June 22, 2021
A few weeks ago, the Diocese of Atlanta designated their Covid-19 protocols as advisory rather than mandatory. Consequently, the All Saints’ Public Health Task Force met and the vestry approved a significant relaxation of our existing protocols last night. All churches in the Diocese of Atlanta are required to comply with the CDC's Covid-19 guidelines and the only mandate from the diocese is that communion wine cannot be served as part of public worship or pastoral visits.
In essence, our new parish protocols seek to express our core value as a church: that we are a community where all are welcome at God’s table. We recognize that at this point many of our parish have been fully vaccinated and these protocols seek to return much of our life as a church back to in-person ministry and gatherings accordingly. We also recognize that there is a significant segment of the parish that is not fully vaccinated. We are mindful that Covid-19 still poses a real and present danger for some because of their own health or because of the health of loved ones. We are equally mindful of the 500 children and youth who make up this congregation, especially our parishioners who are under 12 and are not yet able to receive the vaccine. Given all of this, for each of us to find a welcome at God’s table we will need to make room for all to have a place.
Starting on Sunday, July 4, here is how we will achieve the goal of welcome and inclusion.
The following gatherings and ministries will be offered for fully vaccinated persons without any pre-registration, masking, distancing or other Covid-related precautions:
- Sunday worship indoors at 8:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m., and 5:30 p.m.
- Gatherings large and small at All Saints’ and off-campus, including all parish ministries, small groups, and governance bodies (indoors and outdoors)
- Food and drinks may be served without any Covid precautions (indoors and outdoors)
In recognition of persons who are not fully vaccinated and who would prefer to gather in settings with Covid-19 precautions still in place, we will make the following provisions:
- Sunday worship indoors at 9:00 a.m. (pre-registration, masks, and distancing will be required for all; singing and the removal of masks when leading worship will be allowed)
- Online worship at 11:15 a.m. every Sunday for those who still wish to worship from home
- Some provision of remote access for classes, groups and meetings for those who wish to join remotely
For Youth and Children's Ministries, the following protocols will be followed:
- For gatherings where all participants are 12 years old and over, no Covid-19 precautions will be followed
- For gatherings that include children under 12, Covid-19 precautions will be followed by all (pre-registration, masks, and distancing will be required; singing and individually packaged food and drinks will be allowed)
- The nursery on Sunday mornings will re-open later in the summer and will be staffed by masked and fully vaccinated employees
Next Monday, June 28, we will send out a short survey to assess the parish’s readiness to further relax these protocols for our new program year which starts on August 15. We will send out a second survey early August to assess the degree to which any of that has changed over the summer, and I will write to you again shortly thereafter.
While this is not a complete return to normal, these relaxed protocols do offer us a transition phase that is safe for all as we re-enter life together as a community. The staff are busy planning a full calendar of events back on the block this August and it will be such a delight to be able to gather our church once again. As we know well from our own lives, after a time of trial it is how we rise together that defines who we are. I trust that All Saints’ is a church that celebrates and stands by the welcome of all and that we will walk these final steps of this pandemic with love and grace.