May 21, 2021
Dear Good Shepherd Family,
 
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to you today to share decisions that have been made about regathering and the parish reopening.
 
As you may have noticed, a lot has changed in the past two weeks. Guidelines from the CDC, the State of Maryland, Montgomery County and the Diocese of Washington have all been revised and many restrictions have been lifted.
 
This week, I have had conversations with our Wardens, Father Kent from Transfiguration, and the Vestry. Each of these conversations was extremely helpful to me in figuring out how we will be moving forward. I would also like to thank everyone who took the time to fill out the parish survey on regathering. The survey responses were quite useful and informed my conversations and decisions as well.

Before I share what our life together this summer will look like, I would like to acknowledge that it is entirely possible, and indeed likely, each of us is in a different place when it comes to being comfortable with regathering. This is okay. I do not expect everyone to be at the same level of comfort. I do expect each of us to be respectful of any differences we may encounter in this area.

Also, there may be some frustrations with the plans for the summer as stated below. This is also okay. We are all going to need to continue to draw on the grace and flexibility we have been practicing over the past year. PLEASE NOTE: Not every aspect of our liturgical practice will return immediately and I will do my best to let you know what to expect as we move forward.

All of that said, here is where things stand right now:
 
·      On Wednesday, May 26th, the mid-week Eucharist will resume in person, indoors. This service will continue to be streamed on Facebook Live. Masks are not required for this service but may certainly be worn if need be.
 
·      On Sunday, May 30th there will be a joint Zoom service with Transfiguration at 9:00am. At 10:30am, there will be in-person services at Transfiguration and at Good Shepherd. For the month of June, the 10:30am service at Good Shepherd will be outdoors and will be a Eucharist.
 
·      The pattern of 9:00am Zoom worship and 10:30am in-person worship on Sundays will continue through Labor Day.
 
·      Please bring your own chair for in-person worship on Sunday mornings. If you need to use one of the church’s chairs, please be sure to return it inside after the service.
 
·      If we need to go inside on a Sunday morning due to rain, cicadas, heat, or for any other reason, masks will be worn. So, please bring your mask with you if you are coming to church on a Sunday morning.
 
·      For the month of June, the Diocesan prohibition on potlucks and communal meals remains in place.

·      Towards the end of June, the Sunday 10:30am in-person worship service will be evaluated and adjustments may be made. Moving indoors at this point is a possibility.
 
·      Consecrated communion wafers will be available during the food drive on June 5 for those of you who would like to continue worshiping online for all or part of the summer.
 
Finally, a word about vaccinations: As the Rector, I am requiring that employees, Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEMs), and choir members be vaccinated. While it is my hope and my expectation that everyone else at Good Shepherd who is medically eligible will be vaccinated, I will not be formally asking about vaccination status. I will also share with you Bishop Mariann has specifically asked clergy not to create a different set of rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

In closing, I want you to know I am immensely proud of the way Good Shepherd has responded to the myriad challenges of the pandemic. I am deeply grateful for the grace, flexibility and resilience I have seen practiced again and again during this strange and difficult time. Thank you for remaining engaged, connected and faithful. 

Please be in touch if you have any questions or would like to discuss the plans for regathering and reopening: rector@gsecmd.org or 202.491.4340 (m).

Faithfully,
David+

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