June 28, 2021
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Here at Incarnation, we have been very careful to follow strict safety protocols during worship, doing everything we can to keep our staff and congregation safe. And of course we welcome everyone to join us for in-person worship, whether vaccinated or not. Now that things are getting better in New York City, with vaccination rates going up and infection rates going down, we can loosen some of our restrictions.
First, there will be no more registration for services. You don’t need to sign up in advance. You don’t need to give contact information when you arrive. Just come. And when you come, we will no longer take your temperature. We ask that you still continue to practice physical distancing, and we will continue to mark every other pew for seating. We also will administer communion in the same fashion that we’ve been using since the church reopened.
Now a word about masks. At the 11:00 AM service, we will still require everyone to wear a mask throughout the service. We are together inside for about an hour, and we are singing. So we need to play it safe and keep wearing masks. Although when the preacher gives the sermon, he or she will unmask for that part of the service only.
At the 8:30 AM service, those who are fully vaccinated will not be required to mask. This service is considerably shorter than the 11:00 AM service, and there is no singing at all, making it quite safe for fully vaccinated people to go without masks. Of course, you can still wear a mask if you prefer. And we will require people who are not fully vaccinated to wear a mask at all times.
Finally, at the end of both services, feel free to walk straight back to the double doors to exit. You will no longer need to walk forward and depart via the side aisles.
Incarnation is pleased that we can take these small steps toward normalcy, while also remaining safe and vigilant because we are not out of the woods just yet with regard to the pandemic. All of these changes will be in place next Sunday, the first Sunday in July. We hope we will see you then and all throughout the summer. And we may have a further update along the way.
March 10, 2021
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
It is with great joy that I share some news about Incarnation’s plans for reopening. The Bishop of New York has lifted Diocesan restrictions on gathering for public worship, while leaving in place all protocols around worshiping safely – masking, distancing, limitations on singing and safe practice of the Eucharist. Adhering to these safety protocols and also public health guidelines, we are taking the following steps for resuming public worship.
- We will resume the Sunday 8:30 a.m. service of Holy Eucharist on March 21 and the Wednesday 12:15 p.m. service of Holy Eucharist on March 24.
- We will resume in-person worship at the Sunday 11:00 a.m. principal service on Palm Sunday, March 28, while continuing to live stream this service on YouTube.
- Likewise, our services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday will be both in person and live streamed.
- And, of course, this means we can worship in person on Easter Sunday!
Please see this flyer listing all Holy Week and Easter services, including those held on Zoom. For now, the Sunday 5:00 p.m. service will remain on Zoom, as will weekday services of the Daily Office and all parish programming.
Reopening is an incremental process. It will be some time before our communal life is fully restored, and there is always the chance that we will need to backtrack should Covid numbers go up. I also know that some parishioners are still not comfortable coming to church until we emerge from the pandemic. Holy Week and Easter will be spent online once again for many in our congregation. I hope the palm cross enclosed with the March newsletter might be a small comfort and tangible reminder that we all remain united in Christ’s self-giving love and victory over the grave.
January 1, 2021
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Bishop Andrew Dietsche recently issued a letter strongly urging parishes to suspend in-person worship. Incarnation is following his guidance and will no longer offer in-person worship after this Sunday, January 3. This means that the 12:15 p.m. Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday services of Holy Eucharist will be suspended until further notice. We will also discontinue Wednesday open church hours.
We will continue to livestream the Sunday 11:00 a.m. service on YouTube and hold the Sunday 5:00 p.m. service via Zoom. Our service schedule of the Daily Office via Zoom will also remain unchanged.
We have reason to hope that when Covid infection rates drop and as the vaccine becomes more widely available, our practice of gathering in person will be possible again. We also give thanks for the ability to stay connected virtually, which is important now more than ever.
While I am disappointed to deliver this news, I remain encouraged in the faith we share. Today is not only New Year’s Day but also the Feast of the Holy Name, which falls 8 days after Christmas and commemorates the naming of Jesus as recounted in the Gospel of Luke. The Hebrew word Yeshua that we translate as “Jesus” or “Joshua” means “God saves and helps.” It’s the “name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:10) and the name in which we pray, for Jesus promised, “If you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” (John 16:23).
Today we continue to call on the power of Jesus’ name. In the words of Bernard of Clairvaux, “To speak of it brings to the mind all that the name stands for. To call on it calms and soothes the heart.” Despite dark days, we know our God is strong and mighty to save. May Jesus calm and soothe your heart as we look together toward a brighter New Year.
November 6, 2020
Incarnation will be resuming the Wednesday 12:15 p.m. service of Holy Eucharist when we enter the liturgical season of Advent and the beginning of a new church year. This means our first Wednesday will be December 2. The church also will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. each Wednesday from that date going forward. This marks the next step in our phased reopening.
What will happen to our Zoom service of Wednesday Noonday Prayer? It will continue! But we will need to shift the start time to 1:00 p.m. in order to accommodate both services. For now, however, we will continue with our current schedule and remind you about the upcoming change as December nears.
October 14, 2020
In mid-September, Incarnation resumed the Sunday 8:30 a.m. service of Holy Eucharist. As the second step in returning to in-person worship, Incarnation intends to resume the Sunday 5:00 p.m. service of Candlelight Communion, provided there is sufficient parishioner interest and provided Covid-19 numbers remain low.
Candlelight Communion is a contemplative celebration of the Holy Eucharist that incorporates contemporary prayers, silence, and music led by a cantor. As a safety measure, Incarnation will eliminate congregational singing from this service and take extra precautions concerning our cantor’s leadership in worship. As with the 8:30 a.m. service, all participants must wear a mask and adhere to the guidelines in this safety document.
In order to successfully resume Candlelight Communion, we need your input! Please take a moment to complete this very brief survey.
August 26, 2020
The Vestry Reopening Committee and Incarnation Staff have been developing a plan for resuming the 8:30 a.m. Sunday service of Holy Eucharist. Provided that Covid numbers remain low in New York City, the first service will be held on September 20. As many of you know, this service lasts approximately 30 minutes, is entirely spoken, and is according to the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. It will be in the nave of the church, as opposed to the side chapel, and there will be several safety protocols in place.
As the date nears, will be sharing detailed instructions for entering and exiting the church, participating in worship and receiving communion (in one kind only). For those who might not feel comfortable worshiping in person just yet, we offer communion from the Reserved Sacrament in the Parish House by appointment. At this stage, we will continue to stream our principal Sunday service at 11:00 a.m. on YouTube and use Zoom to host our 5:00 p.m. Sunday service as well as our regular services of the Daily Office.
July 24, 2020
As I mentioned in the Summer Newsletter, Incarnation’s first step to returning to in-person worship will be resuming the 8:30 a.m. service of Holy Eucharist. The Vestry Reopening Committee met this week to discuss safety measures (fairly straightforward) and timing (not straightforward at all).
Precautions include obvious ones — like mandatory hand sanitizing, mask wearing and social distancing — plus some that go the extra mile — like temperature checks and recording attendance for contact tracing purposes. When the time comes, we will be ready.
On the note of timing, we want to hear from you. The Vestry Reopening Committee is seeking parishioner input about in-person worship, and the 8:30 a.m. service in particular, as we formulate a plan. We’ve developed a very brief survey of 5 questions. Will you take it? CLICK HERE to take the survey.
As this season of “Coronatide” drags on, the image of pilgrimage has become a helpful one for me. Henry David Thoreau writes in his book, Walden, “I have traveled a great deal in Concord.” In actuality, Concord is very small and Thoreau has been walking by a pond. The point is that he’s been on an internal pilgrimage, and that’s what real pilgrimage is. Traveling a great geographical distance is often part of it, but only because it helps the internal journey.
Arriving at a holy place is often part of pilgrimage too, and in some ways, worshiping together in our church home will be the holy destination. In a larger sense, the destination is yet to be revealed. We are on a pilgrimage that is both communal and personal, and it will look different for each of us as we travel over unchartered terrain.
As we all forge ahead, I offer you this pilgrim’s blessing:
Creator God, on the palm of whose hand we journey,
Hold and guide you gently.
Incarnate God, whose earthly pilgrimage is our inspiration,
Walk with you every step.
Companion God, whose wisdom kindles our hearts,
Give you strength and courage.
And the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.
May 27, 2020
The suspension of our in-person gatherings, especially worship, continues to be a difficult but necessary response to the pandemic. It can also be a confusing one. Our President recently ordered that all houses of worship re-open immediately. Our Governor has given permission for worship services to be held in gatherings of no more than ten people. Our Bishop has said absolutely no in-person worship until July 1, and even then with masks for all participants, including clergy and musicians. (While I’m not thrilled at the prospect of preaching with a mask on, I understand the Bishop’s concern.) Click here to read the Bishop’s May 24 letter with guidelines for resuming public worship.
I’ve detected a variety of views among congregation members as well. Some are metaphorically “beating down the doors,” desperate to return to their church home. Others have told me they will not return to in-person worship without a vaccine. And still others are torn because of the fear of public transportation required for them to get here. I certainly invite this kind of feedback from everyone.
Most of all, be assured that the Incarnation staff and Vestry are navigating the many Diocesan protocols along with varying sets of local and state guidelines. We are planing ahead as best we can during times that remain uncertain. Thank you for your patience. I want nothing more than for our congregation to congregate in person safely and wisely.
In the meantime, I continue to find encouragement in Scripture and especially these words of St. Paul: “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
With prayers for your health, safety, strength, and perseverance,
May 1, 2020
This morning the Bishop of New York released a letter stating that all churches in the Diocese must continue to suspend public worship until July 1. I have to admit, I was a little disheartened to read this new target date. How far away it seems. Yet I know it is necessary to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable within and beyond our congregation. In due time, the Bishop will provide us with “directions for a phased return to public worship and the re-opening of our churches.” Click here to read the letter.
For now, we seek to fully engage the creativity of online gatherings for prayer, worship, Christian formation and fellowship. We also press ahead with the Rector Search process. I encourage you to read Chris Stromee’s letter and please take a moment to complete the Parish Survey. If Incarnation is your church home, your voice is both welcome and integral to a successful search for a new leader, who will be steering our parish through a new era in the church and in the world. Please do weigh in.
I remain thankful that this community is moving forward in courage and in faith. We will continue to find ways to support one another in our life together as we remain apart.
God bless you,
March 16, 2020
This evening the Bishop of New York issued a directive to suspend public (in-person) worship for the next eight weeks (through Sunday, May 17), with a review of this policy to take place after Easter.
This is difficult news to digest, and it requires us to make a difficult shift in the way we worship together. Yet we undertake the following measures in faith that we may help decrease the wave of illness and in assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39)
Beginning tomorrow, we will use Zoom for three weekday services: Morning Prayer on Tuesdays at 8:00 a.m. and Noonday Prayer on Wednesdays and Fridays at 12:15 p.m.
Click on this link: https://zoom.us/j/3281388407
Or call: 929-205-6099
Meeting ID: 328 138 8407
We will use Zoom for Bible Study at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. Please consider joining us as we pick up the second session in an eight-part series on the Books of Samuel.
Click on this link: https://zoom.us/j/3281388407
Or call: 929-205-6099
Meeting ID: 328 138 8407
Session 2: The Origin of Kingship in Israel
This Sunday, we will live-stream our regularly scheduled service of Morning Prayer with Choir and Organ at 11:00 a.m. We also hope to have an online offering of worship at 5:00 p.m. Details on accessing both of these services will be shared later this week.
The Church will continue to be open during the week for private prayer and devotion from 11:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
We will be exploring other ways and sharing resources to help keep you spiritually grounded and connected to God and one another.
For anyone who is elderly, anyone who is ill, and anyone for whom a sustained period of social isolation may feel threatening, please let us know whether you have adequate food and medicine, and equally important, whether you have people checking in with you regularly. If not, we want to be those people for you. We would be honored to call, text, drop off necessities, and be present in whatever ways will make this time not only safe, but shared.
We encourage everyone to consider becoming part of Incarnation’s “buddy call system” by emailing the Rev. Pike at email@example.com.
And now a word about grace. Earlier today, the Presiding Bishop shared that a movement has begun in Milan and apparently throughout Italy. At 6:00 every evening, people come out on their porches and begin to applaud. Everyone claps as a way of saying “thank you” to the medical teams and the first responders who are hard at work. Then the applause moves into a song. This is becoming what the Presiding Bishop calls a “habit of grace” — a way of centering the day. Right now we must find and keep our own habits of grace, and hopefully we will develop some new, shared habits together.
Tomorrow, March 17, will be St. Patrick’s Day. There won’t be a parade, but we can all say a prayer attributed to the Saint of the Day:
“I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Holy Trinity. Through belief in the three-ness, through confession of the oneness, the creator of all creation. So Christ be with me. Christ before me. Christ behind me. Christ within me. Christ beneath me. Christ above me. Christ on my right. Christ on my left. Christ when I lie down. Christ when I sit up. Christ when I arise. Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me. Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me. Christ in the eye of everyone who sees me. Christ in every ear that hears me. Christ in the heart of friend and stranger.”
Christ is bigger than any virus, and we will seek to glorify him as we continue to be the Church.
March 15, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
This morning we held services of Holy Eucharist as scheduled, and we will be holding Candlelight Communion this evening. We are fortunate that the size of our sanctuary balanced with the size of our congregation allows for the kind of social distancing that is acceptable for those who are not already sick or vulnerable.
As the Bishop of New York has given parishes latitude to make decisions based on their own contexts, it is our hope that amid fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, we can maintain public worship for the time being. Below are some of the additional measures we took in worship this morning and will continue to take in order to stay safe:
- All worship services are taking place in the nave (the main part of the sanctuary); we will not be using the smaller, side chapel.
- Extra hand sanitizer is offered (and required) – not only at the entrance to the church, but now also at stations near the Communion rail.
- Ushers wear protective gloves.
- We are asking everyone to be mindful of social distancing when finding a seat in the pews and when kneeling at the Communion rail.
- Communion is “in one kind” (host only) at all services of Holy Eucharist; we are not offering wine.
- We are abstaining from physical contact during the Peace and at all other times.
We are planning to offer live-streaming of the 11:00 a.m. service on Sunday, March 22, for those who cannot be with us in person. If it becomes necessary to close the church next Sunday, this service will still be live-streamed.
As mentioned in my letter of March 13, we did not have any gatherings or programs in the Parish House today. The following gatherings this week will take place over Zoom video / audio conferencing:
- Christian Parenting Group, Wednesday, March 18, 9:45 t0 10:45 a.m.
- Confirmation Class, Wednesday, March 18, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
- Vestry meeting, Saturday, March 21, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The Women’s Group event, originally scheduled for Friday, March 20, is cancelled.
I want to assure you that physical distance from one another need not affect our spiritual intimacy as the body of Christ and the communion of saints. We must draw one another closer than ever before, especially in prayer, and find new ways of being church. To that end, Rik and I are working on a new, mid-week spiritual offering to bring us together through Zoom, dispersed though we may be.
I also commend the “buddy call system” to you mentioned in my last letter. Intended for those who would like to be paired with a fellow parishioner, “buddies” will connect with each other by phone once a day to see how the other is faring. We will group pairs together by location and trust this will provide an extra pastoral layer of care throughout our Incarnation community. Please email the Rev. Rik Pike at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
We are navigating difficult waters, and your parish leadership will continue to do its best to balance proper vigilance with hopeful perspective.
Peace and continued prayers for good health,
March 13, 2020
The health and well-being of our community is our top priority, and we continue to monitor advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and government officials.
Circumstances have been changing rapidly, and we’re aware that any communication might be out of date soon after it has been sent. At this moment, we plan to be open on Sunday, March 15, for our scheduled services at 8:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. We’re also in conversations about video recording or live streaming portions of the Sunday services moving forward.
We will be cancelling all other Sunday offerings on March 15, including Sunday School and nursery care for children, Adult Bible Study, Coffee Hour, and the forum on Mere Christianity.
I will be in touch soon about plans for next week and events currently on our church calendar.
Please pray daily for those who work in our hospitals and nursing homes, and of course for the sick and their families who support them. If you know anyone who is self-isolating at the moment, do pick up the phone to encourage them. Please keep an eye out for your elderly neighbors who may need your practical assistance with shopping or other needs. Let them know you are available to help.
Along these lines, we are creating a “buddy call system.” Intended for those who would like to be paired with a fellow parishioner, “buddies” will connect with each other by phone once a day to see how the other is faring. We will group pairs together by location and trust this will provide an extra pastoral layer of care throughout our Incarnation community. Please email the Rev. Rik Pike at email@example.com if you are interested.
As you know, panic is getting tangible in our city. Our calling is to make the love of Christ more tangible still. Jesus said that “perfect love drives out fear,” and we can all play our part in supporting one another through this crisis.
May the peace of the Lord be with us all – this day and always,
March 11, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
Coronavirus activity in New York and around the world continues to evolve and dominate the news. We ask that you join in prayer for those who are concerned for their loved ones, those who are infected, those who are living in great anxiety, and those who are working tirelessly to provide medical care and educate the public.
Worship is at the heart of all that we do at Incarnation, and over the past two Sundays, I’ve shared some responses to contagion concerns as they relate to our common life. After careful consideration, and in concert with the currently recommended public health practices for New York City, we are adhering to the following guidelines in order to keep our community safe and not be fearful of gathering in God’s name.
If you are well, and able, come to church! As long as you are feeling well and have not been exposed to the virus, then continue to join us in worship.
If you have come into contact with someone infected, or are advised that you may be at risk of contagion, then please self-quarantine for the recommended period (currently 14 days).
If you are ill, please stay home. The most important way to minimize the spread of infections is for people who have symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing, or coughing, to stay home and seek medical testing / attention as symptoms warrant. Please let me or the church office know if you are ill, as we want to keep you in prayer and offer pastoral care as you recuperate.
When you enter the church or Parish House, please wash your hands or use the hand sanitizer placed near the entrance. Clergy and lay servers will also wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before services and use hand sanitizer before distributing communion.
During the Peace, we encourage you to remain in your pew and greet one another with a wave or a bow. COVID-19 is most effectively transmitted from people’s hands to their faces, so avoiding hand-to-hand contact is an important strategy for inhibiting infection.
Please note these important instructions regarding Communion.
- Those who are concerned may abstain from communion or receive “in one kind” (host only).
- The practice of intinction (dipping the wafer in the wine) is suspended for the time being.
- We are using the silver chalice for Candlelight Communion for additional antimicrobial protection.
Following the service, we encourage conversation in the receiving line but not physical contact (e.g., offering an “elbow bump” or using a hand gesture that precludes touching, rather than a hand shake).
Please be assured that the safety of all who enter Incarnation is our utmost concern. Our sextons are regularly disinfecting common areas, including elevator buttons, counter-tops, doorknobs, and handrails throughout the church and Parish House.
Stay connected to Incarnation virtually, if you cannot join us in person.
- We will post this information, and any subsequent changes to our guidelines, prominently on the homepage of our church website.
- Remember that the Sunday sermon is uploaded on the Sermons Page of the website each Monday. We are also looking into recording other aspects of worship for sharing online.
- For classes and meetings that take place in the Parish House, you will have the option to participate remotely through Zoom, a conferencing service that allows you to join the class / meeting by video or phone. More information on Zoom will appear in this Friday’s e-minder / the website.
- In time, we also will make use of Zoom to create a new spiritual offering that includes Scripture, reflection and prayer. Details will follow soon.
Above all else, remember these words:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” — Isaiah 43:1-3
Incarnation has a strong tradition of caring for members of our community in times of illness and health. With God’s help, we will continue that tradition together. Not one of us is alone while we have each other. Not one of us is alone because God walks with us.
The Rev. Adrian Dannhauser, Interim Priest in Charge