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Covid-19 in Person Worship

July 23, 2020

Dear Friends,

As you may be aware, the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan, along with all the Michigan dioceses, have released us into Phase 2 of our re-entry process.  This phase has a number of restrictions that we must follow in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.  We are also not required to make the shift into Phase 2, but could simply wait to be released into Phase 3 when the restrictions are lighter.

Last week Vestry met to discuss whether or not we felt comfortable moving into this new phase and made the decision to poll the congregation, letting everyone know the restrictions we felt comfortable with as we move ahead.  Last night we took a look at the results from that poll and have made the following decisions.

  1. Our online 8am Morning Prayer will continue and will broadcast through Zoom and Facebook Live so that we can bring in other voices to read and perhaps offer musical meditations.  If you are interested in being a Lector or offering a musical selection from your home, please let me know as I am trying to put together a rotation schedule. 
  2. Our daily 8am Morning Prayer will continue.  Other worship leaders will be sharing in officiating either weekly or from time to time.
  3. We will begin a 10:30am Eucharist outside the church building on the church property.  Our first planned service will be Sunday, July 26.  Although both bread and wine will be consecrated, only wafers will be shared.  The following restrictions will be in place.
  4. You must wear a mask.  Disposable masks will be available for anyone who does not bring their own.
  • You must bring your own chair and place it at least 6 feet away from anyone else so we maintain social distancing.
  • There will be a book in which you must leave your name and contact information for contact tracing should anyone test positive for Covid-19.  These lists will be maintained in the church office.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the space.
  • Because singing is one of the biggest culprits for spread of this virus, there will be no singing.
  • The collection plate will be present, but will not be passed.  You may leave your pledge in the collection plate and it will be deposited as normal.
  • The Peace must be touch-free.
  • The requirement in this phase, is for no food or drink to be present, so there will be no coffee hour.  Please bring your own water so you keep hydrated in the heat.
  • Because crowds increase the chance of spread of the virus, we are required not to visit with one another.  There will be no receiving line before or after the service and we are not providing an opportunity to gather.  As much as we would love the chance to stay and visit, the requirements are keeping the safety and health of all of us at the core of the decisions that have been made.  We will continue our pattern of staying connected by phone and invite you to do the same.
  • Enclosed spaces are a greater risk for spreading the virus and because of this, our building will remain locked during the service.  Restrooms will not be available so please take that into account as you plan your day.  There are a number of restrictions for building use, and we have not prepared the building to receive us safely.
  • There will be a protocol for receiving the Eucharist (again, wafers only) which will be explained during the service.
  • As you know, at risk individuals are encouraged to shelter-in-place as much as possible and the Diocese is encouraging those who are vulnerable not attend in-person services.

Please know that I continue to daily monitor the numbers of cases in Genesee, Oakland and Livingston counties through an online map.  The data is two days old but is easy to track.  The diocese recommends that if our county turns orange or red, we reconsider in-person worship.  With the data being two days old, if our numbers are approaching orange, I may make the decision to stop in-person worship.  Should cancelling become necessary, word will go out through Facebook and through an e-mail blast.  If you receive our weekly e-mails, you should receive this.  Please check your inbox or our Facebook page before heading to the church just in case there’s been a change. 

In our discussions, we continue to be very sensitive to those who are missing the ability to gather in person.  We are also very aware that we are largely a vulnerable population.  We believe that the safest way to offer an ability to gather, is to do so outside while following the restrictions given to us through the Pastoral Directive and the phased re-entry process.  If you are uncomfortable gathering in person for any reason, please understand that you will not be judged by anyone for not being present.  Each of us needs to make decisions based on our own comfort level.

If you would like a personal visit from me, please let me know by calling me at 810-300-9177 to arrange a visit.  This phase makes it possible for me to visit with you outside and with each of us masked.  Or, if you cannot be masked, you could sit inside your home at an open window and I will remain outside.  I can also bring Eucharist to your home using this same pattern for visitation.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone or e-mail.

Love and Blessings,