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July 11, 2023, 11:00 AM
St. Huberts In The Time Of Covid
Spring of 2020 was going to be beautiful. Flowers and shrubs were bursting into bloom. Although rumors about Covid had appeared earlier, in March 2020 it struck with a vengeance, changing lives and challenging St. Huberts. Nationwide precautions were taken—masks, vaccinations, boosters, masks, sanitizers, handwashing, more masks, social distancing and gathering places were closed down.
St. Huberts Church first closed its doors on Sunday March 15, 2020, but on March 21, 2020, Fr. Smith was able to officiate at a very small, but beautiful home wedding. While St. Huberts members come from several counties, they soon learned that the Church was indeed still there.
At service time each Sunday during 2020 the bell was tolled giving pleasure and comfort to those within hearing distance and a time for all to show understanding, compassion and solidarity. Clyde our canine greeter still often came to listen and participate. He and Bert (his inside greeter) couldn’t understand why treats were no longer offered---and the mice—well?
In those early days members were encouraged to stay connected by joining in such activities as computer games, organ music recitals (which the organist kindly provided from home as well as the church), weekly Zoom coffee hours, garden work, and to keep in touch with one another. Among little acts of kindness were small gifts and homemade masks dropped on doorsteps. ECW even arranged a Zoom fund raiser whose proceeds went to the continuing outreach program.
With a small group of very dedicated “learn on the job” people and a few technical consultations, ways were found to help keep the congregation close by recording worship services by means of video camera. The services were then available to everyone either on Facebook or the church website. Throughout this time these “homegrown experts” worked constantly to perfect ways in which church members could stay connected. Their tireless efforts have evolved into the now existing “live streaming service” every Sunday. Since their inception the services have been watched by many. St. Huberts will be forever grateful for the dedication and hard work given by such devoted members and by the many nameless members who have given of their time and talent.
The same day St. Huberts closed, the first Morning Prayer video was recorded. It was held at the Johnstone home with only Fr. Smith, the Johnstones and their dog Otto present. A cross placed on the mantle served as an Altar.
Fr. Smith, following the daily 4 PM Covid news update, held evening prayer/and or compline services from his home. But soon thereafter he felt it would be more beneficial to record the Morning Prayer service at the church and publish it on Sunday mornings. Only the priest, organist, readers, our lady verger/acolyte, and videographers were present. To once again be able to see the beautiful interior of the church, see and hear Fr. Smith and Fr. Ellestad, the readers and organ was uplifting and gratifying. During this time Fr. Smith held a Morning Prayer service from Berea assisted by three of our Berea College students. He also did a live service of Stations of the Cross.
In the fall of 2020 the Senior Warden with some expert help, set up radio transmission making it possible to have outside parking lot services. Five such services were held including two funerals as well as the Bishop’s annual visit. An altar was either set up on the porch or at the front of the church and Communicants received Communion at their car windows. In this way the Bishop was able to conduct his outdoor visit. Services were well attended. The bell was tolled and Clyde joyfully howled. Our very first outdoor Communion consisted of the wafer presented in a small ziplock bag along with wine in a small individual cup. We quickly progressed to using prepackaged individual cups with wine on the top and a wafer on the bottom and then later using a silver tray especially designed to hold the small individual wine cups. After the first outdoor parking lot service Fr. Smith started recording Holy Communion service rather than Morning Prayer. The Christmas service of Lessons and Carols was recorded with a choir of six, safely masked and spread out around the church. The church was simply and beautifully decorated for Christmas.
Easter April 21, 2021 was the first Sunday that St. Huberts returned to the church. Face mask and social distancing were required; there were no coffee hours. Gradually a kind of normalcy came back. The church calendar was quietly recognized and celebrated. Outdoor activities such as Blessing of the Animals, Burning of the Greens, a celebration of life, yard workdays and a picnic were held. The “Christmas in July” picnic was held to celebrate all the missed Christmas lunches.
Finally, choir processionals, hymns, prayers, altar flowers have returned. With renewed or new friendships, and a quiet dignity—even the finger food and lunches—St. Hubert’s is still here.
Membership has grown and new members are gladly welcomed into church life at St. Huberts. Clyde continues to be a greeter, but sadly Bert has passed over the rainbow bridge, but he left his adopted brother Ernie, to be the indoor greeter. The mice are country mice and go where they please.
From the words of a favorite benediction, we are urged to “gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us, “so be swift to love and make haste to be kind”.
St. Huberts has met the challenge.
Anne Fretty




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