Parish Response to the COVID-19 Crisis
Ways to Help During the COVID-19 Crisis
Out of crisis comes need. As a nation, as a community, as a parish, as families and individuals we face a crisis. The invisible virus, COVID-19, threatens our health and wellbeing. We are encouraged to physically distance ourselves by staying home and by social distancing, staying at least six feet apart, to help prevent the spread of this virus and ensure our health. This is contrary to what we normally experience. We are social beings and thrive by interacting with one another.
We must look to each other and care for one another. We cannot allow ourselves to feel isolated. We cannot think of ourselves as the ones who have little worth. We have tools today that that the early Christians did not. We have telephones and computers to reach out to one another. We are able to travel distances quickly to provide for the needs of each other. So in this time of Great Lent, though we may be experiencing it differently, we must now follow the One who offered Himself for us and offer our time and talents for others. It is time to focus on works of charity and prayer.
Dear Faithful and Friends of Transfiguration Church,
The Parish Council and I have been discussing proper precautions for our parish in order to help keep everyone safe and healthy while continuing to provide spiritual care. Some of our discussions are influenced, as we have seen earlier, by directives and guidelines from the Archdiocese, and others stem from letters and guidance from Metropolitan Methodios. His letter sent yesterday stated:
In light of the continuing concern for this pandemic, and at the advice of medical experts including the World Health Organization and the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, I direct that all parishes in the Metropolis of Boston cancel services until further notice. The faithful stewards of our parishes should be encouraged to view our liturgical services on the internet and various multimedia sources.
Therefore, effective today, all liturgical services, meetings and events at the Transfiguration Church are cancelled until further notice. In case of a pastoral emergency or end of life care, please do not hesitate to contact me. While we will not necessarily be physically in the office, most office functions will continue. We have made arrangements that during office hours, calls will be forwarded to Tina, and she will be able to assist you. This action is not taken in fear, but in Christ’s love.
We understand that this action is unprecedented in our parish, but it is also unprecedented on a worldwide basis. Some have called the church a safe haven and desire to continue with services. The Assembly of Orthodox Bishops addresses this thought in their letter issued yesterday:
Therefore, responding to the rapid spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and as your Bishops and Spiritual Fathers, we must be very clear and emphatic about one thing: it is not a sin to refrain from church services or sacraments during this time of pandemic. There is no doubt that the Church is the Body of Christ. However, it is the same community both within the walls of the sanctuary and beyond. We have always preached and believed this; now is the proper time that we are also called to practice it.
It is important for us to remember that Orthodox tradition calls to mind the ‘kat oikon ecclesia’, the ‘church of the home’. Use your time with your family in your home to engage in the faith. Take time to read scripture and offer prayers as a group or by yourself. If you are comfortable using technology, watch live-streaming services online when they are offered or videos of services that have previously taken place on sites such as YouTube.
We will continue to reach out to our Transfiguration family in various ways, but each of us can expand the ‘church of the home’ by calling and checking in with one another. If you discover someone has a need, perhaps needing a medication, and you are unable to offer assistance, let us know (see contact information below) and we will do our best to help meet that need. This assistance is an expression of love for our neighbor.
Now one of the scribes had come up and heard their debate. Noticing how well Jesus had answered them, he asked Him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One Lord, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these. (Mk 12:29-31)
As we have stated before, we ask that you share this information with those who are not on the parish email list or who do not use email or check their email frequently. Please encourage others to join our email list.
In Christ’s love,
Fr. Tom Chininis
Fr. Tom Chininis
Parish Council President