St. John's Is Moving to Yellow. Please read the letter from Father Adam. Then read the projections for opening and click to read a letter from Bishop Scanlan. Please look for the regular Spire on Friday.
On March 13th, your clergy made the very painful decision to suspend worship at St. John’s. These have been ten bewildering, painful and often isolating weeks. And yet, the community at St. John’s has also ministered to one another and the greater world despite the requirements of physical distancing. We thank all of you for your patience and persistence and for your faith.
As of May 22nd, Cumberland County will move to the yellow phase which allows gatherings up to 25 people. Your clergy and vestry have met and prayed and decided to offer a slow and gradual return to communal worship. While this may be cause for rejoicing for some, we are also well aware there are many people who are not ready to return to in-person church. We will continue to offer, as our primary form of worship, the on-line liturgies. However, we are also particularly cognizant of the toll of the pandemic on the mental health of those who live alone.
Thus, our first wave of return to worship will be set aside for those who live alone. We will monitor the rates of infection in the county and are hopeful to offer our first liturgy of Morning Prayeron June 7th. (We will fast from Holy Eucharist until we are in the green phase.)
Those who live alone should send me a note if they wish to be in the first round of those invited to in-person worship (email@example.com). Worship attendance will be done by reservation, and will be limited to 22 people, plus the priest, the lector, and the usher.
After all who live alone have had the opportunity to worship, we will accept reservations from those who live as couples. After all couples have had the opportunity to worship, then reservation will be open to all on a rotating basis. The rotation will be a systematic rotation through our parish directory.
I know that when we first shut down we had visions of our return to church as an Easter celebration regardless of the actual date. I imagined incense and flowers and a full organ. I imagined hugs for everyone who walked through the door. We now know that our return to worship will be a very gradual process. We will be wearing masks. We will have assigned seating. We will allow those with reservations into the church. We will have comprehensive sanitizing after each gathering. And, the list of challenges goes on. Please know that we grieve with you, but we are also eager to offer a careful and data driven return to that beautiful space we call home--St. John’s Episcopal Church.
For more information on all of the requirements set out by the bishops’ task force for returning to church click here.
Please see our parish roll-out plan crafted by the priests and vestry of St. John’s. It’s first round was based on recommendations from a pandemic specialist physician who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and goes to an Episcopal Church there. It has been updated to integrate mandates from our Bishop and the Governor of Pennsylvania.
What does ministry look like at St. John’s Episcopal during the Global Pandemic
Projections by Clergy and Vestry of St. John’s Episcopal Church May 19, 2020
Decision makers about opening up include:
Executive Committee, Vestry, Lay Leaders
Assumptions about moving forward:
-the governor will provide policies dictating the rules for social distancing
-the bishop will create policies dictating rules for churches
-the clergy, Executive Committee, and Vestry will decide when and how to implement rules
-rules will be relaxed a little bit, then there will be a waiting period to see what this does to the numbers, then the rules will either be continued, restricted, or relaxed a bit more
-until there is a vaccine or effective treatment, it may not be safe to share food at church
-when schools open, then the church will consider opening our children’s programs
Staff and members are required to stay at home
Goals & Ministries include:
Oversight of the church (supervision of buildings and staff, communication with congregation, decision making and leadership, etc.)
Bills paid and other basic financial operations
Pastoral contact with the congregation, phone calls
Zoom Small Groups for fellowship, learning, and community building
Creating online video content, Sunday Worship Videos
Groups of up to 10 can meet, social distancing protocols remain in place
Time frame: June through September?
Goals & Ministries - Everything in Phase 1 plus:
In person Small Groups in big rooms
One on one meetings, small committee meetings
Vulnerable populations* will stay at home (definition at the end of document)
Worship Videos continue to be a way of reaching out to our members
Continue with some Zoom Small Groups as well as in person groups
Office calls taken from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Office reopens (for scheduled appointments for tasks requiring physical presence such as: dropping off clean linens in the sacristy, doing the Monday morning money counting, picking out a niche in the columbarium)
Still no hospitality, no choir, no Nursery, no Sunday School, no Children’s Worship, no Forums
Groups of up to 25 may gather
Time frame: Starting no sooner than June 7
Goals & Ministries - Everything in Situations 1 & 2, plus:
Said Morning Prayer – One Liturgy at 8 a.m. for 22 plus a priest, lector, and usher. Members must wear masks, sit in assigned spacing, and make reservations to attend a specified service. If there is enough interest for a second liturgy at 10 a.m., they will be organized in subsequent weeks
Vulnerable populations* will self-designate to stay at home (definition at end of document)
social distancing still in place
still need to continue putting out Worship Videos for those who still stay home
printed worship bulletins
would perhaps have soloists
still have strict rules about staying six feet apart (or household unit)
still no nursery or Sunday School
The Role of The Usher
Returning to church in a manner that will ensure a safe environment for all is critical. There will be a need in Situation 3 and 4 of worship for specially trained ushers to oversee the conduct of the Congregation and to promote healthy practices. During this time, the principal role of the usher is to serve a health safety ministry. These duties must be well executed to allow the clergy to concentrate on the liturgy and the Congregation. Ushers will demonstrate proper protocols by being masked and maintaining social distance. They may use disposable gloves to handle the offering.
Greeting - The Narthex doors will be propped open at the beginning and end of the liturgy, to keep people from touching them.
Masks - All those attending worship, including the usher, will wear masks. The usher will ask congregants to put on their masks or offer a single-use mask from a basket. No one will enter without a mask. Masks will be worn while in the church and while exiting until social distancing guidelines can be achieved.
Entry - Ushers will ensure that no more than the authorized number of people enter the church. Initially, this is set by the state at 25 total. This includes clergy and other members of the worship team, including the ushers. A by-name record will be kept and provided to parish leadership at the end of each service. This can be done with a registration list provided by the office with attendees checked to indicate that they had a reservation and attended.
Bulletin - The usher will make available a single-use bulletin.
Seating - The usher will instruct worshippers about available seating. Family groups dwelling together may sit together. Individuals and family groups must be at least 6 feet away from each other. It may be necessary to direct individuals and family groups to move from seat to seat to achieve required separation.
Opening of the Service - The clergy person will announce at the beginning of service, the protocol and conduct guidelines. The usher(s) will ensure these rules are followed.
Dismissal - At the close of the service, the usher will direct worshippers out of the church by pew and discourage violation of social distancing standards in the church. They will indicate to the worshippers the bin for recycling of bulletins.
Gatherings of 50 are allowed
Still no vaccine
Vulnerable populations* will self-designate to stay at home (definition at end of document)
Some social distancing still in place
Time frame: starting no sooner than August, more likely in November/December?
Goals & Ministries:
two worship services
No choir or singing
church growth and pastoral programs.
online programs also continue, Zoom Small Groups, Worship Videos
until there is a vaccine, is it safe to share food or coffee at church?
No disease threat
Vaccinations available for Covid-19
All programs are possibly open
CASD – When they are full open, Children and Youth are full open
Vulnerable populations are:
those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:
People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
People who have serious heart conditions
People who are immunocompromised
Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
People with diabetes
People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis