March 24, 2021

Dear Ones,

Though our 2021 Lenten journey continues apace with repentance, prayer, and good works, I hope that you will join me in some other good news, because I have several pieces to share.

First, I want to commend you for your fortitude and resilience over the course of this pandemic. This last year has been a challenge. Nevertheless, you have met this challenge with grace, patience, good cheer, and love.

Though we are not out of the woods yet, our local COVID metrics are getting better by the day! With each new fully-vaccinated adult, we get closer to a full-reopening. Knowing that some in our community cannot or will not yet be vaccinated, we will continue to be vigilant with our health protocols. Online services and other offerings will continue. Also, until we reach herd immunity and our community outbreak risk is low, we will continue to wear masks inside all buildings at Christ Church, even for those who have already been immunized. This is a gesture of love. However, many exciting changes are on the horizon!

Perhaps the most exciting piece of news is that we will return to the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club for our Easter Sunrise Service on the Beach. The only request from the Club is that we all continue to wear our masks and forgo coffee service. So, bring your own thermos, lawn chairs and blankets; the service will start at 6:45 a.m. I look forward to celebrating with you on the beach this year!

Apart from Easter Morning, those coming home for in-person worship will find other changes to Sunday mornings. Look for more detail about these changes in further emails. I want to highlight, though, that these enhancements include:

  • Expanded seating in each worship space.
  • Expanded ministry opportunities in our worship services.
  • The reopening of Westbury Hall for continental breakfast, though with limited seating.
  • An augmented choir for both the 9:00 and 11:15 traditional services.

Other programs and opportunities will also continue to expand or return soon. One new opportunity I want to highlight is a book study that will start in April. Remembering that we are a diverse community of faith gathering to worship and learn, staff members Catherine Montgomery and Landon Leiker will lead a study of Kathy Baldock’s Walking the Bridgeless Canyon. Baldock, a conservative, evangelical Christian, developed a new friendship with a gay woman and began to question what she thought she knew about Christianity and the LGBT community. The book is a comprehensive treatment of the topic, covering the Biblical, historical, cultural, and experiential dimensions of LGBT Christians.

I realize this topic might be difficult for some of us, but I commend it to you. We are called to follow Jesus to the cross in imitation of unconditional love. This book study will provide an important opportunity to learn how to better love our fellow parishioners and our community. Please reach out to Catherine, Landon, or to me, or to any of the other clergy if you have any questions or concerns. As always, my door is always open to you for loving conversation.

These are just some of the plans we are working on. Remember, the greater the number of people who get vaccinated, the more we can get back to our mission in person. I’m extraordinarily grateful to have received my first shot and will get my second soon. Talk to your physician for the latest news on the Covid vaccines. If you need help scheduling a vaccine injection – call the office, we will help connect you with a volunteer who can assist you in navigating appointment websites!

For my part, I am filled with hope for the coming Easter and beyond!

Every blessing,

Fr. Tom+