Adapting to in-person worship (IPW)
August 11, 2020 Update
I am pleased to announce that the Vestry has affirmed our return to In-Person Worship this Sunday, August 16. We will offer two identical worship services on Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM, with the latter live-streamed on Facebook and stpatricksalbany.org.
Responding to your survey results, which overwhelmingly showed support for adapting in a safe and responsible manner, we have been monitoring local health data trends and are on track based on the White House’s Phase III guidance by this Sunday. The Vestry will continue to monitor the public health data and adapt as necessary to best ensure our safety.
Our Senior Warden has put together a one-page summary of changes for parishioners attending worship. It is available here and at the button below.
For those who are not attending worship, we will be offering communion visitations immediately following the second service. Please contact Fr. Nick if you wish to receive communion. The same procedures will be used to ensure a safe distribution for all.
Above all, let us continue faithfully in prayer for those who are ill and suffering, for those working to relieve suffering, and those working for a vaccine.
Hope to see you soon,
July 14, 2020 Update
Grace and peace be with you in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The last time we gathered as a community for In-Person Worship was March 8, 2020. It has been a challenging 4 months for our city, state, country, and world. We have learned much about the virus and unlearned much about the virus during this time. Our response as a community of faith has been to offering services of worship, fellowship, and learning online, while staying connected and committed to our ministry partners on the front lines.
On July 1, the Rt. Rev. Frank Logue, XI Bishop of Georgia, released updated guidance allowing churches to worship in-person following a time of planning and self-certification. St. Patrick’s adapted these guidelines that will serve as a road map for our own in-person worship. At that time, we named Joe Wingard, Sr. Warden, as the chair of that planning initiative. In order to hear from you, our parish family, we released an extensive parish survey on IPW.
At its July 13 meeting, the Vestry, reviewing both survey results and local community health information, approved a series of actions to help us adapt to IPW at St. Patrick’s and Our Saviour. The following are a summary of our decisions and rationale that have and will guide us in the next few weeks.
- Summary of Vestry Actions (July 13 Meeting)
- July 16 – Sanctuary Opens for Private Prayer during Church Hours
- August 2 – Online Worship will be offered from inside Sanctuary
- August 16 – Target Date for In-Person Worship
- Holy Communion
July 16 – Sanctuary open for Private Prayer
Beginning Thursday, July 16, the Sanctuary will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM for private prayer. While the sanctuary was never ‘closed’ per se, the Vestry wanted to affirmatively invite our members to enjoy the Parish grounds and be in our space in a smart and safe way.
In order to prevent a large gathering, you will be asked to check-in at the church office with Kelly Rowe. She will offer you a key, if needed, as well as self-cleaning supplies for your time in the sanctuary. Masks will be required in the Sanctuary, and we’ll ask you to wipe down any common surfaces you’ve touched during your visit. Please strive to use the restroom before you come.
We hope you will take this opportunity to get out and about in a safe and beautiful way as the summer days drag on with current restrictions.
August 2 – online worship from Sanctuary
From your Survey Responses, there is a plurality preference for worship offered from the Sanctuary. Beginning August 2, we will shift our previous manner of filming almost exclusively from Fr. Nick’s home to the Sanctuary. This will also allow us to plan for a continuing online worship presence when IPW resumes.
August 16 – Target Date for IPW
The Vestry has set a target date for IPW at August 16. You can see the survey responses suggest a majority of you would choose to attend a service either inside or outside. In making our decision, we responded both to the feedback of attendance preference and those who indicated they would not yet return.
All along, Fr. Nick and the Vestry have referenced the White House’s “Opening Up America Again” document to guide our planning. In this document, our church would not resume IPW until Phase III, which would follow a successive period of 14 day declining cases and other criterion. With the recent uptick in local community health information on percentage of cases and positive cases, the Vestry agrees we currently fit Phase II of the White House guidance.
Because of the lag in data available in the 14-day window, the earliest we would know if we had returned to Phase III would be Sunday, August 16. Therefore, the Vestry adopted that Sunday as our target date. If we fail to meet the criterion for this date, we will reassess on a biweekly basis to August 31, September 13, etc. As we continually reassess, the Vestry will consider options for outdoor worship as weather and time of day permit.
From your Survey Responses, there is a broad preference for the reception of communion once IPW resumes. Fr. Nick and the Worship Ministry leaders will work diligently to develop a safe practice for the distribution of Holy Communion. We are confidant this can be accomplished as we adapt and plan for the target date.
From your Survey Responses, there is a broad preference to continue our suspension (outside of sacramental emergency) for the reception of Holy Communion. The Vestry affirmed this decision at its July meeting. We also agreed to evaluate the suggestions of those wanting us to find a way earlier than IPW and monitor the efforts of other parishes in these adaptive times. Fr. Nick has not celebrated or received Holy Communion since mid-March, and no sacramental emergency has called forth an exception to date.