Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
At our Vestry meeting, Wednesday, August 5, there was a serious discussion of the current status of the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic in Maryland and Nationally. Wednesday morning, the Diocese of Maryland announced to the clergy that it had ordered churches in Baltimore City and Baltimore County to suspend In-Church services due to the rising number of infections in those areas and throughout the state, and the decreasing number of available hospital beds. These circumstances make some of us feel as if it is most prudent to stay home at this time. And we know that there are those of us who wish to get back into our historic church.
The decision was to remain cautious, and Sunday, September 13 has been designated as Homecoming Sunday 2020: this will be our first Sunday of In-Church worship with Holy Communion for those who feel it is safe to return. We are allowed to seat between 17 and 26 people depending on how many pairs of people who live in the same domicile come. Those attending must wear a mask properly covering mouth and nose; must sanitize hands on the way in and the way out; there is no singing allowed. There will be a minimal amount of instrumental music, and communion will be distributed on the way out of church, not at the communion rail, so as to minimize the length of time we are in church as well as movement inside the church. (A more detailed description of Holy Communion follows in this issue.)
It was further decided to try a Hybrid Schedule: 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays will be a continuance of the current Live Stream Service with only the Celebrant in the church; 2nd and 4th Sundays each month will be In-Church Holy Communion as described. This allows us to meet the needs of those who are comfortable returning to church and those who are not, as well as those who want to continue to “sing-together” from the comfort and safety of home.
It was further decided, given the number of people who wish to continue to worship from home, All Services will continue to be Live Streamed every Sunday from now on. Those who are uncomfortable for any reason, and especially anyone who does not feel well, are under no pressure to return until you and your personal physician make that decision.
As always, we will be subject to any changes in the intensity of the Pandemic and instructions from the Diocese of Maryland as we are still under Phase Orange restrictions. We remain fully open to transition to a schedule of more Sundays per month of In-Church worship when it seems prudent to do so. The current Hybrid Schedule is not written in stone and will be subject to constant review as we remain open to your feedback and suggestions from all members of Christ Church.
With the current Live Stream Services on Sundays at 9:45am, and Monday through Friday at 11:55am, we are reaching as many as 45-60 households per service, with some people “attending” Christ Church from as far away as Colorado, New Jersey and Athens, Greece, on a regular basis. Live Stream church services has expanded our reach to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to more people every Sunday and six days a week. This is a remarkable development! I am thankful for all the people who have been working tirelessly to ready our church for a return to In-Church Worship, and those who have made it possible to Live Stream our services six days a week. As our bishops remind us, it is a New Day for the Church with new ways to bring the Good News to more and more people than ever before! Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.
Yours in Christ,
Fr Kirk, Priest-in-Charge