Our world is changing, thanks be to God. In just these past two weeks, public health data and new guidance from the CDC, the Bishop’s Office and the Commonwealth of Virginia, provide for the relaxations of many public health safety protocols. The vestry met this past Tuesday to consider this new guidance and adjustments that we can now make specifically for Sunday morning worship. We approached this conversation consistently with the way we have been making decisions for these past 15 months: as a work of discerning the Spirit, and God’s leading and guiding for us.
As a result of this vestry conversation and the new public health guidance, beginning Sunday, June 6, for our 10 a.m. worship service in New St. Mary’s here’s what you can expect:
- We are opening up the 10 a.m. service to unlimited capacity with no assigned seats or physical distancing requirements. If you want to come to church that morning, please just come. There is no need to pre-register.
- For now, we will continue to wear masks in church like many other indoor settings. For now, it is a good thing for us to continue to be especially mindful of those who haven’t or can’t yet receive a vaccination – I am thinking especially of the children of our parish.
- Congregational singing is now permitted with masks, so please sing out!
- We will continue to refrain for now from shaking hands or embracing at the exchange of The Peace.
- For now, we will continue to receive Communion ‘in one kind’, but the ushers will no longer be offering to sanitize your hands beforehand.
- And for now, we will also continue to offer virtual worship.
These are the major points from our vestry meeting that I want to share today. But, I do want to underline the vestry’s particular care and concern for young people and children in our parish. The vestry wants to keep them foremost in our minds in our decision-making, including ways beyond Sunday morning for our children to be known, loved, and belong.
As the past three weeks show, things can change rapidly. I think we can expect that to continue through the summer. As conditions change we will continue to adjust our practices and communicate those changes to you clearly.
Right now, we are all – really in every area of our lives – figuring out our comfort level with one another. That’s only natural. It’s been a long time. It’s going to take some time to unwind ourselves from health safety protocols that have been so important and have so profoundly changed the way we live our lives. So please, just continue to be mindful of one another, be attentive to one another – certainly here at church, but in all of our lives. For example, we won’t be formally asking for physical distancing in church, but it’s an easy thing to check in with one another as you’re taking your seats. It’s an easy and loving thing to do: to give and receive grace like this.
Harry Baldwin (our Senior Warden), Missy Roberts (our Junior Warden) and I would be glad for any conversation you might like to have. I hope you won’t hesitate to be in touch with us if you would like.
May God bless you in your life, in this most remarkable time, as little by little our lives are being brought back together, with so many opportunities to live and show, in word and deed, God’s own loving grace for this world.
The Reverend David May