“Be strong and courageous. Don’t be fearful or discouraged, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Hebrews 4:16)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Palm Sunday and Holy Week are rapidly approaching and a lot continues to unfold before our eyes every day. On April 1, 2020 Gov. Kemp put out a mandatory “shelter in place” order for the state of Georgia starting April 3, 2020 at 6pm through April 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 response. This is very difficult news indeed and we hope and pray these drastic measures will decrease the amount of illnesses in our state so that hospitals throughout the state can meet the needs of the critically ill. In response to the Governor’s order, Bishop Wright on August 2, 2020, sent out a directive to all clergy in the diocese of Atlanta. The bishop has asked all clergy to no longer stream worship services from Church grounds and buildings. The bishop believes this action will help create solidarity with many of our brothers and sisters in the diocese who are sheltered in place in their homes. I understand the bishop’s desire to do so, and while I have a different opinion, I will honor the bishop’s request. I have come up with a plan I believe will honor the bishop’s request, but also give us a backdrop to aid in worship and admire God’s creation at the same time. (The picture above will be the background you will see.) I still plan on providing worship services for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and the Easter service, (The feast of the resurrection of our Lord). I wish all of you comfort and peace during the shelter in place. Please remember to check out our web page www.ecamarietta.org, our public Facebook page and the ECA news email sent out each week. I look forward to our first service back together.
I also want to update you with my Georgia National guard duties. As of April 3, 2020, I was activated to serve in my current role as chaplain to the 201st brigade, Homeland Response Force with the 170th MP battalion and the 265thchemical engineer battalion. I share this news not to make you worry, but to inform you this will benefit not only the soldiers who need spiritual guidance fighting an “invisible enemy,” but will also benefit our parish. My military credentials will give me more freedom to move about and conduct our worship services and support any parishioners who may have needs. I have been given the flexibility to continue to shepherd and tend the flock I serve at ECA and I am deeply grateful for the Georgia National Guard’s cooperation to do so. I will not be put in harm’s way and will give encouragement and pray daily with the soldiers who will be assisting and providing much needed help against the fight of COVID-19. I will continue to be available by phone and email and please do not hesitate to reach out with any needs. I am grateful ECA continues to support me in the valuable ministry of serving the men and women who serve our country who help and protect American citizens in their time of need.
I would also like to personally thank all those who have prayed for me and sent nice notes, funny jokes and stories to help me laugh and smile in this tough time. Thank you also to Wanda Ziembinski, Sr. Warden, Chris Renaud, Jr. Warden, the Vestry, Joe Lozier, Sandi Harden, Nicole File, Bliss Peterson, Chris Norman, Carolyn & Horace Higgins, Brenda Pinskton, Jackie Collopy, the Wilsons and the Arnotti’s with helping me with online morning & evening services, fun videos, and assisting me with tasks that needed to be accomplished. And above all, thank you to those in the parish who continue to financially support ECA during this difficult time. Our parish finances are a little below revenue, but we will continue to operate as best as we can during these times. It is a blessing and privilege to serve and to be served by all the members of ECA. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
In Christ, Fr. Paul+
Read Bishop’s shelter in place directive HERE