Dear People of Saints James and Andrew,
We are delighted to announce that on Sunday, April 25 we anticipate a transition to some limited in-person worship. We anticipate all of the health metrics we named will be met by that date. We ask that all parishioners spend some time reviewing the list of FAQs for Resuming In-Person Worship listed below, where we articulate new realities in detail. The Worship Working Group and the Vestry has given a great deal of thought, care, and prayer into what this transition will look like, and are continuing to abide by diocesan and public health guidelines.
This next period of time will be a transition for our faith community. We will not be returning to the way things were, but will continue ever onwards on our journey of discovering who God is calling our faith community to be in the here and now. God is doing a new thing within our community, and we will emerge from this season in the wilderness a new people. If we continue our faithfulness to God and generosity with one another, something truly beautiful and wonderful will continue to take root and grow.
Most importantly, thank you. Thank you for showing up and continuing to be the Church in virtual and tangible ways over this last year. Your faithfulness and resilience is humbling and inspiring. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
In the coming weeks, if you have questions or concerns, we invite you to bring them up at Virtual Coffee Hour or by contacting any of the clergy, staff, or vestry leaders.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Heather & Rev. Molly,
On behalf of SsJA Vestry
FAQs for Resuming In-Person Worship
1. When will we resume in-person worship?
Presuming local COVID-19 cases remain low, we will begin offering a weekly in-person worship on April 25. View the health metrics we use to decide if in-person worship is safe here. Please note should there be an unexpected rise in cases at some point, we will return to strictly virtual worship, and resume in-person once numbers have lowered again.
2. How many services will you offer each week?
We will begin by offering two services each week: an in-person service at 8 a.m. and a virtual service at 10 a.m.
3. Why not just live-streaming the in-person service?
The Vestry has been working hard to address issues related to our sound system and are looking to the future as we hope to make live-streaming our worship a regular offering beyond the pandemic. However, we do not anticipate those efforts to be complete by April 25, and our current technology would create a very poor viewing and hearing experience.
4. When do you anticipate being able to live-stream in-person worship?
Our hope is by Pentecost (May 23). Stay tuned for further updates in the Newsletter.
5. What will the 8 a.m. in-person service be like?
We will gather in the church, sitting in specially marked pews and use the same liturgy as the 10a.m. service, but without any music. Social distancing requirements allow for us to have approximately 50 people (20-25 households), plus worship leaders at this time. It will require signing up ahead of time, wearing a mask, and social distancing. Upon arriving at the church, we encourage folks to use the front doors or archway entrance where Ushers will greet them at the door. Ushers will check names off the sign up list, invite you to sanitize your hands, and for those that need a hard copy leaflet to pick one up off the table. Then you’ll be invited to sit in one of the specially marked pews by household. Please note, the offertory plate will not be passed at this service, but will be on a table near the Ushers.
6. What will the 10 a.m. virtual service be like?
It will be the same as it has been the last several months. We will use the same liturgy as at the 8 a.m. in-person service, but we will also have a prelude, offertory, and two hymns sung by the choir.
7. Do I really have to sign up to attend the in-person service?
If you want to ensure you have a seat, yes. Signing up ahead of time allows us to comply with contact tracing guidelines and maintain size limitations.
8. What happens if someone just shows up?
We will hold three spots for newcomers, visitors, or folks who simply forgot. If all spots are reserved, an Usher will invite interested individual(s) to wait outside until after the service has begun in case there are any no-shows. If not all spots are reserved, Ushers will welcome additional worshipers, taking down their information for contact tracing.
9. How do I sign up?
There is a form for each upcoming Sunday listed on our website. Here are the sign up forms for upcoming Sundays. You can also sign up by calling the office and speaking to our Parish Administrator. He will ask you a series of questions and submit your sign up form on your behalf. Sign up will be on a first come, first serve basis. If there are requests beyond the number who can be accommodated in a given week, those people will be given priority in subsequent weeks.
10. How will I get a worship leaflet?
We will be printing a limited supply of leaflets as we seek to balance our calling to using inclusive liturgy and be welcoming of newcomers, while also making efforts to be greener and limit germ spreading. As a result, we encourage folks to download the leaflet from our website and either print your own copy or bring your own e-reader.
11. If I plan to come, how can I help?
At first, we will need three ushers and one lector for our 8 a.m. in-person service, and a virtual lector for our 10 a.m. virtual service. Altar Guild, Counters, and the Flower Guilds will continue their ministry as they have been this past year. Later, we will need a new team of Digital Ministers to assist with the live-stream. If you are interested in one of these ministries (even if it’s brand new to you), please contact our Verger, Bill Hattendorf at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 283-8950 by April 11.
12. Tell me more about what it means to Usher?
Ushers will play an important role in welcoming worshipers and in ensuring safety protocols are being kept. We will need several folks to volunteer to serve as Usher in order to resume in-person worship, counting on three each week. We have created new guidelines (view here) which we will review at a required training/ refresher for Ushers on Sunday, April 18 at 1 p.m. by zoom. To volunteer, please contact our Verger, Bill Hattendorf at email@example.com or (603) 283-8950 by April 11.
13. Will we have eucharist?
The Diocese has provided us with guidelines for safe administration of the eucharist. We will begin with a few weeks of Morning Prayer, Service of the Word, and Spiritual Communion while we get used to new routines for worship before we add in physical administration of communion. We hope to add communion on Pentecost (May 23).
14. What about Coffee Hour?
For now, we will continue to offer Virtual Coffee Hour following the 10 a.m. service (beginning at roughly 10:45 a.m.). The Zoom link is available on our website. Folks who attend the 8 a.m. in-person service are certainly welcome to catch-up with fellow parishioners on the lawn if they are wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
15. Will I be safe if I choose to come to worship?
Nothing we can do can guarantee perfect safety, but we are doing as much as we can to make it as safe as possible. We’ll require wearing masks and provide hand sanitizer, designate seating to ensure physical distancing, and depend on our Ushers to manage and assist with traffic flow.
16. What is going to happen if we discover someone is sick?
Lists generated by worship signups will serve to allow contact tracing, and the CDC provides detailed protocols for deep cleaning and disinfecting that we would follow.
17. If I am a ministry leader and need to to complete a task in person, inside, are there safety procedures to follow?
We are asking that as we each use church spaces, we sanitize after ourselves; disinfecting wipes are provided in our bathrooms and other common spaces, and signs direct us that “If you touch it, you wipe it!”
18. What are we doing about cleaning and sanitizing?
At this point our Sexton is covering routine cleaning of common spaces with special attention to high touch surfaces, and as individuals use the space, “you touch it you wipe it.” We’ve learned that spaces only used once a week (such as the sanctuary) are safe with this routine cleaning.
19. What about other aspects of reopening?
We are taking a slow and cautious rollout of reopening, focusing first on in-person worship and making necessary renovations to our worship space to allow for adequate sound and video in our live-stream. We anticipate looking at reopening other aspects of parish life throughout the spring and summer. Stay tuned for more information in the Newsletter.