On May 20, 2021, Bishop Scanlan and the diocesan Task Force for Operations issued updated guidelines for worship as we are in the initial stages of emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. This letter opens with:
As Christians we are called to care for the least among us and to exercise servant leadership in community. St. Paul tells the community in Corinth, “…but God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. “(I Cor 12: 24b-27). Our call is to care for each other in community.
Our Vestry met on May 27, 2021 to review the recommendations and discuss their implications for our worship at All Saints. We affirmed that our Baptismal Covenant calls each of us to "seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself." As we adopt new ways of gathering for worship, our Baptismal vows are to guide how we care for each other.
In light of our Baptismal vows, we are implementing the following changes to our COVID protocols:
Wearing of Masks & Distancing
The updated COVID guidelines from the Diocese allow us to follow the Governor's guidelines for mask wearing indoors. Those who are fully vaccinated need not wear a mask while those who are unvaccinated are to continue wearing masks.
We will not be asking about anyone's vaccination status as this is not an extension of Christian hospitality. Some who are vaccinated may choose to continue to wear masks for their own comfort level.
Physically distanced seating will continue.
Ushers are asked to continue to keep a log of who is present at worship services in order to maintain records for contact tracing; however, temperature checks are no longer required. We will post a sign listing the symptoms of COVID and ask that anyone with symptoms refrain from entering the building - ushers will no longer screen for symptoms.
Liturgical Practices in Worship
Congregational singing is an important part of our tradition, but we also know this activity spreads aerosolized particles into the air and we know this is how COVID spreads. At this point, we strongly urge you to wear a mask and sing quietly if you intend to sing during worship to reduce the risk of spreading aerosols of any kind.
Walt and Mother Anjel are arranging a meeting with the choir to discuss the details of the choir's return. If you are interested in being part of the choir's return, please email Walt at email@example.com.
Passing the Peace
Passing of the Peace will continue to be in place by showing a verbal, non-touch gesture of hospitality such as a wave or bow. The Peace is a symbolic act of reconciliation before receiving the Sacrament - it is not a social time. Being mindful that we have friends among us who would rather not be touched for personal reasons, this is a reminder that our practice of gently extending a no-touch peace is showing hospitality to all.
We will continue to offer one worship service on Sundays at 10 am to reduce the risk of exposure to aerosols and the cleaning necessary in having back-to-back services. Because the presence of the virus in aerosols and on surfaces degrades within a day or two, adding another service mid-week is possible. If you are interested in a mid-week service, please email Mother Anjel at firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know.
We will return to having both bread and wine at worship. Wine will be served in individual cups and a wastebasket for disposal will be in the front of the first pew on the choir side near the aisle. We will still limit the number at the altar rail to four family units in order to have appropriate distancing and we ask you stand for Communion rather than kneel.
The offering collection plate will remain in the rear of the church. Please place your offering in the plate as you enter and it will be brought forward at the Offertory along with the bread and the wine. We no longer need to put the offering in a plastic bag.
Prayer Books and Hymnals
Prayer Books and Hymnals will be returned to the church. We will continue to print a full text bulletin for the foreseeable future.
Devotional Votive Candle Bank
We are able to return our Candle Bank to use. Mother Anjel has prepared the votives and we may return to this devotional practice.
We may return to having a single Crucifer/Altar Server on Sunday mornings. Please contact Becky Cassel at email@example.com to let her know you are willing to be scheduled.
We are cleared to have social time including refreshments following our worship. This summer, we hope to have refreshments outside on the front lawn following the service. Cookies may be individually served by a server and hand sanitizer will be available to use at the coffee & drink stations before you pour your beverages.
We do ask that appropriate physical distancing be observed, even outside, in order to reduce the risk of possible infection.