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SAINT SOPHIA CATHEDRAL COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENT COVID-19 (Coronavirus) & all Catechetical, Cultural and Youth Programs

Dearest Parishioners & Stewards,

Given the state of emergencies and school closings called in DC, Maryland, and Virginia due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we have made the following changes to our activities.  Starting Saturday, March 14, through Sunday, March 29, Saint Sophia Cathedral will suspend all non-liturgical activities.  Specifically, there will be no activities, classes, or meetings for youth or adult programs, including Sunday School, Greek School, Little Angels, JOY, GOYA, Symposium, Philoptochos, Baking Committee, Bible Study and Basketball. If you have a question about the status of a planned event, please contact the Cathedral office.

Also, moving forward, additional precautions will include the suspension of all fellowship gatherings, including coffee hours, receptions, etc., following worship services. Kollyva (boiled wheat) from memorial services will be sealed and distributed only, and exclusively, to the family. Special provision has been made for the distribution of antidoron (blessed bread).

If there is a change in directive concerning COVID-19 by Sunday, March 29, i.e., should the public schools reopen and the state of emergency be lifted by local and state authorities then we, too, shall lift our suspension.

However, if there is no change of status in directive concerning COVID-19 by Sunday, March 29, then we must necessarily continue our suspension of all non-liturgical activities.

Very importantly, unless otherwise directed by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Saint Sophia Cathedral will remain open and liturgically fully functional, thus fulfilling her most sacred duty and calling, especially during this time of crisis.

Having said this, everyone should use common sense and take every precaution. If you are sick, no matter how minor the affliction, please stay home. If you fall into the category of the most vulnerable, such as those 80 years of age or older, please consider staying home. No one shall judge you, or question your faith. Let your home be, as the Scripture and our Orthodox Tradition proclaims, your “κατ’οίκον εκκλησία,” your “church in the home.” For as His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros recently stated in his encyclical dated March 6, 2020:

“As Orthodox Christians, we know that God uses material means to communicate His blessings and presence to us. The grace-filled presence of Icons, Relics, Holy Water, blessing crosses, objects (such as flowers), and even the blessing hand of a priest, convey to the believer God’s grace and energy. The same material elements that can convey the blessings of God are also subject to the broken nature of our fallen world. Science and our God-given reason demand that we employ every means available to protect ourselves and our families against the spread of Covid-19 and any other disease. In a crisis such as this, we need to exercise vigilance as a community, lest our churches become points of transmission of the disease.”

In closing, please allow me to observe that I have never been prouder of you, the congregation of Saint Sophia Cathedral. Individually and corporately, you have never represented the Body of Christ more magnificently than since the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. You are living proof of the ancient faith position of the Church that “The sacrament of sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, is not simply a material element but the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Encyclical of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros)

My friends, please know that as the one, unified Body of Christ, together we shall take every precaution to manage, and protect against, the COVID-19 virus. Finally, let us remember to beseech Christ Jesus, the Great Physician of our souls and bodies, to stretch out His holy hand to bless, and heal, any and all who may be suffering from this illness.

With profound gratitude for all of you, I remain most devotedly yours in His Service.

Father Steve