We want to take this opportunity to provide an update on reopening of our buildings and on the sound/video system upgrade.
Guidance on Reopening
On Monday, Governor Baker’s office announced masks will no longer be required outdoors, and for those who are vaccinated, masks and social distancing will no longer be required indoors in most places. Also on Monday, the Department of Public Health updated their guidance for Houses of Worship, which remained almost the same as it has been throughout the pandemic. This contradictory information has led the clergy and vestry to decide to stay the course in our cautious and slow rollout of reopening, while also shifting some things which science suggests it would be safe to change. We also must continue to follow diocesan guidelines.
Masks & Social Distancing
Effective June 1, masks and social distancing will no longer be required outdoors on our campus. We want to acknowledge individual comfort levels vary widely. If you want to continue wearing a mask outdoors on campus, please feel welcomed to do so. Please note, masks and social distancing will continue to be required indoors across campus.
Resuming In-Person Worship- Next Steps
We are in our fifth week of resuming some limited in-person worship at 8 a.m. followed by a 10 a.m. live-streamed service. Services have been lightly attended by enthusiastic worshippers. This Sunday we will resume weekly Eucharist (bread only), and begin to send out Lay Eucharistic Visitors.
Up until this point, we allowed 20-24 households per Sunday, with worshippers seated every third row. Effective June 1, we will allow up to 50 households, by using only one pew between households. The space of one pew is just shy of six feet- 5ft 10in. This will eliminate the need to preregister for worship. Instead, Ushers will have a checklist of households from the directory, and can write in visitors for contact tracing. All other protocols, such as sitting by household will remain in effect.
As we’ve indicated previously, when the sound/video system upgrade is complete, we will transition to a single service at 10 a.m. that is also live-streamed. In the meantime, we will continue with our pattern of an 8 a.m. in-person service and 10 a.m. live streamed service.
New Office Hours
Effective June 1, we will resume some in-person office hours Tuesday-Thursday from 9-12, while on Monday & Friday we will offer virtual office hours from 9-12. During in-person office hours, the archway door will be unlocked, with a limited number of occupants in the office, as is posted on the office door.
We are excited to share that we will be resuming our hospitality ministry of opening the church sanctuary during the day for folks to pray- rest- be. We will put up a sign asking folks to wear a mask, social distance, and use hand sanitizer, which will be on a table in the church entry. We believe this will be a positive sign to the community that we are beginning to open our doors once more.
We will also begin to offer some outdoor seating to our Second Helpings and Sunday Sandwiches guests on the church lawn and picnic tables. We received a $10,000 Ministry Development Grant from the Diocese of Western Massachusetts to support that cause-- allowing us to purchase three new heavy duty picnic tables, hand sanitizer stations, increase our composting, etc. We are so grateful this grant will allow us to provide an opportunity for fellowship amongst our volunteers and guests.
We are exploring resuming property use to groups who rent our space on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis later this summer.
For the better part of a year there have been two Working Groups working tirelessly to get our application into the diocese last summer, and to helping us think through further aspects of reopening this Spring. A huge thank you to Kathryn Aubry-McAvoy, John Greene, Bill Hattendorf, Ella Ingraham, Alan Kurkulonis, Andy Levchuk, Elle Morgan, Maggie Sweeney, and Deacon Ann Wood for all of their time and hard work. The clergy and vestry decided that we will continue to follow the path outlined in our application, follow CDC and DPH guidelines, and common sense as we navigate reopening. At this time, transition questions and decision making about reopening will primarily be handled by staff. Yet should they be unsure or should a decision feel significant, they will bring it to our local Dean, reach back out to the working groups to get their advice, or bring it to the Vestry.
Sound/ Video System Update
The response to the special appeal has been incredible. A month into our campaign we have already raised over $11,000. This speaks to the remarkable generosity of our parishioners. The project is well underway, and we hope it will be complete by mid-summer. We are beginning to develop our Digital Ministry Team, and we hope you take the time to read that announcement below.
We realize this is a lot of information, and still many more decisions to be made this summer and fall. Our approach is slow and steady, trusting in God’s presence as we navigate this path. Thank you for your faithfulness these many months. You are an inspiration to us, and we continue to find such joy in this community we are privileged to serve.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Heather & Rev. Molly