“With what shall I come before God, and bow myself before God on high? God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does God require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Sometimes an open door is all you need. You’re not looking for a church to tell you its own version of right and wrong. You’re not looking for a church that has all the answers. Or a church that includes only the right kind of people.
You’re looking for a church where you can bring your doubts, your questions, your fears, and find a welcoming, open community willing to share them. The doors to our churches are always open, spiritually, if not physically, and within, you will find a quiet place for prayer and a nurturing community ready to help you find your voice and your vocation to the world in Christ’s name. Come and see.
Welcome to the new and improved Webpage of The Episcopal Church in Garrett County. Thanks to parishioners Mark and Kendall Ludwig at CurlyRed Design for their hard work in getting this site up and running quickly so that we are able to keep our church community connected, informed, praying and functioning in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our world has been turned upside down and we are in the process of re-orienting ourselves to the new,harsh realities of life in this moment. The most important thing we can do for ourselves and for each other is to remain community, reaching out, caring, and supporting one another during this crisis.
In this day and age we are blessed to have the technology to accomplish that in an environment where the close contact we have become accustomed to is no longer safe. Our ministries will continue - in different ways; our fellowship will continue - in different ways; our community will endure, guided by the Spirit of Love which binds us all together. All of this is happening quickly and changing constantly. My colleagues in the Diocese of Maryland and I are working to find innovative ways for our congregations to stay connected and to continue the work we have been given to do…and there is still work to do.
First and foremost, stay safe. Observe all of the procedures that have been given to us – hand washing frequently, social distancing, covering up when we cough or sneeze, among other things.
Secondly, as Christians, our history has been that we find ways to reach out to one another in good times and in bad, in spite of hardships. Obviously, this is one of those really bad times. We’re all scared, we’d all like this to go away, and we worry about family and friends.
We are human. This is how we are supposed to react, initially. Then, with an openness to Spirit, we begin to seek ways in which we can connect and check up on each other, how to get food to someone who can’t get out, how to bring comfort to someone who is more afraid than we are, or any of a number of other things that can’t be thought of right now.
Finally, pray. We are a faith community. Now, particularly, we are a faith community truly in a Lenten wilderness, seeking a way back to communion with God and each other. Daily prayer, in your own way and time, will help to bolster the foundation upon which you stand in the face of the storm. Prayer, in community, will help to bolster the sense that you are not alone in this. To that end, on this website, you will find links to our daily Morning Prayer podcasts and also a viewer for our YouTube channel, which will livestream Sunday morning services from St. Matthew’s at 8AM and 10:45AM. Our 8AM service is also broadcast live on WMSG-AM 1050 and WKTZ-FM 95.9 in Oakland. We are looking at other online ways for us to be together from time to time. We will announce them as soon as they are in place.
At all times, remember this - My prayers and the prayers of this community are constantly with each of you. If you have a need, let us know. We will help you resolve it. If you have an idea that would be helpful to your brothers and sisters, let us know. We will pass it on in the ENews. If you are not receiving the ENews, subscribe using the button on this site. Together, we will get through this.
We are a community first and foremost. A community bound together in Spirit and in Love when we are apart and a community whose practice has been to come together weekly and break bread together in the same manner and intention as Jesus did in that upper room at the last supper. Jesus broke the bread, said the blessing and gave it to his disciples saying “take, eat. This is my body which is given for you.”
After supper he took the wine, said the blessing and said, “drink this all of you. This is my blood which is shed for you.” And he said, finally, “do this in remembrance of me.” The communal nature of the early Christians was expressed in Acts : “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.” (Acts 2:46)
The ceremony of breaking the bread was taken from the Jewish practice of the gathering of a group of friends, formed for religious purposes, where they often shared a common weekly meal, usually on the eves of sabbath or holy days. This was a chaburah, from the Hebrew for “friend”, and was defined as a “love feast or fellowship meal”. It has been argued that Christ and his disciples formed such a chaburah and the Last Supper was a chaburah meal. The practice evolved over the centuries in which a large loaf of bread was provided for the Eucharist, a fraction of which was taken for consecration and distributed as communion, and the remainder was distributed amongst the congregation at the end of the liturgy, to be taken to those who could not attend the Eucharist, not as actual communion, but as a blessed portion of the community to which they belonged. It is still observed in the Orthodox Churches.
In the present health crisis, we have been denied, for good and prudent reason, our chaburah, the opportunity to come together and break bread, say prayers and simply be with one another. Thanks to modern technology we have been watching, from our homes, the liturgy we have known for most of our lives, unfolding before us on a computer screen. This is what we have for now. But we do not have the blessed communion our Lord instituted on that night so very long ago, partaking of the bread and wine which symbolizes our communion with the Real Presence of Christ and with each other.
I approached the bishops for permission, in these extreme times, to, in essence, consecrate bread and wine at the altar and simultaneously in your homes as you watch the live stream, so that we may all partake of the blessed sacrament together as we did on Sundays just a few weeks ago. While I give credit to them both for giving this highly unorthodox idea some thought, ultimately, they decided that it was not something they could authorize. Bishop Ihloff, however, a seemingly fathomless well of ecclesial trivia, offered a compromise solution, to which I readily agreed.
The Armenian Apostolic Church, one of the most ancient of Christian institutions, and one with which the Episcopal Church has been in communion for the past 100 years, began to observe a practice in which two kinds of bread were introduced, to differentiate between the fraction of the bread to be used for communion and the remainder to be distributed among the parishioners. The two kinds are Mahss, which can be made by any parishioner and symbolizes the bond of love among the members of the church, and Nushkhar, which is the bread for oblation, prepared by the celebrant priest or deacon before the liturgy.
Bread has always been a main staple or source of life for humankind. It has always been a symbol for the means of sustaining life. That is why, when a priest blesses a home, that priest also blesses a piece of bread, which symbolizes the life in that house.
And so the Nushkhar is consecrated and consumed at the altar, as communion, for the sustenance of the physical and spiritual life, and the Mahss, sent out to the community to strengthen our unity as members of this church.
Bishop Ihloff proposed that I continue to consecrate the bread and wine at the altar, and consume that which has become the real presence of Christ and at the end of the service say a blessing over bread which you can have before you, and can share with one another as a blessed symbol of our unity as a community of faith bound in the love of Christ. You can provide this bread any way you wish. Something as simple as a slice of bread from the grocery store, or something you and your family can bake together. Either way, it will be blessed over our virtual connection for you to use in your home.
And so I offer this to you, beginning this Sunday, the 29th, and for the duration of this pandemic, not as full communion as you are used to. But as an opportunity to be reminded that even separated by something we cannot see, we can be assured of our connection for all time in the love of Christ and the love of this community we call the Episcopal Church in Garrett County.
Holy Week Broadcast and Live Stream Schedule
8AM WMSG-AM 1050, WKTX-FM 95.9
8AM and 1045AM Live Stream on our YouTube Channel
7PM Live Stream on our YouTube Channel
7PM Live Stream on our YouTube Channel
7PM Live Stream from The Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore
8AM WMSG-AM 1050, WKTZ-FM 95.9
8AM and 1045AM Live Stream on our YouTube Channel
While our two churches are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can access the broadcasts on WMSG-AM 1050 and WKTZ-FM 95.9 at 8AM and watch live online at 8AM and 10:45AM by visiting our YouTube Channel.