Weeks of March 15, March 22, & March 29, 2020

Welcome to 
The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City



Join us for "Church By Phone" prayer services, 
Monday through Friday, 
7:30am, noon, and 5:30pm

Stations of the Cross on Wednesdays at 7:00pm

Email tmurphy@stpaulsjc.org for access information.


March 13, 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Like all of you, I have been thinking, worrying, reading, and praying about the threat of the coronavirus and how we can best prepare and take care of one another. I was particularly moved by an article published online by The New Yorker. Here's an excerpt:

"The strangest thing about the coronavirus is that we can’t help one another through it. We can’t lay on hands, we can only wash them: in fact, the way we’ve been explicitly told to help is to stay away from one another. That makes epidemiological sense, but it also makes us a little crazy: social distancing, quarantine, and isolation go hard against the gregarious instinct that makes us who we are."

Over the past couple of weeks it has been difficult to adjust to doing church without shaking hands or receiving the occasional hug during the Exchange of Peace. It's been hard to make policy changes that have led so many to abstain from receiving the consecrated wine. It's been uncomfortable to worry that some people might be spreading the virus or that others were vulnerable to infection. I'm not really a touchy-feely person, but even I never realized how much of our experience of being together involves touch, and I'm surprised by how much I've missed it. As The New Yorker writer notes, "...social distancing, quarantine, and isolation go hard against the gregarious instinct that makes us who we are."

But, just as the Spirit of the Living God is able to touch our hearts, we are still very much able to touch the lives of the people here in our parish and our community, even in - especially in - this time of fear and danger. In fact, it's possible that these challenging times might inspire us to touch each other's lives in ways far more profound than a handshake or quick greeting. I've already seen many of us looking out for one another, making calls, giving rides, offering a kind word, making sure that everyone is taken care of, especially those who are on their own. I ask that all of us take some time to pray for one another, to pray for those who are sick and those who are caring for them, and, as best we can, to offer aid to people in need.

Although at the moment there are many unknowns, there are a few things we know for sure:

First, although some in public life and in the media have minimized the threat, this is a dangerous virus and it should be taken seriously. Please listen to scientists and doctors and follow the instructions about washing your hands, limiting social contact, staying home if you feel sick, and seeking medical attention if you have symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

Second, as we have already seen elsewhere in the world and in parts of our own country, it is entirely possible, maybe even likely, that we will be quarantined for a period of time. Although there have been relatively few confirmed cases in our area, already many offices have required workers to work from home, schools are closing (creating nightmares for parents who must somehow find childcare), and other restrictions are being considered. We have been urged to have two weeks worth of food and medicine on hand to get us through a quarantine. Since this is not possible for some of our parishioners, please let me know if you need help to purchase what you need.

Third, this crisis is already doing enormous economic damage with more to come. The plummeting stock market threatens retirement income for some of us as well as the investments our church depends on to pay the bills. That's important of course, but I'm also thinking of the small local stores and restaurants that always operate on the edge and are particularly at risk now. While taking all necessary precautions to protect your health, please also try to support the businesses that help give our neighborhoods character and life.

Finally, this afternoon Bishop Hughes has called on us to "fast or refrain" from public worship and other gatherings for three weeks. She will reevaluate the situation on March 30 and we hope to resume public worship on Palm Sunday (April 5). Although we cannot open the church to all of you, we hope to broadcast a service of Holy Eucharist via Facebook Live on Sunday at 10:00am.

In addition, I will continue to post the texts of my sermons here:

The Daily Office from Mission St. Claire is a great site:

Forward Movement offers many helpful resources, including the popular Day By Day:

The Episcopal Church has a comprehensive page about the coronavirus, including an important message from Presiding Bishop Curry:

The Diocese of Newark also has a page for updates about the coronavirus:

This is uncharted territory for all of us, but in a time of crisis I know that, with God's help, we will do what we always do at our best: stick together, care for those in need, and trust in the God who will never let go of us, no matter what.

You are all in my prayers,


A Prayer For Quiet Confidence

O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength. By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray you, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for Protection

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of your servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- The Book of Common Prayer, pg. 832