RE-OPENING SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT
HALLELUAH! This week we received the go-ahead from the Bishop to resume in-person worship on August 16th at 10:00 A.M., using masks, social distancing, safe communion practices, and cleaning before and after services. Our local new cases have been steady around 3/day (see graph) and we committed to continue to watch the numbers, closing again if the trendline rises above 4/day and then re-opening again when it declines. This will undoubtedly be a time of peaks and valleys in terms of new cases, and our goal is to have worship in person in the church when it is safe, but be ready to pull back when it is not. That seems the likely pattern until this thing is under control.
So -- now that you can come to church, the question is; "Should you?"
The answer is entirely dependent on two things:
Q: Will there be two services at this time?
A: No, we are only planning a 10:00 A.M. service for now, but are open to changing if there is a need.
Q: Will communion be available every week?
A: Yes. Last week we sent an outline of safe procedures for receiving communion, and a video is coming out today or tomorrow demonstrating what that looks like.
Q: Do I need to wear a mask the whole service?
A: Yes, masks will be required during the entire service, except when you are actually consuming the host.
Q: What if someone doesn't have a mask?
A: No one will be allowed to worship in-person at this time without a mask. If you forget or don't have one, we have them available in the narthex and an usher will happily provide one for you.
Q: Is hand sanitizer available? (An aside -- Lia calls this "hanitizer," which I think is actually a better name for it)
A: Yes, there are three hands-free sanitizers in the church, one at the back door, one on the way into the sanctuary, and one at the steps to the parish hall.
Q: How will we know where to sit and how to go to communion?
A: Ushers will be on-hand to direct you to open seating and indicate when to come forward.
Q: How many can worship in the sanctuary and what if too many people show up?
A: We anticipate we can safely seat around 40 in the sanctuary, keeping six-foot distances between individuals and family groups sitting together. If more than 40 arrive, we have set up the parish hall with the livestream feed and can seat another 40 or so there. Honestly, if more than 80 people show up for service, we will have to cancel anyway because I will have died of shock :) Other churches in the area report small numbers in attendance, on the order of 20-30. If we exceed that, we will make a plan, I promise you.
Q: Can I sit with my friends and/or family?
A: Family groups can share a pew. Couples can sit together, and perhaps an individual can sit at the other end, space permitting. Individuals can share a pew, one on either end.
Q: Will we use bulletins or prayerbooks?
A: Bulletins as usual, placed in the pews where seating is allowed, to be left there for collection following the service.
Q: Will there be music?
A: Barb will play the piano, and on most Sundays Alyssa will sing the hymns as a soloist from a safe distance or behind the sneeze guard on the lectern. There will be no congregational singing at this time.
Q: What if I forget what to do?
A: Don't worry, there will be plenty of us present who have been working on this for months and we will assist you every step of the way.
Q: Why are we going to all this trouble and when will we get "back to normal?"
A: We are making all these (hopefully temporary) changes in order to have worship together and receive communion during this time of uncertainty. My commitment, and that of our Bishop and our Vestry, is that you will be safe in church. These steps represent the best guidance available to us at this time to lower or mitigate risk to your health and the health of those you love.
So -- this is the plan. I am so looking forward to worshipping with folks in-person again, and I know many of you are feeling the same. Please be safe, stay home if it is safer for you or others, and keep the faith. This is progress!
Love, Fr. Mark+