Throughout the Covid- 19 pandemic we have continued to pray and worship together as a St Stephen's family in virtual ways including Sunday morning service, Reading with the Rector, virtual Coffee Hour, and daily Facebook reflections. We've also continued all of the behind the scenes work of being a faithful, Spirit-led community. This has meant, among other things, that your Vestry has been meeting at least every two weeks so that we could review the latest information and adjust our plans as needed. Though this has meant extra time and work for us, it is time we have spent and work we have done gladly, aware at every turn of God's presence with us and the blessing it is to be a part of this loving, caring community of faith.
Over the last few weeks we've been working closely with the diocese, state and local experts to begin planning a way to gather for Sunday service in a way that protects the health and safety of all. This includes studying the extensive
, talking through scenario after scenario to best understand how to implement the guidelines in our space with our people,
ordering all the needed supplies, and organizing our space and resources to be appropriate for social distancing
. We will all need to become familiar with these new protections and ways of gathering in the church as we come back together. There will be more info on that in the near future.
To say that there are lots of moving parts to this planning would be an understatement. There is some information we cannot know or control, such as how the virus will behave and whether or not we will have to return to a fast from in-person gathering in the future. What we do know is that there is much to consider in our planning, including information we need from you.
We'd like to gather feedback from all in our St Stephen's family to understand needs and preference for gathering at Sunday service. Please take time to reply to a brief survey to be part of this important planning. You will find the survey here. It should take only 5 - 10 minutes to complete. It would be helpful to us to have this information as soon as possible.
Our target month for beginning to gather on Sundays is September. This timing is because of our commitment to re-gathering when we are able to show our love for each other by doing everything we can to be safe. It is contingent upon developing the appropriate plans, making safety modifications to the church, receiving all needed supplies, and enhancing our audio-visual system so that we can continue virtual ministry. One of the surprising gifts of this time of fasting from in-person worship is that people who have not been able to come to church have been able to be a part of the community through our Facebook and YouTube pages and, more recently, local cable access TV. We know, too, that some of you will not be comfortable or able to return to in-person gathering for quite some time. We are committed to continuing to invite and welcome anyone who wishes to join us to share in the love and prayers of the parish in this way through the end of the pandemic and beyond.
Rev. Paula+ and Your Vestry: Maryalice Chech, Roger Riedel, Kira Hanson, Eugene Foley, Michael Priddy, Fran Taber, and Barbara Riedel (Clerk/Recording Secretary)