Letter from Fr. John and Dick McConnell Dated June 16, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

We are happy to share with you the good news that Bishop Gutierrez has approved St. James’ plan to reopen our church for worship on Sunday July 12! Starting on that day, we will continue with our virtual Rite II service (but at 9:00 a.m.) and add a live service at 11:00. All of this grows from the work of the Worship Committee and from a special Restart Committee formed by your vestry to develop and recommend what is needed to open safely. As you will see from the details below, it will not be worship as we knew it prior to Covid-19.

Two other points:
Some worshippers have asked why St. James’ remains closed while other churches in the area have resumed worship (albeit in modified form). The answer is simple: our bishop has been very careful in allowing churches to reopen, with each church required to submit a detailed reopening plan for his review and approval.

And some worshippers will wonder if the steps outlined below can be varied or even modified. The answer to that is “yes”; as we gain experience and as our worship environment changes, we will adapt to meet your needs. Please share your opinions and suggestions!

What will church be like when you return?
First, be confident that it is clean. Prior to July 12, the church, Steeves Chapel, and the nursery will be professionally sanitized by an outside service. This service has already sanitized the remainder of the main floor of the building.

Next, we must comply with the 25-person maximum for gatherings (and the celebrant and ushers count against that limit). Consequently, we will be asking you to register as an individual, couple, or family if you wish attend (details to follow). We will also be asking that you follow the procedures you have become familiar with elsewhere, such as wearing masks and social distancing. Signs will be posted listing safety instructions.

In addition:

  • New hand sanitizing stations will be placed at entrances and exits, and in the aisle in front of the altar rail.  There will be no wine at the Eucharist.
  • Ushers, clergy, and others supporting the service may wear gloves.
  • Worshippers will be asked to bring their own masks, but a supply will be available for those who forget.
  • Bathrooms will be limited to single occupancy. Kitchen doors will be closed and signed “No Entry”.
  • For both services, music will be pre-recorded. There will be no Forever Endeavor, no organist or choir present, no congregational singing, and no service music.
  • At this time, no fellowship activities, whether in conjunction with the Eucharistic celebrations or otherwise, are planned.

It is important to close by saying that you should follow your own conscience about returning to church. If you are not comfortable with being out in public (or with these arrangements for our service), by all means stay home and view the virtual service on St. James’ Facebook page.

Thank you – we’ll be in touch!

Father John, Rector 
Dick McConnell, Senior Warden