New Seminarian, Shrinemont Parish Retreat, and Potential Phased Re-Opening

Dear Beloved Pohickians:

I am happy to announce that we will again welcome a Virginia Theological (VTS) seminarian this Fall at Pohick: Adam Lees, from Anchorage Alaska. I have attached his biographical information for you to read. Adam will join us in September.

Meanwhile, as you read in Bishop Susan Goff’s recent diocesan correspondence, Roslyn Diocesan Conference Center has ceased operations until at least January 2021. In her conference call with clergy this week, Bishop Susan indicated that many conference centers nationwide have had to do so because of lack of income supporting operations. Roslyn hopes to re-open in January 2021. She remarked that Roslyn’s decision could be a model for other diocesan organizations making the same kinds of decisions.

As of now, the Shrinemont Conference Center is open in June. That said, the Shrinemont board will meet soon to determine its longterm plans. Meanwhile, I have concurred with Neil Sunderland’s recommendation that we cancel our annual parish retreat in June 2020. I asked Neil to go ahead and book us for our parish retreat in June 2021. (In normal years, we have everyone signed up and paid for Shrinemont by May, but this year we postponed registration due to the pandemic, and the compromised safety of large group gatherings that soon.)

As Bp. Susan told the clergy Tuesday, the majority of Virginia Episcopalians are over 55 years old, and 91% of all COVID deaths are 55+. Moreover, a recent Johns Hopkins study stated that worship gatherings and choir practices are “super spreaders” of COVID 19. We certainly would not want to expose the majority of our own parishioners to infection, and we also want to continue to protect other vulnerable people in the public at large. Therefore, once we do begin to phase in a re-opening of churches, it will happen slowly and in phases.

The Diocese of Virginia will follow the Virginia governor’s lead: once the state has experienced 14 consecutive days of decline in the number of new COVID cases, parishes can begin to implement this “phasing in” of re-opening its churches. (The downward trend in number of cases has not yet begun in Virginia.) Meanwhile, the Diocese is developing guidelines for each congregation to use in creating their own individual Phased Process for Reopening. Once we receive those Diocesan guidelines, we will assemble a committee to develop a phased plan for Pohick.

All of us long to return to our “new normal,” but most of us agree that we need to proceed carefully. Please continue to pray for one another; reach out in love to one another by email, phone, or Zoom; and worship together on FB Live! We have been adapting to a new way of being a community of love!

Thank you for your generous contributions of food for the LCAC Food Pantry – another record setting day! Soon, Edwardene will be announcing an exciting new way for us to reach out to those who are suffering in our area. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, thank you for continuing to send in your pledges, or contributions you would have made on Sundays! You may also read John Pasour’s suggestions for electronic giving, in May’s Pohick Post later this week. To inspire you, please enjoy the photo below, taken at last Saturday’s Food Drive. The team decided to take up “two kinds” of donations!