Regathering Update, November 11, 2020
Over the past two months, a St. Paul’s team convened by Fr. Daniel and led by Sandy Bria and Carol Custus, along with Marsha Dunn, Ryan and Elia Kopreski, Barbara McCabe, Terri Polley, Jake Street, and Anne Watkins, has worked to define the conditions and mitigate the risks of our regathering for worship in the church building.
Our hope had been to increase our gathered presence for worship throughout the fall and winter; however, the current exponential infection rate sweeping across the country as we head into a major holiday season and flu season means a delay in implementing some of those plans until the infection rate comes down. You can read more about the specific focus areas of our work below.
For the upcoming seasons of Advent and Christmas, Fr. Daniel, along with lay leaders and staff, will continue to prioritize our worship online, adding extra prayer and social events both onsite and online throughout Advent, to help the St. Paul’s community stay connected. Look for a full listing of those events in the Advent/Christmas letter that will be mailed out the week of Thanksgiving.
All of us hold with hope the recent news of a potentially effective vaccine that could bring an eventual end to the pandemic. We also know it will be some time before that vaccine is distributed and effective, allowing us to gather as we did before the pandemic. The St. Paul’s Regathering group will continue to refine our plans to come together over the coming months, and will keep you all informed as we return to Phase 3 and beyond. Thanks for your prayer, patience, and participation as we walk together through this time.
— Fr. Daniel Simons, Sandy Bria, and Carol Custus
Focus areas of the Regathering working group:
Service Signup: building an online system where we can easily sign up to attend services and other onsite church events, and get updated notices about events we are attending.
Contact Tracing: creating thorough protocols to make sure we have immediate and robust followup for any known presence of a covid19-infected person at a church gathering.
Welcome Experience: making sure that our core value of Radical Welcome is fully expressed, even in a time of pandemic. This is happening in a number of ways:
- volunteer-staffed open hours at the church through the week. Do stop by if you haven’t yet been to the church to visit and pray. (Tues./Thurs. 4-6pm; Sat. 12-4pm.)
- a greeter-usher plan to help keep onsite gathering safe, welcoming, and organized, to be put in place at a time when infection rates decrease and our gathered numbers can grow.
- access to the church during the liturgy livestream on an as-needed basis. Contact Fr. Daniel (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Increased Ventilation: improving ways to increase air-flow through the church space to mitigate the potential build-up of aerosol-borne virus when volunteers, staff, and guests are gathered to broadcast worship.
“Clean Communion”: building protocols that make it possible for us to distribute eucharistic bread in a sanitary manner, both onsite to those gathered, and throughout the parish, using “home communion kits,” beginning in Advent.
Fullness in Worship: even while our gathered numbers are severely limited, Fr. Daniel is working to include as many faces, voices, and roles in worship as can gather with reasonable safety during the current and coming infection rate surge. A team is also working on improving the audio-visual elements of the worship livestream.