COVID-19 RESOURCES

A Letter From Father Zac

Dear Day School Family,

It has been a disorienting couple weeks to say the least, so I wanted to take a moment to reach out to you directly. Though it is best for us not to be in one another’s physical presence for the time being, I want to assure you that our community is coming together in creative new ways like never before. I have been amazed by Karon and her team of staff and teachers, who in the span of just a few days started unveiling new procedures and aids for coming alongside our families virtually in this uncertain time. Plus, while bringing the church and school into closer relationship has been a priority for Karon and I since the beginning, this crisis has only accelerated our partnership. We’ve enjoyed recording chapel services, Godly Play stories, and sing-a-long videos; and in turn have had a blast seeing videos you’ve shared of your kids watching and singing along with us at home.

We’re not done yet. We’re still brainstorming and thinking of ways to be together as long as we’re required to be apart. Our commitment to you, from both the church and the school’s perspective, is this: no one needs to be alone through whatever is coming. We are here for you. Our teachers are heartbroken not to be with your kids everyday. We miss them. And we’re thinking of you. And we can’t wait to be back together again. If you don’t have a community in which you are processing all that is happening in the world right now, we want to be that for you.

Here’s a few things we’re doing on the church side which we invite you to participate in, inasmuch as it’s a gift to you and your family at this time.

Children’s Resources We are recording, publishing, and organizing all our virtual children’s materials in one place: https://www.stmarksaustin.org/childrens-resources. We will add to this every week.

Community Partnerships -

There is a widespread desire to help in our community and an intimidating lack of means through which to do so. On the church side, we have stepped up our community partnerships with two key local organizations that are on the front-lines of this crisis simply by giving large financial gifts. Those organizations are Community First Village, who provides wholesale residential care to an extremely vulnerable, formerly homeless population and El Buen Samaritano, our local Episcopal aid organization whose food pantry has expanded from serving 20 families on average per day to now serving 260 in the last ten days. I commend them to you.

In addition to this, our group of quilters has been busy sewing medical masks from scratch with the group called the CovidRangers (www.covidrangers.com). And we’ve organized a rota of volunteer grocery runners who are running errands for those in our community (not just church people!) who are statistically vulnerable—those over 60 and healthcare workers. If you or your parents are in need of groceries or medicine pick-ups, let me know.

#PassThePeaceProject

On a typical Sunday we “pass the peace” by shaking hands and embracing at the middle-point of our worship service. Now lacking that means of connection, we’ve organized something we’re calling the “Pass The Peace Project” on social media. This is a coronavirus-free space of simply sharing photos and videos of things that are bringing us peace amidst the chaos. For my part, it’s mostly me reading poetry. Many others have shared music, meditations, and humor by using the #PassThePeaceProject hashtag and tagging our church accounts on Instagram and Facebook @stmarksaustin. https://www.stmarksaustin.org/pass-the-peace-project.

Virtual Worship

With all other churches, we are learning how to do worship virtually. We are currently holding a morning prayer service every morning at 8:30 a.m. and Sunday worship at 10:00 a.m. All stream links and digital bulletins can be found on our homepage https://www.stmarksaustin.org/. In our morning prayer services, we pray everyday for all in our community who are healthcare workers by name. We’d love to add you to the list so we can pray for you in the weeks ahead. Email me: zac@stmarksaustin.org

More than anything, we want to be here for you in whatever way you need through this time. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly should you need anything or simply want to talk. This is a bizarre time, and it has made me more thankful than ever to be part of this community with you. We’re in this together.

With gratitude,

Fr. Zac