As we watch the world around us beginning to re-open from the restrictions we have lived with since the COVID 19 pandemic began, we are all eager to know when and how we can begin moving forward into new ways of being a Saints James and Andrew that provides us the joy, comfort and inspiration we value, but which is a safe and responsible environment for everyone involved.
The Episcopal Church in Massachusetts has issued a set of guidelines to accompany the state’s guidelines for houses of worship; we will also receive a set of guidelines, in June, with further guidance for parishes in our Diocese. These documents make it clear that getting ready to move forward in compliance with diocesan and state requirements is not going to be quick or easy. Until such time as we have a world in which the coronavirus is no longer a serious threat to human wellbeing, it is not going to be safe for us to return to the ways of being that we’ve fondly thought of as “normal”. The conversations we’ve been part of and plans we’ve read from others have increased our awareness of how very complex the challenges before us are.
We have outlined a process for developing specific guidelines for our parish and making decisions about moving forward; primarily responsibility lies with the Vestry and other key lay leaders, but we have also provided for parish-wide input.
In the meantime, we will keep being the Church in both virtual and traditional ways for as long as necessary. Our love of God and neighbor comes before all else.
Rev. Heather & Rev. Molly
on behalf of the Saints James and Andrew Vestry
A Process for Moving Forward
Saints James and Andrew, Greenfield
The Vestry met and adopted a Process for Moving Forward.
We reviewed Bishop Fisher’s latest Pastoral Directive, stating that our buildings will remain closed until at least July 1. The Directive states that diocesan guidelines for moving forward will be made available no later than July 1.
We identified three working groups who will be prepared to meet, discuss, and plan how we will implement these new diocesan guidelines:
July 1 or before
Diocesan Guidelines will become available.
Working groups will begin to meet approximately once a week to identify how we will live into these new guidelines.
To Be Determined
1. The Worship Working Group and the Property Use, Outreach, and
Events Working Group will each draft a document with instructions for implementing new diocesan guidelines at SsJA, while the Zoom Church Chats Working Group will draft a plan for church chats and/or other means through which parish members will be able to ask questions, share concerns, and provide feedback to the thinking of the Working Groups.
2. The Vestry will review the draft documents and make modifications as appropriate.
3. Relevant Ministry Team leaders will be consulted and provide feedback on the current drafts.
4. The working groups will make additional modifications.
5. The Vestry will review and finalize the documents.
6. The clergy will merge the documents into draft Parish Guidelines and use both Diocesan Guidelines and draft Parish Guidelines to create a FAQs document.
7. The parish will be sent a link to Diocesan Guidelines, the draft Parish Guidelines, and a series of scheduled Zoom church chats (and/or other means of joining the parish conversation) in the newsletter. This information will also be made available on our website and social media.
8. The parish will gather through Zoom church chats to share feelings and discuss concerns about moving forward and to offer feedback on the proposed Parish Guidelines.
9. The feedback from the church chats will then be used to modify and update the Parish Guidelines.
10. The Vestry will vote to approve the Parish Guidelines.
Based on the Diocesan and approved Parish Guidelines, along with government guidelines, we will begin to move forward in phases, as appropriate.