Dear St. Mary’s Family,
As we regather, things will be a bit different, especially at first. It might be a good idea to bring along a spirit of thanksgiving and a sense of humor, too! Here are some things to expect:
Every worshipper will need to put on a mask before entering the Church. If you don’t have a mask, we will have a supply of handmade masks for you that can be washed and re-used. We will also have a supply of disposable masks if you prefer those. We will have hand sanitizer for everyone to use as they enter the Church as well. There will also be hand sanitizer in the pews. These practices are crucial to re-gathering.
Once inside the Church, we will have bulletins waiting on the pews to indicate where folks can sit. A Church member will also serve as a guide. Worshippers will be seated in alternate rows and social distancing will be maintained between those who do not live in the same household. This will be a change from the days when we could sit where we wanted, and next to who we wanted, so it will take a little time to get used to.
The offering plate will be stationed at the back of the Church for you to place your alms. The plate will not be passed.
Prayerbooks and hymnals have been removed from the sanctuary in order to reduce the burden of disinfection. We will endeavor to remind folks of the congregational responses if necessary. You may, of course, bring your own prayer books and you are welcome to “borrow” a prayer book from the Church and keep it with you for your personal use.
Unfortunately, for the time being, there will be no congregational singing. Our choir will sing an opening and closing hymn only, where they will be 15 feet away from the congregation.
When we “pass the Peace,” worshippers will need to remain seated and simply give a friendly wave of the hand (or the well-known “V”).
The worship team will be masked except when at the lectern for reading or preaching, where they will be 15 feet away from the congregation. The celebrant will be masked during the Eucharistic Prayer, using hand-sanitizer before the consecration and again prior to administration.
Only the bread will be administered at Holy Communion. No wine will be served. The celebrant will bring the bread to the people, rather than our usual gathering at the altar rail. Because the people will be seated in alternate rows, the priest will walk down the empty rows in front of those seated and drop the wafer into outstretched hands. Worshippers should remain seated.
Worshippers will then simply lift their masks briefly to place the bread in their mouth. Hand sanitizer will be available in the pews and it is suggested that we use it after taking the bread.
The sanctuary will be sanitized after services, with attention to all areas that have been touched. Seating at 8 a..m. will be in “odd” numbered rows, and at 10 a.m. in “even” numbered rows (or vice versa) in order to facilitate disinfection.
We will endeavor to limit the in-person services to no more than 40 minutes, maybe even less. This is a directive of the Bishop. That will be familiar to the 8 a.m. crowd, but will be different for the 10 a.m. congregation.
We will continue to livestream the 10 a.m. service from now on out. It is a permanent fixture at St. Mary’s now! Please feel free to worship with us online if you are not ready to come into the sanctuary for worship.
And, please stay at home if you are not feeling well.
I know that these procedures will be strange and maybe a little trying sometimes. That is where our spirit of thanksgiving and our sense of humor will come in. We are blessed in so many ways at St. Mary’s and it is important for us to keep that in mind.