Dear Holy Cross family,
After weeks of self-quarantining, social distancing, and “Virtual Mass”, it is time to slowly begin resuming in-person worship at our parish starting on Sunday, June 7. This does not mean, unfortunately, we will resume parish life as “usual.” Instead, for the weeks to come we will institute various health and safety procedures as we gather together. Here are the guidelines offered by our bishop and the local authorities. I encourage all to read them thoroughly and ask me any questions you might have.
- All activities and gatherings other than Sunday worship will continue to be suspended until further notice. The two exceptions are an augmented coffee hour (see details below) and vestry meetings on the second Sunday of the month.
- Sunday worship will consist of two Holy Communion services, one at 9 AM and one at 11 AM. Because the research suggests longer periods of exposure increases risks of contracting the virus, the services will lack music and will be shorter (no Psalm or Old Testament reading, and a shorter sermon).
- Each service will be capped at 27 people in the pews. I will be contacting each family to discuss which service best suits you. I am asking as many local families (within a 15 minutes drive of the parish) to please volunteer for the 9 am service.
- Masks should be worn by all. If you do not own a mask, one will be provided at the door for you.
- Every other pew will be marked off and will be unavailable for seating. The available pews will have tape marks indicating the appropriate distances family units should maintain from each other (6 feet).
- All Bibles, Prayer Books, and Hymnals will be removed from the pews to avoid contamination between services. You are encouraged to bring your own Bible and Prayer Book (Hymnals are not needed). A Holy Communion Guide has been created that contains all the people’s responses throughout the service. These will be located in the pew racks.
- Communion will be offered in both kinds. However, it is highly encouraged for all to commune in one kind via the wafer. It is also appropriate, should it be desired, for anyone to remain in the pew and make a spiritual communion using the Liturgy for Spiritual Communion. Communing from the chalice will be limited to intinction.
- During the distribution of the elements, a distance of 6 feet between family units must be maintained. This means only two family units, one in each corner of the altar rail, will be allowed at a time.
- As you kneel at the altar, you may remove your mask and hold it in one hand. You may then either hold out your hand, which indicates that you desire the bread only; or you may look at the priest and open your mouth, which indicates you desire a host intincted in wine. The priest will sanitize his hands after each distribution of an intincted host.
- A distance of 6 feet should be maintained throughout our time together. This includes when exiting and entering the building. Handshakes and hugs should be avoided as well.
- After each service, weather permitting, all are invited to gather in the back parking lot (beyond the orange cones) for a “social-distanced coffee hour.” Each family will need to bring their own lawn chairs, snacks, coffee, cups, plates, etc. The parish will not provide any food or beverages. Please plan to sit at least 6 feet apart.
- While at the parish, restrooms should be reserved for emergencies only. Cleaning supplies will be located in each facility. Should you need to use the restroom, please spray and disinfect everything used.
- Anyone who exhibits any signs of sickness, including congestion, coughing, or fever, should stay home.
While these guidelines will no doubt be cumbersome to maintain, my goal, and the goal of your bishop, is to protect your health and wellbeing. And so, I thank you in advance for your understanding and full support. I plan to reevaluate our situation at the end of June and give further directives for the month of July.
Finally, I want to clarify that just because we are resuming worship, there is no obligation for anyone to attend. If you wish to remain home, then please know that you may do so. In fact, I encourage all of our at-risk members to consider remaining home for the time being. To aid in this, we will continue live streaming one of our services (11 am) each Sunday for the month of June.
Beloved in Christ, as I look forward to June 7, the Lord has laid the opening lines of the Venite (BCP p. 9) on my soul. It is the great scriptural call to worship and gathering hymn of the Church. How powerful its words have become to me after being away from worship with you for so long! May its verses resonate in our hearts and resound on our lips as we return again to the altar and throne of Jesus Christ, who alone is our God and our King:
O come, let us sing unto the LORD;
let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving;
and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God;
and a great King above all gods…
O come, let us worship and fall down;
and kneel before the Lord our maker.
Your servant in Christ always,
Fr. Myles Hixson