Regathering for Worship after June 6
Dear Beloved Parish Family,
We have exciting news! Beginning June 6, both our 8 am and 10 am services will be open for in-person worship. The 10 am will continue to be available online.
This year and several months of extended distance have been hard on all of us. We have grown distant from each other, we have missed the warmth of our fellowship, we have missed milestones, weddings, baptisms, funerals. It has been an extraordinarily difficult year and a bit. But it is almost behind us.
When I imagined in the earlier days of the pandemic what regathering for worship might mean, I imagined a return to the way things were before the pandemic: a full church, baptisms with overflowing crowds, jubilant and loud singing, processions, doves, banners, you name it. I know that it won’t be like that, but it can still be great.
As we shift our focus from online to in-person worship we will still be in the midst of challenging times. Nassau and Suffolk Counties remain at “ high” and “very high” risk for COVID exposure and our vaccination rates still hover in the 40% range for all vaccine eligible folk. COVID has not gone away. We know some of you will have questions about how we are keeping each other safe and following diocesan and CDC guidance.
- Regathering for worship at 10 will still be limited to 45 people because of our small space and the continued need to keep socially distant. As at 8, we will gather outside the church for direction, announcements and contact tracing purposes and enter the church together at 10 AM while the prelude is offered.
- Because space is limited, we will ask you to sign up to join us for worship in advance of Sunday through our website. We use REALM to manage our sign-ups, so you may have to dust off your password or reset it. There are challenges to anything, and this is a small one in order to keep each other safe and to accommodate all who wish to be present fairly. Our 8 am service will not require registration. A special page is set up on our website to receive registrations.
- While we are able to sing in public, we will warm up to that as the summer progresses and we gain confidence that what we are doing together is and feels safe. Instead, we will offer beautiful music on Sundays either from our talented musicians or from our partners at the Oyster Bay Music Festival.
- Masks will continue to be required in the church until further notice to protect each other. We will not be asking about your vaccination status, but we do encourage you to consider getting vaccinated, not for church but to advance the cause of herd immunity in our community.
- Over the summer as we regather we will celebrate a brief service of Holy Communion as our principal act of worship, especially as many in our community have not received communion in over a year. We expect to return to our normal pattern of Holy Eucharist and Morning Prayer alternating by week in the fall.
- Coffee Hour is still not permitted, but we hope you will loiter with us after church on the beautiful lawn to greet one another and share fellowship.
For those who live at a distance from the church, or those who are not yet able or comfortable returning to church we will continue to stream our services over Zoom.
Obviously, this will have consequences for all of our ministries - lay readers will be invited to return to reading in church, altar guild members will be asked to support the increased frequency of holy communion, choir members will have their choir season shortened to allow for reopening - the list is long. But, we hope that we will all accommodate the changes necessary to regather in-person for worship joyfully.
For more information about our full regathering plan, please see our website.
We can’t wait to be with you!
Approved Regathering Plan as of May 11, 2021:
Proposed Regathering Date: June 6, 2021 (Other options include May 31, or June 13).
Choosing June 6 to regather forces the Choir Season to end one week early, but allows us several weeks to acclimate to the new pattern before vacation schedules leave us short-handed.
Sunday School can continue at 9 am online and Sunday School teacher and High School/College graduate recognition will be Hybrid, online and in-person.
We will celebrate Holy Eucharist Rite II throughout the summer and return to our “normal” pattern of alternating Sundays of Holy Eucharist and Morning Prayer in the fall. That pattern is as follows: Holy Baptism/Eucharist on the first Sunday, Second and Fourth Sundays are Morning Prayer, Third Sunday is Holy Eucharist, Fifth Sundays when they occur are Holy Eucharist. All services are Rite II.
Regathering is still limited by 6-foot social distancing rules for churches (see attached) so that numbers will be limited by the size of the church to 45-50. Music will be instrumental while we acclimate to in-person worship, with choral singing phased in beginning in August, and more full choral offerings beginning in September. Our partnership and support for the Oyster Bay Music Festival (see below) may yield instrumental musicians for many summer Sundays, which would be wonderful. For the foreseeable future, all programs will be full text, and prayer books will remain in storage. As we add music we will either return hymnals and prayer books to the pews or adjust the formatting of our bulletins to include hymns.
All who wish to attend church at 10 AM can pre-register through REALM. Preregistrations will be available one week in advance and close at either the start of the service or when the service is full, whichever comes first. No vaccination will be required for regathering. Windows and doors will remain open as we have for the last 9 months. Ushers will still check-in attendees for contact tracing purposes. We are able to socialize on the lawns or in the outdoor space, but we cannot have food to share that is not catered. All 10 am services will be streamed for our hybrid congregation. We will need more volunteers to run our streaming system to meet the needs of our distance congregation.
There have been many requests for outdoor worship at 8 am as we did last summer. We are considering offering Holy Eucharist, or Morning Prayer outdoors one Sunday a month.
Space Use Requests:
We are supporting space use requests, particularly from the Oyster Bay Music Festival, and are open to others.
We are asking them to sign a facilities use agreement to use the space for 1 week of rehearsals and performances. The Facilities Use Agreement has been updated with a release of liability and COVID addendum prepared by our counsel at Humes and Wagner. (Attached) We are asking them to follow similar COVID guidelines including social distancing and mask-wearing. We are asking them to pre-register guests and limit attendance to the same number of people as the church (40-50)
We continue to support our congregation through weddings, funerals and baptisms following the same COVID-19 guidelines:
- Capacity for weddings is capped at 50 due to social distancing requirements.
- Funerals are similarly capped.
- Baptisms are individual until we receive new direction from the Diocese. (Of interest we will celebrate 9 baptisms between Easter 2021 and June 20.)
- Streaming is made available to all baptismal and funeral families. Staffed streaming is available at cost through our partnership with StreamIT.
Beginning as soon as next week we hope to make Bleecker Hall available for catered events with limited capacity particularly for repast after funerals. Events in Bleecker Hall will be required to keep the doors open and limit capacity to 50 people. Masks required unless guests are eating or drinking.
We have begun discussions with our recovery ministry partners and hope to support them to regather soon. They will be forced to limit capacity for social distancing reasons, as we have, to 50 people in Bleecker Hall. We will have to ask them to contact trace, which is an obstacle to anonymity. They do not need to share that information with the church, but they need to be able to contact participants in case of COVID illness. As they work to regather we will share details with the Vestry.