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Good News Brief
Christ Episcopal Church
4548 Brooklyn Ave NE | Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 633-1611 | www.christchurchseattle.org
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All in-person operations are suspended at Christ Church until further notice during the outbreak of Covid-19 in order to keep the community healthy, including Sunday services.
This Week at Christ Church
Sunday, March 21 - The Fifth Sunday in Lent
10am - Sunday Livestream (The Rev. Carla Robinson, presiding and preaching)

11:30am - Street Chaplaincy
Christ Church acknowledges that we gather on the land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish people, who are a people still living.

Christ Church discretionary money has gone and will continue to go to pay rent to the Duwamish, to acknowledge that our institution participated in the removal of ancestral owners of this land, and to begin to make material repair to those who have been harmed.

Christ Church encourages individual worshippers to likewise offer this form of confession and sacred amends at realrentduwamish.org. All funds go directly to Duwamish Tribal Services (DTS) to support the revival of Duwamish culture and the vitality of the Duwamish Tribe.
Christ Church members are reaching out to assist eligible individuals in navigating the challenging enrollment system in order to get scheduled for their COVID19 vaccination. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance,
contact Eric Vegors at (206) 715-3135 or email the church office.
If you missed Bishop Rickel's at the end of February, you can listen to the recording from his blog here, or read a transcription text here.
Letter from the Rector
Hello, friends,

Another busy week of Holy Week prep.  I did take Friday as a sick day to recover from my second Pfizer shot.  I was lucky not to get fever and chills, but did have the expected extreme fatigue - lugged my blanket from bed to couch to bed.  Sunday I was happy to see Rev. Chris preach an excellent sermon with a beautiful poem (please go watch if you haven't!) and join Coffee Hour.  Monday I rested, and the past few days have been Zooms, e-mails, pastoral phone calls, lawyer negotiations, and infinite Holy Week prep.  Pretty much just mentally in Holy Week until it is done!!  

Please note the bishop's letter encouraging caution about any kind of re-opening in this week's GNB too. We will not re-open in April, and we will not create a tiered elite (vaccinated) vs. second-class (unvaccinated) hierarchy about who gets to access sacraments in worship.  We are so, so close to being able to be near each other.  Let's not give up now.  

In Christ,
Shelly

 
"Pull up the Gangplank, I'm Onboard"
A Reflection from Bishop Rickel

March 17, 2021
Dear Ones,

Before I begin, I want to start with some givens, at least to me, and for which I would not want readers to think I am somehow not conscious of. First, the US population is amongst the most fortunate in the world right now in the number of vaccines available and the speed at which, if it goes as planned, we will be vaccinated. I know this. Second, there are so many people and countries that have no prospect anytime soon to get a vaccine, and that is something we have to pay very close attention to as well, advocate for, and get active about. I know that too. These are my givens before I address where I believe we are now in this COVID pandemic.

I write as we seem to think, feel, and hope that this long pandemic nightmare, in regard to the COVID virus, will soon come to an end. But, I also write with some concerns. Some of you have expressed the same, or asked questions insinuating the same, which has compelled me to write this letter to you. I have to be honest, for the first time during this pandemic, I feel a bit betrayed, or at least at odds with the Governor’s decisions in the past few days. I want to say clearly he, and many other politicians, have the economy as their ultimate concern, or at least a major one, and I get that. Their balance of concern is different than ours, certainly than mine. I am far more concerned about your safety, both clergy and lay. 

I know many of our congregations have decided to reopen at limited capacity and I am as glad to see that as you are, and concerned a bit too. I am going to say flatly, I believe the reopening plan the Governor has just rolled out which increases dining and large indoor gatherings is premature, and a bit of a slight to all the good work and sacrifice we have made to heed his guidelines and orders over this past year. I truly do hope I am all wrong. 

I say this due to several considerations. All research seems to indicate that the vast majority of infections occur in indoor, enclosed spaces. We have now detected all variants in our state. They, appear to be more highly infectious, and at least one, more deadly. I know not everyone agrees, but I found it shocking that our politicians were insisting that teachers go back to the classroom and yet did not have getting them vaccinated as a priority until just recently. Perhaps it is easier once you and your family are vaccinated to throw caution to the wind for others, but I do not want us to do that.

I have this fear because we, this country, have done this now almost three times, waves of infections that is, and I am sincerely hoping I am wrong that we are taking actions now to take us to the fourth wave, but I am concerned about that and not afraid to admit it. We seem to get right there, and then cannot resist opening up. So, I feel the need to express a few things regarding the next few months. 

At this moment the reality is that we have only fully vaccinated just at 10% of our state. You do not have to be a mathematician to note this means 90% of us are still not vaccinated.  Which also translates to not much being different today than it was three weeks ago. While there are studies that show that fully vaccinated people do not spread the virus, there are just as many beginning to come out of real life experience that show that it is possible. Several people in a study in Hawaii, a month out of full vaccination, have tested positive for the virus. The good news is these folks did not develop serious symptoms, or in other words, vaccines work, GET ONE whenever you are finally allowed.  What remains unknown is whether such person can still spread it to others. I am leaning toward the belief that they can. Whatever is true, this inconclusive reality plays into my thoughts below. 

First, I am going to urge us all not to fall into the trap and, I would even call it the curse, of the North American, or maybe it is even more specifically, the person from the United States.  While anecdotal, I will share anyway an encounter I had with an 80 year old woman in Lincoln Park a few weeks ago, who, without a mask, came right up to me and began asking questions about 6 inches from my face. I politely asked her to back up and then I would talk to her. She looked at me and said, “Oh, I’m good, I am vaccinated.” Which is my point.

So much of what has helped the US become the 9th worst per capita death rate in the world, out of 201 countries, is, what I like to call, the “pull up the gangplank, I’m on board” syndrome. Or “I got mine, you get yours if you can, I’m good!” We will live, in the next few months, in a real liminal space, an “in-between space” with those vaccinated, and those not. Please be careful with the syndrome I lay out above. It is inconsiderate, and it does not match the faith we follow. Vaccinated or not, we are compelled by that faith to care for everyone, and to do all that is necessary to protect others no matter how “good” we are.  This is why I do not intend to change any of our requirements right now, even if the Governor continues to do so. We will still wear masks, social distance, and will not exceed the Governor's guidelines for whatever phase your county is in. I reserve the right to be more conservative than the Governor on this if he exceeds what I believe to be safe.  

I have written the Governor about my concerns but I have never gotten a response before and I do not expect one now. He has much more important things to do. Up till now I have put my energy toward more vaccine equity for underserved populations. Recently I did add to the pleas of other denominational leaders, and a letter of my own, asking for clergy to be moved up earlier in the plan, especially as we head toward Holy Week. Pleas to consider clergy essential, or to allow them to be vaccinated in an even one step earlier phase, have fallen on deaf ears. My main concerns here are the safety of clergy and people and access to spiritual care and services, many of which have been denied our people for nearly a year. I also have the concern of unvaccinated clergy and lay leaders in indoor venues as we begin to open and also increase the numbers present in those spaces during this liminal time. 

While our Governor is not willing to declare our clergy essential, I want you all to hear that I very much believe you to be. In keeping with us not developing a “second class citizen” status for those vaccinated and those not, I want to make it clear that no cleric, or employed lay person, and certainly not any parishioner should be forced, or feel forced, to work amongst others face to face unvaccinated if they are not willing themselves to take the risk. If you run into dilemmas on this, call our office and we will try everything we can to fulfill the need or request of those needing you. I am personally vowing not to receive the vaccine until at least 50% of our active clergy have had theirs, to keep me on my toes, and make me less likely to fall into the “pull up the gangplank, I’m on board" syndrome.

Hang in there, take care of yourself, and all those you come in contact with. I believe in you, and I believe we will get through this together, and I have had as my number one goal throughout this pandemic, bringing as many with us as we can. I have been continually inspired at how resilient and faithful you all have been through this time. I cannot thank you enough.

Once we do get to the other side here, we truly do need to turn our attention, our resources, and our care to getting the rest of the world the same. If we have learned anything in this last year it should be that the virus respects no borders, no nationalities, no race, no belief system. We are not there yet, but we will get there, and I pray we will do that with everyone “on board.” 

Blessings,
+Greg
Street Chaplaincy needs you!  The Street Chaplaincy wagon has been faithfully making the rounds through the U District on Sunday afternoons, even through the days of COVID lockdowns.  We've simplified the process down to handing out a pre-packed bag, plus a choice of underwear size and candy preference, to minimize the amount of close contact needed, and volunteers are supplied with masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to keep themselves safe.  So far, the process has been going smoothly.
 
We've kept it going with 4 volunteers, alternating weeks in two groups of 2, but we could use some reinforcements, particularly after some recent schedule changes squeezing Sunday hours for 2 of our volunteers.
 
There are a few ways to help: 1) we could use folks to walk with the wagon on Sundays, or, 2) to pre-pack the bags sometime during the week.  We're happy to train first-time volunteers as well. If you would feel comfortable participating in this vital ministry, please contact Wes Ono (w_ono@hotmail.com) to be added to the mailing list. 

Little Free Pantry - Help Us Provide for our Neighbors

Even though Christ Church remains closed, our Little Free Pantry outside the church offers a way for the parish to continue our outreach to the neighborhood. Christ Church has been stocking it daily and people in the neighborhood also add to the pantry fairly regularly.  The pantry gets emptied on most days so we know it is reaching people who need these items.  The Little Free Pantry is a project of the UW Campus Ministry based here at Christ Church.  

If you are in the area, you can drive by after a grocery trip and add something to the pantry. Food donations must be non-perishable and can be items that can be eaten as is or that can be taken home to prepare. Hygiene and paper items can also be shared through the pantry.

Donations to help us purchase items to add to the pantry are also welcome.  Click here for ways to donate. Be sure to indicate that your donation is for the Little Free Pantry.

Joys of the Week
Joys of the Week is meant as a medium to keep connected with each other during the Covid-19 outbreak, when we cannot share fellowship with each other in person. No joy is too small! If you have a joy you would like to share, please email a photo or a story to Cara at office@christchurchseattle.org.
Hello everyone,

I hope you all had a decent week; I didn't particularly, in full disclosure, between the loss of a family member and then the hateful attacks on human liberties of all types this week, but especially demographics of which I am part. Despite that, I have felt loved and heard from many folks at Christ Church, and for that, I am very grateful.

I wasn't originally even going to include a photo, but then I realized that Mr. Bubbles is always bringing me joy, so I thought I'd also share the story of when I adopted him.

Freshly moved out of my childhood bedroom for my second year of graduate school, I wanted a pet of my own - my parents generally always have a dog around (they did have a cat when I was born, but my older sister is quite allergic). I do like animals of course, so I thought I'd head down to the Seattle Animal Shelter (where my parents have adopted their dogs) to look around.

When I walked into the cat showing room, where some of the cats available for adoption are kept in a closed space so potential owners can interact with them, I saw several cats in their little kennels. I know that most pets are not ever quite their full selves while in a temporary holding place like that, so most of the cats were huddled in the back of their spaces - except Mr. Bubbles.

Below a frightened orange tabby whose tail hung down into his line of vision, Mr. Bubbles began playfully swatting - and then looked me straight in the eye. I should have known right then, but I looked further for a few minutes. Mr. Bubbles kept calling me back, both because yes, he was already easier to interact with, but I liked the cheekiness too - so I adopted him!

I couldn't take him home the first night though; I was dogsitting for my parents, who were on a trip, and they weren't returning until the next day. Not wanting to deal with a newly adopted cat and a dog and then having a full day of work ahead, I signed the adoption papers and arranged to have my roommate at the time pick him up the next day. The rest is history!

One last thing: Mr. Bubbles is technically registered with the city just as "Bubbles". My original intention was to change his name completely ("You can tell a hapless toddler decided to name a 15lb tuxedo BUBBLES," the receptionist said with a bit of an eyeroll while I filled out paperwork). In the end, Mr. Bubbles ended up being the perfect combination of the dignity of being a cat and the almost laughable tragedy of being that majestic but not having opposable thumbs.

I hope you all have a good and safe weekend!

In love and service,
Cara
 
Our mailing address is:
Christ Episcopal Church
4548 Brooklyn Ave. NE
Seattle, Wa 98105

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