nonprofit organization focused on criminal justice, prison reform and racial justice. Find links to watch Just Mercy for free on the film’s website.
As part of Church of Our Saviour’s commitment to dismantle systemic racism and understand the legacy of slavery and white supremacy, we will have a special evening Zoom conversation about Just Mercy and the issues it on Tuesday, July 7 at 8 p.m., followed by compline.
The film tells the story of Bryan Stevenson, who was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit law office in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to defending people who are poor, incarcerated, and wrongly condemned. One of his first clients was Walter McMillian, a black man on death row for the murder of a white woman that he did not commit. “The case exemplifies how the death penalty in America is a direct descendant of lynching — a system that treats the rich and guilty better than the poor and innocent,” says the EJI website.
In her Easter message, Mother Debra says that when we ask, “Where is God in the midst of all of this?” the resurrection is our answer. God is with us in the middle of it. “We are a resurrection people and God is with us,” she says.
On Saturday, April 3, our videoconferencing platform, Zoom, rolled out multiple security updates. This is good! But as a result, we need to change the way we log in for online church. Please use the links and passcodes available here for Holy Week and Easter worship, not the ones we have been using for the last several weeks. As always, if you have trouble, please text Rebecca Wilson at 330-524-2067.
Find all of the logins and passwords in this week’s email newsletter.
Yesterday, the vestry and I made the difficult decision to suspend in-person worship and other programs, except Dinner on Us and Muffin Mondays, until at least the end of March. This was a difficult decision, but we believe it is our obligation as people of God to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and to protect the most vulnerable people in our community.
While we are not able to be together in person, we will:
Worship together online on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. beginning tomorrow, March 15. Find the order of service for March 15 online.
Gather online on Tuesdays at 6 p.m., beginning March 17, for a time to check in.
Continue our Lenten discussion on justice on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m.
You can join any of these online events in these ways:
Click on this link to join the service or conversation by video from your computer or phone: https://zoom.us/j/7057810007
If you need to join only with a phone call and not on video, please dial 646-558-8656 and use the code 705 781 0007# when prompted.
If you have any difficulties or are not able to use video or make a long-distance phone call, please text Rebecca Wilson at 330-524-2067 and she will help you get connected.
Because we want to continue to care for those in need during this difficult time, we will host Dinner on Us on Wednesdays, March 18 and 25, by distributing to-go meals. Likewise, we will host Muffin Mondays and grocery distribution on Monday, March 30.
I will be at the church Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during this time and will be glad to meet, using appropriate social distancing practices with anyone who is in need of prayer, companionship, or support during this difficult time.
I know that many of you will want to know what to do to help during these difficult times. Here are some possibilities:
If you would like to bake muffins for distribution on Muffin Monday, please bake them wearing food preparation gloves, hair nets, and a mask and package them in sealed plastic bags. Please email Anne Schwan for more details.
If you are not in a high-risk category for COVID-19 and feel comfortable assisting in preparing and distributing Dinner on Us meals, please email Anne Schwan.
If you need to remain at home but are able to make phone calls, we would welcome help staying in touch with members of our congregation who might not be able to connect with us online. Please email me for more details and call assignments.
Please continue to pray for those who have been sickened by this virus, those who are treating the sick, and those who are in the process of developing a possible vaccine.
I will be in touch frequently during this time. Please watch your email and the Facebook page for updates. Remember even in this time Christ is with us. Be not afraid. I hope to see you online tomorrow morning.
Yours in Christ,
Palm Sunday: April 5, 10:30 am
Liturgy of the Palms and Eucharist with dramatic reading of the Passion Narrative and music
Tuesday of Holy Week: April 7, 6:00 pm
Holy Eucharist with Healing service
Wednesday of Holy Week: April 8, 7:00 p.m.
Service of Tenebrae
Maundy Thursday: April 9
6:00 p.m. Agape meal
7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Maundy Thursday Eucharist/Foot Washing/Stripping of the Altar
9:00 p.m. – 11:30 a.m. Friday Vigil Watch at the Altar of Repose
Good Friday: April 10
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Reconciliation of the Penitent
Noon: Community Stations of the Cross
7 p.m. – Good Friday Liturgy
Holy Saturday: April 11
8:00 p.m. Great Vigil of Easter
Easter Sunday: April 12
10:30 a.m. Mass of the Resurrection
Beginning on March 4 and continuing on Wednesday evenings during Lent from 7-8 p.m., join Mother Debra for a discussion on justice using the life and work of Ida B. Wells as a guide.
Ida B. Wells was an African American, investigative reporter, educator, daughter of God, and activist and crusader for justice. Born in 1862 just a few years before the Civil War, her various life experiences because of her race set her on the path to achieve justice and equality for those for whom it was denied. Her quest is presented in Passionate for Justice: Ida B. Wells As Prophet for Our Time by Catherine Meeks & Nibs Stroupe. It is not necessary to read the book to participate in the discussion.“As Lent is a time that can capture our attention with its themes of reconciliation and forgiveness, self-examination and repentance, it is also a perfect backdrop to reflect on justice as Micah, Amos, Mary, Jesus and Ida understood it,” Mother Debra writes. “And then through discussions using the insights explicated in Passionate for Justice as a guide, how we might respond to the call for justice as prophets in our time. If you are passionate about justice, please consider sharing your passion and joining us for this 5-week discussion.”
Again this year, Church of Our Saviour will participate in the annual “Souper” Bowl of Caring leading up to the big football game on Sunday, February 2. This ingathering of soup cans takes place around the country to remind us of the needs of others on a day that is more typically known for overconsumption.
If you can spare a few cans of soup, please bring them to the church in January or on February 2. Through the Friendly Pantry, we will share them with our neighbors during the cold winter months. Hearty soups are particularly welcome.
Mother Debra extends a special Christmas invitation to our friends in the LGBTQ community and to all those who have felt unwelcome during their faith journeys. There is a place for everyone in our community as we celebrate the light and love of Christ. Join us on Christmas Eve at 4 pm and 11 pm; find details at episcopalakron.org.
On December 24, Church of Our Saviour will hold a family service with the Christmas pageant at 4 p.m. and a traditional Christmas Eve service at 11 pm. Come early to sing carols at 10:30 p.m.!
On Christmas Day, Christmas Eucharist will take place at 9 a.m.