June 10, 2020
On June 10, the vestry voted unanimously to offer the option of in-person worship at our church next week. Our plan for doing so has been developed by the Regathering Committee of Bill Hoover, Lisa Baehr, Pat Meyer, Carole Menzel, the Rev. Pamela Meeks, Mark Oliphant, and Margaret Stromberg and myself over the last month. You can read the details of our plan here (pdf).
We will begin in-person worship at noon at Epiphany on Wednesday, June 17, and 8:30am on Sunday morning, June 21. We will celebrate communion at both services in one kind (distributing consecrated bread only) – more information about how we will do this is in our plan (link above). We will continue in that Wednesday and Sunday in-person worship pattern in the weeks ahead. The Regathering Committee will be evaluating the situation regularly and making changes that are appropriate. Small group leaders, expect to hear directly from our vestry small group coordinator, Sally O’Brien McNeely, about the way forward for small groups. We are also planning summer activities for our elementary-age kids and possibly a larger “in the park” all-congregation worship service or two over the summer months.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our congregational survey last week. The results made it clear that for the majority of Epiphany (45 of 75 responses), the livestream at 10:15am on Sunday morning will continue to be your primary way of worshipping on Sunday at this time. We understand and respect that decision. We each need to evaluate our own situation and risks and do what is best for us and our household. To do the best job possible making that service available and worshipful for those on the livestream, the Sunday 10:15am service will initially remain as it is now, a “livestream only” time of worship.
When we do worship together in-person at Epiphany, we will be following the state mandated guidelines for churches . We are also agreeing together to wear a mask during services for all those over 10 years old. We have masks available at church for those who need them. Following the clear advice we have received from medical professionals and microbiologists with whom we have consulted, we will be suspending congregational singing and the large group choir for the time being. Music will still be part of our worship through instruments and small ensembles.
To make sure that we have appropriate space for those who attend, we will be using online sign-ups. Space is limited to 56 congregation members during the Sunday service and 20 on Wednesdays. To sign-up to attend in-person worship in June, go here .
Charting a way forward for our church during this season has been difficult. Corporate worship is an essential component of our faith as Christians, and we are meant to be gathered together not just in spirit, but in person. At the same time, COVID-19 is a real and present danger that has sickened friends and family of a number of members of our congregation, and has called for great sacrifice by the essential workers among us. It is my conviction that we honor God and practice the love of our neighbors to which Jesus called us by being patient and methodical in our regathering journey, even though we long to all be back together as soon as possible in conditions as “normal” as possible. I’m grateful to the vestry and particularly to the Regathering Committee. I am also grateful to our bishop, the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey who gave us clear guidance and his approval to move forward in this way.
To give us a chance to talk together about what is ahead, we’ll have a church-wide regathering Q and A in place of the Zoom Coffee hour this Sunday, June 14. Use this link to join the conversation at 11:30 on June 14 .