by Kathie Stevenson
During these days all of us in Niagara Diocese have been challenged to continue our ministries. We have no choice as our church families rely on us “to be there”. In this time of non-gathering St. Simons (Oakville) is thriving — virtually.
Rev. Brian Galligan prepares a weekly pastoral letter, returns pastoral calls, offers prayer and support to those in need, responds to emails, and prays daily for the people of St. Simon’s. He delivers a weekly Wednesday morning prayer service, which he and his wife, Karen, record for airing on YouTube. The Prayers of the People are composed by a member of the intercessors group
We are blessed to be living in this electronic age when communicating with one another is so easy. It’s noteworthy that attendance for the Wednesday morning services has jumped from the 10–14 people in person to 80 or more now attending the virtual service
Our Christian Education Cluster continues its weekly meditation group meetings using video-conferencing, and keeps parishioners nourished with spiritual resources, links to inspirational music, and a weekly bible quiz.
The church sanctuary has been maintained by the Altar Guild who have dutifully changed the liturgical hangings from purple to red, to a stripped altar, to white. (This matters, as Father Brian records his Wednesday services from the Sanctuary, making us feel “at home”). These dedicated people have even laundered the chalice bearers’ and servers’ albs.
As all church buildings are closed Father Brian and our wardens are on a rotating schedule to check the building daily, looking after the mail, watering the plants, and making sure the utilities are working properly. There are a number of parishioners who are willing to step in and help when needed.
Our communications chair has had been doing yeoman’s duties during this time. In late March we developed a communications plan to ensure we were doing everything possible to keep connected with parishioners, especially those who are shut-ins. He’s been sending out parish email blasts, posting services to our Facebook and YouTube sites, updating our web site and video-conferencing with the corporation to plan our communications for the upcoming week.
Normally, there are many groups who use our facility on a weekly basis, (some on a daily basis) that are now without a place to meet. There are ongoing programs in the community with which our parishioners are involved — a school daily breakfast program, the Tuesday fresh foods distribution program, the Wednesday morning English program held in conjunction with the Oakville Chinese community, 12 step programs, and community music programs. May God bless and keep them all well.
The absence of all of these activities now leaves our building empty of people however the church is still operating in, for, and by the people of God in different ways. Living in the present electronic age, we can still be in touch visually through so many different apps. And we always have the best medicine to get us through any crisis: PRAYER.
Kudos to all who are finding new and innovative ways of continuing the work of the church in these unprecedented times.
As we uphold all those from whom we are now separated, we look forward to the day when we can gather again, offer the Peace of Christ to one another, celebrate the Eucharist together, and raise our voices as one in praise and thanks to God for all that we have learned from this time of trial.
“Our building may be closed but our hearts remain open.“