St. Stephen's Church
November 13th and 14th Letters from Bishop Macholz and Bishop Rowe can be found below the zoom information.
Service Bulletin for Christ The King Sunday, Nov 22nd, Zoom Service and Radio Parking Lot Church at Bethany Lutheran Church on 91.9 FM. Information for zoom found below.
The link for Zoom Worship at Bethany Lutheran Church is below:
Bethany Lutheran Church is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Bethany Lutheran Church Worship
Time: Nov 15, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: 980 3217 0714
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Meeting ID: 980 3217 0714
A Letter from
November 13, 2020
Dear Siblings in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from the One who makes all things new, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
It’s been a while since I last sent a letter to you and thought that now might be a good time to pause and reflect on where we are as well as what we are doing. As you know, the pandemic has reared its ugly head once again only this time it appears to be stronger and more pervasive across this country. As I write this we are reaching all time highs in the number of cases daily as deaths continue to mount. Experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci suggests the worst is yet to come in the next six to eight weeks as we enter the holiday season, heavier travel realities and more people moving inside where the virus is more easily spread.
As of yesterday the U.S. had reported 10,642,218 COVID-19 infections and 243,044 deaths. The U.S. daily tally of coronavirus infections topped 140,000 on Wednesday, a new record and ninth consecutive day of 100,000-plus new cases.
In New York State Governor Cuomo has already begun taking actions announced on Monday. Restaurants must close by 10 pm while still allowing for take out. Gyms must close at the same time. Recent research suggests that those two entities create the greatest opportunity for the virus to expand its reach. Indoor gatherings are being limited to 10 people and zones have been set up to clarify where the virus is raging most effectively in New York State.
The following is a link to help understand where those zones are and the statistics involved with them.
The zones are colored and fluid. As increases and decreases take place colors change. There is indication that Erie County may move from Yellow to Orange which will further limit gatherings and realities. A move to Red will cause a shut down. Monroe County remains at yellow. You can find the other counties on the NY State website if interested. All of which is to say it appears that we are currently moving backward not forward in the major metropolitan areas of this state as well as some rural areas.
In light of the above it may be time to reassess where you stand in relation to worship and numbers and technology. I just received an email (2:25 pm on 11-12-2020) from the The Episcopal Dioceses of Western New York & Northwestern Pennsylvania indicating that worship in all congregations will be moving to virtual effective immediately.
So, what to do? First, pay careful attention to the reports and numbers, they drive where we are and where we are headed. Second, take a serious look at how you are worshipping and consider whether or not you need to move back to virtual worship. My strong belief is that it would be a prudent move at this moment in time until this abates a bit.
As this pandemic began so it continues, different people in different places will answer this question differently. But, in all things, err on the side of caution and safety. Follow the protocols in place: Wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance and be kind to one another recognizing this is not about ‘me’ rather it’s about ‘us’. We’ve been there before and as much as we don’t want to go back we know how to do what needs to be done. I’d much rather be heading in the positive direction yet also know that the majority of our communities are in the high-risk range for this virus and we need to care for them.
Unlike the first time around the older population may not be the largest target audience for this virus. The largest group at the moment is young people, floating around the age of college students. Fortunately, science and medicine have learned from the past months and fewer people are dying and the length of hospital stays is decreasing. That’s the good news, the challenge is avoiding that possibility all together and in the process making certain that we don’t overwhelm our medical systems.
I know that this is not the space you want to be in yet also know that you are called to this time and this space to offer leadership and direction. Have the conversations, look at the facts, watch the data, it’s what’s driving much if not most of life these days.
And, be safe, compassionate, caring and careful. Wear masks, socially distance wherever you find yourself and especially in worship if you continue in that direction, take deep breaths. We are in this together and we will get through it, that I promise.
There is much hope on the horizon regarding vaccines which seem to be showing great results thus far. Unfortunately, those vaccines appear to be months away for most of us. And, we’ve made it this far together. The One how has called us is faithful and accompanies us on this journey; of that I’m certain. If I can be of any assistance in these days please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me.
One more thing. I will be moving back to a monthly Zoom Meeting with rostered leaders in early December to gather us, share in conversation and ask and answer questions that might exist. You will find that information next week on the synod web site. I will also be gathering lay leadership once a month moving forward in the hope that it might be of benefit to gather for conversation. In the meantime, may our God keep you and hold you with compassion, peace love.
In Hope and Expectation,
John S. Macholz, Bishop
Bishop Sean Rowe
In-Person Worship and Gatherings Suspended
Dear People of God in Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania,
Earlier this week, we heard encouraging news about a COVID-19 vaccine that could begin to be available early next year in limited quantities. I give thanks for this source of hope, especially as the virus is now spreading at an unprecedented rate across our region.
Although we hope that 2021 will bring some relief, public health experts and epidemiologists warn that between now and then, cold weather and ill-advised holiday gatherings make it likely that this current surge of infection will not peak until January. For those reasons, I am once again suspending in-person worship, meetings and other gatherings in our church buildings effective immediately. We will reevaluate the situation in December, although I believe that we should prepare to worship, meet, and gather online through the end of 2020. The only exceptions to this suspension are lifesaving feeding and sobriety ministries, which should be conducted according to the guidelines in the diocesan reopening plan.
I reached this decision after consultation with the Standing Committees and other diocesan leaders yesterday, and this morning, I met with the clergy of the diocese to discuss this situation with them and review the data and public health advice that led me to this conclusion.
It pains me deeply to take this step, knowing that it may keep us from observing Advent and celebrating Christmas in person. This is certainly not the way I had hoped to begin the new liturgical year. But, as precious as in-person worship is to us, the lives of people in our congregations and communities are infinitely more so.
While in-person worship is suspended, I will resume hosting live online worship via Zoom each Sunday at 10 a.m. This Sunday, November 15, I will preach and preside, and we will enjoy music from the Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie. You can join this service using this Zoom link and the password lakeerie.
I encourage you to continue gathering online for Bible study, check-ins and the many creative types of gatherings that people across our partnership have developed during this long pandemic. And I urge you, too, to be generous to those who are in need, especially essential workers and their families who may need our support and assistance.
I will be in touch again in December as we continue evaluating the changing public health situation across our region. In the meantime, you will be in my prayers as you help our church navigate these difficult times.
Bishop Sean Rowe
What we believe
We Episcopalians believe in a loving, liberating, and life-giving God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As constituent members of the Anglican Communion in the United States, we are descendants of and partners with the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church, and are part of the third largest group of Christians in the world.
We believe in following the teachings of Jesus Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection saved the world.
We have a legacy of inclusion, aspiring to tell and exemplify God’s love for every human being; women and men serve as bishops, priests, and deacons in our church. Laypeople and clergy cooperate as leaders at all levels of our church. Leadership is a gift from God, and can be expressed by all people in our church, regardless of sexual identity or orientation.
We believe that God loves you – no exceptions.
The Jesus Movement:
What is the Jesus Movement?
The Jesus Movement is the ongoing community of people who center their lives on Jesus and following him into loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, each other and creation.
Together, we follow Jesus as we love God with our whole heart, soul and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40), and restore each other and all of creation to unity with God in Christ (BCP, p. 855).
Jesus launched this movement when he welcomed the first disciples to follow his loving, liberating, life-giving Way. Today, we participate in his movement with our whole lives: our prayer, worship, teaching, preaching, gathering, healing, action, family, work, play and rest.
In all things, we seek to be loving, liberating and life-giving—just like the God who formed all things in love; liberates us all from prisons of mind, body and spirit; and gives life so we can participate in the resurrection and healing of God’s world.
TRY THIS: Begin your day by asking: How could my words, actions and heart reflect the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus? Ask God to help you, especially at decision points.
At day’s end, with genuine curiosity and zero judgment, ask: When did I see myself or others being loving, liberating or life-giving today? Where do I wish I’d seen or practiced Jesus’ Way?
God is love, and God’s very being is a trinity of loving relationship: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Christ, God invites us to share that love; wherever there is pain or alienation, God longs to knit all people and creation back into wholeness and relationship.
As the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, and followers of Jesus’ Way, we seek to live like him. We’re serious about moving out to grow loving, liberating, life-giving relationships with God (evangelism); to grow those relationships with each other (reconciliation); and to grow those relationships with all of creation (creation care).
TRY THIS: Look around and notice wherever you see people nurturing relationship 1) with God, 2) with each other and 3) with creation. What’s happening? What’s helping people to heal and live in sync with God, with each other and with the earth? What are the fruits of these relationships?
The Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
"Being a Christian is not essentially about joining a church or being a nice person, but about following in the footsteps of Jesus, taking his teachings seriously, letting his Spirit take the lead in our lives, and in so doing helping to change the world from our nightmare into God’s dream.” ― Michael Curry, Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus
The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry is Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. He is the Chief Pastor and serves as President and Chief Executive Officer, and as Chair of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church.
Presiding Bishop Curry was installed as the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church on November 1, 2015. He was elected to a nine-year term and confirmed at the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, UT, on June 27, 2015.
"If it's not about love,
it's not about God."
SUSPENDING IN-PERSON WORSHIP: A LETTER FROM BISHOP SEAN
MARCH 12, 2020
Dear People of God:
Today, I write with regret to tell you that I am suspending Sunday worship effectively Sunday, March 15. The COVID-19 epidemic is spreading so quickly that I cannot in good conscience permit gatherings that could easily hasten the spread of the disease and contribute to the collapse of our health care system.
I reached this decision after consultation with the Standing Committees, and it is based on the best public health advice available to me. My only concerns are the safety of the people of our dioceses and the welfare of the communities in which we live and work. As Christians, we are obligated to care for our neighbors and the vulnerable among us, and in the circumstances now before us, we can best do that by helping to slow the spread of the virus.
Doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 will require willingness to make sacrifices and to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. I urged our congregations to explore online worship through the helpful guidelines on the partnership website. I am aware, however, that it may take some time for many of our congregations to begin offering worship in this way.
When we embarked on this experiment for the sake of the gospel, we knew that the road ahead of us would be rocky at times. This is a challenge we did not foresee, yet I am confident that we can confront it with the same courage, the same resilience, and the same deep faith in a loving God that has marked our collaboration from the outset.
As we continue finding new ways to meet this challenge, I ask you to join me in praying for the people of our partnership, for the most vulnerable members of our congregations and communities, and for the health care workers on whom we all depend.
For Pastoral emergencies, questions or concerns please feel free to contact Pastor Kim Rossi at 585-993-0322 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Stephens Church
109 South Barry St.
Olean, NY 14760
Web Site – www.ststephensolean.net
We are here to be Christ in the world.
Seasons Every Song