May 22, 2020
My Dear Parish Family,
When I was a child, my parents taught me the words of Abraham Lincoln: “You can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time.” As I present our plan for re-gathering, I am sure that this sage wisdom will prove to be true once again!
I anticipate that for some, this plan will feel too slow and for others it will feel too fast. Wherever you are along that spectrum, I simply ask you to trust that this plan has been developed with deep love and concern for all of our parishioners, and that it has been looked over and discussed thoroughly by both staff and vestry.
One very important thing to consider as we return to church is that God calls each of us to love sacrificially. In 1 Corinthians 8, St. Paul addresses a potentially divisive situation in the Corinthian church. He teaches the two opposing factions that it is much better to love those with whom we differ than it is to insist on our rights or to assume moral superiority. They will know we are Christians by our love; if you wear a mask or not, if you’re ready to be in crowds or not – it’s ok! Go at your own pace, live and let live, love and let love!
OK. Enough caveats. On to the plan.
The clergy, staff and vestry of Church of Our Saviour are working to provide an array of options, so that there is a good option for you at whatever pace you decide to join in the re-gathering. However, crucial to this plan is that
each person is going to have to consider the available options, consider their own situation, decide what they are most comfortable with, and act accordingly
. We support you, and love you, whatever your decisions are.
We plan to return to in-person worship on June 7
; we will delay this plan if local, state and/or federal guidelines at the time should require it. Our plan is to offer
Sunday services. Two will be held outside (8am, 9:30am), and two will be held inside (11am, 5:30pm). Physical distancing and group size limitations will be actively observed. The plan is attached to this cover letter, and I urge you to read through it carefully.
Additionally, the Vestry has approved the purchase of equipment required to livestream services. Please thank them for this significant investment on behalf of our current parishioners and future outreach efforts. Once the technology is installed, hopefully before June 7, we will livestream the 11:00 service so that those who wish to stay home may still participate.
You will receive ample communication about how to access the service online. This plan will be re-visited on a weekly basis and amended as necessary; we will do our best to communicate any changes in a timely manner.
As of today, I have not found a consolidated resource that states exactly what is permitted and what is not. We have done our best to stay apprised of and to synthesize all the various guidelines, decrees, and recommendations from the Diocese of Florida and from all government outlets. As you know, things change quickly; many reports, even scientific ones, offer conflicting information. I believe our plan is responsible, conservative, and compliant, and I reiterate the fact that church leadership will review our plan and its execution weekly and make changes as necessary.
We love you, and we can’t wait to see you whenever you decide to return.
For the Glory of God,
Church of Our Saviour
Plan for Re-Gathering
Our goal is to begin live, in-person services on June 7, 2020.
There is not a timeline on this plan; it will be in effect until further notice. We will evaluate these protocols weekly and adjust as necessary. We will also watch the local statistics and government ordinances carefully and make prudent decisions. Though we certainly hope to only move forward, if conditions with the virus worsen, we can return for a time to online-only. Church staff will communicate changes primarily via the weekly e-newsletter and Facebook.
4 Sunday Services, all Rite 2, bread-only Eucharist:
8:00am – Outside, unless raining, Masks recommended*
9:30am – Outside, unless raining, Masks recommended*
11:00am – Inside, Masks required**
5:30pm – Inside, Masks required
*In the event of rain, the 8:00 and 9:30 services will be held inside the church; masks will be required.
**The 11:00 Service will be live-streamed; once that technology has been installed, we will be able to communicate information to the parish about accessing the live-stream service.
For All Services
- All who feel sick in any way or demonstrate any symptoms (such as regular sneezing, coughing, aches, chills, etc.), even if believed to be merely seasonal allergies, should stay home and watch the service online.
- The CDC recommends those considered vulnerable – i.e. those with underlying conditions or over age 65 – should strongly consider staying home and watch online; for those considered vulnerable who decide to come, we encourage you to wear a facemask, regardless of your service choice.
- All who come, come with the understanding that these protocols are put in place to minimize the risk, but do not eliminate all risk. Those who come assume their own risk. Those who are not comfortable with that should feel free to stay home and watch the streamed service.
- People are encouraged to use the restroom at home before coming to church, and avoid using the church restrooms if possible.
- The Clergy and Staff will work to limit services to 45 minutes.
- At all services, ushers will wear facemasks.
- Everyone gets a squirt of hand-sanitizer upon entering the service, inside or outside
- We will register everyone who attends each service by name. This is so that if someone does become infected with COVID-19, we can work with health department officials to contact everyone quickly.
- We will develop one bulletin that works for all four services. We will email this to the congregation on Friday so they can pull it up on their phones at their service. We will print some out, and will have trash receptacles available.
- Initially there will be no congregational singing, but only singing by a soloist.
- There will not be a processional or recessional; clergy will enter and exit the services from the Sacristy. We will not initially be using acolytes.
- The Gospel will be read in front of the congregation, not in the midst of the congregation.
- There will be a “Peace”, as is liturgically appropriate, but we will only hug/touch the members of our immediate family. For all others, we wave, bow, or flash a peace sign.
- Offering plate will be available at the back of the services, both inside and outside.
- Priests will disinfect their hands before celebration in view of all parishioners, will wear masks during the celebration and distribution of the Eucharist, and will bring the bread to the parishioners in their seats. Priests will hand a wafer to parishioners, intending to avoid skin to skin contact.
- After the service, ushers should dismiss parishioners, beginning at the rear of the service. This must be clearly communicated during announcements.
- Bathrooms, chairs, pews, door handles will be disinfected between services.
- There will be no breakfast, communal coffee, Sunday School classes, Nursery, or Kid’s Word until further notice.
Specific to Outside Services
- Though we would not initially expect more than 100, we don’t intend to put a cap on service size for outside services.
- Parishioners who are able to carry them are asked to bring their own chairs to these services, and sit a minimum of 10 feet away from anyone that is not in their immediate household.
- Anyone who uses available COOS chairs will be asked to wipe them down when they’re finished using them.
- We will continue these outside services, even into the warmer months, because heat and humidity are believed to work against the SARS-CoV 2 virus. (Reference) “Picnic” attire is perfectly acceptable, and people may feel free to bring their own coffee, water bottles, etc. Worshippers should expect to see unvested priests in flip flops, if the weather requires it!
- Facemasks are recommended, but not required, for outside services; however, we ask that everyone bring a mask because there may be someone you’d like to talk to who is more comfortable with the conversation if you are wearing a mask. This is the loving thing to do, but it is not intended to encourage lingering after the service.
Specific to Inside Services
- The plan now is to limit inside services to 50 parishioners (including ushers) with a little flexibility; If there are 60 or more, at least 10 (whatever number to get the attendance in the nave down to 50) should go to overflow seating in the Great Hall, and watch the service streaming on the TV. This number could change in either direction if authoritative guidelines (CDC, Diocese of FL, etc.) require it on any given Sunday.
- Streaming depends on the technology installation and volunteers to run it. If we have a rainy day and more than 50 show up for either of the first two services, we will need to be able to stream the service, or be forced to turn people away. (Though we will only live-stream the 11:00 service, the technology will allow us to stream at any time if we need to for overflow situations) If you would like to volunteer for this new ministry, please call the church office.
- For now, masks are required for inside services, including Thursday morning. Disposable masks are hard to come by these days, so parishioners are asked to bring their own. If the church is out of disposable masks, parishioners without masks will be asked to leave. This is not because we are against you or your decisions; it is because we love you and the rest of our parishioners.
- Pews will be clearly marked as to where people are allowed to sit.
- Ushers will be available to assist parishioners with finding seating if needed