Reopening Letter to the Parish
May 28, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Vestry and I are pleased to announce that beginning this week we move our beloved Saint John’s Church into the final chapter, or Phase IV, guidelines of our reopening plan. On May 14, Bishop Poulson Reed announced that he has conferred the authority to each congregation for self-determining the protocols best for their own local contexts after May 23. For the Diocese at large, he has eliminated all COVID-related restrictions.
With the wonderful news that virus case reports locally are the lowest since this time last year, updated and relaxed recommendations from the CDC on gathering, and so many of our parishioners now fully vaccinated, I am excited we can return to worship and meeting together more fully. So, beginning Sunday, May 30, the following will continue, resume or begin at Saint John’s:
· Masks – For the fully vaccinated, the wearing of face masks is optional while in the building for worship, meetings, etc. We request the wearing of a facemask at all times by anyone not fully vaccinated. If you are vaccinated, but prefer to wear a mask at this time, by all means please do. Hand sanitizer remains available at all access and gathering points. Please make use of it.
· Attendance – Participation numbers for services, musical events and meetings will no longer have limitations. We will livestream services to the television monitor in the Common Room. For those who may have hesitancy to be in the Nave during Sunday worship, watching from this space is an option for you.
· Communion – Parishioners will come forward to the altar rail and remain standing to receive the Host or a blessing. The priests will continue to wear a mask during communion. For the time being, we will continue to receive only the Host during the liturgy. We will receive in One Kind while we continue to recruit and retrain volunteers who would like to assist as an LEM.
· Group Meetings – We welcome back all Saint John’s groups to meeting in the building. Be sure that your group leader has checked with the office to approved days, times and locations. Regarding non-church groups, the staff and I will be having conversations in the weeks ahead on how best move forward to accommodate requests.
· Nursery – The nursery for our youngest members resumed last week. All care workers will continue to wear masks and gloves.
· Choir and Congregational Singing – Our larger volunteer choir will return to the chancel this Sunday at 10 a.m. and all worshipers may participate in congregational singing from the pews. Hymnals and Prayer Books will return to the pews for all to use.
· The Daily Office – Beginning the week of June 14, the church will be unlocked for a period ahead of Morning and Evening Prayers. All are invited to join myself or our lay readers for the Daily Office in the church. Watch for details in the e-news.
· Food and Beverage – Coffee and water will be provided in the Common Room between services on Sunday. Food may be brought into the building by groups and individuals, but must have been prepared with masks and gloves, or should be safely sourced and come in the original containers to the kitchen.
· Honor One Another – Please mirror the persons you encounter in the church. If they have a mask on, respect their space. Ask before shaking hands or hugging. Don’t presume to sit too closely in the pew. Not everyone is in the same place in this journey out of the pandemic. We care for one another by respecting how each person or family wants to proceed.
· Access to the Building – At this time the building will remained locked during the day. The staff will ensure church groups have access at the times they need it. The Vestry, lay leadership and I will be having conversations in the weeks ahead on how best to provide security to all with the least impact on public use this summer prior to having free access through building doors.
· Livestreaming – Yes! We will continue to livestream our Sunday mass, Evensong and many other significant offerings of the church. Please join us digitally if you are not feeling well or traveling.
As we look towards more or less regular parish operations in the near term, many will rejoice at the return of familiarity to our life at Saint John’s. Of your charity, I ask for your continued prayers and patience as your new Rector – my only reference for my service here has been during the pandemic! I am grateful for the constant support of our vestry, wardens and staff. I am encouraged by your kindness and welcome these past 3 months.
In closing, along with Bishop Reed and our vestry, I encourage all of our parishioners to receive vaccinations. Please reach out to the office if access remains an issue for you. In recognition that there are varying levels of comfort with vaccines, safety protocols, and more, let us look upon one another with love, patience, kindness and forbearance. In moving toward what I hope is a safer, healthier and happier season, let us not forget the lives lost and those diminished by the ravages of COVID near and far. Lift up prayers for peace, health, and cooperation as our whole city steps into this summer. And, most of all, let us move forward with Christ in our hearts, on our lips, and witnessed through our deeds. As Saint Paul wrote to the Romans, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. David Bumsted, Rector