Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Last Wednesday, our bishop authorized us to reopen our parish facilities. Along with the Wardens and the Vestry I am putting a CV19 Task Force to begin planning our physical in-person gatherings based on the guidelines given by the diocese.
For this process we want to hear from you, so please take a few minute to fill out a brief survey about reopening our buildings. This survey will be in a seperate email. We will provide more information to you as we develop our plan. I invite you to continue participating in our online service and zoom meetings that are being offered. We are looking forward to being able to gather again. May God keep us in good health and in his love.
The Rev. Fabio Sotelo
Dear friends in Christ, today I received a message from our Bishop Wright sharing his decision that our churches in the diocese of Atlanta will remain online until May 24th. As he said, “the church is not closed, she is adapting!” To this end, along with the vestry, the communications committee, the staff, the worship committee, and the LEV, I am working to discover ways to be church under these circumstances. Please remain connected with us, check in, tell us how you are during this time, your well-being is so important to me and to all our parish family. Here is the message from our bishop:
The Rev. Fabio Sotelo, Interim Priest
March 24, 2020
Beloved, two weeks ago we moved all worship and meetings in the Diocese of Atlanta online until further notice. Regrettably, now given the rapidly increasing amount of cases of Covid-19 in the state of Georgia and given the average age of our membership, it’s clear we should continue to worship and meet online until May 24.
This of course includes Holy Week, Clergy Renewal of Vows, and Easter. We establish this timeline with the full support of our Presiding Bishop.
Between now and May 24, we will be monitoring the situation regularly and updating the diocese as necessary relying on the expertise and experience of a diverse council of advice.
To be sure, there are a host of practical considerations and questions that are emerging as we adapt to this challenge. Know that my staff and I are preparing a list of resources, supports and initiatives to be sent out before the end of this week to assist you as you do the work of the church.
Finally, as I have said in other places, I continue to be proud of and inspired by so many of you. This is not the Lent that we wanted, but this is the Lent we have. And though God did not cause this virus, God and God’s church can use this virus!
So many are adapting to this extraordinary season of disruption and challenge with collegiality and imagination, with generosity and with grit. And I sincerely thank you! Also, I urge you not to simply endure these present circumstances, but to lean in.
Be on high alert for how this virus can help us more deeply live into being partners with Jesus Christ for the world. Know that I am right beside you in this and the Spirit is beside us all.
Now is a great time to remember that we as the followers of Jesus are “salt and light.” So let us season these times with a mature and public faith in God. And let us illuminate God’s trustworthiness even as we face a forest of daily question marks.
The church is not closed, she is adapting!
God bless you. Be encouraged.
Clergy, continue to be free to open churches to any recognized 12-step programs that still wish to gather. 12-step programs are life-saving and, wherever it is safely possible, they should be allowed to continue. Leaders and participants of such programs must agree to abide by the current health and safety practices that have been issued to the general public.
Also, if funerals have already been scheduled and cannot be postponed, they must be celebrated adhering to the current restrictions on attendance and physical distance. However, no new funerals or memorial services should be planned for this period.
Mis queridos hermanos y hermanas de san Eduardo,
En verdad yo siento que ustedes a quienes he llegado a conocer a través de mi labor pastoral son mis verdaderos hermanos y hermanas en Cristo. Así que como su hermano y desde lo más profundo de mi corazón, he escrito este mensaje para ustedes ante esta crisis humanitaria del Coronavirus que esta causando tanta tristeza, dolor, angustia, confusión y muerte en el mundo.
Ante todo quiero invitarlos a mantener en alto el amor, la fe y la esperanza en estos días difíciles; el pánico no es de Dios ni de su pueblo. Sus regalos espirituales del amor, la fe y la esperanza nunca serán afectados por ningún virus de cualquier naturaleza que sea; pues “el amor nunca pasará.” (Cor. 13)
Mantengamos en alto el amor. Si alguien tiene que quedarse en casa por precaución o aislarse físicamente por la enfermedad, favor sepan que espiritualmente estamos unidos uno al otro aun cuando no nos veamos. Dios nos une a través de la oración y el apoyo mutuo. Dios esta con nosotros, el no nos abandona nunca. Dios, quien es amor, siempre gana, siempre ganará.
Conservemos en alto nuestra fe. Comprendamos que Dios esta trabajando incansablemente para que encontremos los medios necesarios, vacunas, medicinas, protocolos para frenar este mal que preocupa a todos en el mundo. Oremos por los enfermos, por los que están en cuarentena, los que tienen que separarse de sus seres queridos y de sus lugares habituales para recibir tratamiento, por los que han fallecido a consecuencia de este virus y sus familiares.
Mantengamos en alto nuestra esperanza. Esperamos que este virus no nos haga separarnos por mucho tiempo. Tomemos esta crisis como parte de nuestros sacrificios cuaresmales, viviendo la soledad del desierto que Jesús vivió en su experiencia espiritual y en solidaridad con todos los que tienen que vivir en aislamiento por largos años de sus vidas; pensemos, por ejemplo en los ancianos y enfermos en hospitales y auspicio de ancianos, los presos, los detenidos…
Les pido que obremos con mucha responsabilidad cristiana siguiendo los protocolos y recomendaciones de los expertos en la salud, para que con una sana actitud podamos detener el contagio y la propagación del mal. Seamos solidarios unos con otros; si vamos a las tiendas, mantengamos una actitud cordial sin acaparar los bienes que todos necesitamos; mostremos al mundo que la otra persona también nos importa, y aunque las circunstancias nos aíslan, el otro no es una amenaza a nuestra existencia. Esta crisis es una gran oportunidad de hacer el bien.
Oro para que esta Pascua a la cual nos estamos acercando, venga con el regalo de una vida nueva, con salud y la gran bendición de poder volver a nuestra casa común, su iglesia para cantara Dios, leer y reflexionar sobre su Palabra de Vida, a saludarnos de mano y a beber de la misma copa de Salvación que Cristo conquistó por nosotros en la cruz.
Muchas veces el mundo de hoy no valora lo que es importante, tal como celebrar la fe juntos, partir el pan de la vida y el cáliz de salvación con nuestros hermanos y hermanas en la fe. Pido a mi Dios que la pascua del 2020 venga también con una nueva renovación espiritual; donde pongamos nuestra fe en alto, donde pertenece y hagamos de Dios nuevamente brille como nuestro aliado de vida, esperanza y salvación.
En este tiempo de aislamiento, llamémonos, escribámonos, dejémonos saber como estamos, y por supuesto, si necesitas llámame, para orar y darte fortaleza, cuenten conmigo siempre.
Que el Dios de amor y quien todo lo puede, detenga este mal en el mundo y nos enseñe a vivir en amor y solidaridad con todos, todos los días de nuestras vidas.
En el amor de Cristo,
Padre Fabio Sotelo
March 14, 2020
My dear friends in Christ,
After talking to our bishop and listening what the government is inviting us to do, as a precaution, love and responsibility, we are canceling all our worship services and gatherings at Saint Edward’s effective today, March 14th until March 28th. This is a very difficult decision to make because the first thing we are called to do during this challenging time is to pray together and offer support to each other.
For this Sunday, we encourage all to live stream a service from the Cathedral of St. Philip. Here is the invitation from Dean Sam Candler.
I invite you find ways to encourage one another, the LEV please reach out to the people you usually take communion to, and be present to them praying with them over the phone so they continue feeling the communion with God and the parish.
Please know that I am here, we don’t abandon each ever, and especially now when we need each other. If you feel the need, please call me 678 541 1730, and we can talk and pray together.
With great faith, prudence, and prayer we will find the way to stop this evil in the world.
In the love of Christ,
The Rev. Fabio Sotelo
Dear friends of Saint Edwards,
I am writing to you during this pandemic coronavirus to invite all of you to keep your love, your faith and your hope high. Panic does not belong to us, nor to God’s people, because we know that these spiritual gifs of faith, love, hope will never be affected by any virus at all.
Keep Love high. If somebody has to stay at home as a precaution, please know that we are united as a parish community even when we are not together, we are present to each other in our prayers and support. God is with us in these particular moments of our lives together; God never abandons us, and God always wins.
Keep Faith high, knowing that God is working hard, very hard I believe, to send us the necessary help to stop this evil that is affecting the lives of many people around the world. We pray for all those who are sick with this illness, those who are isolated from their loved ones, those who will have to isolate themselves from the people they love, and from the places where they live.
Keep hope high. We really hope that this virus won’t keep us, for too long, distant and afraid. I am taking this crisis as part of my Lenten journey of wilderness to be in solidarity to whose lives are a permanent wilderness. I pray that our Easter gift from God will be a healthy world where all of us can go back to church to shake hands again and drink from the same cup of Jesus that gives to us eternal life.
We have been taking this threat to our lives seriously, following the guidelines given from the diocese, but also our own initiatives, such us, developing a bulleting that contains all you need to worship, uploading our bulletin on our own webpage so anyone of you have access to it…
Along with the Vestry and our staff we will continue talking, discerning and sharing important information to you making sure that during these times you are safe, and that we care for you and each other. If you are at home, please check with us and let us know what is happening in your life and how we can assist your spiritual needs.
In the love of Christ,
The Rev. Fabio Sotelo
Episcopal Church of Saint Edwards
From Fr. O’s corner………
Time flies. It is Tuesday in Holy Week already. As I was working on the several services for this week and Easter, it occurred to me to point out a few important things about Holy Week and Easter.
For me, without Holy Week, there would be no Easter. That is, without our Lord’s crucifixion, there would be no resurrection. Another way of saying this might be that without true pain, there would be no true Joy of New Life.
True pain occurs when we are able to walk the walk with Christ, trying to imagine and feel the pain He went through this week. He suffered such pains as abuse, false accusations, ridicule, torture, insults and finally, the agony and pain of being nailed alive on a wooden cross.
It is more poignant for us to also remember that Our Lord freely suffered all this because of His sacrificial LOVE for you and me.
We should not only feel our Lord’s pain, but our own as well, by honestly giving ourselves, and all that impedes us from being faithful and closer to God; to die on the cross with Him.
It is when we can truly feel His pain, our pain, to die with Him that we will truly resurrect with Him on Easter Day.
The power and gift of the Resurrection is given by God, based on God’s ongoing LOVE for us. We are given this New Life through God’s love to start anew, to be the Light of Christ to the world. We are given the power we need to be Light of Christ to the world through the resurrection, that is, the power of the Holy Spirit.
In this New Life we become a Resurrected People, as well as a Resurrected Church.
What then are the characteristics of a Resurrected People and a Resurrected Church? From my perspective they are one and the same, namely:
- We must become the Light of Christ to the world.
- We must forgive all who offends us as well as accept the forgiveness of all those we offend.
- We must love all other by seeing the Christ in them.
- We must be hospitable by inviting, welcoming and connecting with all whom we come across.
- We must love God with all our souls, strength, mind, and spirit.
- We must also live a lifestyle that exemplifies love for our neighbors as ourselves, irrespective of who they are.
- We must always give thanks to God for all of His blessings freely bestowed on us daily.
- Most importantly, we must live a lifestyle based on our Baptismal Covenant.
Above all, let us accept this powerful, enriching and gracious love from God, bask in it, thereby allowing it to flow through us to others in ways which will bring us all closer to God.
Through this Love, let us love one another as God Loves us, irrespective of who they are, where they come from, what they look like, and regardless of their color, remembering that we are all created by the same by God.
Finally my friends in Christ, let us truly welcome the gift of this New Life, with happiness and joy, giving thanks to God for His ongoing love for us.
May we as individuals and as a Church be ever blessed by the joy of Easter and all the blessings that come with it. Amen.
Cómo vuela el tiempo, parece que acabamos de recibir en el año nuevo y aquí estamos ya más de la mitad del segundo mes de 2019… y contando!
Mientras seguimos contando nuestras bendiciones, reflejamos que todavía tenemos mucho que agradecer a Dios, ya que continuamos nuestro viaje juntos este año apoyándonos en la guía del Espíritu Santo para trazar nuestra dirección.
Agradecemos a Dios por nuestra exitosa reunión anual, donde pudimos escuchar y compartir los diversos desarrollos positivos en nuestro nuevo, resucitado y vibrante St. Edwards. Como un feligrés compartió conmigo recientemente, y cito: “me encanta mi iglesia más ahora que antes, porque es animado, más amistoso, más acerca de la felicidad, la acogida y la participación que antes. Definitivamente nos estamos moviendo en la dirección correcta. Gracias a Dios. ”
Buenas noticias de hecho. Sin embargo, ambos hemos reconocido que no podemos esforzarnos por descansar en nuestros logros, pero debemos permitirles que nos inspiren a continuar seguir adelante bajo la guía del Espíritu Santo, nuestro amor por los demás y por esta iglesia que todos amamos.
Mirando hacia adelante, el mes que viene comenzaremos nuestra temporada cuaresmal el 6 de marzo, miércoles de ceniza. En un par de días publicaremos un calendario completo de todos nuestros programas cuaresmales que conducen a la Pascua. Espero y ruego que todos ustedes se esforzarán por participar en todos, si no, en la mayoría de los eventos ofrecidos.
Nuestro tema cuaresmal de este año es “una manera cristiana de pasar de la muerte a la resurrección”. Basándonos en Quiénes somos como cristianos, Miraremos el tema de la muerte, biológica, filosófica, física y espiritualmente. ¿Cuáles son los efectos de cada uno de estos aspectos individuales sobre nosotros, y cómo manejamos las situaciones de una manera que nos conduzca a la resurrección.
Si usted piensa en ello, St. Edwards pasó por un período que podría describirse como morir (muerte) y ahora está experimentando un período de rejuvenecimiento o resurrección.
Terminaremos la serie semanal examinando el significado de la resurrección y cómo vivir una vida centrada en la resurrección—con los desafíos inherentes que plantea, puede cambiar y mejorar nuestra perspectiva como cristianos.
Por favor, recuerden que siempre están bendecidos con el amor y la gracia infinita de Dios, sean un recipiente dispuesto para este amor, lo acepten, se deleiten en él y lo compartan de manera significativa y fiel con los demás.
How time flies, it seems that we just welcomed in the New Year and here we are already more than halfway through the second month of 2019… and counting!
As we continue to count our blessings we reflect that we still have a lot to thank God for as we continue our journey together this year leaning on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to chart our direction.
We thank God for our successful Annual Meeting, where we were able to hear and share the various positive developments at our new, resurrected and vibrant St. Edwards. As one parishioner shared with me recently, and I quote: ” I love my church more now than before, because it is lively, more friendly, more about happiness, welcoming, and engaging than before. We are definitely moving in the right direction. Thanks be to God.”
Good news indeed. However, we both acknowledged that we cannot effort to rest on our achievements but must allow them to inspire us to continue to move ahead under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our love for one another and for this Church which we all love.
Looking ahead, next month we will be starting our Lenten Season on March 6th, Ash Wednesday. In a couple of days we will be publishing a complete full schedule of all our Lenten programs leading up to Easter. I hope and pray that you will all endeavor to participate in all, if not, in most of the events offered.
Our Lenten Theme this year is “A Christian Way of Moving from Death to Resurrection.” Based on who we are as Christians, we will look at the issue of death, biologically, philosophically, physically and spiritually. What are the effects of each of these individual aspects on us, and how do we handle situations in a way that will lead us to resurrection.
If you think about it, St. Edwards went through a period that could be described as dying (death) and is now experiencing a period of rejuvenation or resurrection.
We will end the weekly series by looking at the meaning of resurrection and how living a resurrection-focused life —with the inherent challenges it poses, can change and enhance our perspective as Christians.
Please remember that you are always blessed with God’s infinite love and grace, be a willing vessel for this love, accept it, bask in it, and share it meaningfully and faithfully with others.
From Fr. O’s corner………Counting Our Blessings and Respond Faithfully…
What a glorious 50th Celebration!!! All the activities before the Gala and the finale, that is, the finale on Sunday October 14, made all of us at St. Edward’s proud and thankful to God. God has truly blessed us for the last 50years.
Let me use this opportunity once again to thank everyone who participated to make the events and the celebration meaningful and successful, especially the 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee. They were diligent in prayer and dedicated to every detail, with faith that all would come out gloriously. And it did! Let me also say special thanks to Fr. Fabio and our Latino Mission for their tangible contributions. For those who may not know, our brother and sisters from the Latino Ministry painted the Parish Hall and the Breezeway, manicured the grass, and jet-washed all the major buildings on the campus, at no cost to the parish. Thanks and praise be to our Gracious and loving God. We have many good reasons to continue to count our blessings, because God continues to bless us abundantly.
The challenging we face going forward and the question we need to ask ourselves as we begin the next 50 years is: how do we respond faithfully to all these blessings as well as look forward to many more blessings from God?
First, I believe we have to continue to wrestle with who are we as a church, and of whom are we, and supposed to be, and what is God’s plan, mission for us as a Church?
Let me once again share what I see and think — knowing full well– that what matters most is not what I think, but what we think together as a worshipping community. I see a church that is a true Ecclesia, that is, one that has almost all the faces of God’s creation, trying to live together in love and with love as God loves us. That is a relationship that demands and entails a sacrificial love for one another irrespective of who we are, or how we look. This is, of course, not an easy way to walk, yet we all know that it is what God calls us to do and be. This is an example of what I mean by finding out and facing the reality of who we are as Church. What does it really mean to be a Multi-Cultural Worshipping Community where everyone feels they truly belong? For those who may not know, we are one of the leading Churches in this Diocese that can genuinely claim a rich multiculturism. This is a great blessing to us all. This is a well- known fact in our diocese — and not surprisingly, there are some churches that are curious and want to learn from us.
The other important aspect of who we are and of whom we are is that we are called to be the light of Christ to our neighbors, families, community, and the world. With our multicultural diversity we should be able to spread Christ’s light to the ends of the earth.
So from my perspective, not only are we blessed, but we already have many gifts, talents and time to faithfully respond to our blessings in significant ways for the next fifty years.
So my friends in Christ, as we move forward experiencing upcoming events in the life of the Church Universal, and our part of it as St. Edward’s, let us cherish the events, see them as God’s continual blessings and a challenge for us to respond to faithfully.
I am referring to the following:
1. Our Harvest Ingathering, with the Taste of St. Edward’s cuisine and luncheon.
2. The season of Advent that starts on first Sunday in December.
3. The ingathering of our Stewardship Campaign on December 2nd when we bring for to the altar our pledges of Time, Talent, and Treasure to a loving God who continues to bless us with our faithful response of THANK YOU.
4. But most important of all is the season of Christmastide, when we expect and welcome the greatest gift God can ever give us, that is, God Incarnate through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
For me each of these events is a reminder — and evidence of God’s continual blessings, that challenges me to faithfully respond as I share the blessings with all persons I meet.
Lastly, but certainly not the least, Jean and I truly appreciate and thank you for your love. We recognize and accept this love as part of our blessings. THANK YOU!
We also like to say that we truly love everyone in our parish and our worship community.
May our gracious God continue to bless us all abundantly.
The Rev. Canon Dr. A Gordon Okunsanya
…But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31