Dear Parish Family,
Michelle and I would like to thank you most sincerely for taking the time to respond to our survey on Returning to St. Edward’s in Covid-19 Conditions. Having received responses from more than half of our congregation, we’ve discovered that over 60% of our members intend on returning to services in-person when we’re authorized to re-launch; and among those planning an immediate return, our numbers are evenly distributed between those who typically attended our Sunday 8:00 AM and 10:15 AM offerings. In conjunction with the fact-finding of our survey, we’re hard at work developing the organizational capacities necessary to fully meet the health and safety standards set forth by both Governor Wolf’s office and the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania for resuming in-person worship.
To these ends, in cooperation with our Vestry, we’ve begun purchasing equipment and supplies that will enable us to provide a disinfected sanctuary for our worship and aid us in the institution of health protocols that best ensure the safety of everyone in our community. From wall-mounted soap dispensers in our restrooms to hand sanitization stations in our common spaces, and from touchless thermometers used upon entry to safety masks worn inside of our buildings, the materials that we are accumulating will help us all to mindfully gather while we continue to exercise the social distancing required of us in this season of pandemic. In further line with our preparations, last Saturday, several senior leaders in our parish met online with the heads of our Welcoming/Hospitality & Ushers groups in order to discuss how we will go about fully implementing all health and safety procedures once we are ready to move into the “Yellow Phase” of operations here at St. Edward’s. As you will now know from having read the document issued to all of us by the diocesan Task Force on Operations, we will need to maintain a record of those who come to worship (for the purpose of contact tracing) and provide single-use paper bulletins and masks to each member of our congregation (in gatherings initially limited to 25 persons in total). While family units will be able to sit together, we’ll be strategically seated throughout our sanctuary to maximize our social distancing and will only serve communion in one kind. While it may be difficult to imagine church without a hymnal or prayer book in hand, and while it may feel disconcerting to alter our sacramental practices and curtail our congregational singing, please know in your heart of hearts…that this too shall pass.
We are particularly indebted to those of you who have expressed to us the seriousness of your concerns with respect to returning to church in the absence of adequate treatment, testing, or a COVID-19 vaccine. As such, we want to assure all of you that we will remain committed to offering quality virtual avenues for worship as we move forward, as well as opportunities for engagement and spiritual formation online. Ours will be a BOTH/AND approach to the new opportunities and the challenging limitations that we’ll be confronting in the coming months. But, rest assured, your safety will be our primary concern when it comes to gathering in-person. Trusting in the power of our merciful and loving God and with humble appreciation for the vitality of this incredible community,
Our front entry and narthex floors are being cleaned. Stripped, and resealed tonight and tomorrow, so entry to the church on Saturday should be avoided.
Look for our usual email tomorrow by 4 PM which will include everything you need for Sunday worship and coffee hour. Please note that we are going to go back to using Christina McLaughlin’s prior link and join/pass code information. It will be included in the email.
Have a lovely evening. More, tomorrow!