Friday, May 01 2020
In the time since the last edition of The Chronicle came out, it feels like the world is a different place. We haven’t had public worship in our sanctuary since March 8. As of today, we’ve held 23 services online, either streaming directly to our website or by Zoom. Our Vestry has met three times by Zoom, and is really getting the hang of it. We’ve even started having coffee hour by Zoom following the morning service (which it turns out is more fun than you’d think!) Things are decidedly different, and there’s no telling when they’ll get back to the way they were before March started.
I’m particularly proud of our staff, and how they’ve all gone out of their way to make things work in this trying time. Our sexton, Dan Kapsner, comes in late at night whenever he knows others have been in the building to sanitize everything he can. Our bookkeeper Cynthia Knapp has been working remotely to do most of our books but comes in every Thursday to cut checks and make sure our deposits are made. Jim French has been working diligently to coordinate singers and instrumentalists for our liturgies, getting everything recorded in advance, so we can keep the building as empty as possible while still having beautiful music for worship. Evie Fagergren has been coordinating the office remotely, coming in once a week to bring the mail (and the pledges that so many of our members are mailing in- thank you!). Fr. Michael Beatón Oakley has had to get to know the congregation while not being able to actually see anyone in person- and has been doing a remarkable job at it! Isaura Fernandez has come in each week to record the music for our Sunday evening service; it sounds glorious (you should check out one of the services, which are all archived online).
We are incredibly fortunate to have gotten word this week that our application for a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan has been approved, and our funds have been reserved with the Small Business Administration (SBA). This will provide payroll funds for us for eight weeks, and as long as our spending meets the program guidelines, that loan will be forgiven at the completion of those eight weeks. This is truly a blessing for us; our bank stopped accepting applications within 24 hours of starting to accept them because they were overwhelmed. Thankfully, Cynthia Knapp used her connections to submit an application with Commencement Bank, who have been fabulous to work with, and got us the loan in the second round of funding. Thank you to Cynthia and our treasurer, Bob LeRoy, for their work in making this happen.
As of today, we still don’t have word on when we might be able to open the church for worship again, and we can’t even begin making preliminary plans until we get more guidance from both the governor’s office and our bishop. What I am sure of is that coming back will happen slowly, and in stages, and that social distancing will make communion a challenge for the foreseeable future. The Vestry, staff, and I are planning on making live-streaming part of our permanent plans for St. John | San Juan, because so many people will continue to be excluded due to health concerns even after we start slowly opening up again. We are developing plans for implementing live-streaming with all of our services, both Sunday and weekday services, in the church and in the chapel. We will have more to say in the next edition of The Chronicle, which will come out just after our next Vestry meeting, which is scheduled for May 21.
We hope that you are staying home, and staying safe. If you need anything, please let us know. We have had folks volunteer to do grocery shopping, pick up prescriptions or other goods, and we have funds available in the Clergy Discretionary Fund to provide assistance if you’re having trouble paying your bills. All you need do is ask, and we’ll do everything we can to help.
Many blessings to each of you. This distancing is hard, but it’s worth it.