A Letter from the Rector
Outdoor Worship
Dear Members and Friends of St. Christopher’s,

In the last three months, the pandemic has called upon the church to be creative and to imagine its ministry in new ways, e.g. formation on Zoom, worship on video, and lots of outreach with social distance measures in place. I’m proud of the many ways our staff and congregation adapted. At the same time, gathering people to be fed by the body of Christ so that we may be strengthened to be the body of Christ is holy work that we have been unable to do.

Thus I am thrilled to share that, starting this week, outdoor gatherings are permitted at the church. We will hold two services this Wednesday, June 24 - one at 8:00 am and another at 7:00 pm, on the west lawn of the church. Each will be a short communion service, and you are welcome to stay afterward to socialize. Masks and six-feet social distancing are required. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged, though we will leave space for walk-ups. In addition to the services mentioned above, we will hold services on Wednesday, July 10. Sunday worship will remain virtual at this time.

We have carefully thought through ways to minimize risk in our gathering. However, we are still in the middle of a pandemic and every gathering involves risk. If you are in a higher risk category for serious effects of COVID, we respect that you have choices to make about ways to manage that risk and an outdoor gathering of 25 people may not be a risk you are comfortable with. We will continue to offer worship and connection times virtually, and we will also have some smaller gatherings of under 10 people in the months ahead.

If you are experiencing any COVID symptoms or have been exposed to someone in the last 14 days who has tested positive, please refrain from coming until you know you are well. If you test positive for COVID and have been to church in the last 14 days, please let the rector know.
Imagining there are a lot of questions, I have gone on to answer some below, but before I do, here are the registration links:
I’m so looking forward to praying together and sharing in the sacrament of communion and community.

Blessings,
Cara+

The Rev. Cara Spaccarelli
Rector
Frequently Asked Questions
Why outdoors? A few factors influenced us here. The diocese limits indoor gatherings to twenty-five people; our outdoor worship gatherings can eventually be fifty or more people, though we are starting with twenty-five. Our conversations with congregants indicated a far greater comfort gathering outdoors than indoors. Even for small groups, our rooms typically used for small groups can only seat 4-5 people with social distancing measures, and our larger parish hall is being used for the Summer Meals Program through mid-August. Starting outside makes sense.

Why wear masks outdoors? While many people are not wearing masks outdoors, the church is gathering a relatively large group of people together for a sustained period of time. The way to make that the safest experience possible is to wear masks; it is a way we can care for one another in this time. Also, the diocese requires it.
Will we have communion? Yes, we will have communion in bread form. Registered participants will receive instructions before the service on the way this will be done.

Will I be able to hear? Hopefully. Our trial run was successful acoustically. We are exploring an amplification system. The service will be very familiar to you.

What if it rains? If rain is falling from the sky, the service is cancelled.
Can children come? Yes.  Children over the age of two need to wear masks, and you do need to watch your child to make sure they are socially distanced. Social distancing and masks will be with us awhile; this gathering is an opportunity to help them practice.

Can people in at-risk groups come? Yes, but please don’t feel any pressure to come. There is still a pandemic going on and while we have done everything we can to minimize risk, there is still risk. We will be hosting smaller gatherings of under 10 during the summer particularly geared to those who feel 25-50 is too large of a group for them.
Can I gather my church-related group on the grounds? Yes, but give us two weeks before you schedule it with us. There will be some bumps along the road as we figure this out with our worship gatherings and building users who will be meeting outdoors as well. Masks, social distancing, and cleaning after gathering will be required of all groups meeting on the property. Drinks, but not food, are allowed at gatherings; eating and wearing masks do not go together. Drinking doesn’t either, but you need water if you are going to be out in the sun. We don’t want heatstroke while we are trying to prevent virus spread.
What if someone tests positive for COVID? If you test positive, please let the rector know. Please know that it will not be our practice to inform the congregation if one person tests positive unless directed by the health department. If two people outside the same household who have been to church in the last 14 days test positive, we will cease gatherings, inform the congregation, and notify the health department. Less than 250 people are testing positive in our county of 338,000 every two weeks; if two of them are in our congregation, chances are that they contracted from one another at our church.
Why are we opening now and under what circumstances will we close? The number of cases in Hamilton County is relatively low and the infection rate is below 1, meaning the virus is declining in our community. If the infection rate rises above 1, or under the circumstances of more than one case within our congregation outlined above, we will revisit hosting gatherings.

Recognizing that some of you may wish to print this information, the letter can be accessed at the link below: