April 1, 2020 Letter:
This Sunday, April 5 is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. The church calendar calls it Palm/Passion Sunday, which gives the option of combining all of Jesus’ last week into one day. I don’t know about you, but I need to stretch out those days because it’s too many ups and downs for me to grasp over the course of one morning in worship.
And so it is with our lives during this pandemic. We need some stretching out of time– to breathe, to comprehend, and to put some words on the ups and downs of this experience.
On Monday, Governor Northam declared a “stay at home” policy effective for the Commonwealth of Virginia through June 10. At RBC, we will follow that requirement and continue with our virtual gatherings through that time because it’s how we live as good neighbors.
I am missing each of you and I know we are missing one another. This will be a challenge, but we will make it through together. We will have to go through all of it–just like Holy Week. It doesn’t help us to try to ignore the grief, the pain, or the resurrection. Feeling it all leads to the powerful raising we await on Easter Sunday. This will be an Easter we will never forget!
Peace to each one of you, ~Pastor Leah
March 20, 2020 letter:
Dear Ravensworth Beloveds,
In November, Lill Wachter gave me this plant and told me it’s called a prayer plant. She split this one off from the one in her home.
She said to remember that she was praying for me and that we do this work together. Two weeks ago, when I realized it would be my last day in my office for awhile I remembered to grab this plant and bring it home with me. It’s thriving here.
We’ve been making a new way at RBC these days. One that’s full of creativity and hope, even as we acknowledge our grief and our concerns. That’s what it means to be community.
The Leadership Council and Staff met on Monday via Zoom and determined it’s best for RBC to suspend all in-person gatherings through the month of April. The building also remains closed. As we follow the CDC guidelines and seek to remain healthy, this is just another way to be good neighbors.
Of course, we will still gather virtually: on phones, on Zoom, on facetime, in our prayers, and during our communion time in worship. We will journey through Holy Week and Easter together, in a different way. Resurrection happened in the quiet, in the dark, with just a few people present. It might be the closest we ever get to that first Easter morning.
Prayers and community are sustaining us and will sustain us during this season. Hope is here and God is with us.
With deep gratitude for each of you,
Dear RBC Community, We are living in a season without a roadmap that we’ve named “Wilderness.” The Leadership Council and Staff have been following the updates on the COVID-19 virus and the calls for social distancing, especially after the National Cathedral and the Episcopal Church in our area ceased activities for the next few weeks.
At this time, the RBC Leadership Council and Staff unanimously agreed to suspend all activities at RBC for the remainder of the month of March, including worship:
- For this Sunday and remaining Sundays in March, staff only will be present in the sanctuary and we will livestream our 11am service.
- For the rest of the month, access to the building will be limited to staff. If you need to pick up something from the building, please contact Gail Fewell to make a pick up appointment for Monday, March 16.
- See the complete list of cancellations below.
This was a difficult decision, but one that we believe is best for the overall health and well-being of Ravensworth and our wider community. It is also a decision for a season–not forever. Fellow Annandale clergy will be recommending similar decisions, as we think of how to best care for our congregations and our community.
As a colleague shared with her church, “The temporary cessation of gatherings is intended to ‘flatten the curve,’ that is, create fewer opportunities for coronavirus to spread, thus allowing hospitals and medical centers to stay on top of the cases they have now without becoming overwhelmed. This also helps to prevent the spread to more vulnerable populations for whom the disease might be more traumatic.”
We get to be the church right now in the midst of this season and we will be checking in with ACCA to learn what they need. We want to be good neighbors and support public health recommendations. Communication will be key during these few weeks. We’ll be sending email updates regularly, with links to worship, giving, online Bible study, and more.The staff will move to working virtually in the coming days.
PDO and APC are following best guidance as they determine how long to remain open. We want to remain healthy and connected as a church. Let’s stay in touch with each other via phone, text, email, virtual meetings, Zoom, skype, facetime, and any yet to be named creative form of communication!
Fortunately, we have experience at being and working differently and to great success. We are still figuring out what that means, such as how we can hold a business meeting to approve the budget, but we are blessed with creative and flexible members and staff. We will meet our commitments to each other and the community as a whole as best we can. Please be patient with us as we work through all the details and we promise to keep you updated.
During this season, we must keep being good neighbors–caring for one another, lifting each other up in our prayers, and for now, keeping our physical distance, all the while rejecting all forms of racism and prejudice. We have the opportunity to live out our calling in a new and completely unexpected way, but one which still connects to the heart of God.
May we continue in this season together, with open hearts to Holy Spirit as we share love, do justice, and build community.
Grateful for each one of you, Pastor Leah