Monday, July 27, 2009

Ask the Rector #1: Swine Flu Correspondence

This is a correspondence I had with a parishioner. She gave me permission to share it on the Blog. I thought some of you might be thinking about this subject.

Dear Susan,
I saw this recommendation from the Church of England today. Is it something you would consider in the future? By the way, a relative had swine flu two weeks ago.
Love, C.

Dear C.,

Interesting article. I'm so sorry to hear about your relative although I have a feeling it will serve him well during the winter when I expect the flu to get worse. I have been talking about this very subject with the vestry -- the swine flu has been in the public schools and we have had at least one confirmed case in the parish that I know of.

My inclination right now is that until things are worse (so far the cases in the county have been mild) we will keep things the same. If it gets worse, I will remind the congregation about the option of intinction and suggest that it would be preferable given the swine flu threat. The third option (were things to become quite grim) would be to intict the bread for the people.

Some problems happen for me theologically with denying the people the wine altogether and also with the common cup. Before the Reformation the Roman Catholic Church only served wine to priests and only gave people the bread. That was one of Martin Luther's primary criticisms of the church and I, for one, would be loathe to undo the reforms of 500 years ago.

The second concern that I have is around the common cup. In the 1980s during the worst of the AIDS epidemmic, a bishop was visiting Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. A helpful person explained to him that the priest was no longer consuming the wine at the end of communion out of fear of contracting the disease (you will recall that at that time we had no idea how the disease was spread and no treatment once it was contracted). He replied that he had always finished the cup and would continue to. The power of that gesture has been a lifelong symbol to me about the fact that our fates are tied to each other. The cup is common becuase our lives are common -- your pain is mine and mine is yours.

That said, I have every intention of stepping up hygeine around the altar. Asking that Purell be readily available in the narthex and in the transcepts for the acolytes as well as for me right before administering communion because it couldn't hurt. I also have spoken with the vestry about going to a modified peace and encouraging an acknowlegement of one another that doesn't necessarily include hugs, kisses, and handshakes.

Thanks for sharing this article with me. It's not the first time that the Archbishop of Canterbury and I have seen things differently and I don't suspect it will be the last.Do you mind if I post this on the blog? I think people maybe wondering about this very question but not know how to ask. Hope you are all having a refreshing summer. Blessings,Susan

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Upcoming Events

The annual trip to see the Montclair Jackals will be on August 9. We will leave the church at 1 p.m. for the two o'clock game. Tickets are $8 and it's guaranteed to be a fun time. Sign-up in teh Narthex so we will be sure to have enough tickets (together).

Monday, July 20, 2009

General Convention

I just got back from Anaheim, CA on Saturday from ten days at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

Southern California is gorgeous with perfect weather every day and lots to offer in terms of restaurants and activities.

The Convention itself was rather uneventful at least compared with previous ones. With the absence of some key conservative bishops -- they have largely left to join churches in other parts of the world -- the "new" Episcopal church is left a very happy and surprisingly liberal church.

Last GC there was controversy over a resolution passed on the last day to refrain from consecrating new, openly gay bishops. This year, a resolution affirming equal access to the episcopacy for all people passed by over 70 percent.

Other highlights included settling a disputed election for a bishop in Equador and approving a new plan for the Episcopal Church Pension Fund to create a health care plan for all clergy and lay employees. This health care plan would wind up saving churches money (as we have seen health care costs go up ten percent a year for the last eight years) while providing better care.

We can be proud of our diocese for leading the way in anti-racism work. One of the interesting things that was highlighted at the Convention was the work of New York, Maryland, Mississippi, and North Carolina are doing to talk about the legacy of slavery and how churches condoned and benefitted from its practices.

More later!