A Message from Fr. Byrne on the Reopening of All Saints
June 26, 2020
Letter to the Parish
June 25, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
Today is the 26th anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate. On that ordination day, I could never have imagined that I would be writing to a congregation to lay out the plan to re-open the church building for worship! However, here we are in the midst of a global pandemic that has slowed locally due to our vigilance and God’s grace and I am happy to tell you that we are poised to begin re-opening carefully.
Like you, I wish we were going to be just as we were in February, but that is not possible yet. We are going to follow the guidelines set by the Diocese of Long Island which are informed by the Centers for Disease Control. The Diocese has outlined four phases of re-opening (A,B,C, D) We are just now entering Phase B. There is no firm date for moving into phases C and D. Below is the plan which your wardens, vestry, and I have agreed upon as a first major step for All Saints.
For the immediate future (through July at least) Our primary service will continue to be the 10:00 AM online Eucharist. In addition, we will offer in-person Evening Prayer on Sundays at 5:00 PM. These will be outdoors when possible.
Rationale: We can reach the greatest number of people safely and in compliance with diocesan and CDC guidelines by continuing online worship. We do not have the capacity to do several Sunday morning services and to clean appropriately in between them. By gathering Sunday evening, we can ensure that the church building stays safe.
As we return in person, the following protocols will be in place:
- No more than 25 people in the nave or in the Churchyard
- Masks must be worn (inside and out)
- Closed system air conditioners are not to be used.
- Hands are to be sanitized
- There will be limited entrances to the building.
- Socially distant seating will be in effect. Six feet minimum distance.
- Congregants must register ahead of the services and sign in
- No in-person Holy Communion until “Phase C”
- Gatherings are to be no more than 30 minutes.
- No live coffee hour or food/beverage events until “Phase D”
- Anyone who is ill is asked to stay home.
- It is strongly recommended that people who are over 65 or in any high-risk group refrain from gathering at this time. ( I know that this is somewhat onerous and disappointing, but the bishop has emphasized the point frequently.)
The actions of worship, especially singing, are a particularly efficient way of spreading COVID-19. We simply must adhere to safety recommendations for the good of all.
Spoken Evening Prayer services will begin on July 5th. Due to the thirty minute time limit, there will not be a sermon at Evening Prayer. You may reserve a spot by calling the church office and leaving a message on the machine. If we reach 25 registrants, the message will indicate that fact. Please do not come without a reservation. (There’s another thing I thought I would never say about a church service!)
Together, we will make our way through the pandemic and what I think of as “The Great Separation” and emerge stronger than ever.
Several people have asked about their pledging, so I am including a mid-year statement for your information. If you have been able to maintain your giving, we thank you most sincerely. If you have not, we understand completely, and invite you to give when and as you are able. We are processing checks weekly. If you have internet access, our treasurer has made it easier to donate directly through our website or through the “Tithely” app available on smartphones.
As we continue to move forward, please continue to be patient, and stay safe. I am looking forward to seeing you live and in person when it becomes possible. Until then, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers, and that I am only a phone call away.
The Rev. Laurence G. Byrne