IMPORTANT CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

HOLY TRINITY CHURCH RESPONDS TO THE COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS

[WATCH THIS ARTICLE FOR FURTHER UPDATES. LATEST NEWS WILL APPEAR AT THE TOP.]


11 June 2020

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCMENT: HOLY TRINITY CHURCH MOVES TO "GREEN PHASE" ON SUNDAY, JUNE 14th

Dear Holy Trinity Family,

With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Savas, we are so thankful to be able to continue welcoming our Holy Trinity family back to worship in-person and together as a community in the Church. Having spent the past three weeks in “Yellow Phase,” we have now been given the “green light” to proceed to the “Green Phase.” This means some important things for our worship and community life:

  • Greater Attendance Levels: We can accommodate up to 50% (approximately 200 people) of our capacity. Advance reservations are no longer required, but sign-in at entry will be to comply with contract tracing requirements.
  • Age Restrictions Lifted: Our beloved senior members 65 and over are no longer restricted from attending, provided they are free from any illness, symptoms or conditions that would put them in a high risk category.
  • Masks and Physical Distance: Masks are still required and safe levels of physical distancing will still be practiced in both seating and moving around.
  • Veneration: The faithful may return to their customary practice of venerating icons and sacred objects if they choose, or they may continue to reverence them by bowing, depending on their comfort level.
  • Holy Communion: As stated by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “The Mother Church of Constantinople knows empirically from its two-thousand-year existence that Holy Communion is ‘the antidote to mortality’ and remains firm in its Orthodox teaching regarding the Holy Eucharist.” As such, parishes are free to return to their customary parish practice of customary method of distributing and receiving the Holy Gifts. Instructions will be provided during the Liturgy.
  • Coffee Hour and Meetings May Resume: We are free to resume holding Coffee Hour and meetings, provided that we respect the 50% capacity and physical distance guidelines. And thanks to our Philoptochos, we will hold Coffee Hour outdoors on the main lawn following after Liturgy this Sunday!

These are the highlights. See the “Green Phase” document for more detailed information. Most important: As the members and families of our beloved parish community make the choices that best suit their needs, we need to understand that these choices will vary with time. And there are some who will still not be able to return for a while who need our support and understanding. As a community of believers walking in the love of Christ and the peace of the Holy Spirit, we are all asked to keep in mind the words of Saint Paul when it comes to meeting the needs of others: “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galations 6.2).

I offer my sincere thanks to our Parish Council and its President, George Danis, our ministry leaders and our church staff for their support and labors of love in making the move forward possible.

Paternally yours in Christ,
Father John


20 May 2020

Christ is Risen! Christos Anesti!

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCMENT: HOLY TRINITY CHURCH WILL RE-OPEN FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP THIS SUNDAY, MAY 24th!

Register now to attend at HolyTrinityPgh.org/events.

Beloved Holy Trinity Family,

Glory to God! As announced a few days ago, Holy Trinity Church will be re-opening for in-person public worship this Sunday, May 24th. As we ease from the previous red phase, through the current yellow phase and hopefully into green phase soon, there are some adjustments we will all need to make to enable us to return to worship and abide by Metropolis requirements and public health guidelines. Our parish leadership team - Clergy, Parish Council, Staff and Ministry Volunteers - are working together on your behalf to enact these measures so that all who meet the criteria and wish to return and resume community worship and, yes - receive Holy Communion after so long - may do so.

I have heard from many of our faithful Holy Trinity flock that they are ready to return immediately. I have also heard from others who for health or other personal reasons are not yet ready or comfortable to do so. Each of us must find the peace of the Holy Spirit in our heart as we make those choices. In a spirit of love and mutual support, this is a good time to remember our Holy Trinity Vision Statement: "Faith. Family. Community." It provides a call for us to respect others' choices, refrain from judging, encourage one another's Faith, continue to reach out to and support each other as Family, and know that the Lord will bless and preserve this Community until His coming again.

If you meet the criteria for returning, are not in the restricted category due to illness, symptoms or age, and are ready to return to worship, here are the steps:

  1. Only this Sunday, May 24th, has been opened so far. Additional services will be posted following the service this Sunday.
  2. As directed by the Metropolis, registration is open only to the Holy Trinity family. Others are to attend their own parish at the current time to give each community an opportunity to minister to their own flock.
  3. Registration is due each Friday by 5:00pm for that Sunday.
  4. Each date/room combination is listed as a separate event, and each room has a capacity limit according to the Metropolis limit of 25 per space and social distance requirements. If the date/room you select is full, please choose another.
  5. The service will be simulcast into each room and Holy Communion will be brought to each room, so no matter which room you are in, you will be part of the live service and able to commune if prepared. Please note the Holy Communion prodecures indicated in the above-linked documents.
  6. Parish Council and Hospitality Ministry members will be stationed around the facilities to direct and assist you. Thank you for abiding by their guidance.
  7. Please take note of the room you have registered for and use the exterior door assigned to that room for entering and exiting the building (see the   pdf Yellow Phase Service Registration Important Information (190 KB) document for the list of doors). Signs will be posted to direct you.
  8. As additional services are added, we ask that, based on community response, you allow others the opportunity to attend. You may wish to attend every Sunday, but depending on response, we may ask you to participate online instead if you have already attended to give others a chance to particiapte in person. Fear not - the time is coming for us all to be back together again, as the Lord allows!

We simply do not know how long this yellow phase will last, but we are prepared to do everything possible to meet the needs of our Holy Trinity worshiping family. Watch for further guidance for future services and policy changes as things progress.

This is not anything we would have ever imagined, but we know as faithful Christians, "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8.28). I offer my sincere thanks to and prayers for our Parish Council, ministry leaders and our staff for their dedicated labors of love in serving Christ, His Holy Church and you, His people. Father Radu and I look forward to seeing you again!

Yours in the Risen Lord,
Father John


17 May 2020

His Eminence Metropolitan Savas Announces Re-opening of Churches for Public Worship Starting Sunday, May 24

The Metropolis of Pittsburgh today released a plan for parishes in our Metropolis - including Holy Trinity Church - as various areas of the Metropolis move from "red phase" to "yellow phase." The complete document with details on re-opening can be found here:  pdf The Road Ahead - Metropolis of Pittsburgh Yellow Phase (1.37 MB) . The accompanying cover letter from His Eminence can be found here:  pdf Metropolitan Savas Yellow Phase Cover Letter 2020 05 17 (113 KB) .

Watch for information in the next day or two concerning how to register for attending services at  Holy Trinity Church. Thank you for your cooperation, understanding and consideration for the entire Holy Trinity family.


07 May 2020

Holy Eparchial Synod Communique 

NEW YORK – On Thursday, May 7, 2020, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America convened the Holy Eparchial Synod via videoconference, in order to discuss and decide on a process for the reopening of parishes. During the meeting, the Hierarchs expressed solidarity and empathy for the pain and loss felt by the Faithful of late, especially the loss of a traditional Holy Week and Pascha.

Based on the current reopening plans that are being executed around the country, it was decided that each Metropolitan would be responsible for the reopening of his local parishes in accordance with local health and public safety mandates, which might vary significantly within an individual Metropolis. Noting the importance of recommencing with Holy Communion, each Hierarch will make determinations for parishes in accordance with local guidelines for social distancing, preparation of the churches and attendant facilities, and any and all best practices for the local clergy to observe.

It was further decided that the celebration of Sacraments and other services would be allowed in accordance with the same local health and public safety mandates.

Commenting after the Meeting, the Archbishop said:

“We are all deeply concerned, not only for the health of our Faithful, but for their morale and their spiritual life. We know that re-opening the Churches with attention to nuance of the facts on the ground and deference to the judgment of local authorities is the best way to proceed. As Shepherds of our flocks, we are committed to safely reopening, and with an abiding sense of responsibility for the spiritual and physical health of the Faithful.”

FROM THE CHIEF SECRETARIAT


08 April 2020

FUTURE ZOOM MEETINGS TO REQUIRE PASSWORD - ONLY AVALABLE ON HOlY TRINITY EMAIL NEWS

With every new use of technology, those seeking to exploit it for unholy purposes will also grow. In the current context, the increased use of Zoom video conference has resulted in the phenomenon of people joining Zoom meetings to create dissent or to promote unrelated issues. Even so, the Zoom platform remains safe if used appropriately. Therefore, effective immediately, all Zoom meetings for Holy Trinity Church ministries will require a password to join. Passwords will be distributed either through the Holy Trinity Email News listserv or through communication directly to the participants of small groups. They will no longer be posted here or anywhere on our website. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.


05 April 2020

JOIN US FOR VIRTUAL COFFEE HOUR AFTER LITURGY!

This Sunday morning, join us online for worship (8:15am Orthros/9:30am Liturgy) on our website at HolyTrinityPgh.org/live. Then, at 11:15, use the Zoom video conference instructions below to log on to another "Virtual Coffee Hour!" Grab your own coffee or tea at home and stay in your church clothes or come casual. We're looking forward to seeing everyone!

VIRTUAL COFFEE HOUR CONNECTION INSTRUCTIONS:

1. COFFEE HOUR GOES FROM 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

2. BRING YOUR OWN COFFEE!

3. HOW TO JOIN:

To join by video on your computer/laptop (best option to see everyone), tablet or cell phone (it must by video capable):

    Join the Zoom Meeting by using your browser to visit:

    https://goarch.zoom.us/j/502540023

    You may be asked to install the Zoom video app. Do it - it's safe and really handy these days! No account needed to join someone else's conference call.

    Or, if you already have Zoom installed, launch it and join Meeting ID: 502 540 023

To join by phone only (no video):

    Join the Zoom Meeting by dialing 646-876-9923

    When prompted, enter Meeting ID: 502 540 023

See you there!


05 April 2020

"LIGHT A CANDLE" DURING SERVICES NOW AVAILABLE!

Do you miss lighting candles in church during the current COVID-19 "Stay At Home" time? Now you can have a real candle lit for you during services at Holy Trinity Church! Check out our new "Light a Candle" program! Visit HolyTrinityPgh.org/candles to light yours today!


02 April 2020

TAKE A LENTEN PILGRIMAGE AROUD THE WORLD...FROM YOUR OWN HOME!

Ready To Get Out Of The House? Want To Go On A Beautiful Lenten Pilgrimage Right Now? Travel The Orthodox Christian World Right From Your Home! See Hagia Sophia, The Holy Sepulchre, Mount Athos and Orthodox Churches And Monasteries In The Us And Around The World!

Get comfortable and start clicking away! These are not videos, but virtual 360 tours you may visit at your leisure. Want to make it grand? Gather the family and put it on your big screen! May your journey be blessed! CLICK HERE TO BEGIN.


28 March 2020

JOIN US FOR COFFEE HOUR ONLINE TODAY FOLLOWING LITURGY!

Miss seeing everyone? We thought so! And we can fix that! Nothing can stop Holy Trinity hospitality!! Join your Holy Trinity family and friends tomorrow after Liturgy for our First-Ever Holy Trinity Virtual Coffee Hour!

While we are doing our best to observe the recommended and required coronavirus restrictions, it's great to be able to join online for worship services, especially during this holy season of Lent. Wouldn't it be nice if we could actually see and talk with one another like we do at Coffee Hour afterwards? Well, thanks to the wonders of video conferencing, we can!

Sunday morning, join us online for worship (8:15am Orthros/9:30am Liturgy) on our website at HolyTrinityPgh.org/live. Then, at 11:00, use the Zoom video conference instructions below to log on to our first-ever "Virtual Coffee Hour!" Grab your own coffee or tea at home and stay in your church clothes or come casual. We're looking forward to seeing everyone!

VIRTUAL COFFEE HOUR CONNECTION INSTRUCTIONS:

1. COFFEE HOUR GOES FROM 11:00-11:45 a.m.

2. BRING YOUR OWN COFFEE!

3. HOW TO JOIN:

To join by video on your computer/laptop (best option to see everyone), tablet or cell phone (it must by video capable):

    Join the Zoom Meeting by using your browser to visit:

    https://goarch.zoom.us/j/586730083

    You may be asked to install the Zoom video app. Do it - it's safe and really handy these days! No account needed to join someone else's conference call.

    Or, if you already have Zoom installed, launch it and join Meeting ID: 586 730 083

To join by phone only (no video):

    Join the Zoom Meeting by dialing 646-876-9923

    When prompted, enter Meeting ID: 586 730 083

See you there!


18 March 2020

MARCH 18, 2020 UPDATE CONCERNING THE CURRENT COV-19 CRISIS
AND PREVENTATIVE MEASURES BEING ENACTED AT HOLY TRINITY CHURCH

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.”
(Psalm 46[45].1-2)

Dear Faithful Holy Trinity Family,

It was only a few days ago I reached out to you to communicate directives to protect the members of this community, the Church and the world around us from the growing scrouge of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Since then, many developments have transpired, resulting in unprecedented and even painful choices being made on every level of the Church and the world to stem the advance of this disease. Please continue to pray fervently for our leaders: world, national, local and religious. The heavy burdens they are carrying on our behalf require our help through encouragement, cooperation and, especially, prayer.

The pdf pastoral directives from His Eminence Metropolitan Savas (click here) (166 KB)  take effect immediately. Please read them fully and abide by them as faithful members of the Orthodox Church under the spiritual direction of our hierarch.

Of particular importance, please note the following direct quote from the encyclical concerning church services:

"Church services may continue as scheduled within our parishes, but the parishioners are directed to participate via the Internet. A minimum compliment should be present at the parish (no more than 5 persons including the priest, all of whom should be physically healthy and at low risk for the disease, who will participate at the invitation of the priest). Those unable to participate via live streaming are encouraged to utilize other resources available to the faithful (see below). Those clergy, cantors, and parish leaders who fall within the higher risk groups (older than 65; having long-term respiratory conditions; being immunocompromised or living with the immunocompromised; etc.) must remain home." (From His Eminence Metropolitan Savas)

What does that mean for us in the Holy Trinity community? Exactly what it says, as it does for all other parishes in the Metropolis. Therefore - though I never thought I would see the day that as your priest where I would be compelled to communicate this - please note:

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, PARISHIONER ATTENDANCE AT SERVICES IS NOT PERMITTED. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PARTICIPATE BY ATTENDING ONLINE ONLY at www.HolyTrinityPgh.org/live. WE WILL CONTINUE OUR FULL SCHEDULE OF SUNDAY AND LENTEN SERVICES AS PUBLISHED IN THE HERALD AND LISTED ON OUR WEBSITE.

To make your online worship experience an expression of our "Church of the Home," please consider the following:

  • Watch the services in a special place, such as in your icon corner or the prayer space of your home.
  • Prepare yourself as if you were coming to the church, perhaps even dressing as you usually do for service at the church.
  • Turn off distractions such as other media and your phone.
  • Most importantly, tune in spiritually as participants, not just observers. This is still your church!

Also, our Parish Council met via online video conference last evening and we have also made the decision to close the church properties to outside visitors. Therefore

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THE CHURCH AND CHAPEL FACILITIES WILL BE CLOSED TO OUTSIDE VISITORS.

Please watch in the coming days for additional information, encouragement and spiritual guidance on maintaining our Lenten journey in faith and holiness, even in the midst of these challenges.

Please pass this information on to other community members who may not have access to email and continue to support and encourage one another as we walk this path together.

As I said in my last message, during this holy and sacred season of Lent, the Great Compline service reminds us of the ever-presence of our loving Lord with the hymn, “God is with us; give ear O you nations, for God is with us!” As you read the attached update, please allow that to be the underlying message of hope and strength. We do not face this or any other challenge in our life or the life of our community without that assurance: “God is with us!

On behalf of our Parish Council, Father Radu and our community leaders, I remain,
Paternally and pastorally yours in Christ our Lord,
Father John Touloumes
Proistamenos


13 March 2020

MESSAGE FROM FATHER JOHN CONCERNING THE CURRENT COV-19 CRISIS AND PREVENTATIVE MEASURES BEING ENACTED AT HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY AND CONTINUING THROUGH MARCH 31

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” (Psalm 46[45].1-2)

Dear Faithful Holy Trinity Family,

During this holy and sacred season of Lent, the Great Compline service reminds us of the ever-presence of our loving Lord with the hymn, “God is with us; give ear O you nations, for God is with us!” As you read the attached update, please allow that to be the underlying message of hope and strength. We do not face this or any other challenge in our life or the life of our community without that assurance: “God is with us!

Concerns over the current COVID-19 crisis sweeping the globe have brought about many and rapid changes in our daily lives and activities. We are a community of faithful Orthodox Christian believers; we are also active members of the society around us, personally and as a church community. It is, therefore, our calling to simultaneously be witnesses to the saving Good News of Jesus Christ—Who brings us peace and hope—and to be responsible citizens who are contributing positively and responsibly in the calls for caution and safety to help reduce the spread and impact of this new virus for the protection and well-being of all. We do this with the guidance of our Patriarchate, Archdiocese, Metropolis, government and public health officials.

With all that in mind, our parish leadership – myself, Father Radu, the Parish Council and parish ministry leaders – have been in consultation concerning an appropriate community response, and today I am announcing the attached changes, effective immediately and continuing through March 31 (pending further updates). Please feel free to communicate with myself, Father Radu, the Parish Council or your ministry leaders regarding any further suggestions, concerns or needs. We are here to help.

Our priority is to care well for the Holy Trinity family and the surrounding community during this period of increased anxiety and daily disruption. It is times like these where the Church also has the opportunity to show added measures of love, grace, and hospitality to one another both inside and outside the walls of our Holy Church and to shine the faithful light of hope in Jesus Christ to the world around us.

Paternally and pastorally yours in Christ our Lord,

Father John Touloumes
Proistamenos


COVID-19 CRISIS CHANGES AT HOLY TRINITY CHURCH EFFECTIVE MARCH 13-MARCH 31, 2020

WORSHIP LIFE

  • All worship services will continue as scheduled – Sunday, Lenten and Festal.
  • All services at Holy Trinity Church and Saint George Chapel will continue to be broadcast online at HolyTrinityPgh.org/live for those who are not able to attend.
  • All who are ill, at-risk due to age or health-compromised conditions are encouraged to remain home and participate online until this crisis passes.
  • For those who attend services, the following adjustments are announced:
    • Wash or sanitize hands upon arrival using the entrance restroom or sanitizer.
    • Minimize person-to-person contact. Culturally, we are used to greeting each other by shaking hands, kissing and embracing, but this should be temporarily avoided during this period. Keep a safe “social distance” when speaking to others.
    • Temporarily refrain from the usual Orthodox Christian practice of kissing icons. Rather, honor the sacred icons by bowing before them, offering a prayer, lighting a candle and making the sign of the Cross.
    • During the Divine Liturgy, temporarily refrain from shaking hands, embracing or kissing those around you at the Kiss of Peace; instead, reverently turn and bow.
    • Holy Communion will be distributed as usual. This holy gift from God is the true medicine of our lives offered “for the forgiveness of sins and life eternal.” It is the timeless teaching of the Orthodox Church that Holy Communion is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which cannot ever be a transmitter of illness or death. (See online podcast of Father John’s sermon from March 8 on the Holy Trinity website).
    • Antidoron will not be available immediately following Holy Communion to avoid the practice of having many people place their hands a common bowl.
    • Antidoron will be distributed by the clergy at the end of the Divine Liturgy so that only the sanitized hand of the clergy goes into the bread bowl. Please do not grab the priest's hand or kiss it, but receive the Antidoron reverently with an open palm.

COMMUNITY LIFE

  • Coffee Hour and social gatherings are temporarily suspended.
  • Church School classes are temporarily suspended.
  • Lenten presentations and after-service meals are suspended.
  • The March 22 Godparent/Godchild observance and Philoptochos Lenten Luncheon are cancelled.
  • All non-essential meetings and any meetings of over 20 people are cancelled.
  • Following services, various areas of the church including doorknobs and contact points will be sanitized.

Thank you to all members of the Holy Trinity Church for the mutual understanding, compassion, and absence of judgment of others in all these matters. Everyone is free to make the choices that best suit their needs. We will provide updates as needed but are currently planning to resume regular activities in April unless notified otherwise.