IS YOUR CHURCH COVID-SAFE?
A FREE document designed to help clarify key safety measures and protocols that are important to everyone’s protection, and are in adherence with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. It is a tool to help you and your leadership team with the planning and preparation needed to be able to offer church and events safely and confidently.
Two separate polls show that Americans are relying more on their faith to help persevere through the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pew Research Center, in a survey released April 30, showed that nearly one-fourth of all Americans say their faith has grown stronger during the pandemic, while only 2 percent said it had grown weaker.
Catholics, according to Pew, are very much in line with the overall survey results. Among Catholic respondents, 27 percent said their faith had grown stronger with 2 percent saying it had gotten weaker. In addition, 63 percent said their faith had not changed much at all, and another 7 percent said the question was not applicable because “I am not a religious person and this hasn’t changed.”
A poll by Fordham University released April 28 showed that Americans are being helped by their religious or spiritual faith during the pandemic, and the more often they go to church, the more they feel it has helped.
For those who go to church regularly, 68 percent said they have been “helped a lot,” and another 22 percent said they have been “helped somewhat.” For those who say they go the church frequently, 41 percent said they were helped a lot, with 45 percent reporting they had been helped somewhat. Even a majority of those who say they rarely go to church said faith has helped – 23 percent a lot and 32 percent somewhat.
Among all respondents, 35 percent said they have been helped a lot and 29 percent said they had been helped somewhat, while 34 percent said they had not been helped.
There may be a touch of irony in the polls’ results as significant percentages of Americans are reporting their faith has helped get them through a tough time yet they are unable to attend worship services. The Fordham poll showed 38percent of Americans are attending less frequently, while 56 percent report no change. Just over a quarter are watching services more online or on television now than before the outbreak.
Regular churchgoers reported the largest attendance drop-off, with 67 percent saying they are attending much less often, 4 percent attending somewhat less often and 19 percent reporting no change. To compensate, 55 percent said they are watching online or televised services more than usual.
In the Fordham poll, 62 percent of Catholics said they had been helped at least somewhat by their faith. By comparison, 95 percent of evangelicals reported they had been helped at least somewhat, and just over three-fourths of mainline Protestants reported the same.
Pew’s numbers found that African Americans reported the biggest increase in faith at 41percent, compared to 40 percent for Hispanics and 20 percent for whites. Older Americans likewise found their faith increasing, as nearly 30 percent of all Americans ages 50-up reported increased faith. Women’s numbers were nearly twice as big as men’s, 30 percent compared to 18 percent.
Monika McDermott, Fordham professor of political science, told Catholic News Service that her students in a public opinion and survey research certification program had designed an entirely different poll before the coronavirus started shutting down much of U.S. society. “We met over Zoom and worked remotely” to put together the new survey, she said.
One key finding was in asking who has been guiding respondents personally through the crisis. “Public health officials got the highest rating on that, which is not surprising,” McDermott said. “We also found that state governors were fairly important,” but “not the federal government, and we found that enlightening.”
McDermott added: “We found people are social distancing. We asked about their daily habits. They are avoiding large places so they could be avoiding people who come within six feet.” But one key finding, she noted, was that the “emotional and economic burden is really falling on African Americans from this virus.
She said, we asked them questions such as: Are you still required to go into the workplace, and are you exposed to the virus and do you know people who have died from it? “The numbers are tremendously different if you’re a black American. And those are shocking numbers.”
“There are two completely different communities that are experiencing this in completely different ways,” she said.
Claire Gecewicz, a Pew researcher, said, “It’s a real unique moment in time that we’re in right now. The vast majority of people have lived in a pandemic” — so unique that “this is a question we’ve never asked before.”
Noting some of the demographic differences, Gecewicz said, “What we know from prior research, women tend to be more religious than men. You could make the connection that women are more likely than men to say that their faith has gotten stronger, but our research would suggest, in terms of the racial breakdown, blacks are more likely than white and Hispanics to say their faith has gotten stronger.”
African American survey respondents were the only group that didn’t report at least 90 percent of their churches having closed; their figure was 79 percent. The overall church-closing number was 91 percent, including 95 percent of Catholic churches.
The Pew poll was conducted online with more than 10,000 respondents, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points. The Fordham poll, conducted by phone with 1,003 respondents, has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.
— Mark Pattison
Photo Credit: CNS/Jason Redmond, Reuters –
For Catholics, Holy Week is the culmination of the liturgical year. It contains the three holiest days of the year – the Sacred Triduum – when Catholics celebrate the Lord’s Paschal Mystery – His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Holy Week offers us – through an intense time of prayer and devotion – a way to participate in the Lord’s saving work. The Triduum begins on Thursday with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper and ends on Sunday evening with the celebration of Easter Vespers (Evening Prayer).
“Holy Week is particularly sacred for Catholics, and the closing of all the churches [because of the COVID-19 pandemic] makes it challenging for many of us to celebrate the Sacred Triduum while in isolation,” said Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne. “That is why my staff and I have created multiple Holy Week engagement opportunities on digital media as a way to unite us all until our doors can open again and we are able to celebrate the Eucharist together with an abundance of gratitude and joy.”
Holy Week Schedule
Palm Sunday, 10 a.m. Mass — diocesan live-stream
Holy Thursday, 7 p.m. Mass — diocesan live-stream
Good Friday, 3 p.m. Solemn Celebration of the Lord’s Passion — diocesan live-stream
Easter Vigil (Saturday), 7 p.m. Mass — diocesan live-stream
Easter Sunday, 10 a.m. Mass — Diocesan Live-stream
For worship aids and additional resources and activities visit: www.vermontcatholic.org/holyweek
The CoronaVirus has hit home and many of us are now feeling the effects of closures, rescheduling, delays, postponements, and cancellations. Our new vocabulary word this week is “Social Distancing”, there has been a crazy run on Toilet Paper, store shelves are seen bare, and we now know how long we should be washing our hands… 20 seconds!
With Governor Scott ordering the closures of Vermont Schools, Bishop Christopher Coyne suspending Mass obligations for the near future and many many other churches moving their Sunday services online, we are all left to wonder what will be next.
The Vermont Ecumenical Council: Network of Christian Cooperation has an extensive and comprehensive online calendar of Christian events happening in our state, but we are unable to keep track of all the pending cancellations. So, we ask that you follow up with any event coordinator if you have questions.
And we leave you with a Prayer
Prayer for a Pandemic
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
Let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
The Saint John’s Bible
In 1998, Saint John’s Abbey and University commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible. Excerpts of this bible will be coming to Vermont!
The VECNCC will be hosting several events with presenter Tim Ternes to share this amazing and inspired piece of art, culture and word of God. If you are interested in hosting an event during the week of April 20-24, 2020, please contact us at email@example.com.
We invite you to explore this work of art that unites an ancient Benedictine tradition with the technology and vision of today, illuminating the Word of God for a new millennium. More information available online at http://saintjohnsbible.org
A Celtic Pilgrimage to Ireland – September 26 – Oct 3, 2020
Hosted by Rev Kim Hardy & Rev Fred Moser
In the Fall of 2020 the Rev. Kim Hardy and the Rev. Dr. Fred Moser will lead a pilgrimage to Ireland with their extraordinary guides. The focus will be on areas in the northwest of the island around Counties Sligo and Donegal and in the southeast County Wicklow.
An important aspect of pilgrimage is walking where others have traveled before us on their spiritual journeys. And so, in the company of Irish friends and scholars, we will explore aspects of Celtic spirituality, walking on ground where luminaries of early Christianity in these parts sought refuge as pilgrims themselves, notably Saints Columba, known in Ireland as Colm Cille, Molaise of Leighlin, and Kevin of Glendalough.
Ireland offers a deep gift in its vastly contrasting landscapes that draw one into possibilities
for reflection. Striking contrasts of craggy hills, jagged seaside cliffs, soft beaches, deepgreen forests, and subtle light reflecting off waters and hillsides, have power to connect us with the spirit of the Divine as apprehended in nature. Exploring such connections was one, though not the only hallmark of the ancient Celtic church. Those who have come with us before comment on how these journeys, with time to walk and rest, disconnect as well as reconnect, and make new companion friends along the way, open them to God in ways not imagined.
Please contact Fred Moser, President of the Vermont Ecumenical Council if you are interested and he will get you in touch with more details. This will be a special journey and we hope you will consider joining us. firstname.lastname@example.org
February is Heart Month
FAITH CLIMATE ACTION DAY
at the State House, Montpelier
February 20, 2020
Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL)
Invites You to Join with Us and Make Your
Voice Heard at the State House.
9:30 – 1:00: Training, Issues Briefing,
Press Conference, Visits with Legislators.
Your Presence Can Make a Difference!
Watch For Details at: vtipl.org/faithclimateactionday
Download a flyer to print and share: 2020 Faith Climate Action Day Flyer
The Society of St. Edmund will be conducting a 5-Day Directed Retreat in the Ignatian tradition from Sunday June 21 to Friday June 26, 2020 at St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle La Motte. Using principles from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, retreatants are invited to contemplate scripture passages in a silent environment, celebrate daily Eucharist and meet with a Spiritual Director each day. Spiritual Directors are specifically trained for this type of retreat and will serve as companions and co-discerners of the Spirit during the retreat. Applicants should be comfortable maintaining an atmosphere of silence and be able to share their prayer experience with a Spiritual Director in a daily meeting of about forty-five minutes. The retreat begins at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 21 and concludes with lunch on Friday, June 26. The cost is $525 per person which includes private room and all meals. A $250 non-refundable deposit is due with application which can be obtained by calling Nancy Dulude at (802) 928-3362 or via email at email@example.com . Space is limited due to private bedroom accommodations and married couples will likely be assigned to separate cabins unless space availability permits otherwise.
SAVE THE DATE
SUNDAY JANUARY 19, 2020 @ 4 – 7PM
PRAYER SERVICE AND MEAL
This year Rev. Jill Colley Robison, District Superintendent for the United Methodist Church in Vermont, will be our speaker.
The worldwide observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is sponsored annually by the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (https://geii.org/week_of_prayer_for_christian_unity/theme_announcement_2020.html), between the feasts of the Confession of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul (Jan. 18-25). This year’s theme, from Acts 28:2, is: “They showed us unusual kindness.” A light ecumenical supper will follow the service; all are welcome.
A fellowship meal will immediately follow the service. We encourage all Christian Churches, Ministries and Individuals to attend. And if you are interested in participating in the service or meal, please let us know by email – firstname.lastname@example.org.