Dear People of God,
We wanted to give you an update on the progress of reopening St. Luke’s to in-person worship. Please be aware that reopening will not resemble the way things were before COVID-19. The look and feel of worship will be very different.
As you know, we are currently conducting a survey of parishioners. (If you haven’t taken the survey, please do! It’s available via the church website here: http://www.stlukesbr.org/post/let-your-voice-be-heard-st-luke-s-regathering-survey.) The early results show that most want to return to in-person worship. However, of those who are ready to return, most still have concerns and want precautions.
As you are aware, a Regathering Task Force has been formed that includes the Clergy, the Wardens, Becky Williams (our Parish Nurse), Robert Miller (our Facilities Manager), and Terry Bowman (Parish Choir Director). The Task Force is working furiously behind the scenes to reopen the church as soon as possible, but not until the Task Force is comfortable in doing so in the safest fashion.
There are some items for reopening that you should be aware. At the Bishop’s directive, Parishes that reopen must require masking and social distancing. This is not optional if you intend to return to worship. He has also said there is to be NO Communion until some point in time in July at the earliest. Therefore, services will be exactly as those that have been done online the past few months. The Bishop has approved in-person worship as soon as June 14, but we will not be ready to open by that date. Our reopening is to be determined as soon as we safely can.
The pews will be set up with social distancing in mind with families able to sit together. We will require that you register to attend a service. There will be no congregating before or after worship. There will be no singing with the possible exception of a solo chorister. The number of services will depend on the number of people who want to attend a service. Hand sanitizers will be available and hand washing before and after the service will be highly recommended. Online services WILL continue until further notice.
As you can see, this will in no way resemble the way it was before. Our intention is not to be negative in this communique but to be realistic and let you know exactly where everything stands.
Father Bryan will be out this week. But rest assured that the Task Force has their tasks to be completed. Upon his return, the Task Force will meet, determine an opening date, meet with and train ushers, sanitize the church, and communicate to parishioners through an FAQ exactly what each of you need to do to return to in person worship, if that is your desire.
We love you. We miss you. We look forward to when we can regather, even if initially under restrictive guidelines.
God bless you and be safe.
Yours in Christ,
Father Bryan Owen
6th Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church