As many of you are familiar with, this week, our Public Health officials have officially declared that the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) a global pandemic. This has triggered many recommended guidelines for and from our federal government, states, cities, towns, communities, and citizens to follow.
Additionally, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the OCA just released a statement on the COVID-19 outbreak with suggested measures, as well as encouragement of self-quarantine and social distancing. A link to that letter can be found on our website, and at the follwoing link: https://www.oca.org/cdn/PDFs/synod/2020-0313-synod-statement-covid19.pdf
With St. George and Holy Ghost participating in many joint services during Great Lent and throughout the year, Fr. Sergei and Fr. John Jillions have discussed and instituted measures to deal with the containment and mitigation of this virus. Effective immediately, and in a spirit of pastoral care and love, the following changes are being made:
- Bowing in front of icons and the Holy Cross, instead of kissing them;
- Refraining from embracing each other or giving the Kiss of Peace;
- Receiving a blessing from the priest without reciprocating by kissing his hand;
- Receiving Holy Communion by having the priest drop the Holy Gifts directly into our mouths instead of touching the communion spoon with our lips; and
- Refraining from kissing the chalice or the communion cloth.
The process in creatively dealing with the pandemic and our faith requires us to make decisions on what is “essential,” and what is “not.” Based on this, please note the following:
- Sunday evening Pan-Orthodox Vespers services for the CT Deanery and the Orthodox Churches Association of Greater Bridgeport are suspended for the rest of March. The situation will be re-evaluated at the start of April.
- St. George will continue to hold liturgical services as scheduled (unless the situation changes), but after Sunday, March 15th, coffee hours, fellowship hours, and potluck dinners will be suspended.
- If any parishioner feels anxious about coming to church, especially those over the age of 60 and/or those with underlying conditions making them more susceptible to viruses, they should not hesitate to stay home. This is an absence “for honorable reasons,” as one of the prayers of the Church states.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a changing situation, please check back to see if any additional changes in practice are being made.
Please feel free to call Fr. Sergei if you have questions or concerns: (203) 331–2251 (Mobile) or (203) 713-6007 (Home).