The Return to Public Liturgies this Sunday… A Word of Hope & a Word of Caution
Dear Parish Family,
We have been in awe of our parish’s exceptional fluidity in the face of this rapidly changing scenario. We have been inspired by your commitment to worship and witness during this time, especially under the burden of shelter-in-place orders that have often been baffling and confusing. We have heard from those who hope for a swift return to public worship, as well as from those who urge great caution.
While there is a long tradition in the Church of upholding the obligation of Christians to worship on the Lord’s Day in their parish, this obligation is occasionally dispensed for grave reasons. The current case to preserve human life has been deemed one of these grave reasons. Bishop Reed has maintained that for the time being, the parishes under his authority are dispensed from their obligation to participate in public worship. We want to encourage you to worship by receiving communion at home, by inviting a priest to celebrate in a neighborhood Eucharist service, or by making a spiritual communion (page 677 in the Book of Common Prayer). Spiritual communion continues to be the safest option possible, not only for yourself, but for others, as well. Services will continued to be available via livestream, and sermons will be available on the podcast. However, with permission from Bishop Reed, issued this week, we will hold public worship services at Christ Church effective this coming Sunday, May 3. In keeping with CDC guidelines, Christ Church can accommodate 60 parishioners per service, determined on a first come basis.
We want to make it clear that life will not return to normal immediately. We are initiating a slow process. We have, therefore, put the following policies in place until the end of May, with the understanding that we will keep them under constant review, reserving the right to make needed changes at will. A revised policy will be put in place for June.
When it comes to public celebrations of the Eucharist on Sundays:
Both the 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. celebrations of the Holy Eucharist will be kept.
We encourage those who are ill or particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 to stay home, especially those with any form of upper respiratory illness including coughing, persistent sneezing, sore throat and/or fever.
Adult catechesis, childcare, and children’s catechesis will not be offered. We encourage those with children to come to alternating services, with children staying at home. If this is untenable for your family, please keep children by your side while in the building, in charity to your brothers and sisters.
We ask that all parishioners wear face coverings when inside the building and bring hand sanitizer with them. Gloves may be worn if desired.
We ask you to bring your own copies of Bibles, prayerbooks, and hymnals for the duration of this time. Please contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need these items.
Please enter through the side ramp door.
We ask you to wash your hands at hand washing stations in the kitchen or parish hall bathrooms prior to going up into the church, singing the Doxology as you do so (since it is approximately 20 seconds long).
The front three rows of pews will be designated for vulnerable members of the congregation at both services.
Please maintain minimum 6’ of distance between households at all times.
Communion will be administered standing in the midst of the chancel. In essence, we will go back to the way things were prior to the installation of the altar rail. Parties will approach only when there is room to do so at a distance.
The chalice will be offered to all who desire it. No one is under compulsion to receive communion.
We ask that the passing of the peace be done only verbally.
Please consider online giving in lieu of cash or checks.
We ask that the parish hall bathrooms be used only for emergencies so that they can be primarily used for hand-washing. Other bathrooms will remain closed.
The playground will remain closed.
Following the service, please exit the building. Once in the fresh air of the parking lot and from a distance of greater than 6’, please feel free to visit with your brothers and sisters.
When it comes to Wednesday Eucharists and Feast Days, the same general considerations will be in place. It is our firm expectation that all who attend will keep these guidelines to the best of their abilities.
With all of this, we want to issue a word of caution. None of this can be done without some manner of risk. This is said first, so that we can pray for the Lord’s protection upon all of us as we enter this coming month. It is also our desire to approach these days soberly and watchfully. There is no doubt that the Enemy is on the prowl to divide us and conquer us. There is no guarantee that these measures will stay in place, nor can there be any guarantee that they will disappear. We will continue to look for wise and godly guidance from our authorities, as well as your input as we go forward.
In the Name of the Risen Lord,
The Rector and Vestry of Christ Church, Waco