Dear St. Thomas Family,
We write with an update as to our current status regarding a return to public worship.
Although the bishops have guardedly offered July 1 as the earliest time we can return to public worship, given all of the constraints imposed – both external and internal – we anticipate the earliest we will return to use of the church is the second Sunday of September. We are doing this for a number of reasons, including the development of a cogent, thoughtful roll-out plan, continued work on the church infrastructure, the unknown as to what July might bring, and the very real need of downtime by the entire St. Thomas staff over July and August. Should there be a new resurgence or spike in the coronavirus, we will not move ahead with this tentative plan for September until a much later date. As much as it pains us to say this, we have been told we would do well to anticipate the real possibility of not returning to our churches until 2021.
As for now, here are the preliminary thoughts. Regardless of when the church re-opens, we will continue to offer the 10 am Zoom service of the Liturgy of the Word every Sunday (which is exactly as we do now). Those who find it to be more convenient or are concerned for their health and safety can be assured this option will remain in place at least through the majority of the fall. If – and this is a large if – it appears we can move about in relative safety, we will move towards also offering a much-abbreviated service of the Holy Eucharist, in essence the second half of the service of the Liturgy of the Word. We would offer multiple services to ensure all who wish to receive would have the opportunity to do so at a safe social distance. At this time, we cannot give you a firm date as to when this might commence.
Many factors will drive this: mandates from both Governor Cuomo and Bishop Dietsche as to the number of persons allowed to assemble; assurance that all safety precautions are in place for appropriate social distancing; the wearing of masks; modification as to distribution of the body / bread (no blood / wine); multiple locations of hand sanitizers throughout the church; ushers and bulletins (and ushers likely wearing gloves); no exchange of the Peace; no singing; and no gathering within the church or parking area before, during, or after the service. Clergy will be wearing face shields in addition to masks and in place of the altar guild preparing for the service, clergy will be the only persons touching any of the Eucharistic elements through the time of distribution.
Because this is an issue that impacts the life and congregation of St. Thomas, Carol will be extending an invitation to key people (medical and legal fields, social workers, Sunday School teachers, Buildings and Grounds personnel, our Wardens, older folks, younger folks with children) to join her in a task force to make the appropriate determinations and steps regarding a return to in-person worship and the use of our buildings as information becomes known to us. We will prepare the final document to be shared with you that spells out each precaution we need to take, how best to provide our spiritual sustenance, and ensure the health and safety of each member of this congregation.
Be assured we will communicate any information we have as we work to provide what will become our new way of being church. We send you our deepest thanks for your continuing support, as we send our love and prayers for you. We ask that you hold us in yours.
Carol and Tami
For those of you who would like to worship with Carol and Tami online through Zoom, please join our email list so that we can send you Zoom Meeting IDs, passwords and bulletins. Monday through Friday we hold interactive online Morning Prayer service at 10:00 am and an online Compline at 8:00 am. On Sundays we worship together – virtually – at 10:00 am. Please contact us if you wish to visit with us online! These short services will be a way to be together for worship when not able to physically gather. If you have not used Zoom before, please download the program before worship starts by going here. The online instructions are easy to follow.
The Zoom meeting allows us to be interactive – you will hear Carol or Tami, they will hear you, and you will hear one another. It will feel as if you are together in community.
So, if you would like to participate in our virtual worship opportunities, please send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video Messages from the Rev. Carol Gadsden
Listed as one of Fred Hersch’s “pianists you should know”, and described as “an outstanding pianist, stoked full of creative ideas and limitless technique….totally innovative and luminous” by The Australian (national newspaper), Matthew graduated from the Elder Conservatorium in 2008 having been awarded the prize for top Undergraduate for piano, most outstanding honours student, and having being awarded the Adelaide University Medal for excellence in the humanities.
In 2009 he became the first Australian to win a coveted Downbeat Magazine Student Award, and was offered a scholarship to complete a Masters Degree in Music Performance at Boston’s New England Conservatory, studying with 10-time grammy nominated pianist Fred Hersch, and Macarthur Fellow, Jason Moran.
Upon graduating in 2011, Matthew relocated to NYC where has been engaged as composer, bandleader and performer since. In 2014 he was the winner of the APRA/AMCOS Professional Development Award. The same year Matthew was a Freedman Fellowship finalist, performing a set of original music at the Sydney Opera House. Sheens has performed with many musical luminaries including Bob Mintzer, Chris McNulty, Paul Bollenback, Bob Moses, Cecil McBee, Jim Pugh, John Hoffman, Tom Patitucci, Jerry Bergonzi, Jon Gordon and performs regularly with bassist John Patitucci. He has performed across Australia, USA, New Zealand, Japan, The Netherlands, at the Jazz Hoeilaart International Jazz Festival in Belgium, Montreux International Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Europafest in Romania, Australia’s Wangaratta Jazz Festival, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, and at the International Panama Jazz festival in Panama City.
In 2012 Sheens released his debut album, ‘Every Eight Seconds’, to wide acclaim and won the 2013 APRA/AMCOS Professional Development Award. Sheens released his second album ‘Untranslatable’ (ABC Music) in 2014, and ‘Cloud Appreciation Day’ (QFTF) September 2016, which won the ‘Jazz Couleurs Hit Award’ in France. His fourth album,’American Counterpoint’ (QFTF) in 2018, was named Australian Jazz work of the year at the APRA Art Music Awards. In 2019 his first Symphony was premiered by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and orchestrated for the Czech National Symphony Orchestra the same year.
THE ADULT CHOIR
The heart of the music program at St. Thomas is the Adult Choir, which presents music in worship every Sunday, September – June, and on major feast and solemn occasions. The choir presents a broad and diverse sacred repertoire, ranging from 17th century motets to the most contemporary praise. Comprised of avocational and professional singers, the choir is distinguished by a singular flexibility in mastering varied styles, as well as an exemplary commitment to the St. Thomas worship schedule. Many of the members have sung together in the ensemble for decades, resulting in a rare unanimity of approach to expressive music making. The Choir of St. Thomas prioritizes SERVICE in praise and prayer, in all of its endeavors. It rehearses weekly, Sunday mornings at 8:45 a.m. and at additional times as circumstances require. New members are always welcome, as we love to share our enthusiasm for music in worship, and are most eager to assist new novice or experienced singers in learning the joys of service through music-making in church.
THE CHILDREN’S CHOIR
The Children’s Choir of St. Thomas, a resurgent group of singers drawn from the parish’s lively Christian Education program, has emerged this season as a vibrant and essential component of our worship experience. The children rehearse Sundays at 11:15 a.m. during Coffee Hour – providing an invaluable training program of the Anglican traditions of music and worship. Parents may appreciate the opportunity to share fellowship after worship while their children are receiving the nurturing which invites them to join as full participants in our worship experience. The children sing at most Second Sundays while the full Sunday School is attending worship with adults. At St. Thomas we strive to provide an opportunity for the entire family to worship together on these regular occasions.