Pastoral Letter – October

1. Pastoral letter

Greetings from the French Church du Saint Esprit!

I’m writing to you at the end of September with several items of good news – very welcome as we try to navigate our way through what we hope is the beginning of the end of the pandemic!

When all of this began over eighteen months ago, our first priorities were to keep the church members safe, and to continue worship in our sanctuary as best we could. We started to live-stream morning and evening prayers every day, and our regular communion services and study groups and French lessons continued on-line. Over this period, we have discovered not only new ways to be together, but also a new group of people from all over our City and all over the world who have participated in our parish life in surprising numbers. A church that was proud of its in-person ministry of hospitality became a church that can be proud of its common life of prayer and worship that is able to use the gift of those new technologies.

We want to make sure that these two aspects of our life together will continue into the future. Thanks to generous gifts and a grant from St. Thomas’ Church, we are able to maintain the standard of our on-line services in a way that will not intrude physically on the experience of those who will soon join us in person for our Sunday services. And this is the second part of our good news. Beginning on October 10th, you will be able to register to attend our Sunday services in person. The services will be sung communion services, and given the small size of the sanctuary of St. Esprit, the Rector, Staff and Vestry have made some important decisions intended both to comply with City ordinances and to keep everyone comfortable and safe. Registration will be on-line through our church website. The numbers will be restricted to a safe occupancy, and those who attend in person will have to wear masks and show proof of vaccination. Because of these requirements, it won’t be possible for people to simply turn up on any given Sunday and hope to be admitted. We want to make sure that everyone who wishes to will get a chance to attend, given the temporary conditions we have had to put in place to be safely physically present in the church.

We also want to make sure that those who don’t yet feel comfortable meeting in person again, or those who would find it impossible to comply with the mask and vaccination requirements continue to know that they are vital and valued members of our little church. The online services and study groups will continue. Indeed, the study groups have proved extremely popular online, and will continue in that form for the time being.

All of us wish that we could return more rapidly to the way things used to be. The steps we’ve taken together are stepping-stones towards that full return. As your wardens have mentioned, our survival as a church through this time wouldn’t have been possible without a wonderful lay leadership, a devoted staff who have given so much, and most of all, you: the faithful people of St. Esprit. We have lost much. And when we come together we will mark those losses with respect and love. But we’ve gained much too. Your cards, messages of support and financial contributions have ensured that we will be able to tell this story to generations of francophone worshipers in New York who are still to come.  Thank you to each and every one of you. And I look forward to seeing you back in the sanctuary of St. Esprit before too long so that we can celebrate together in true St. Esprit style!

Until then, blessings, health and peace,

Nigel 

2. A word from our Wardens, Lynnaia Main and Philip Orawski

It has been our solemn responsibility, and our joy, to serve as your Wardens during this tricky and difficult time of pandemic lockdown, upheaval, transition and reopening. It has been challenging for us all – yet we have been heartened and our faith has deepened in witnessing the many ways that you, our beloved Saint Esprit members, have cared for each other throughout this time. It has meant sacrifice, and personal risk, for our Rector Nigel and wonderful liturgical team (Fred, Cynthia, Aya, Joris and Wendy) who saw us through our lockdown. For others, it has meant faithfulness and patience in the midst of estrangement and isolation, holding on to our faith, and being faithful to our church, at a time when we could neither access our church physically, nor be together in community to do all we do together as church.

Months after the miracle of vaccines, we are finally able to continue reopening Saint Esprit, this time, for Sunday worship! Although in a limited capacity and with a few rules attached. But we are so happy! And we want to assure you that we – your Rector, Vestry and Staff – have been and will remain as ultra vigilant and cautious as always as we take these next steps together.

Everyone’s safety will be uppermost in our minds and plans, which means that we will need to ask for your continued patience as we adapt our pandemic plans to fit conditions that are constantly and rapidly changing. It may take time before we are all reunited in person, but we look forward to seeing you at Saint Esprit very soon. In the meantime, rest assured of our prayers and our love.”

3. Administrator note
To register to attend services open to the public starting October 10th, please visit our website, stesprit.org and click on RSVP in the blue menu (on phones and tablet, you might have to click on “mobile menu” to make it appear first. The RSVP page is pretty intuitive, but for detailed instructions:
1. Click the day of the week you would like to attend (only the next 6 days show).
2. Under the RSVP section, tap the date and select the date you wish to attend, enter your email, select YES and click NEXT
3. On the next page, enter all the required information and click SUBMIT. You will then receive a confirmation email.

Please, remember that spots are limited, so we ask you only register for one service at a time for now. In the form you will need to confirm that you will show your proof of vaccination at the door and wear a mask. Please note also that there is no possibility of social gathering after the service at the moment.

Many thanks,

Fred

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