Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I am happy to announce, that after thoughtful and diligent hard work by members of our Vestry and Officers, we submitted a plan for ReGathering in the church and it has been approved by the Diocese of Maryland. This is the result of hours of conversation, creative thinking, and consideration first and foremost for the safety of those who choose to return to church on Sundays. Please know that the Live Streaming of services will continue for those not ready or able to return to church and will remain available on Facebook and christchurchforesthill.org at 9:45 on Sunday mornings. No one is to feel it is necessary to ReGather in church until you feel ready to do so.
All that said, for those who choose to return, worship during the current Orange Phase will be significantly different than we were used to before the Pandemic: everyone must wear a mask, seating is marked in specific places six-feet apart, no more than two people who live together may sit next to one another, there is to be no singing, one must sanitize one’s hands on the way in and on the way out of church, there are no prayer books or hymnals in the church, and communion will be in one kind only – a wafer consecrated as the Body of Christ.
Following a suggestion in a recent meeting of diocesan clergy with Bishop Sutton, we will be distributing Holy Communion on the way out of the church, people processing out six-feet apart. The wafers we use for communion come wrapped and sealed in rolls of 50. Only the celebrant will handle open the rolls and handle the wafers after his or her hands have been sanitized, washed in warm soap and water, and wearing nitrile gloves (no latex). As you leave the church, those desiring communion will stretch their hands out to receive communion, as the celebrant will reach out at arms-length as well, and drop the Bread of Life into your hands. Once received, the communicant will continue immediately outdoors. Those desiring a final blessing may wait outside, carefully practicing social distancing, and still wearing a mask. There is to be no “Coffee Hour” afterwards, and no food or beverages are allowed to be offered during the Orange Phase of ReGathering.
There is to be no hand-shaking or hugging. The Peace is to be passed by a simple nod of the head, or bow, to those nearby. There will be music before, after and during the service, and you may hum along making sure you are still masked and that the mask always covers both mouth and nose.
Sunday, August 2 continues to be our target date as the First Sunday for ReGathering. As we have all learned by now, circumstances may require us to change the date, but for now we feel confident that August 2 will be the first Sunday of ReGathering. Feel free to contact me or members of our Vestry with any questions you may have. It has been a particular privilege to work with our Vestry to plan and execute our return to Public Worship.
Please remember to review the Covenant for ReGathering found online and in this edition of the Chimes. And please do not feel in a hurry to return until you are ready to do so. If you are not feeling well, do not plan to attend church, but rather contact your health-care provider immediately. Our Lord has walked with us as we find a way forward in the current Pandemic, which is still a threat to public safety. We will continue to revise all procedures as necessary. Nowhere in this life is there anything like “total safety,” but we are doing our utmost to make ReGathering as safe and respectful as possible, following the guidelines of our Diocese which are more stringent than those of the State of Maryland. Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay Church.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Kirk Kubicek, Priest in Charge