Dearest ECOT Parish Family and many friends,
These past 11 weeks (since Eagle County’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, identified in retrospect) have been unprecedented. It took our staff and leaders about 8 days to pivot from once normative in-person ministry to remote, electronic communication on all fronts. We quickly adapted to an entirely new vocabulary, weekly schedule, technical ability, and pastoral rhythm encompassing liturgy, teaching and personal contact. We remain both amazed and humbled by the nimble, competent and utterly faithful ability of our staff and leadership team to produce so much quality content so rapidly as Holy Week and Easter Day bore down upon us, and by the same qualities you displayed in your warm support of our worship, teaching and electronic gatherings. And we thank Almighty God for His divine protection of our parish family; to date we tally 9 cases of confirmed or suspected contagion impacting ECOT folks, all of which have safely recovered.
As the end of Eastertide approaches and the daily reports of cancelled or re-scheduled beloved summer activities mount, it’s time to share our leadership vision as best we can discern it. We have been inundated with information, reports, projections, and intensive review of all relevant governmental, medical and ecclesiastical (church) orders. While we appreciate all viewpoints from all sources, those few voices exercising appropriate jurisdictional, civil and church authority over our church provide prevailing clarity guiding our deliberations. When these voices are combined together, our discretionary latitude narrows considerably! We include summary links to these sources below so you may review the same source information. And we are happy to provide clarification or have further conversation about our vision outlined below:
- We remain in compliance with the Public Health Orders published by Governor Polis and Eagle County Public Health Director Heath Harmon. Please find the Governor’s current Order here and Director Harmon’s current Order here and a summary here. While other local congregations press the argument that churches and houses of worship should be considered “essential services” and therefore exempt from the restrictions included in these orders, the national Episcopal Church and our Episcopal Church in Colorado disagree. When members of ECOT serve under Salvation Army or other local caring organizations, we fall under their definitions.
- Bishop Kym Lucas and her staff have adopted a blueprint for ministry in Colorado going forward for the next 12 to 18 months. Please find the explanatory slides here and Bishop Lucas’ summary letter to clergy here. These key points prevail for us:
- Safety and protection of all of us, especially our most vulnerable members, is the guiding axiom to this blueprint and Bishop Lucas’ decisions affecting us.
- Our current Season 1, the time we have been in since the beginning of contagion, extends to May 31st for the entire state. Moving from this current profile depends upon the local health situation and is not scheduled on a predictable chronological basis.
- Any change to the following season (church does seasons not phases or color-coded ski metaphors!) will lag some 14 days behind governmental revisions to current Public Orders so we can evaluate the results on the ground before making our own changes.
- Season 2 allows for some discretion to gather in person but always under the stricture of current Public Orders. Season 2 also requires continued video or livestream options for worship participation, as well as continuance of Morning Prayer.
- The Interfaith Chapels remain closed at this point. The various Chapel Boards will have to make decisions regarding when and how to re-open for in-person worship, but will have to adhere to the current Social Distancing Business protocols which will require significant budgetary and logistical adjustments to insure proper enhanced sanitation and distancing requirements are satisfied.
- Given our congregational profile we feel it unfair and unworkable to open in-person worship for only 10 worshippers so we will wait to re-convene in person until that allowable number rises and the interfaith chapels successfully enact all safety requirements. To our surprise our weekly worship and teaching attendance has risen in this video environment so we plan to continue offering worship and teaching until we can safely transition to a reliable weekly in-person format. We do not know today what date that will be. We pledge to do as much as we can as quickly as we can as safely as we can.
- We are conducting very small pastoral services in close consultation with the Bishop’s Office, who is using our out-of-doors weddings as a blueprint for other congregations. We are exploring small burial and memorial arrangements for later in the summer as this option becomes available. If and when we can expand these services we will alert you.
- Our staff continues to be available to you at any time for any communication! We want very much to hear from you, and ask you to check in with us by phone, text or email. We are especially concerned with everyone’s mental, spiritual and emotional health in this trying time, and have resources to share for love, support, encouragement and direction.
We continue to stand upon the cornerstone which Jesus provides so strongly for His followers, a foundation not shaken by any force in this world. The Peace of the Lord which surpasses any human understanding be always with you our dear Transfiguration Parish Family!
Sincerely in Christ,
The Reverend Brooks Keith The Reverend Emily Lukanich
Rector and Senior Pastor Vicar