Dear Cathedral Family and Friends,
As our COVID summer continues, we are all growing weary of restrictions on our activities and interactions with others. It is particularly hard being separated from family and friends and from gatherings that have given our lives meaning. Our ongoing separation from each other in the Cathedral Family has been a hardship, and I know that many of you are more than ready to gather together again for worship. While we are blessed to be able to live-stream our worship and to connect with each other by Zoom, phone, and text, these are no substitute for our presence together as the gathered Body of Christ.
After our bishop ended his suspension of in-person gathering in Mobile last week, your Vestry met on Sunday to assess our situation and to make their decision, together with me, about how we will proceed with returning to our buildings for worship. Many fine, thoughtful, careful, and prayerful individuals serve you on this Vestry, and they discussed all of the relative risks and rewards at length. They are aware that some parishes in Mobile have returned to in-person worship. In the end, their unanimous decision was to continue our Sunday worship in streaming format only until the first of August, when they will meet again; if conditions are favorable, we hope to return to worship then. Their decision was informed by a few significant factors, which I would like to share with you.
1. While testing has improved and deaths are down, new cases continue to grow by community spread here in Mobile. We have not come close to the 14 days of decline specified by guidelines for returning to worship. One of the situations most conducive to spread is a gathering of people inside a space for a significant duration of time. Many of our members are in vulnerable populations. We value the life and wellbeing of every member too much to take undue risk.
2. During July, I will be taking some of my annual vacation time, in addition to spending one week at Kanuga for the completion of the Shalem Clergy Leadership program I began last summer. Organist and choirmaster Christopher Powell will also be taking his vacation time. We will record worship to be streamed each Sunday while we are away.
3. We are working to increase the number of online and smaller group opportunities available to help us stay connected and keep growing in our spiritual lives. The Children and Youth Team has several things in the works, and the Baptized For Life team will be working on offerings to begin this summer. Carl Cunningham, Jr. continues to lead his book group, and some other groups may begin meeting as well.
July and August tend to be our lowest times of attendance at Christ Church. In this newsletter, you will find some interesting gleanings from the parish yearbooks of the 1880s; these reveal some summer patterns you may find interesting. Also, our friend Tom McGehee has graciously given us permission to reproduce his article on pandemics in Mobile. Putting our experience in historical context is always beneficial. We have joined the line of generations of Mobilians whose summers have been shaped by epidemics.
I continue to miss being with you, and you continue in my prayers daily as we navigate this season of life together. Let us not grow too weary or impatient to do what is right and good for the care of each other and all our neighbors and for the continuing growth of our life together in the Spirit.