Dear St. John’s Family,
We pray this letter finds you and your family safe, well, and healthy. It has been approximately 21 weeks (4 months) since we have physically held in-person services in our beloved St. John’s Episcopal Church. Due to this unprecedented pandemic caused by COVID-19 our lives have been turned upside down, however, it did not diminish our spiritual life and with the help and support of lay leaders, we’ve been able to Morning Prayer every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. via Facebook Live, Conference Call and Zoom as well as Evening Prayer every Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. by Zoom and Conference Call.
Words cannot express our thanks and appreciation to everyone for their continued stewardship in the life, ministry and service of St. John’s by their gifts and talents to ensure that we kept you informed through email, letters, website and Facebook posts. In addition, your prayers, feedback, and encouragement has allowed The Vestry to make decisions on your behalf. We are blessed in so many ways and we will continue moving forward with God’s help.
Based on the church re-opening survey, your response has allowed the Vestry to make the important and careful decision to re-open St. John’s Church to in-person service. It is very important to know that we will reopen safely and carefully following the guidelines and precautions as we prepare Sunday, August 16 at 9:00 am.
Please know that we will continue to monitor reports around the country as well as the CDC and Diocesan recommendations should we have public health changes and will immediately return to virtual Morning Prayer should we need to close.
Our opportunity to gather for public worship and for you to attend is a personal decision and one that will be respected. Your personal health and safety, is very important, so please know that when you are ready to return, we look forward to seeing.
Below please see the precautions and guidelines for returning to church. If you are planning to attend, you must adhere to these guidelines for the safety of all.
· Worship: Starting Sunday, August 16 through Sunday, September 30, we will hold only one (1) Holy Eucharist/Liturgy of the Word at 9:00 a.m. only at this time.
· Arrival: Please do not arrive to church no more than 15 minutes prior to service. Dress casually and comfortably as the temperatures in the church is much warmer during the summer months.
· Church Entrance: We will use two (2) entrances into the church at this time to avoid maximum exposure. The back of the church with the ADA ramp and the main entrance in the driveway with the double doors of the church.
· Hand Sanitizers: Hand sanitizers will be available at all entrances in the church as well as in other areas of the church and we encourage you to use as often as needed.
· Masks: Mask covering is required and must cover both your nose and mouth and must be worn by everyone ages 3 years and over. We will provide masks for anyone who requires one upon arrival. There is no exception to this policy. Please plan to bring your mask each week. If you are not able to wear a mask, we encourage to you attend the service online.
· Social distancing: Social distancing, defined as remaining 6ft away from everyone other than your immediate family or those living in the same household, is to be observed. Please make every effort to maintain a safe distance.
· Communion: At this time, only the communion hosts will be offered and administered by the Clergy and placed in your hand only. No wine will be offered at this time.
· Music: Service music will be provided by our organist, Stephen Hetzel. Unfortunately, there will be no singing by the choir and the congregation until further notice.
· Offering: We thank you for your continued financial stewardship and we encourage to mail in your offerings/pledges. During the in-person services, we will have the offering plates available at the back of the church for you to place your envelope in prior to service. If you need assistance, one of our Ushers will assist.
· Personal contact: We know it is difficulty not to hug, embrace or shake hands, especially given the fact that we have not seen each other in 4 months. We will observe the peace without physical contact.
· Contact List: You will be asked to provide your name and phone number each Sunday upon arrival by a greeter or usher. This important information is required should St. John’s be contacted by the Department of Health or Diocese for contact tracing.
· Seating: Please sit in the appropriately designated pews and maintain social distancing. For immediate family or individuals in the same household, you may sit together.
· Coffee Hour: Coffee hour will be suspended until further notice.
· Illness: Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty of breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrheas should not attend. Anyone who has been in close contact with a person who has had symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days should not attend. Anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of last attendance must notify the church by calling the Parish Office at (718) 447-1605. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should not return in person unless you have been tested and received a negative result.
· Higher Risk: The CDC advises that those at high risk for COVID-19 to avoid large gatherings. Those at high-risk for severe illness include people 65 and older, and people with underlying medical conditions and people who are immunocompromised.
· Departure: At the end of the service, everyone will be dismissed. We ask you to depart the church using the two exits and avoid gathering inside. You are welcome to have conversations outside of the church at a safe distance as you feel comfortable.
· Fall Events: We will not plan any fall events such as dinners or lucky draw auctions this year. We will look to plan for 2021 as best as we can.
· Parish Office: The Parish will remain closed at this time; however, the mail and messages are checked on a regular basis.
We hope you will find this letter and the guidelines helpful and you pray and prepare to return in-person. Should you have any questions or need additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact a Vestry member, or call the parish office.
Please register beforehand if you'd like to attend in-person worship. You can do so on the website or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, e-mail and phone number.
May the blessing of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you always.
The Vestry and Warden
Susan Abraham-Jacob, Michael Adams, Ray Gant, Vivian Murray, David Sprosty, Agnes Trinity, Vestrymembers
Edwina McCrimmon, Warden