Resuming In-Person Worship on July 19

Altar candle with blurred stained glass windows in background

Resuming In-person Worship: A Summary

  • Online services will continue indefinitely. Starting on July 19, the time of the broadcast will be 10:30 a.m.
  • Beginning July 19, you will also have the option to worship at the church. TIMES ARE 8:30 AND 10:30. The two services will be identical.
  • Until given permission by the Bishop to celebrate communion, we will continue with Morning Prayer. We will be using all the mitigating practices recommended by the CDC, the bishop and the state. See details in article below.
  • We are planning to continue with online coffee hour, more information to come!
  • Read the articles from Fr. Joseph below.

Tiptoeing back together — while keeping our (social) distance

15 July 202

Dear Friends,

It’s finally here! Those who are comfortable and called will begin to say Morning Prayer in-person this Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30 am. The 10:30 a.m. service will be broadcast on YouTube, as we have done these last few months. No one who is uncomfortable returning for worship for any reason should feel compelled to return. At the same time, some of us need to start practicing resilience and ongoing mitigation in a new normal — a new normal where safety and love of neighbor are at the fore of our minds. To accommodate the most people possible, Coffee Hour will be at 9:30 (not 9:45 as previously announced) for the foreseeable future.

In order to meet the bishop’s and state’s requirements — as well as to help people feel and be as safe as possible — we will begin meeting this Sunday, July 19. We will be taking a number of precautions. For your and everyone’s safety, please follow our volunteers’ directions. This is difficult for everyone. This is how this Sunday (and all Sundays through at least Phase II, if not Phase III) will proceed:

  1. The doors from the nave to the Peace Garden and 52nd Ave W will be open. Please enter through the narthex only.
  2. Family units will maintain 6’+ distance between groupings while waiting to get into the church. The sidewalk blocks are 4′ squares. You may want to stay in your car if there is a line / crowd. Masks are required to enter the church building.
  3. Someone will take your temperature.
  4. Someone will take note of your attendance and collect a waiver. The diocese is requiring this waiver, which is also a questionnaire about your health. After submitting the waiver, you will be asked about your health on a weekly basis.  If possible, please print and sign at home, or complete and email back to me (by Saturday night ideally). You can download the waiver here.
  5. On your way in you’ll pass by a giant hand sanitizer container and sanitize your hands. 
  6. You’ll be directed into the nave and told to look for the seating coordinator — which may be me this week!
  7. Bulletins will be in limited supply, and you are encouraged to print one at home or bring a smart device to follow along with. You can download the bulletin here, it will be available on the homepage, and QR codes will be around to scan and get to the bulletin on Sunday. You are also welcome to bring your own Book of Common Prayer. Prayer Books will be in the pews, but we are asking that they be used sparingly. If you use a Prayer Book, please do not put it back in the pew rack.
  8. At the dismissal, households will be dismissed in an orderly fashion to exit through the doors to 52nd Ave W and immediately return to their cars. 

These general, overall precautions are being required for our gatherings, to be observed at all times:

  • No touching. No handshakes or hugs.
  • No singing. 
  • No Communion or coffee hour (per the bishop’s Phase II directions).
  • Disinfecting surfaces before and after services. 

We don’t know how these restrictions will impact our feelings and experience of worship — particularly with decreased opportunities and time to socialize. It may be less meaningful. Just being together may feel more meaningful than online. Starting in August (my apologies for getting my timings off) Kenneth will play a prelude and a postlude. Right now the plan is for those to not be streamed, but that may change as we adapt to our technology needs.

I still don’t want to officiate any preventable funerals or make national headlines! Tomorrow I’ll be confirming that our streaming technology is prepared and ready to continue making online worship accessible, scattering the seed of God’s reign near and far, in person and online. Those joining via YouTube continue to be invited to pray along using their Prayer Book or the bulletin. Page number prompts will continue to be given, and the Assembly will say the People’s parts. 

If you’d like to sign up as a helper of some sort (disinfecter, temperature taker, roll checker, etc.)  please let me know! We still have slots.

I look forward to seeing you and/or hearing from you.

Blessings,

Fr. Joseph

Download the Waiver Here

Tiptoeing back together — while keeping our (social) distance

29 June 2020

Dear Friends,

Thursday night I had my first dream about gathering for worship in person, which we haven’t done in over three months.

I overslept for the first service and people were still late. Because it was a dream I couldn’t read anything and could not find page numbers in my unset Prayer book. The second service had so many people that we had to use a civics center to fit everyone! It was also a rushed start, so no one was enforcing social distancing, we hadn’t prepared for contact information gathering, and there was no altar guild. The Crocco girls schooled everyone on Prayer Book Trivia while Sam and I tried to make sure there would be enough wine to serve the whole arena. I hoped the health department didn’t show up and shut us down.

Needless to say, I have some concerns about our getting back together…but we will start tiptoeing back to in-person worship on July 19. The Bishop’s Committee has reviewed safety precautions and a plan (portions of which are detailed below) for mitigating virus transmission, and offered feedback that has been incorporated. The bishop has also signed off on how I hope to manage our regathering. 

In-person, spoken Morning Prayer will start happening at St. Hilda St. Patrick on July 19 at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. The bishop is not allowing Eucharist until a county is in Phase III. Snohomish County is still in Phase II (and we may continue to trail the county with our precautions). The 10:30 a.m. service will be broadcast on YouTube, as we have done these last few months. No one who is uncomfortable returning for worship for any reason should feel compelled to return. At the same time, some of us need to start practicing resilience and ongoing mitigation in a new normal, a new normal where safety and love of neighbor are at the fore of our minds.

With the State of Washington’s plan and the governor’s modified orders for religious institutions we could have begun meeting again on May 31. We did not. Snohomish County entered Phase II on June 5. from May 5 to June 5, nearly 80 people took part in a survey about reopening. 30% wanted to wait a while before we could gather before we started (which we have done), and 41% said they would come back when they could — with precautions.

In order to meet the bishop’s and state’s requirements — as well as to help people feel and be as safe as possible — we will begin meeting on July 19. We will be taking a number of precautions. 

  • Offering two services (with 75% of survey respondents open to worshipping at a different time) will decrease the number of people present, which enables better social distancing. Our average Sunday attendance still falls within the acceptable range for body count relative to nave size, but not with necessary social distancing.
  • Masks will be required at all times.
  • Hand sanitizing will be required upon entry.
  • Weather permitting, exterior doors from the nave will be open to increase air circulation and exchanges.
  • Attendance will be recorded primarily using the parish directory, supplemented by taking information of visitors.
  • Contactless temperatures will be taken at the door.
  • Seating 6′ between family units and no touching. No handshakes or hugs.
  • No singing. 
  • No communion or coffee hour (per the bishop’s Phase II directions)
  • Disinfecting surfaces before and after services. 

As Valerie has said, “We will proceed as cautiously and thoughtfully as possible for people who would like to attend a service, while making sure we continue to proactively include those who are not comfortable attending. Our goal is to adopt procedures and policies that create as safe an environment as possible as we gradually adapt to our new reality.” 

This new reality, with new restrictions, will not be the same or feel the same as the before times. We’ve yet to see how meaningful it will be, particularly given the intentional decreased opportunities and time to socialize. At the same time, we have to build resilience and virus mitigation into our everyday lives. I don’t want to officiate any unnecessary funerals or make national headlines! So we’re gathering again, if your health and comfort level allow you to participate. We’ll look looking for ways to make this accessible for those who cannot join in person. 

I’m cautiously excited, particularly as I look at national trends. We will continue to follow diocesan and county health guidelines. If you’d like to sign up as a helper of some sort (disinfecter, temperature taker, roll checker, etc.)  please let me know! 

I look forward to seeing you soon (no touching!).

Fr. Joseph