Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message May 30, 2021

The St. Anna Altar just before the Vigil on the Eve of Pascha. Photo by Mark Vrontikis

Christ is risen from the dead. Trampling down and death by death. And to those in the tombs, He is bestowing life.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is Risen!

Truly He is Risen!

It was a joy to “worship” with you for the last two Sundays, as I was able to join St. Anna’s via YouTube for the Liturgies celebrated by Frs. Lou Christopulos and Daniel Payne. I am grateful for their service while we were away. I am just as grateful to be back, refreshed and ready to get going on what will prove to be a very busy summer. The events of the summer will begin this Sunday as we finish our Sunday School Year with graduation to take place following the Divine Liturgy. We bless our Program Graduates, Markella Savas, Zachary Petrogeorge and Eleni Yannias. We also extend our blessings and congratulations to all high school and college graduates. 

I also wish to extend an invitation to our Annual Spring Parish Assembly that will take place following the services this Sunday, May 30th. There is much to discuss and learn about, including the sale of the home donated to St. Anna’s, the next, possible stages of our church build out, and the updates to our Covid safety protocols. These are all very positive and exciting points of discussion. I don’t think anyone will want to miss out on this information. 

Specifically to the point of our Medical Advisory Ministry Team (MAM), I would like to share in advance of the Assembly, some highlighted points from our ministry chair, Dr. Julie Steele. She and her committee have worked extremely hard for the last year to keep us as safe as possible while walking the fine, ever-changing and difficult line of balancing our tolerance levels with our legitimate concerns. I praise them for their diligence, expertise and fidelity to our Lord and His precious children who are entrusted to our care. Here are Julie’s initial thoughts for us:

Based on the updated CDC guidelines for individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and recent state legislation, masks and face coverings will no longer be required at St. Anna’s. The MAM has reviewed this guidance and supports this transition. In accordance with the CDC guidelines the MAM encourages individuals to wear a mask due to vaccination status and/or other personal factors.

The results of our recent survey show that the majority of respondents report that they have been or intend to get vaccinated. There was still some hesitancy about return to worship without masks or face coverings. The need to protect young unvaccinated children was a concern. We thank you for your participation in this survey and feel we had a good response rate.

As a reminder, people are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after completing the recommend vaccine schedule. This means that many of the youth in our community have not yet had an opportunity to be fully vaccinated, and it will be 1-2 months before they will be able to fully vaccinated as only the 2 dose vaccine is approved for youth.

Regardless of what someone chooses (mask or no mask), we are a community and ask everyone to be respectful of individual decisions on mask wearing. We also remind you to continue with your good hand hygiene and please stay home if you are sick.  We will discuss more details of what this means for planning of summer activities, coffee hour, return of printed materials, choir and congregational singing at the General Assembly on Sunday (May 30th).

Special thanks to our diverse Medical Advisory Ministry for sharing their time and expertise, and to Tom Leitko for his amazing help with the survey.”

So my beloved in the Lord, the bottom-line take away, is that we are making progress toward a normalized way of life: at home, in society, at school, at work and in Church! I so look forward to the planning and implementation of in-person gatherings, ministry activities and all that we hold dear as a community. We are truly emerging from a dark and difficult place. You have been patient and lovely through a challenging year. I pray for those whom we have lost, knowing that their families are grounded in the promise of Resurrection to Life!

Please be aware that for a time in July, we will be discontinuing our livestreaming service for a short time. It’s now time that we remove the camera, computer, cables and cords from the front of the church and relocate our equipment to a more appropriate location. To those of us who depend on livestreaming, please know that we will make these changes as quickly as possible. I also remind you to contact me or your parish priest (for our beloved out-of-state brothers and sisters) to make sure that you are pastorally served and given the opportunity for a Sacramental participation at home. But hey, if you’ve just grown accustomed to livestream church – it’s time to come back! We miss you. I miss all of you.

There is much to say and much to look forward to in the coming days, weeks and months. Changes. Good changes. Fantastic changes. All to God’s glory and for the benefit of His faithful. Again, please be attentive at tomorrow’s Parish Assembly so you can hear everything first-hand. In celebration of God’s love, as evident in His third day rising, I remain,

With Love in the Resurrected Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas