In mid-May, in light of the new CDC guidelines, Bishop Susan Goff of the Diocese of Virginia announced she is placing decisions about gathering for worship, meetings, pastoral visits, and fellowship in the hands of clergy and leaders of local congregations.
In light of this new guidance, Grace is moving forward with expanded in person gatherings. Knowing that our chief concern is love of neighbor, we will continue with a number of safety measures. Masks will be required in the building at all times.
Following is a summary of Grace Church’s plans and policies related to our life together going forward:
New Worship Schedule and Procedures, starting June 6th:
Indoor, in person worship will begin on Sunday, June 6, with our summer 2021 schedule:
- 7:45 a.m. spoken Eucharist in the amphitheater (weather allowing)
- 9:00 a.m. choral Eucharist with incense in the nave (also live streamed)
- 10:30 a.m. spoken Eucharist in Spanish in the nave
- 5:00 p.m. spoken Eucharist in the nave
We will open alternate rows in the nave, and we ask you to spread yourselves out as much as possible. (We realize that this may mean doing some distinctly un-Episcopalian things, like sitting in the front row.)
We will continue to follow Diocesan best practices about communion. We will offer communion in one kind only (bread), as we have been doing at our outdoor worship. To allow for distancing, we will be offering communion at stations, rather than the altar rail.
From the beginning of the pandemic, the Diocese of Virginia has been conservative regarding COVID-19. We have done so out of love for our neighbors and the most vulnerable among us. Grace Church will continue in this love. For now, since not everyone is vaccinated (and children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine) we will require masks at all times inside the church buildings, including during worship.
At our outdoor service, masks will be optional for those who are fully vaccinated, but must be worn during singing.
Fellowship & Coffee Hour:
Fellowship activities can resume at Grace, including activities where food is served. During the summer, we will have coffee hour outdoors at 10:00 in the circle driveway. We’ll offer individually packaged drinks and snacks.
Nursery workers will be returning on June 6. Nursery care will be provided for children up to age 3 from 8:45-10:45. Our nursery workers will be masked, and we will continue regular, thorough cleaning of the space.
We also plan to offer children’s chapel for ages 3-5. Chapel will be held either outdoors or in the Merrow Hall auditorium, depending on the weather.
We will not immediately resume in person midweek worship. We hope to begin weekday in person eucharists later in the summer.
We will not be having online Compline after June 6th. However, we will continue to have Evening Prayer on Zoom, Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a Zoom invitation.
Meetings and Groups:
It will be up to each group to decide whether they wish to meet in person, remain virtual, or use a hybrid approach. It is our hope that groups will use the hybrid approach if some wish to meet in person and others prefer to wait a while before doing so.
Grace will soon have a A/V setup for hybrid meetings, with video and sound that will allow individuals who are off site to be present via video with those who are meeting at the church building. The vestry hopes to give this equipment a test run in June, and it will be available to all parish groups who wish to meet in the church beginning in July.
A Final Word:
Please remember that the health precautions that we are taking are most likely the first steps in a process. We will continue to monitor public health markers and guidance from civic authorities, including the CDC, the Virginia Health Department and the Governor of Virginia. We will continue to adjust our practices when necessary, as new information emerges.