St. George in North Canton & COVID-19

A blessed Lent to my beloved Church family at St. George – and to any of you who stumbled across this message on our website!

UPDATE – SAT MARCH 28
With Governor Mike DeWine issuing a “stay-at-home” order, and out of love and respect for our first-responders and essential workers, our parish will respect this order until it is lifted.  That means, for the time being, the church will be closed – services will only be available via Facebook Live.  If you are in need of pastoral support or visitation, please do not hesitate to contact Father Aleksa directly.
Please check your weekly email update to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.
UPDATE:  Here are some items to keep you connected to your faith each day:
  • Check in with Fr Aleksa weekdays during the school year for morning prayers at 7am – download a copy to read with him at home!
  • Looking for ways to grow in faith even though we’re a bit disconnected right now?  Download this Orthodox Family Checklist
  • Orthodox Homeschooling Links -Here are some great resources for homeschooling your child(ren) in the Orthodox Faith
  • Sunday services will be live on Facebook (hopefully) – but be sure to follow all rules as listed below if you choose to come to church, particularly with regard to social distancing, washing of hands, and so forth.
Last week, Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio held a press conference informing Ohioans that the 4th reported case of Coronavirus was identified in our Stark County. As this was a case of “community spread”, the state government took a number of quick and prudent actions, to-and-including the suspension of public gatherings and events. Likely you have noticed that local colleges, school systems, and area businesses are temporarily closed. Further, you might have noticed that events and activities have been cancelled or dramatically reduced.These measures are not meant to incite undue panic or worry – but rather to help slow the spread of COVID-19 so that our healthcare system will be able to help all those who will require it in the coming days.

Our God-protected Diocese of Eastern America in the Serbian Orthodox Church has given us additional recommendations as well. Much like with guidelines set forth by the state, this is intended to help slow the spread of COVID-19 – and to ensure that our parishes are responsible members of our community with regard to public health and safety.

To that end, until further notice:

  • Folklore classes, church school, coffee hour, meetings, gatherings and events are to be suspended
  • Lenten Vespers, Great Vespers, and any non-Divine Liturgy service will be suspended – Holy Week services will continue as planned; Presanctified Liturgies will also continue, but there will be no meal following
  • Handbooks and shared items are to be removed from the pews; choir members are encouraged not to share books or other items
  • The cross is not to be venerated following the conclusion of Divine Liturgy; the faithful will reverently bow and will receive their bread from the hands of the priest alone
  • The faithful are not to kiss the chalice, the hands of the celebrant, or other liturgical items
  • Anyone – clergy, monastics, laity – exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus should immediately seek medical attention or contact their family physician.  An appropriate quarantine or distancing from the community, recommended by a medical professional, should be put in place (14 days)
  • Liturgical bread is to be cut only by approved altar servers after thorough washing of hands
  • In the event of emergency, please call Father Aleksa; if not an emergency, pastoral visits will be delayed for the time-being; house blessings will, additionally, be put on hold

Please keep up-to-date on Facebook for news regarding events and services.

With Regard to the Reception of Holy Communion:

  • We will continue to offer the sacrament of Holy Communion.  The Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ will not carry such diseases, and throughout the history of the church Holy Communion has been offered during much worse eras of communicable disease.
  • Father Aleksa will address this directly, including how to properly approach the chalice, on Sunday morning before distribution of the gifts

If you are worried of contracting COVID-19 due to respiratory issues, age, or personal health concerns – please be sure to do what makes you feel safe and in good health. Contact Father Aleksa to make sure he knows, and so he can reach out to you once the Coronavirus has been dealt with effectively by our wonderful medical professionals.

This is not a time to panic – this is a time to trust in the Lord and be prudent.  For the general safety of the community and each other, we as a parish will strive to follow best-practices as mandated by the State of Ohio and by our Diocese.  Our trust, however, is in our Lord Jesus Christ who will see us calmly through these troubling times.

Yours in Christ our Lord,

~Fr Aleksa