Dear Beloved Parishioner,
I, your priest, and the parish council received a directive from our local hierarch, His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, giving directions to his parish during this time of the COVID-19.
Applying his direction to the St. Sophia parish and following the guidelines of Whatcom County:
- Until directed by His Eminence to do otherwise, all of our services, including the Divine Liturgy on Sundays, will be conducted by me, your priest, and the chanters only.
- Since Whatcom County directs that there should not be groups of ten or more, (as difficult as it is to say) I humbly request our parishioners, especially those over sixty years of age, to stay home and watch the services online during this time.
- We have been and will be live-streaming our services St. Sophia on Facebook Live. You can search find the live link at the time of services at www.facebook.com/SaintSophias or by typing “Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church @SaintSophias.” The live streams of other parishes in our Metropolis can be found on the Metropolis of San Francisco website www.sanfran.goarch.org.
- All meetings and gatherings such as coffee hour, Bible study, Philoptochos meetings, youth gatherings are canceled. The parish council may meet when needed to discuss parish business.
- I am always available to minister to your needs. If you would like to visit me in my office or to schedule a visit at your home or place of business, please call or text me on my mobile phone at (360) 398-3768. I will be my joy to bring the Holy Communion as well as Holy Unction to you and share our Orthodox Faith. It would help me greatly if you would call me rather than waiting for me to call.
I know there are a lot of unknowns and questions to asked. Please call me and I will try to answer them as I am able.
It pains me to not be able to gather with you in the “usual way" each Sunday! May this serve to increase our zeal for the Liturgical and life in Christ and the other holy aspects of our Community. I pray that this temporary time of social distancing will be short an effective.
With Much Love in Christ,
Fr. Michael Tervo and the Parish Council of the St. Sophia Parish
Office Phone: (360) 734-8745
Below is an excerpt from Metropolitan Gerasimos’ directive:
“The pervasiveness of COVID-19 into every corner of our Metropolis makes it nearly impossible to monitor city by city and county by county the guidelines and protocols for each area. According to the recent guidelines issued by the White House and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted. For this reason, I am directing all parishes in the Metropolis of San Francisco to observe the following until further notice:
1. All parishes must adhere to the guidelines mandated by local, state and federal authorities.
2. For all services, including the Divine Liturgy, clergy may conduct services with one chanter, and one or two necessary assistants. The participation of the faithful should be in accordance with the parameters set forth by the authorities, or by encouraging them to participate through the various online resources which are attached.
3. Funerals are to be conducted with immediate family only.
4. Unless the situation is urgent, baptisms should be rescheduled.
5. Clergy will make themselves available to minister to the individual needs of their faithful.
6. Monastic communities are to be closed to all visitors.
During the difficult time of this pandemic, these words from the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil are especially appropriate, “Remember, Lord, the people here present and those who are absent with good cause. Have mercy on them and on us according to the multitude of Your mercy.”
To say these are challenging times is an understatement. However, we must remain strong in our faith, and use this time when other worldly distractions are removed from our attention to instead focus on prayer, reading the Holy Scriptures, fasting, and truly prepare to receive the Crucified and Resurrected Christ into our lives on the Great Feast of Pascha!
With Love in Christ,