Message from Fr Gary - November - December 2020
Gratitude and Encouragement: Fr. Gary’s Message
Struggles cause us to look at things from a different point of view. These circumstances either allow us to grow in profound ways or they impede us, and we stagnate. 2020 gave us two, solid, normal months before throwing us on a trajectory that none of us had ever experienced. We got to enjoy January and February 2020 as if it were any other year before Covid-19 made its debut in early March. Since then fear and anxiety surrounding the unknowns of this pandemic have plagued us as much as the virus itself.
Here at St. Demetrios we have been doing everything we can to support each other and find ways to cope with this newfound stress. Parishioners of all ages, kids to adults, have participated and contributed in many ways by making the Church a concentrated reality in our lives. Online services, studies in faith, extra services, uplifting lawn signs, and even a shopping ministry for aid those at risk.
Today I am asking that you take a moment and to help start a silent and, what I hope to be an extremely, beneficial ministry. A ministry that everyone can participate in to make a huge difference in the lives of each parishioner. Take a few minutes to spread gratitude and encouragement. Your brief time and effort to acknowledge the work you have witnessed exerted by fellow parishioners will establish a great spirit of appreciation.
The First Letter to the Thessalonians chapter 5 is amazing and very inspirational, but two extremely specific verses serve us well as we contribute to this silent project. St. Paul writes, “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). He continues in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." The groundwork for this silent ministry is founded in scripture, it is nothing new. Let us set it in motion.
If you are still reading this, and wish to participate, this is what I would like you to do. Identify five members of St. Demetrios and send each a personalized, handwritten card. In this note thank and encourage them for something wonderful you witnessed. Lift them up with gracious praise and inspire them with generous acknowledgement. Simply offer gratitude and encouragement to someone you see at services or church events.
If you don’t have their mailing address, simply write the cards, place your name and return address on it, with a stamp, and the recipient’s name and get them to me. I will address and mail the envelopes. In the card, include this line: “You are receiving this as part of the Silent Gratitude and Encouragement Ministry of the parish that was mentioned in Fr. Gary’s message in the Myrrh-Bearer.” Ask them to widen the range of reception and in return for the note they received from you that they write one to another parishioner. Let us see how long and deep we can take this exercise.
It is feasible that you will receive a note (or two). When you do, please continue to send new notes out to new people. Be creative as you recollect acts of kindness you witnessed. If you do not know someone’s name; call, email, or text me, and I will help you. If we all take a few minutes each day and participate several things will happen.
First, we will bring great joy into the lives of our fellow St. Demetrios parishioners. We all need a pick me up and just imagine how awesome you will make someone feel when you share with them how a simple and easy action moved you and how you appreciated it. Think about how motivated that person will be to hear that the effort they pour into the Church affects you. Second, you will find great satisfaction from this simple task. Our mood is positively affected when we express gratitude. Verbalizing gratitude is great, but writing out our sentiments creates greater retention. It is scientifically proven that writing a thank you note releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters that make us feel good. You are going to feel better by participating.
Your observations and insights will elevate the spirit of optimism within our parish. This is a great opportunity for us to spread the love of God in a specific and unique way. This is the time of year when we lose daylight and moods are automatically adversely affected, participating in this silent and special ministry will bring you great joy as you uplift your fellow Christian.
In Christ’s Service,
Fr. Gary Kyriacou
Following is an email update from Fr. Gary and your St. Demetrios Covid Response Team (Michael Metropoulos- Chairman, Dr. Bob Gonzalez, and Mandee Sanderson, PC President)
Since December 5, 2020, Ventura County has been under a Stay-At-Home Order from the State of California’s Public Health Department. This order requires 100% masking, social distancing (6 feet) and hand washing or hand sanitizer on arrival to church. It prohibits our Church from holding indoor services.
Our only options are Outdoor services or Internet only services. We will always favor holding Outdoor Services. Weather may, at times, represent a challenge, so we encourage you to bring coats and blankets for your comfort.
On Sunday, December 6, 2020, a potential Covid-19 exposure occurred at the St. Demetrios Liturgy and General Assembly Meeting. Late on the following Tuesday (12/8/20), an attendee developed fatigue and aching. On the following day, Wednesday (12/9/20), this individual was tested, and results returned positive for Covid-19 infection on Friday (12/11/20)
This person had no symptoms of Covid-19 infection at the time of services and underwent our screening process which included the documentation of a normal temperature. During services, our parishioner maintained social distancing and wore a mask the entire time. The person did not receive Communion. Parishioners who were present at the December 6th services were called and informed of the potential exposure by Fr. Gary and a member of our Committee on Friday, 12/11/20.
Dr. Bob Gonzalez, as our Parish Health Officer, contacted the Ventura County Public Health Department’s Physician Covid Consultation Line. A doctor-to-doctor discussion took place, and our Covid-19 exposure was deemed low risk. The following are important facts and directions from the Public Health Department:
- Low risk does not mean no risk. If you develop symptoms of Covid-19, you should contact your doctor and be tested. We will attach a list of Covid-19 symptoms for you to monitor.
- If you develop symptoms, you should self-quarantine until you receive a negative Covid-19 test
- Attendees of the Diving Liturgy and General Assembly do not need to be tested unless they develop symptoms
- Everyone should continue to wear an approved mask, maintain 6 feet of social distancing and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands on arrival to Church
Please notify Fr. Gary if you develop symptoms.
We have worked hard to ensure everyone’s safety but sometimes things happen which cannot be predicted. Under Fr. Gary’s leadership, the Covid Response Team has made the following interventions:
- Parking Lot reconfiguration to ensure appropriate distancing
- Symptom screening and temperature checks at cars prior to seating under arbor
- Physical distancing guidelines and seating
- Control of elevator and bathroom use to prevent crowding
- Adoption of no touch Communion
- Individual microphone use
- Suspension of choir worship
- Suspension of Coffee Hour
- Cleaning and disinfection protocols consistent with State Guidelines were implemented
- Reservation system utilization
We all look forward to a return to normalcy. In the meantime, please work with us to ensure the safety of those most vulnerable. Stay home if you feel ill. Be patient as we go through our screening process and most of all wear proper masks, maintain social distancing and use hand sanitizer upon arriving at Church.
Here are the symptoms of Covid-19. A person should watch for these symptoms and if they occur, consider being tested for Covid-19 viral exposure.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.
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