St. Mary of the Angels Response to COVID-19
Updated March 14th | 3:00pm
Dear St. Mary’s family,
Yesterday the City of Orlando announced all city-sponsored events would be canceled or postponed from March 15-31 due to the Coronavirus. In addition, city officials recommended “that events or gatherings of 250 or more people being hosted by organizations in other social, spiritual and recreational venues, lodges, neighborhood clubhouses, assembly halls, hotel ballrooms and other like facilities be cancelled or postponed.”
While our regular Sunday attendance numbers are not quite as high as “250 or more” (not yet anyway) we do have a significant portion of our congregation who would be considered high risk if they were to become ill. Out of love for them I have decided to temporarily cancel Sunday and Wednesday in-person services at St. Mary of the Angels.
This has not been an easy decision. I have received information from or been in conversation with our Bishop, Vestry, our parishioners, other clergy of the diocese, and other area churches before concluding this course of action to be warranted as a preventive measure. Scripture tells us the strong must take care of the weak (Rom 15:1, Phil 2:4). We are making this decision not out of fear for ourselves, but great love for others. We take seriously our Lord’s call to “love our neighbor” and, in this instance, believe love looks like prioritizing the physical health and safety of our worshipers and our surrounding communities.
As Christians, we are not rooted in circumstances, but in our Savior Jesus Christ. As a church, we are called to be agents of love and not fear. Our ability to gather together is a great privilege and blessing, but it does not stop us from being the St. Mary’s family — a local, powerful called church of God and to remain the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. We will find ways to stay connected. I truly believe God will make good of these circumstances and we will find ways to grow and deepen our relationships with each other and with Our Father in Heaven regardless of whatever challenges may come.
The Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25). With these words in mind, it is our hope to be able to gather in worship again as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will look for ways to continue to be a community that prays and worships together. Stay tuned for more to come over the next couple of weeks.
Here is a start: share with me any prayer request you may have. I will pray over them and lift them up in our sanctuary every day. If you would like others to pray for them as well, add that it is a shareable request; I will make sure others are praying, including specific times when we will all lift our prayers together. We are One Family & One Body in Christ!
With love, in Christ
The Rev. Kevin Bartle, Rector
St. Mary of the Angels Episcopal Church
6316 Matchett Rd. Orlando, FL 32809 407-855-1930