On May 18, 2021, Bishop Reed issued Updated COVID-19 Guidelines. In light of these changes and our local situation the Vestry and I are updating the St. Philip’s COVID-19 Guidelines.
The new guidelines will take effect on Sunday, May 30, 2021, and apply to all liturgical and non-liturgical activities of St. Philip’s whether on or off the church premises.
While we all have individual opinions and beliefs about our own freedom, rights, and what we should or can do, as Christians, followers of Jesus, we listen for and follow an authority higher than ourselves. Isn’t that why, every Sunday, we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done?”
That higher authority asks us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24), to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31), and “to lay down our lives for one another” (1 John 3:16).
In many ways it has been as difficult to determine which guidelines to relax or discontinue, and when and how to do that, as it was to determine which guidelines to implement. In both situations the underlying motive and intention have been the health, safety, and well being of all who come to St. Philip’s.
I am grateful for each of you; your presence, prayers, and love; your patience and compassion. “We have come so far, and through so much. It is grace that’s brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home. May God’s grace and mercy free us to walk this way together” (Bishop Reed).
God’s peace be with you,
Masks and Distancing
- Everyone still has the option to wear a mask and maintain physical distance.
- Fully vaccinated* individuals are no longer required to wear a mask or physically distance indoors or outdoors on church premises.
- Individuals who are not fully vaccinated* are expected and strongly encouraged to wear a mask and maintain six feet physical distance on church premises whether indoors or outdoors.
- Church staff, lay leaders, and volunteers who facilitate or lead formation offerings or provide childcare for children under the age of 12 are required to wear masks and maintain six feet physical distance, regardless of that individual’s vaccination status.
- Children three years and older are encouraged to wear a mask.*People are considered fully vaccinated: 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. If an individual doesn’t meet these requirements, they are not considered fully vaccinated.
Choir and Congregational Singing
- Congregational singing may continue.
- The choir may sing as individual members of the congregation but may not be seated as a group in the choir area.
- Communion will be distributed around the altar rail. Ushers will limit the number of people coming forward so that appropriate distancing may be maintained around the altar rail.
- Clergy and Eucharistic Ministers are required to wear a face mask during distribution, regardless of vaccination status.
- Masks are optional for communicants who are fully vaccinated. Masks are required for communicants who are not fully vaccinated, but may be removed briefly to consume the bread.
- Communion will be offered in both kinds, with wine by intinction only. The use of the common cup to administer communion is still not permitted.
- The clergy will dip the wafer into the chalice and place it in the communicant’s hand.
- Communicants may choose to receive only the bread. Receiving only the bread is considered full communion and reception of all the benefits of communion.
- Please indicate to the clergy if you desire to receive only the bread.
- Informal fellowship gatherings, such as coffee hours or luncheons, may return indoors.
- Masks are required for anyone serving food or drink during distribution, whether inside or outdoors and regardless of vaccination status. Servers should wash their hands properly before serving; gloves are optional. Diligently avoid hand-to-hand contact, and help maintain six feet of distance between households waiting to get refreshments