WELCOME BACK TO ST. JAMES
IN-PERSON WORSHIP ONLINE REGISTRATION
In-person services begin Sunday, October 4, 2020
Dear people of St. James,
The last time we gathered together inside the nave around the Lord’ table was on the Second Sunday in Lent (March 8), a full six months ago. This is when the Bishop suspended all public attendance at worship services and we were forced to make the transition to livestreaming all our services exclusively. While this transition was not without its challenges, I am extremely proud of how St. James made that transition. While many churches stopped worship services altogether or switched to morning prayer exclusively on Facebook or Zoom, St. James kept on celebrating the Eucharist every week at our normal times. We have listened to the lessons, sung the hymns, read the psalms, prayed for the living and the dead, and broken bread at the Altar every Sunday. We have stayed true to the earliest worship of the Church while adapting it to fit extraordinary circumstances. Many of you have told me that St. James has been a spiritual anchor for you in the midst of this pandemic by “staying calm and carrying on.”
My overriding concern has always been the spiritual as well as the physical health of this congregation. Back in March I was hopeful, as were many others, that by the end of summer this would all be over. Yet here we are, early September, still watching the daily infection and hospitalization numbers and still waiting for a vaccine. What we and the rest of the world have learned since March is that this is our new normal. We cannot live in extended isolation and general quarantine forever. Even those societies which have been highly successful at isolation and quarantine are seeing a new spike in their numbers. We simply must learn how to live with Covid in our midst for the foreseeable future, and this includes our life at St. James.
Therefore, I am preparing to reopen St. James for public attendance at worship services on October 4, 2020 with heavy restrictions. I have been studying the diocesan reopening guidelines as well as the guidelines of DHEC and the CDC in preparation for this reopening and have come up with a plan. Based on our legal occupancy, diocesan guidelines, the need for social distancing, and our ability to ventilate the Nave appropriately, the following restrictions will be in place:
- A maximum of twenty people will be allowed per service, including the altar party;
- Everyone will be asked to enter only through the main doors in front;
- Everyone will be expected to use hand sanitizer upon entry;
- Conversational gatherings of people indoors will be discouraged;
- Everyone in attendance must be masked;
- Everyone in attendance must maintain social distancing;
- Households will be seated together;
- Everything will be printed in single-use bulletins;
- The service itself will be shortened;
- There will be no congregational singing, but there will be organ music, occasional instrumental music and soloists on Sundays;
- There will be no physical passing of the peace outside immediate household members;
- Communion will be in one kind only and will be distributed in a similar fashion as at “Mass in the Grass”;
- There will be no coffee hour and the congregation will be encouraged to depart immediately after dismissal, when instructed to do so by an usher;
- Everyone will be asked to depart the nave through the nave side doors only;
- Seating areas and bathrooms will be disinfected between services;
- Services will continue to be livestreamed at 8:00 and 10:30 for those who choose to stay home.
With these precautions, I believe that we can return to in-person worship reverently, appropriately, joyfully, and safely. So how do we limit the congregation to only 20 people per service? Not everyone will be ready or comfortable returning to in-person worship at this time. But for those who are ready and are willing to pledge to follow and uphold the guidelines, I am proposing to setup a worship rotation, assigning people certain designated days as their days for in-person worship. This might be once per month or more frequently, depending on the number who are ready to return at this time.
I have created a registration form below to help plan our return to in-person worship. On this registration form you will have four choices:
- 8:00 Sunday (Rite I);
- 10:30 am Sunday (Rite II);
- 6:30 pm Wednesday (Celtic Evening Eucharist);
- Not yet ready to return in person (will continue to watch livestream).
Choosing one of these options will help me distribute attendance appropriately. You will then receive an Email letting you know when you will be invited to attend in-person worship.
I am looking forward to welcoming you back to St. James so that we can once again worship together in person!
To be included on the in-person worship schedule, please complete the following.