St. Mary’s Blog

3/11/20 St. Mary’s Safety Update: Coronavirus

March 11th, 2020|Comments Off on 3/11/20 St. Mary’s Safety Update: Coronavirus

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:2)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Your Vestry and Clergy met last night, and our primary discussion was on how we should respond to the Coronavirus. It was a very positive conversation, as everyone worked to balance caution with commitment—how do we best protect our most vulnerable parishioners, while continuing to be a welcoming and loving body of people who proclaim the Good News of Jesus through our care for the sick, poor and oppressed. For many people the virus poses a low risk; for the elderly, vulnerable, and immuno-compromised, it can be deadly. As we tend to the Lord’s work, we do so with the intentional awareness and proper recognition of the vulnerable among us.

In addition, Bishop Goff today announced that all parishes within the Diocese of Virginia are to suspend all Sunday worship services for the next two weeks. We will continue to provide a prayerful space for our parishioners by offering our regularly scheduled weekday Holy Eucharist in the Chapel on Wednesday (7am) and Thursday (11am) mornings. We will also continue with Centering Prayer on Tuesdays, the Lenten book study on Wednesdays, Friday’s Stations of the Cross, and the Lenten Retreat this Saturday. The Men’s Retreat at Shrine Mont and Communion Prep will proceed as scheduled.

We all feel strongly that our ministry to the people of Arlington is an essential component of who we are, and we will continue with regularly scheduled Lay Assistance Meeting (March 25th) and AA Meetings on Monday nights in Paca Hall.

All other meetings and events at the church are cancelled until further notice, including Sunday School and adult forum, choir rehearsal, youth group, youth confirmation retreat, lay-led committee meetings, yoga, and bible studies and book clubs. Where possible, ministry leaders will attempt to continue meetings and activities through conference calls.

The situation is very fluid, and we will continue to monitor information closely, following the recommended guidelines of the Diocese, CDC and health department, and adjusting as needed. We are committed to open and transparent communication with the parish, and we will continue to keep you updated.
We have also developed contingency plans that will enable us to hold simplified Sunday worship services that minimize the risks if conditions change. As we gain more insight, by the end of the month we will determine the next steps on how to proceed with Holy Week and Easter.

If you are feeling isolated or anxious, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or Father Chris. We are here to pray with and listen to anyone in need. Your shepherds stand ready to assist as needed. If you have questions, please contact Elizabeth Bruington at or 703-527-6800. Our website will be updated regularly. If you know of a parishioner not regularly checking their email, please pass on this information. It will help us spread the word.

Please pray for our country and our world at this difficult time. Please pray for all who are anxious, ill, or alone.

May the Peace of the Lord always be with you.

Fr. Andrew

St. Mary’s Safety Update: Coronavirus

March 9th, 2020|Comments Off on St. Mary’s Safety Update: Coronavirus

Dear St. Mary’s Parishioners,

As many of you have heard, the Coronavirus has now reached the DC area. The Rector at Christ Church, Georgetown has contracted the virus and is in stable condition at a local hospital. People who visited the church on February 24th and from February 28th through March 3rd have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Unfortunately, this includes Mother Kate Sonderegger and Peggy Parker, both of whom led yesterday’s Adult Forum. Additionally, Mother Kate distributed Communion at St. Mary’s 9 am service. Mother Kate and Peggy are symptom-free and have not been diagnosed with the Coronavirus. However, they are both complying with health recommendations and are under self-quarantine.

The Vestry will meet tomorrow and the Coronavirus is the first item on their agenda. At this time, St. Mary’s plans to conduct services, as usual, this week and to follow the guidance of government health officials. As a precaution, we will be offering Communion “in one kind” (bread only) for Holy Eucharist until further notice.

These are challenging times but now is the time to stand fast and remain calm. If you would like to pray, please contact me or Father Chris at 703-527-6800. If you become ill, please contact us, your Shepherd, or our parish administrator Elizabeth Bruington — we are here to provide spiritual comfort.

Please continue to follow the advice of our health experts, the CDC ( and please wash your hands!

May the peace of the Lord always be with you,

The Rev. Andrew T.P. Merrow

Addressing Concerns About the Flu Virus & Coronavirus

March 4th, 2020|Comments Off on Addressing Concerns About the Flu Virus & Coronavirus

Dear Friends,

Given the growing concerns about the coronavirus, we are taking a number of steps at St. Mary’s to maximize everyone’s safety.  

We will be following the recent guidelines from the Diocese of Virginia during our celebration of the Holy Eucharist each Sunday.  (Please see below).

We pray for those infected and affected, for those in the medical and scientific fields who are combatting the virus, and for all those who may feel anxious–that the Great Physician himself, Jesus Christ, will bring strength, comfort and healing to all.

May the Peace of the Lord always be with you,

+ Fr. Andrew T.P. Merrow
Rector, St. Mary’s

==Best Practices to Prevent the Spread of the Flu Virus & Coronavirus==

  • Remember to keep calm and wash your hands! Wash for 20 seconds with soap and warm water. There is hand sanitizer throughout the church for your use. It is being recommended that you avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.
  • There has never been much evidence of risk of disease associated with the shared communion chalice (cup), but each parishioner must make up his or her own mind about its use.
  • Please do not intinct (dip the bread into the wine) until further notice. Intinction does very little to avoid the spread of the disease and may actually increase the spread, since the bread or wafer spends more time in the hand (possibly unclean) before being dipped into the wine.
  • If you are concerned, it is always acceptable to receive “in one kind” (bread only). This is a full and valid way to receive communion. If you wish to receive the bread only, please cross your arms across your chest as the chalice passes by.
  •  Parents, please assist your children at the altar rail. It may be difficult for your child to drink from the cup – receiving only the bread may be the best option for children at this time.
  •  You may refrain from handshaking during the Peace. A friendly smile, wave or the peace sign are all acceptable substitutes.
  •  If you are ill, please stay home. This is appropriate for ALL illnesses.
  • The Centers for Disease Control is posting information as it becomes available. Please visit

 Thanks to our friends at Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria for sharing their Coronavirus info with us.

Additionally, St. Mary’s parishioner Dr. Joan A. Turkus, who is both a medical doctor and esteemed psychiatrist highlights the following advice for perspective and peace of mind.

  1. Eighty percent of the Coronavirus cases are mild; that’s the majority of us who may contract this virus. We have a long history of managing epidemics, what to do and how to do it, going back several centuries; what is needed is trust and cooperation by all of us.
  2. Plans are in place by our Virginia State Health Department, all of which filters down to counties and local governments, including schools. These institutions suggest households maintain a two-week supply of food, pantry supplies, and water. Have a one-month supply of prescribed medication on hand, as well as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and a working thermometer. Masks—they are needed for health care workers, you might have one for use if you become ill and need to go out in public, but don’t hoard.
  3. To reduce your own anxiety, do not listen to all the media and Facebook hype.


Call for 2020 Vestry Nominations

February 27th, 2020|Comments Off on Call for 2020 Vestry Nominations

We are collecting nominations to be considered for a slate of Vestry candidates now through Sunday, March 29.

Now is the time to prayerfully consider if you or a parishioner you know is called to serve on the St. Mary’s Vestry.

The Vestry is a group of church leaders elected by the parish to three-year terms, who assume responsibility for St. Mary’s, much like a Board of Directors for a corporation or non-profit organization. Together with the Rector, they determine the policies, budgets, and goals of the congregation. Vestry members are confirmed, adult members of the Episcopal Church who are canonically resident.

  • Click here to read more about the role of Vestry to see who is currently serving and what is required in order to be eligible to run for the slate.
  • Below is a form to nominate an individual to the slate. If you have trouble viewing the form, click here.
Fill out my online form.

Let Us Pray

January 21st, 2020|Comments Off on Let Us Pray

Let Us Pray, a Daily Podcast Series by St. Mary’s

Make prayer an intentional practice this Lent. Read along, or simply listen to your parish family members pray aloud.

Daily Episodes posted by 7:00 a.m. Monday, through Saturday. Come back to listen and pray with us!

Morning Prayer for Holy Saturday, April 11:

Leader Invitatory Psalm Old Testament Canticle 1 New Testament Canticle 2 Suffrages Collect of the Day Collect 2 Collect 3
Lydia Simmons Venite 88 Lamentations 3:37-58 12 Hebrews 4:1-16 19 A Page 221: Holy Saturday A Collect for Saturdays 1

Evening Compline for Holy Saturday, April 11:

Leader Psalm Reading Collect 1 Collect 2
Lydia Simmons  27 Romans 8:1-11 A Collect for Saturdays 2

Subscribe for daily reminders pointing to this page, or can simply come back each day of Lent (Sundays are excluded).

Thank You to Claire Elser, St. Mary’s Seminarian and our many volunteer readers for making this podcast possible!