Return to Church for 06.07.20

We will return to public in-person worship on Sunday, June 7. While we are able to return, thanks be to God, there will have to be adjustments and amendments made to comply with CDC guidelines and the edict of our Bishop.  First, we are going to try and limit the liturgies to 50 people.  To accommodate the size of our parish family, we are adding an additional Sunday mass.  Mass times are 8am, 10am, and 6pm.  For the first few Sunday’s, we will not have Adult Education or coffee hour. 
To help us keep the congregation size to 50 we have created an RSVP form and hope you will take a moment and RSVP for one of this Sunday’s liturgies. 

Links to RSVP for this Sunday’s masses:
https://forms.gle/eEHMriEMnbiBrPPk8

Here is what to expect:

  • The physical space
    • Entry ways- We have removed all the holy water from entrances and at the entrances you will find hand sanitizer and masks for those who need them.  The doors will also be wide open to decrease touch surfaces.  The building and pews will be regularly cleaned and sanitized following guidelines. 
    • Seating- We are asking that the faithful sit in odd numbered pews, leaving the even numbered as distancing space.  Family units, and those people who have already been in close contact, may sit together, but please try your best to practice social distancing. 
    • Reception of Communion- we have been asked to use communion stations and not have the faithful come to the altar rail, the rail being a surface that would be touched by all as well as the steps leading back to the pews, and the chancel area would be congested.  So, Fr. Karl and I will come to the floor of the Nave and administer communion from the front of the Nave one pew at a time, trying not to have lines form.  An edict has been issued that communion is to only be given in one species.  So, the faithful will only be receiving the Body of our Lord (the bread), and the wine will be consumed by the priest. 
    • At the 10am mass, there will be a camera and live-streaming equipment in the Nave, most likely taking up a pew.  The camera will be focused on the altar and you will not be filmed unless you are participating as a lector, or are in the altar party.  While this is intrusive and perhaps distracting, it will allow parish family who cannot yet attend the opportunity to pray along with us. 
  • Changes in the Liturgy
    • The structure of the Liturgy has been amended to comply with guidelines and edicts as well.  So, you will notice several changes. 
      • The Offertory- We will not be passing the collection plates during the offertory.  Instead, there will be plate stations in the aisles to allow for offerings and giving to be made in worship, but with a minimum of contact. 
      • The Peace- We have removed the passing of the peace and restructured the service to an older formula that moves from beginning to end without breaking for the exchanging of peace and announcements. While this removes the opportunity to exchange the peace and greet one another, it adds to the safety of all. 
      • Reception of Holy Communion- See above for mechanics of reception.  Communion in one kind is valid and was the practice of the Church for many centuries.  While it is less than ideal, and not the standard practice of the day, it is a valid means of receiving Jesus, and receiving the same grace, mercy, strength and forgiveness as with both species.  When I visit the sick/shut-in etc. it is my standard practice.  Some places I visit, alcohol is not allowed. In other instances, consuming wine is difficult or unsafe because of the condition of the person receiving. Please know receiving only the Host is valid and a full receiving of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
  • Other Changes
    • We will not have coffee hour/education for the next few weeks.  I want to take the temperature of our parish family before we begin with these things.  I beg your patience and prayer as we try to live fully as a family, but protect one another. 
    • Some/many of you might not be ready to return to public worship.  There are those, for medical reasons, who returning would be unwise and too great a risk.  There are those for whom the idea of returning is overwhelming.  For these reasons, we will continue digital worship and offerings for the next bit of time.  We are planning on live-streaming the 10am mass for those who cannot join us on Facebook. We will also continue on-line reflections, education and musical offerings.  With this I beg your patience.  At this point, I have single-handedly produced, edited, and uploaded over 200 videos during quarantine.  The amount of time and effort is substantial, and I still have so much to learn.  Live-streaming is a thing about which I am far from confident, and I am still the only person who is trained and experienced with software etc.  We don’t have a production staff or crew.  So, expect some glitches, expect the quality to improve from day to day… but above all, please be patient.      

While I am a servant of Jesus and of you all, I am, along with the vestry, responsible for your safety while at the parish.  Please be aware of the following- Ushers and vestry are on duty to assist you all, but are not policemen.  We assume good-will and charity while together (that everyone will act in a reasonable way).. we do not have the mechanisms to police our gatherings.  You will need to help with this.  We will not shut the doors and turn people away… we will not ask folks to leave… we will not demand you wear a mask… nor will we demand certain behaviors.  So, when you come to the liturgy, we won’t be taking names or policing actions or activity, outside of what we have historically done.  We are accountable to God Almighty and to one another.  So please be mindful of this and do your part to help make our coming back together as meaningful and stress free as possible.     
Finally beloved, please be respectful of one another.  Informed and thoughtful individuals come to different places on how to handle these days.  Some have health concerns that are known only to them, some have to care for compromised individuals.  I have found in my dealings with others, that there is a wide variety of responses and strategies in managing this pandemic.  There are some who go above and beyond the recommendations… and there are others who feel the recommendations are useless and violating.  There are some who are filled with fear and anxiety being in public spaces, and others who are confident and comfortable.  But in this, we must respect and treat carefully the strategies and feelings of others.  Do not assume everyone feels as you do.  Do not assume everyone’s comfort level is the same.  Please try and treat others tenderly and with the assumption that coming to mass is anxiety-filled, and give wide berth and respect.  I realize that the amendments we have had to make are less than ideal and that they will affect our being together.  But we need to be together in the liturgy… we need the healing touch of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, so these things will allow us to be with Jesus together and ensure we can continue to do so.