March 10, 2020, 8:00 AM

Dear St. John’s Members and Friends,


In keeping with messaging from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Bishop Larry Benfield has urged all Episcopal congregations in the Diocese of Arkansas to not hold worship services or other church related meetings until at least the end of March. This is, of course, being done to help control the spread of the Coronavirus. I met with Sr. Warden Mike Fielder and Jr. Warden Jane Hornor Saturday morning. We are in agreement that all meetings, including Sunday Morning worship, Monday Evening Prayer and Wednesday Evening Eucharist and Soup Suppers will be cancelled through the end of March. This includes the vestry meeting scheduled for March 16.


I, along with Marjie and Tony, will be keeping regular office hours at the church. I will continue to be available for pastoral care emergencies but will be suspending visits to sick and homebound parishoners for the next few weeks.


I encourage everyone to read the attached communication from Bishop Benfield. Please keep in mind that we do not cease to be the church when we cannot gather on Sunday morning. Our common life in Christ continues as always and I encourage you to keep your church family and our broader community in your prayers. Bishop Benfield’s email includes several suggestions for virtual worship for those with computers.

I will be sending out updated information as needed.




Fr. Ray




­­­­­An Update from Bishop Benfield

All Congregations Urged Not to Meet

Each day public health authorities are either mandating or urging additional steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In many jurisdictions, large gatherings, including church services, have now been prohibited. So far that sort of prohibition is not the case in Arkansas. It is apparent, though, that people want appropriate actions taken to ensure that as many people as possible remain healthy.

On Thursday I strongly urged Episcopal congregations in central Arkansas to institute virtual worship until March 31 rather than gathering physically in church buildings. After reports from other parts of the state, I am now strongly encouraging ALL Episcopal congregations in Arkansas to participate in virtual worship until March 31 rather than physically gathering.

One way to worship is for anyone with internet access to join one of the congregations that offer live streaming. (By the way, St. Andrew’s in Marianna has been offering a digitally focused liturgy for years). A list of the congregations that I know of that offer some sort of digital worship is at the end of this message. A second way to worship could be for the clergy or lay leaders to offer prayers (such as Morning Prayer) in church at the regularly scheduled time, while encouraging parishioners to say their prayers in their homes at the same time. Or you may think of another creative response. These are all ways that we can still be a part of supportive Christian communities in this challenging time in which we need one another more than ever, but may not able to be with one another physically.

As I go about my daily life this week, I see much fear: fear of illness, fear of others, fear that there will not be enough of whatever it is that we think we need. In response, I am reminded of what we read in the first letter of John: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). What the writer is telling us is that where there is fear, we will act lovingly so that fear can be overcome. I encourage you to take loving, thoughtful actions in the coming days and weeks that recognize the needs of others; doing so will help overcome the fear that so many people now have. It is an important way to live out our Christian lives.

Faithfully yours,

Larry Benfield

Here are some links to online services and sermons:





St. John’s Episcopal Church - Sunday, March 15, 2020


Last week in worship I announced some of the general guidelines Episcopal Churches in Arkansas have received from Bishop Benfield in regards to safe practices concerning the Coronavirus. Those churches with baptismal fonts and holy water containers have been asked to discontinue using them at this time so that people do not dip their hands in the water and thus possibly transmit pathogens.  This doesn’t affect us at St. John’s since we do not use our baptismal font in this way.  However, it might be good to have this information in case you are visiting other churches who do. We are also asking people not to intinct (the dipping of the wafer in the cup of wine) when receiving Holy Communion. The practice of intinction is more prone to disease transmission than sharing a Common Cup or receiving Holy Communion in one kind only.  It is a long held truth in the Church that the body and blood of Christ are fully present in either the bread or the wine. If you prefer to receive the bread only, simply cross your arms over your chest when the Eucharistic Minister comes to you with the chalice of wine. That way he or she will know you will not be receiving the wine. During the Passing of the Peace please be respectful of those members who may choose not to shake hands or hug at this time. Alternatives might include a simple bow, bumping elbows or making the peace sign.  Basic information on good hygiene practices can be found on the table at the back of the church.

Finally, I want to reiterate Bishop Benfield’s words in last week’s Communique.  He wrote, “…my strong wish is that we first and foremost remember not to be fearful of entire classes of people as a result of this healthcare emergency.  Our call is to see the risen Christ in others, and live our lives accordingly.”  Amen to that!

Blessings, Fr. Ray+



Adult Sunday School:  Sunday at 9:15 am

Worship:  March 15, the Holy Eucharist, Rite II, Rev. Ray Brown

Readings for Third Sunday in Lent: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42

Hymns:  686, 691, 637



Please keep the following in your prayers:   Debra Richardson, David Henderson, Kathy Sullivan, Larry Bryant, Lynn Jordan, Ray Worley, Jim Howe, Nancy Howe, Parker Pace, Heather Treat,  Courtney Turner,  Rita Merritt, Jo Boone Wild, Gloria Higginbotham, Vivian Wright, Al Martin, William Brandon, Cedric Franks, Jr, Jeannie McCabe, Karen Foster, Kathleen Gibson, Susan Worrell, Jeffery Mink, Cole Jefferies,  Pat Wheeler, Carol Spencer, Pat Jeffries,  Tommy & Carrie Galloway, Bonnie & Charles Rowland, Rickey Johnston, Joe Tom Cunningham,  Pat Delk, Duncan Highet, Gibson Turley, Lee McCarty Boyd, Jo Liddy, Maureen Jones, Riley Kate Haas, and Kathy Turley Bush.



Angels of Grace and Anchor Mission ministries: Choose any items from their wish list which includes:  paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, laundry detergent, bleach, dish soap, and cleaning supplies.

Humane Society of the Delta:  Donations needed include puppy, dog, cat & kitten food

Please place all of these donations in the red wagon in the chapel to be blessed.

Grace Food Pantry: plastic bags go in the labeled container in the narthex.

Thank you for your donations.  They are all greatly appreciated and needed.



Mar 11, Wed at 12 Noon: Helena United Methodist Church Lenten Listening, Kevin Smith, Speaker & Mollie Rhodes, Music

MAR 11, WED at 5:30 pm: MIDWEEK EUCHARIST in the chapel followed by simple SOUP SUPPER and brief PROGRAM in the undercroft.

MAR 15, SUNDAY at 10:30: Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Acolyte – West Hornor

Eucharist Minister – Michael Allen

Reader – Jack Myers

Altar Guild – Nancy Hornor

Altar Flowers –Tait Owens

Mar 16, Mon at 5:30 pm: Evening Prayer in the chapel

MAR 18, WED at 5:30 pm: MIDWEEK EUCHARIST in the chapel followed by SOUP SUPPER PROGRAM in the undercroft.


Easter lilies order form is attached.


Contact info for Fr. Ray:

Cell: 501-291-6262    


St. John’s Church Office:

Phone:  870-338-8115    


Mailing address:  P.O. Box 770, Helena, AR 72342

Street address: 625 Pecan St., Helena, AR