As we continue through this Coronavirus pandemic, I would like to inform all of you regarding the latest guidelines from our Hierarchs. I will summarize here what the guidelines for our services are.
1. Effective immediately and at least through April 30th, no one may enter the Church buildings without the express blessing of the parish Priest. A notice with such a warning will be placed on all entry doors on the church property.
2. St. Nicholas Church will continue to serve a limited number of liturgical services, but only 5 TOTAL PERSONS are allowed in the church building (including priest, choir, and altar servers). THIS MUST BE THE SAME 5 PERSONS AT EVERY SERVICE. We are not allowed to rotate members in and out. Please do not come to the services unless you are contacted and asked to sing in the choir or to help in the Altar. The doors to the temple will be locked during the services to prevent anyone else from entering.
3. Confession and Holy Communion: Only the priest, and those 4 helping at services, are allowed to have Confession and to receive Holy Communion (also with following all CDC guidelines). There will be no Eucharist by appointment, by drive-through, or any other means. Holy Synod of Bishops blesses all the faithful not to receive these sacraments at this time, and to wait until such a time when they will be offered again, so that they can be received with all due preparation and faith.
4. We are not allowed to have any face-to-face appointments with any parishioners, including spiritual counseling, confession, parish council meetings, etc. Only telephone or online meetings are permitted. Also, there will be no private appointments for parish members to light candles or pray in the temple.
5. Services of the Holy Week and Pascha: At St. Nicholas we will serve (and possibly live-stream) the following services:
-- Holy Thursday Vesperal Liturgy
-- Holy Friday Vespers (no procession)
-- Holy Saturday Vesperal Liturgy in the morning
-- Divine Liturgy for Pascha on Sunday morning.
This means we will not be serving anything outside of this schedule, including the Paschal Vigil at midnight, as well as Paschal Vespers on Sunday afternoon.
It is with a heavy heart that I convey these guidelines from our Hierarchs, but I understand that these decisions were not made lightly, and our Hierarchs’ main concern is the health and well-being of the clergy and the faithful of the parishes.
Now, as your Pastor, I would like to re-assure all of you of my continuing prayers for you during the divine services that we have in church (that I serve together with my family), as well as in my personal prayers. I am using the names from the slips that many of you have submitted for commemoration during the passed few weeks. Matushka, our children, and I miss all of you in church, and we wish and pray that we can have the services together again as soon as it possibly can be done.
I understand that that because of the guidelines that we have at this time, you are limited in participation in services and sacraments, and in offering of prayers and services for your loved ones. For this reason, I will look into a possibility to have the divine services from our church live-streamed on our Facebook page. And also, I would like to offer you another way of participation under the current circumstances:
If any of you would like to submit names for commemoration (for health, or repose), have candles lit during the divine services, or if you would like to have a Panikhida served in the church, I will gladly do these services. Please either call or text me at the church number, 954-566-6358; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send your requests and your slips with names for commemoration through a regular mail to the church address:
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
2001 N Andrews Avenue,
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311
You can also drop your names or requests in the mailbox that is on the wall by the entry door to our church hall (from the church side).
Since I don't have any contact information for many of you, this is also a good time to update your info and to send it to me through the sources mentioned above.
Also, I would like to thank those of you who are sending your generous church donations through a regular mail. Even though our services are temporarily suspended for public at least through April 30th, as we all understand, our church expenses will continue during this difficult time. So I would like to also take this opportunity to encourage you to continue supporting our parish financially.
Although we don’t have any usual collections during the services, there are other ways to give at this time. You can either mail you weekly donations through regular mail to the church address mentioned above, or now you can also donate online on our website, using any credit or debit card, or your PayPal account. Here is the link to the Donate page: https://www.stnicholasftl.org/donate May God bless you for your continuous support and for your generosity!
And lastly, even though this Great Lent is not the Fast that we intended, I think God gives us a unique opportunity to set the right priorities in our spiritual lives. We have to focus on our own, personal salvation, and because we cannot participate in the church services (which would be unimaginable even few weeks ago), we have to make our home a place of worship (like in the earliest days of Christianity), where family members can come together to pray and grow together in the faith. And as always, be assured that I am available for your spiritual needs — I am just a phone call away.
Remember what St. Apostle Paul says in Thessalonians 5:9-11: “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
As we encourage and strengthen each other, let us also offer our prayers, through the intercession of His Most-Holy Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary, St. Herman of Alaska, and our Patron Saint of our parish, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, so this pandemic might end as quickly as possible, and we will come out of it even with greater faith.